I've got blog posts withering on the vine.
I meant to report on my day at the Conestoga Trail Run (and address Kelly's accusations), had a commentary on the wonderfully inherent risks of getting lost at ultras and intended to provide a look back at September's mileage. A beard vs. aerodynamics entry is way overdue. There are other ideas rattling around in my sieve of a brain but I've got to let them go or at least set them aside to say a thing or two about the 2011 Blue's Cruise 50K.
Just gotta do it.
I'm actually going to do my best to keep my clumsy words out of the way and let some great pics from some great friends (thanks, Jo and Derek!) do most of the talking.
Speaking of Jo, there she is on the far right smiling away as usual. This was the crew at the 6.5 mile aid station and they were fantastic. On a pretty raw day thanks to the muddy, muddy course, cool temps and on-and-off rain, the volunteers at Blue's delivered warmth and encouragement at every stop. The been-there-done-that wisdom of the Pagoda Pacers was evident at each aid station and much appreciated.
And speaking of warmth and "pretty raw", here's Derek doing, well, whatever it is he's doing. I'm relieved to say that I didn't witness this spectacle first hand. I did, however, get the jolt of adrenaline that Derek delivers each of the four or five times I crossed his path on the course as he leapfrogged from point to point, cheering on racers and photo documenting the day.
Derek snapped this pic of me just after I went past the 6.5 aid station. He had his shirt on at this point, thank goodness. I was still feeling good enough at this point to have run through the aid station without stopping and it seems I was fancying myself some kind of bird in flight. Why I can't help but clown for a camera is a mystery worth investigating.
This is ultra-machine Kelly Agnew doing work. We ran together for the first couple of miles and I forgot to ask him if his stopping to shed a layer and encouraging me to "keep going" was his way of actually telling me to "get lost". Hmmm. Maybe it's better that I didn't ask. The next time I saw him, he was asking me if I was "ok". And, then, he got right back to the task at hand and cranked out a sweet 5:24 on a track way muddier and hillier than my (once again) poor pre-race reporting would've suggested.
Don't let this photo of Gary and Carli fool you. The course is about 95% trail, much of it sweet singletrack. This shot was taken within the first 1/8 of a mile and other than a couple of road crossings and this same short stretch at the end, this was the last paved surface they needed to cover. Congrats, you two!
Look at that grin. You think Greg likes ultra running? I'd say so. This is another of the wonderful individuals that I met at Laurel Highlands and immediately felt like I'd known forever. I look forward to spending more time together on the trail...the sooner the better.
Jeremiah caught me from behind coming down the first real climb on the course when my left arch was starting to punish me for punishing it in the stride-mangling mud of the first 1/3 of the course. He said "you don't recognize me" and he was right. The last time I'd seen him, he was sporting a full head of dreads that apparently have been shorn. Jeremiah is the owner and head trainer of the CrossFit Collective in Lancaster. Whatever he's doing, it's working. He ran a sub 5:30. Check out the Collective and maybe he can whip you into shape too (maybe I should consider that a note to self).
Jason is another Laurel blood brother and a face I always hope and expect to see at area races. We spent some time together on Sunday at a point where we were both in grinding mode, just trying to push through to the finish. If you haven't been there, trust me, those are bonding moments for sure. That much more so when you endure them with an already kindred spirit. Way to get it done, Jason!
I hadn't met Steve before, but knew him through Facebook if that qualifies as "knowing". Can't imagine a better way to have made his acquaintance than by sharing a mile together on the trail. He was chugging away and I wish my arch would've allowed me to spend a bit more time with him. Conversation was easy and he shared stories of Leo Lutz, another Lancaster runner who appears to be known by everyone but whom I've never met despite our similar names and shared interests. Steve is another of the 6 degrees that will eventually lead to me shaking Leo's hand. I didn't see Steve later in the day, but, per the results, it looked like he was 1st Senior Male, clocking a 6:02:58 at age 65. Yes, sixty five. Awesome.
And, speaking of awesome, the one and only Randy Schultz crossed the line and, in the process, scored his second 50K finish in the last month! I can only imagine the thrill of being escorted to the end by son Derek. This is one proud papa who just so happens to be a papa that so, so many of us are proud to know. If there's a bigger heart out there, I'll need visual evidence as proof. Congratulations, Randy! You truly are an inspiration.
Which brings me back to me. There was a different kind of inspiration waiting for me. Lindsay and the girls were kind and loving enough to brave less than ideal weather to see me make it to the end. If only I had as much pep left at the finish as Piper Bea did when she came dashing my way with a celebratory hug and giggles...the best finisher's medal ever.
Shy Lily played coy and got bearded kisses in response. More joy.
Shout outs too to my beautiful wife, Lindsay, for spending one of her extremely rare days off from work, class, clinicals and studying to wait and worry in the cold rain for me to finally drag myself to the finish many, many minutes after I'd told her to expect me. We make sacrifices for each other, but, frankly, mine are minor in comparison to hers. If there is such a thing as an angel, she just might be one. Thank you.
Thanks also to the race directors and all of the volunteers for another incredible event. There was pre-race buzz surrounding the Blue's as this was the first year that it would be a true full 31 mile loop around the lake. Then with the wicked weather of this past month, there was some concern that the course wouldn't actually be ready. Just two to three weeks ago, most of the trail was quite literally underwater. Like 10-15 feet deep! I'm amazed at how well the race came off with those challenges and tip my hat, thinking it way too weak a gesture on my part under the circumstances.
To trail running friends, old and new, may it please be evident how much I cherish our shared adventures. Even at low physical moments, I can't imagine wanting to be anywhere else. I hope that I find ways over the years to at least partly repay the inspiration, kindness and positivity that you gift to me on every meeting. It's been a great ride thus far and I'm so excited that the road, er, trail looks like it just goes on and on and on.
See you out there!