Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Lean Horse Ultra Marathon, part 4. A guest blog by Melissa Budd.

This is the fourth and final account of Melissa's Lean Horse adventure.  With nightfall comes inky darkness and chilly air. Exhaustion creeps into Melissa's tired bones. Hyperthermia becomes a growing concern. A ten mile final climb to the finish line is a "death slog". The wind picks up and drains the last few drops of Melissa's confidence. Hallucinations creep into her mind, winged animals buzz her face, furry creatures run between her feet and nip at her ankles. David, where is David? Finally, a cheery light bobs in the distance, but is it David? She can taste the sweetness of the magic finish line. 

Thank you Melissa for allowing SMR the privilege of posting this amazing adventure. You make us stand tall in pride and solidarity.

It's a good day to be alive,  


Getting to High Country wasn’t bad, but David told me that I was getting slower.  I started to get concerned that the next woman might be on my tail.  At this aid station I asked David if he could hang out until he saw the next women.  That way I could gauge how fast I would have to go to maintain my position.  I was feeling a little anxious at this point and wished I knew how much of a lead I had.  There was 5 miles between High Country and Hill City.  I told David to wait there until he saw the next woman or for 40-50 minutes.  At this point I was running slower than 5 miles an hour.  If he got to Hill City in an hour, he would be able to catch me before I left.  The trail to Hill City was all downhill.  With my anxiety a little higher than it was before, I pushed the pace a bit.  Coming into Hill City I was surprised to not see a head light bobbing along.  Where was David?  

As I entered the town (we had to go through town to get to the aid station) I reasoned to myself that this was good.  The longer it took David to get to the aid station, the longer he had to wait to see the next woman.  Just as I made the final turn to get into the aid station I saw David.  He looked astonished.  It gave me a boost of confidence when he said, “How did you get here so quick?  I know it was downhill, but you didn’t have to sprint it!”  Another good thing he told me was that he waited for 40 minutes and didn’t see anyone.  This meant that the next woman had to be at least 4-5 miles behind me, maybe even more.  The man at the aid station said, “if you keep this up, you could have a 21-22 hour finish.    All of these things made me quite happy.  I had 15.1 miles to go, I was still in first women’s position and I was feeling good.  The only thing that was darkening  my mood was the 10 mile uphill I faced.  I had put it out of my thoughts till now.  Here is where it may get ugly I thought as I left mile 84.9.

Right away, I could feel the effects of my fast descent from High Country to Hill City.  I instantly regretted my foolishness to run that fast.  Even though I was concerned about my placement, I should have never let myself expend that much energy on the downhill.  I was going to pay for it now.  The climb from Hill City to Orville (mile 89.9) was becoming a death slog.  All of my confidence had gone out the window.  To make matters worse, the wind picked up and I was freezing.  Dropping temperatures and decreasing speed can lead to hypothermia quickly.  I had to keep moving.  The uphill grade was not horrendous, but the continual uphill with no downhill to break it up was.  The only thing that made it better was that I passed three or four men as I labored up the hill.  “Where was David? “I kept thinking.  Seeing his headlamp would mean that I was close to the aid station.  Being close to the aid station meant that I was getting close to being done.  All I had to do was keep going to Orville, then Mountain, and then a 4.6 mile downhill to Custer and the finish.  After (it seemed like ) forever, I saw a headlamp coming towards me.  

Thank god it was David.  He asked if I was okay, because this section of 5 miles took me a considerable amount of time more than the last one.  I told him I wasn’t doing well and that I was extremely cold.  He got a jacket for me and told me to keep going.  I got a few bites of something at Orville, but could hardly choke it down.  David looked at my water bottle and said, “you haven’t drank any water!”  I hadn’t!  I drank a little Coke and Ginger-ale at the aid station.  I was now only 10 miles out of Custer, but it might as well of been 100.  How could I go from feeling on top of the world 2 hours ago, to this?  I know I needed to keep moving.  I knew if I kept moving, no matter what, I’d still get that sub 24 buckle.  It was just going to be so hard.  The wind was whipping around and I really did not want to face those 10 miles.  I knew I had to, I did not have even the slightest thought of quitting, I was just dreading the pain I was going to go through to get to what I wanted.  Off I started to Mountain Aid station 5.7 miles away. 

