Well I thought I hung up my racing shoes for the season 2 months ago, my plan was to focus on our business, clients, reboot and get excited for the 2012 season.
Our MPF Campmor Trail Running Team which has been doing extremely well in its first year was getting ready for the local Mountain Madness race which included a 50k, 25k, and 7.77 mile option. I went out on a couple team training runs, where on one occasion I sprained my ankle severe enough to set me back from doing any training for a couple of weeks. This is when I confirmed to myself I wouldn’t even attempt the MOMA course given its extremely technical nature.
However, I was extremely excited for my team, they were training hard, as this was a priority race for most of them. Some were looking to win, others were looking to improve on last years time. Their excitement became infectious I had brief thoughts of giving it a try even though I still wasn’t completely sold, this was until my teammate Randy encouraged me to sign up. I said to myself what the hell, just enjoy the run. I do well moving at a moderate pace for a long time, not a fast pace for a short time so I gave myself the goal of 6 hours or finishing 1 hour after the first place male.
Perfect cool crisp fall weather was on tap for the entire day, perfect running weather. I gathered with the team before the race for a bit of catching up. I was nervous, I can’t tell you the last time I entered a 50k, maybe 9 years ago. I had to pace myself entirely differently than if I were running a 50 miler or 100miler, given that I was not setting off for the entire day and or into the night, this race was a quick jaunt through the woods. Running fast can be very challenging it opens up a whole new world of pain, much different than the persistent, some times painful push forward to cover the 100 mile distance.
My fellow teammate Lenny and I decided to stay together until Ramapo Reservation which was mile 15. We talked about pace, how our teammates were doing etc.. We thankfully knew this portion of the course pretty well and found ourselves directing others who were getting off track. Even though the course was well marked it becomes a challenge to look up to be sure your on the correct trail when running over extremely technical terrain that is covered in leaves. This is where I started running with a very nice women by the name of Stephanie. We shared stories of our ultra adventures, shes pretty much traveled the world running ultras, awesome! I let her go in fear of the pace being to quick for me at this point in the race (mile 11).
We got to Ramapo Reservation (mile 15) and I was feeling pretty good but slightly worried that I was pushing too hard. I saw Jessie and Stephanie leave aid station 3 (mile 15) about 1 min. apart. I had a decision to make, do I want to continue to run my own race against the clock or get caught up in the chase? I would really be over reaching taken my current fitness level if I chased them and then to only get passed within the last couple of miles. We really were just minutes apart, I could see Stephanie but I didn’t feel strong enough to blaze by her to take a real lead so I just kept her in my sights. Aid station # 4/6 came pretty quick, I had bit of coke which gave me a jolt and 4 endurolytes, from here to Skyline I felt pretty strong.. I saw Joe running around with his cameras, he gave me a time split on the girls to see if I felt like picking up the pace. I got to skyline (mile 21), Stephanie was leaving while I quickly found my bag that Joe strategically placed with my liquid energy, etc. and I went to see if I could find her, its totally different feeling when chasing / racing...
I thought I knew this part of the course pretty well but as I was cruising down cannonball, I got off track nearing camp Yaw Paw. I knew the aid station couldn’t be far, I roamed into a camp looking like a crazy person for sure and started asking random campers where the trail/road is, everyone looked at me in silence just staring as if I were a Jackson white. I repeated myself several times, it was very weird, then finally some one spoke up and said go that way as he pointed. I said thanks and finally made my way back to 4/6 where I saw Jessie and Stephanie again leaving the aid station haha this is funny... Fellow teammate Zusuzanna was there trying to tell me what I already knew, I was trying not to be rude, I didn’t have time to chat, I just needed some gels and to get out of there.
I quickly left and managed to run up almost the entire hill in a rush because I was feeling pretty good. For a moment I couldn’t find cannonball, then I quickly found it, I headed down in a rush knowing I had 7 miles to find these girls. I thought I had to take my first left off of cannonball and that’s where I turned in haste. I ran up for 5 minutes or so, something didn’t seem right, where are the trail markers? I was in such a hurry I wasn’t concentrating, I looked closely at the trail marker, they were green, shit! I should be on blue! I started back tracking to find cannonball again then found blue with a bunch of flags, if I only went down a little bit further I would have been on blue. At this moment I said forget it because there is know way I will catch them now as they were not showing any signs of weakness so I decided to stick to my original plan of completing the race in 6 hours. It was awesome to have 2 strong ladies to chase, thank you & Great Job!
I have decided to make this a goal race for next year and I am looking forward to it. Other goals for 2012 are to embrace being competitive and training for some shorter races similar to this one. Congrats to all of the participants and to the MPF Campmor team, you guys rocked! I gained a whole different perspective to this racing nonsense. Thank you to all the Volunteers, NJ Trail Series, Campmor, Joe, Mara and all of our sponsors.