Woke up at 5, got ready and made the 2.5 hour drive up to New Gloucester, Maine. I had registered for the 25k, which started at 10. Maps had predicted just under a 3 hour drive, so I had some time to kill before the race.
Dailymile friends Brendan and Maddy were doing the 50-miler. My plan was complete the 25k, and then see if I could find them and keep them company during their final lap (the 50 milers run the 25k loop three times). I saw an update from Brendan that he and Maddy were at mile 15. Did some quick calculations and realized I would see them before the 25k started. This happened about 20 minutes before the 25k start. I joked that I'd catch them and then run the rest of their 50 miler with them.
First 5kThe first 5k of the loop are predominantly downhill. I was excited to get going, and realized about two miles in that I was going too fast. So I slowed down and started to take it easy. Good idea since after the first 5k, the hills really started.
Familiar Faces at 15kI proceeded to run at a comfortable pace, walking the steeper uphill sections and hitting the downhills as fast as I could. About 9 miles in, I came across Maddy and Brendan at the Valley Farm Aid Station. So I ran with them on what was their second lap of the 25k course. I was impressed with how well they looked for having already run a marathon distance.
25k Done, Time for more funWhile M/B stopped at the final aid station, I ran ahead and finished the 25k. Got my miniature cowbell and jogged to the car. Grabbed another pack of bloks and went back to the start/finish area just in time to see them ready to head out for their final lap. I wasn't really running the 25k for time, but I think I remember the time being around three hours.
Meadow LarksWe moved forward. Walking the uphills and jogging the downs and flats. In the early afternoon, the sun was high, and the humidity and lack of shade made running the relentless meadow hills a bit of a chore. Add some muddy sections and it was a fun time. Coming across the aid stations during these stretches was truly a wonderful experience. Getting into the pine forests was heavenly.
The three of us kept moving forward. I'm not sure how well I "paced" either of these two superstars, but it was great to have the company. Had a blast running through the woods, chatting away. Occasionally there was song. We enjoyed each aid station, and the great food selections. One station had popsicles, which were divine. But by far my favorite aid station food was boiled potatoes with a side of salt. I cannot stress enough how great these are. I was also surprised to find I really enjoyed the pickles too.
Uncharted TerritoryEventually I surpassed the marathon distance. I was really unsure how I'd be feeling at this point, but surprisingly I still felt pretty good. After about 28 miles though, I had to walk a bit more on the hills in the Oak Hill loop section. M/B were still feeling good and continued on to finish their 50 miles. I hung back and walked the hills and jogged the rest. Got to the final aid station and enjoyed some Mountain Dew and pretzels. Finished the final stretch through the meadow and stopped the Garmin at 31.25 as I walked into the start/finish area.
Afterwards, I spent a few minutes with Maddy and Brendan. Got to meet my online running/chess bud Jamie. Enjoyed a beer and a veggie burger. Then I hopped in the car and drove the 2.5 hours back home.
The DataGarmin reports:
Elevation Gain: 2721ft
Elevation Loss: 2729ft
Overall Average Pace: 13:23
Average Moving Pace: 12:52
TakeawaysFirst - hats off and thank to the race directors and the volunteers. This is a well organized and supported event, and has grown in popularity each year. Definitely one that I would do again. The course was challenging but fun, and the enthusiasm of the volunteers was spectacular.
The goodies - got a shirt, a pint glass, and because I registered only for the 25k, a cowbell key-chain.
In my Bay State race report, I wrote - "Most things that seem impossible are achievable." After witnessing people run 50 miles, and running 50k myself, I've never believed this more. I can now proudly call myself an ultra-runner.
Thanks again to Brendan and Maddy for the inspiration and opportunity to see how much is possible.
Until next time - run, run, run :)