Looking back, I was having trouble because I stopped drinking, I stopped eating and I should have been taking salt tablets.  In the moment, I couldn’t see that.  What I did see was hallucinations of animals and other things on the trail.  I was sure I would see something and then it would be gone.  Raccoons, rabbits, shadowy large animals with wings and beaks.  I wasn’t sure if I could keep it together.  The trail, at this part, had very steep drop offs on either side.  I remember thinking, “it’s okay if I fall off, then this agony will stop…I’ll be done”.  Luckily I had some sense and maintained that if I did fall, it might be worse because then I would be injured, and with my luck, conscious, and it would hurt worse and I wouldn’t be able to finish.  This was so different than last year.  Last year I had come across the leading lady at mile 84 and then had such a strong finish.  This year I had the lead for the last 50 odd miles and I was shattered!  Where is that light?  Where is that light?  I kept thinking.  Why did I tell David to not run too far in?  I really needed the company right now!  Finally I saw the light.  I was too tired and dehydrated to get mad at him for not running out to meet me at this particular aid station.  I asked, at this point (mile 95.6) if he would run with me to the finish.  Leave the car and come get it later.  Without hesitation he said, “Absolutely”.  He really wasn’t dressed for it  and it was so cold.  He asked one of the other crew people (who were standing around) if he could borrow a jacket and they could get it back at the finish.  He got a jacket from someone and we left.  4.4 miles to go and it seemed like it was not going to happen.  

To make matters worse, I started to throw up as we ran.  I guess I didn’t miss a step as I threw up.  David asked if I was okay and I replied, “yeah, it’s all good, I missed your shoe”.  At one point David started to walk, but it gave me a little boost when he said, “you are running faster than I can walk” and he started to run again.   I don’t know how, but we made it through the downhill.  All I could think was “WTF – Where’s the Finish?”.  After (it seemed) a long time, it felt as though we were getting close.  The trail flattened out and it looked like we were hitting some civilization.  No one had passed us.  I felt like I was moving so slowly but no one had passed.  We saw the trail signs and knew that soon we would be done.  As we came to the track, David told me to finish.  I got up on the track and tried not to look pained as I straightened up my stride and looked at the time as I came through the finish.  Hard to believe, but the time was 22:51.  Almost an hour faster than my time last year!  No one had passed me for the last 50 miles.  I felt so sick and beaten up yet so happy.  I was cold, dehydrated and depleted. 

After I finished, the paramedics took a look at me and decided that a doctor should check me out.  No rest for the wicked….off to Custer Hospital.  They got an IV established and gave me some medication for the nausea.  The staff at the hospital were wonderful.  They did a few more tests on me.  Everything was good, I was just dehydrated and low on electrolytes (which would explain those weird hallucinations).  One interesting thing the doctor said was that my creatinine levels were high.  Apparently, creatinine levels under 300 would be normal.  Mine registered 7000.  She said that was not unusual considering what I had just done.  She had never seen levels like mine in her years of medicine!

After the hospital, I went back to the hotel and into the bath.  The water turned dark from the dirt I had accumulated over the day.  I drained it and refilled it.  If felt so good to lie there in the water, weightless.  I actually fell asleep for a bit.  Around 8:30am, I got dressed and David and I went back to the track to see the last people finish (you have 30 hours to complete the 100 miles) and then stay for the awards ceremony.  I got to see Ann and Brittney finish (it was their first 100).  I was so happy for them.  

Lean Horse 100 2014 was done.  First women and 6th overall.  What a ride those last 15 miles were.   Huge thanks to David, AKA my crew, for all of his help.  I don’t know that I could have shaved off an hour if he hadn’t been there for me! 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Take The Low Road

Take the low road.
We take the high road because in the long run it gives us pleasure.  We are sometimes tempted to take the low road and tell that jerk just exactly what you're thinking, but we hold back. We take the high road knowing that, although the low road approach is gratifying, it's short lived and superficial. In time we regret choices made while travelling the low road. Always take the high road friends and resist the cheap satisfaction offered by the low road. The high road is pure and demonstrates strength of character and restraint.  Take the high road.

Except when running trails.

When you find yourself at a juncture of two trails, one leading up, and the other down, always choose the low road.  The low road is cheekier, saucier and demands more.  The low road thrills the spirit and lights the brain. The low road leads to trouble of a good kind. The low road takes you to the river's edge. It winds precariously along steep pitches. It's narrow and windy, and upsy-downsy.  The low road is less travelled and full of adventure. And sometime the low road just ends, but a thrill's a thrill, so we backtrack and start all over again.

The low road is a little bit cheeky, but never rude. Just like me.

