26 September 2011

Vermont 50 Miler: Fun, Friends, Laughs, and Fun

                Some races are about PRs. Some are about proving how tough you are. Some are about finding yourself, or taking yourself to the next level. Some are about just being a training run.
                And some races are just about having fun.
                The Vermont 50 Miler this year was about having fun. It was a blast. Besides the Burning Man 50k, it was the most fun I’ve had in a while at a race. There was mud, there were good friends, there was mud, there was homemade cookies at mile 25, there was mud, there were hilarious stories, there was mud, there were dirty stories and songs, there was mud, there was sweat, there was mud, there were hills, mostly uphill, there was mud.
                And we all had fun.
                Iliana is good at convincing. She convinced me to sign up for the Vermont 50, which I love because I love Vermont. Vermont 100 is still my favourite race ever, and my first ultra, Jay Challenge was in Vermont. So I have a special spot in my heart for Vermont. So despite the fact that I ran Rio del Lago 100 Miler just two weeks prior, and ten days prior to that, ran the Burning Man 50k, and despite the fact that my legs are t…i…r…e…d, I signed up. Why? Because I’m an ultrarunner and we’re not always smart with our racing plans.
                Iliana procrastinated signing up and the race ended up filling up. But I was still signed up. She decided she’d go up and pace. Then I found out despite having signed up, Tony wasn’t planning on running it – he felt really undertrained. I told him I was running slow. Hmmm…that sounded fun. So he joined me in the journey. “Think training run,” was my mode.
                The fun started with the drive up – Iliana was hilarious, Tony was ridiculous, and I almost peed twice while laughing. Almost. Iliana and Tony split a 16 piece Popeye chicken and we couldn’t stop laughing over it. Sixteen pieces? And then we also stopped at the Vermont Country Deli to get mac and cheese (Tony), pulled pork and carrot ginger soup (Iliana), pesto pasta (me). And then there were conversations about OKCupid, beets and toilets, the Bear Mountain witch/hiker, Iliana stopping so I could pee every two minutes, Tony complaining…it was hilarious.
                At the race start, we ran into Emmy and Chris. Oooh fun! We started together, and for the most part, stuck together. And the results – an absolute blast!
                The course was muddy, but that seems to be nothing unusual from our experiences. Lots of spots where your shoes get completely covered, spots with big mud pits, but no one lost shoes. Because it’s Vermont, the entire course is up and down. Flats? Um…maybe a teeny bit? And lots of beautiful summits and trees and views and meadows and barns and horses and pretty leaves and all that good stuff. Yeah, you’ll love it.
                We stuck together from the start, exchanging stories, laughing, complaining, avoiding or splashing in mud. Some of the aid stations seemed a little chaotic and disorganized and unhelpful, but for the most part, they were great. I carried one handheld, and just one time did I run out of water before the aid station. It was super humid so I opted to carry my water bottle instead of wearing a waist belt that would’ve chafed; as it was, the tag or the liner in my running skirt caused chafing.
                It was humid. So humid that when a runner passed me early on, sweat splashed off him onto me. Perspiration dripped off our faces. It was pretty gross. My armpit got chafed, so I took off my shirt. It was one of those days.
                Racewise, it was a good race. I had a good appetite, and ate gels, Honey Stinger chewy things, Honey Stinger waffle things, Odwalla Bars. Delicious.
                Tony and I pulled ahead a bit, running and laughing. And suddenly Chris wasn’t there. Emmy told us he wiped out in the mudpit and took a bit to recover. But in the end, he was feeling great. He was able to join in for valuable conversations, like Asshole Flavored Heed (how to make it). Emmy’s legs felt dead from running a marathon a week prior - hardcore!  Tony had a bad headache. I had blisters. But our struggles were suppressed by our friendship, our laughter, our jokes, our good spirits. We really motivated each other to the finish.
                This race was not about a goal time. It was about a good training run, a fun run. Tony and Iliana shared a beer at mile 47. Iliana, Emmy and I peed right next to each other, right at the side of the trail (Okay, on the trail.), earning us the nickname “Reverse Moon Girls.”  Tony made up songs and talked more than we wanted about certain topics. (Okay, I lied, we loved it because he was so funny.) We experimented with food to eat. We looked at beautiful vistas. We cursed our hills. We pushed each other and ourselves…and had so much fun. We got that ultimate high, especially when we got to those beautiful downhill sections – and we just flew…until the next uphill. Until the next mudpit. Until someone tripped.
                But even if you tripped, you weren’t down because we were all there to keep each other having the ultimate runners’ high.

Finish happiness: Me, Tony, Emmy, Chris

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