My finish of the Massanuttan Mountain Trails 100 run is dedicated to my mother Norma Dorsey who passed away on May 6th from a 14 month long battle against lung Cancer. Rest in peace mom.
First of all I can’t believe I made it to the starting line, it was touch and go until pretty much two days before the MMT. My mothers wake and funeral were during the same week as the race which Im sure you can imagine the emotional and physical toll this had on me and to top it off I had a severe allergic reaction to poison ivy that I generously received just days before. But I made the hard decision to show up exhausted and do the best that I could. I knew this was a huge opportunity to celebrate my mothers life, so I chose not to miss the chance.
On Friday Joe, Randy and I “my team” headed to VA to start another adventure. Earlier in the year I asked one of my training partners/friend Randy Miller to pace me during the race. I usually never run with a pacer but I wanted to see if it would make a difference. Generally during mile 75 and 90 I find myself in a low, when this happens I tend to shuffle along and enjoy the scenery but I wanted to see if I could move through this low quicker or not hit it at all.
We were almost to the start, as we followed a winding country road leading to the entrance of the George Washington National Forest. I knew in the middle of no where there would be 180 people and there crew milling about in the woods getting ready to run/walk 101miles. I thought to myself how funny the ultra world is, its like we are a secret cult or an undercover organization. We finally set up camp by the start, ate dinner, bumped into a couple of fellow ultra running friends, then it was off to bed, which is where I lay awake trying not to itch myself raw for the last several nights. 4:00 am came pretty quickly, it was time to get this party started. Joe made me coffee and breakfast, then sent me on my way (he’s the best).
5am came and we were off running, talking, ready to take on what ever individual experience the next 20 to 30+ hours would bring us. I feel like these people are part of my family, I may not know there names but only a few can understand the common bond we have when you choose to endure a 101 mile event. We would share the weather, we would share the dirt and the rocks beneath every foot step. There may be hours or minutes that separate us but collectively as a group we will lead a parade through the forest through the day and our lights would be together at night in search of the next aid station, which often feels like another starting line. We are in search of the same common goal, the finish line.
The weather called for sunny skies with the day time highs in the mid 70‘s and lows in the 50’s, so the forecast said but as the day progressed it felt like it was in the mid 80’s and very humid. My plan was to start slow knowing there was a long day and night ahead, it may sound funny but I often forget how long 101.70 miles is.
It took about 20 miles for my body to wake up and realize that once again I was asking it to give me more. The climbs were relentless but generally once you got to the top you were welcomed with some great technical ridge running that offered stunning views of the valley then down hill you would run into a well stocked aid station where I would find Joe and Randy ready and waiting for my nascar like pit stop. I wanted to get to mile 50 in 12 to 13 hours, this would assure me that I wasn’t going to fast. The miles were clicking by, I got to mile 49.7 feeling great but was looking forward to night fall to get some relief from the sun. 13 more miles and I get to have some company.. Randy joined me upbeat and ready for the task at hand at mile 63. I needed more calories than I was having and I began to feel a bit sluggish but continued to move. It took me a bit but I got it going again.
Jawbone climb the wheels started to fall off from being exhausted from the prior months of life. Our first trip up Jawbone was slow but I made it in pretty good spirits. Then leaving the visitor center we were feeling good chatting and running strong, then Randy said have you seen a marker? I said I don’t know but sometimes there pretty far apart so lets keep going a little bit more, still nothing so I said why don’t you run back up to check if we passed something and sure enough 15 minutes back up the trail we missed a turn, bummer I guess that’s part of the game and there went 2nd place but who would of known.
From Aid station 14 at mile 86.9 to the finish was a different story. My Right knee hyperextended earlier in the day and began to really stiffen up I left the aid station whining and wondering if it was worth it to have a long term injury or even the thought of going so slow almost stumbling down the trail pissed me off. I cursed whined and now when I think back this is where having a pacer really works. I may have turned around and never made it to the finish line. Randy talked me through it calmly, probably secretly frustrated but never showed it. He said try to run lightly it might feel better, think about something else positive he said. I continued to whine and curse with frustration, I took some Advil and finally got into a groove. We were moving again, as we went up Jawbone for the second time Randy heard a females voice so we decided to try to push the pace where and when I could. Even though at the time I would have told you I didn’t care I just wanted to get to the finish line but Randy new the next day or when it was over I would have said I can’t believe I let so and so pass me, another reason to have a pacer so they can think for you at times when your judgement isn’t clear. We pushed the pace as fast as possible we finally got to the road that would carry us to the finish where I clicked off a 7:30 mile the body is a pretty amazing thing. Randy kept saying you come this far lets hold onto 3rd. OK I responded so we turned it on strategically hugging the curvature in the road that would block us from being seen from the 2 person team coming from behind. Yes it became very strategic towards the end I never want to admit it but it is a race. We made it to the finish line and sure enough as soon as I sat down a women came running across the line.. Woof that was close!! What a day!!
Thank you to my mother, Joe, Randy and all the great people who were out there on the course, who I think made this race a truly powerful journey and thanks to the entire MMT 100 staff of Volunteers who made this event possible! Looking forward to next year, what do you say Randy???