Tomorrow I run the Fat Ass Rock Star with Cheeky Tim and I'll be looking for the saucy low roads.

It's a good day to be alive.


Monday, January 12, 2015

Lean Horse 100 Mile Ultra Race Report, part 3 (A guest blog by Melissa Budd)

Those of you familiar with Melissa's character know she's sweet, mild mannered, and never-ever says bad words. All that is out the window in Part 3 of her Lean Horse saga where she "swears like a sailor" at the no-seeums that swarm and choke her breath and seize her mind. The cheers of "first woman" ring through the darkness and confirm that she is indeed "winning it for the women". She struggles on with a sore back and swollen feet. An ice-cold Coca-Cola and a fresh pair of Hokas revives her sagging spirit and she continues on into the darkness realizing at mile 75 she's a full two hours ahead of her time last year.  Part three takes us up to mile 80.3; the hardest is yet to come.

It's a good day to be alive,


The rain had stopped so I just carried the poncho looped on my belt.  I was feeling warm  and didn’t need it.  After running a mile or so, I decided to put the poncho down near a trail marker.  I planned to pick it up on the way back.  After all, carrying unnecessary gear just makes you more tired.   I folded it and put it next to the mile 96 marker (I wasn’t at mile 96 but the trail is longer than what we were running).  I continued on for just short of a mile.  Surprise!  It started to rain.  I thought momentarily about going back for my poncho – but I just couldn’t do it.  Doing two extra miles when the rain could possibly stop?  Nope – not this girl (good thing….because it did stop).   I continued on uphill until I reached DMTM which was mile 49.3.  At that point, you had to run .7 of a mile past and then turn.  I decided to not stop on the way out, but stop on the way back.  It was here that I also decided to plug into my headphones.  I needed a little boost (mentally) from my music.  I started to wonder about my placement.  I hadn’t seen any women for a while (not since the cow incident).

I checked my watch at the 50 mile turn-around, I had been running for just over 10 hours (averaging 5 miles an hour for 50 miles).   I thought (momentarily) how nice it would be if I could keep it up for the next 50 miles and finish in the 20 hour range (momentary thought!).  It was way too early to be thinking about my finishing time.  I wasn’t ready to pick up my head-lamp yet as it was only 4:00pm and it wouldn’t be dark until 8-9pm.  I stopped for a few minutes to regroup, get some food and talk with David.  He said he wasn’t sure, but he thought I might be the first or second women.  I saw a woman as I was leaving the DMTM, but she hadn’t done the out and back so would be at least a mile and a half behind me.  I continued on, happy to be on my way back now.

Still feeling good (except for my stupid shoulder) I ran the 6 miles back to Nahant.  The weather was warm and it looked as though there would not be the downpour I feared.  It was nice to finally see more people on the course as I made my way back.  I saw people I had run with earlier on. The wonderful thing about ultramarathons is that just about everyone would say something to you in passing, ”good job”, “looking strong”, “way to go”.  These are words I’ve heard before, but are meaningful all the same.  The strange thing about this race was I was also getting the words, “first woman!”, “there she is!” and clapping.  It was something I wasn’t all together used to.  Slowly it was sinking in that yes, I could be the first woman.  On my way before the turn around, I had counted maybe 12 people on their way back, but I hadn’t seen any women.  That doesn’t mean there wasn’t anyone (people can be missed if they are off in the bush to take care of some business), but I knew I had to ask David at the next aid station if he could find out for me. 

As I ran through the valley, I encountered more people with more encouraging words.  It felt strange to get that extra attention.  It is not that I didn’t appreciate it – it made me feel quite special – but there is always that part of me that questions my worthiness of warranting such compliments.  Why should I get extra merit just because there wasn’t another woman faster than me here today?  I certainly wasn’t going to be the fastest finisher – the lead male was at least a few hours ahead of me.   As I ran, I worked through some of what was going on in my head.  I finally concluded “Accept the compliments dummy”.  Even though I wasn’t going to be the fastest female to ever run this (far from it) – today I was winning the women’s side.  And if that fact could help me keep going at a quicker pace and finishing this race faster than last year – it was a good place to be and I should use it.  I knew that my friend Christine would be telling me that I’ve worked hard to get to this race and if I was in first place for the women, I needed to keep working to maintain that place.

I met David in Nahant (mile 56.6) and asked him if he knew what place I was in.  He said he was pretty sure I was in first and I told him I was pretty sure I was too.  I refueled and refilled my bottles.  It was getting a little cooler and I put on one of the shirts I was wearing earlier.  David had hung it out of the car window as he was driving and it was now dry (awesome thinking!).  I knew my next drop bag was in Rochford and I would have to pick up my head lamp there.  I estimated that I would get there sometime after 6pm.  I wouldn’t need it yet, but the next drop bag was at Horse Creek which was mile 75.  Last year I got to mile 75 at midnight and had a good 4 hours of dark!  David mentioned that because I had a crew (him), I could pick up my head lamp anytime, he would just have it in the car with him.  It really was so nice having a crew!  So David would get my head lamp out at Rochford and have it in the car with him until I needed it.

I was starting to feel a bit down at this point (physically).  My trap was still hurting (despite A535 reapplication at every aid station).  The trail from the DMTM to Nahant and Nahant to Rochford was a little long and the people I had been seeing were getting sparse.  Two miles before Rochford, surprise, I see David!  He was running out to meet me.  When I saw him, I thought “good!  I’ll be at an aid station right away”, but David told me in about 20-25 minutes we would be at an aid station.  I got a little upset and said, “Why did you run so far?  When I see you it is only supposed to be a few minutes to the aid station!!”  Poor David!  Here, he was trying to give me more company and in turn I got upset because I wasn’t close to an aid station!  I apologized and thanked him for coming out that far.  I did mention though, if I could, just come out a mile (just for my mental sanity).  We laughed at how funny the mind works. At Rochford (mile 62.7), we got out my headlamp and I made sure that David PROMISED me that he wouldn’t get lost and not meet me at the next aid station.  I also got out a small mag-light and put it in my running pack (just in case he did).
Onward to Gimlet Creek (mile 66.3).  I liked knowing that my next aid station was only 3.6 miles away.  I was still feeling the effects of my shoulder and my chest muscles were hurting as well.  I hadn’t had a coke for awhile and it was making me a little grumpy.  David (true to his word) came out of Gimlet less than a mile away.  He asked me if I could have anything in the world right now, what would it be?  I thought it was a strange question, but I responded, “I would give my left arm for a coke right now.  Why?”.  He just said, “no reason, just wondering”.   As we approached one of the many wooden bridges, what did my wondering eyes did appear?  A Coke at the foot of the bridge….in a pile of ice.  I actually had to stop and laugh!  I asked him, “How did you know?”,  he replied that he, “just knew.”  I was so happy chugging that can down.  Gold star for my crew!   

At the aid station, I put on a long sleeved top as it was getting later and a little colder.  It was close to 8:00 and getting dark.  I got my head lamp from David and continued on to Mystic (mile 70.5).  I was a little sad that I wouldn’t be able to appreciate the beauty I had seen as I came through the first time, but I knew I would still be able to listen to the creeks that ran along side the trail and the waterfalls.  The area around Mystic was a little cooler, so I kept up my pace so I wouldn’t chill.  

As I was running by the beautiful creek I had admired on the way out the most horrid thing happened.  As twilight set, out came armies of bugs!  Not large mosquitoes, but little “noseeums”.  Those pesky tiny bugs that go up your nose, in your mouth and in your ears.  They were everywhere!  I ran along waving my arms back and forth in front of my face like a madman!  I must have looked insane!  I’m don’t have a “potty mouth” but suddenly I was cursing like a sailor.  These things were relentless.  I contemplated quitting, but even if I did, and I stopped, they would swarm.  There really wasn’t any way out of this hell but through it.  Luckily the aid station was close and I saw a headlight bobbing toward me on the trail.  It was David.  Man it was so nice to have someone to rant to!  As I vehemently described to him this hell that I was experiencing, he talked me down and told me to turn off my headlamp.  The light was drawing the bugs to my face….duh….again, glad to have the sense of someone else.  After running for over 14 hours straight, sensibility leaves.  David also lifted my spirits by reminding me that once it was dark, the bugs wouldn’t be a problem. Horse Creek was the next aid station and David said I was doing great.  I was feeling good after leaving the aid station.  My back pain was letting up and it was actually a nice change to be now running in the dark.

Just outside of Horse Creek (mile 75.3) I saw a headlamp bobbing towards me.  I could see David when he was further away now because of the light.  I told him that I really missed running with him when I was going through the tunnels.  They were very creepy at night and would be a perfect spot to REALLY scare someone.  I think, had the tunnels been closer to the aid station, either David or I would have probably done that to each other.  At Horse Creek I had my drop bag.  It was around 10pm.  I was pleased with my time.  Last year at mile 75 it was midnight.  I was ahead of last year’s time by 2 hours and feeling much stronger.  I contemplated switching my Nike Pegasus shoes for Holkas.  Holkas are very spongy shoes.  I had done a training run in them during the summer.  

The good thing about having David there was that if I didn’t like how they were feeling, I could switch them at the next aid station, he would just carry them in the car.  So, upon David’s insistence, I switched up my shoes.  Wow, they made my feet feel like they were wearing pillows.  I didn’t realize how sore my feet were until I put on the Holkas.  Instant relief!  I knew, at this point, I had 25 miles to go.  Even if it took me 8 hours, I would still get my sub 24 belt buckle.  This was my “B” goal.  “A” goal was to finish the race, “B” goal was to finish before 24 hours and “C” goal was to finish faster than last year (23:49).    I was feeling great.  I was still in first place for women and all of my goals were still within reach.  I did have to remind myself that now it was going to get harder.  The longer you go, the harder it is.  Although I thought to myself, last year I actually picked up my pace in the last 16 miles.  I left the aid station feeling confident.  On to High Country and mile 80.3!

To be continued in part four.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Mooove! Lean Horse 100, 2014 Race Report, Part 2 ( a guest blog by Melissa Budd)

The Lean Horse 100 Mile Ultra-marathon is not for the faint of heart.  Part 2 of Melissa's story has us travelling over gorgeous hills and through ancient tunnels. We meet Laura and Jen, two "lovely ladies" who lightened and brightened Melissa's day.  We jostle with demented cattle beast and shoo angry dogs.  The rain may chill Melissa's core but it also strengthens her resolve. Don, you will learn, is one tough character, and he gives thanks for every step.  We hear Melissa's lone "whoo-hoo" reverb through the dark tunnel and we can smell the musty earth as she plods forward.  And David, kind soul that he is, continues to support his dear friend at every turn.  Read on.

It's a good day to be alive.


Soon the time I was waiting for happened.  We started after a countdown and ran ¾ of the way around the track and then off to the Mickelson Trail.  The rain had stopped and I settled into a pace with Brittney and a woman named Ann.  They were both wonderful to talk to and I enjoyed the first part of the trail with them.  As we comfortably ran along we accumulated a few more people.  
Conversation flowed easily and before I knew it we were at the first aid station Mountain.  Mountain was a 5 mile uphill, so that meant on the way back it would be a 5 mile downhill – great!  I briefly saw David -  he filled my water bottle and I grabbed some watermelon to eat (because it looked so good).   In and out in 2 minutes – just like a race car at a pit stop! 

The next 5 miles was downhill.  I was nervously telling people around me “on the way back this is going to be the hardest part – mile 90-95 uphill”.  I was thinking about it so much that I wasn’t enjoying the downhill.  I did meet two lovely ladies running the 50m mile though – Laura and Jen.  Both are teachers and have that sarcastic wit that I love.  They made the miles fly by.  We joked, laughed and shared.  I wished that they lived closer because I think they would make the best running buddies!  We continued another 5 miles downhill.  That is when I made the realization that miles 85-95 would be a long climb and it would be necessary to dig deep.  As we ran along, I also made the realization that I couldn’t worry about what would happen that far down the road.  It made me think of my children (oddly enough).  I thought, if I spent their whole childhood worried about how hard the teen years would be and how hard it would be when they left – I would miss out on a lot of the good things that were going on in the present.  I made a decision to not think about that 10 mile uphill until I got to it.  I needed to enjoy and immerse myself in the present and not worry about the future.  Perhaps that last 10-15 miles would be like last year – where I made up time and ran strong.  I knew it could be a possibility.  After I got over my worrying – running seemed to flow.

The next aid stations quickly went by Orville, Hill City, High Country and then Horse Creek.  Horse Creek was mile 24.8.  It was almost a quarter of the way and I was feeling good.  I was eating at most aid stations –quarter sandwiches (PB and J or Turkey) chips, fruit and Gatorade.  David met me at every aid station with a cold can of Coke (what an angel!).  Horse Creek was where I had to say “good bye” to Laura and Jen.  I gave them a hug, took their picture and wished them well.  I knew they were in a good position for their 50 mile finish.  They finished 3rd and 4th  overall women.   At Horse Creek I picked up my second hand held water bottle because the day was getting warmer and I was draining my one water bottle well before the next aid station.

 I also had the privilege of running with Don.  Don was amazing in the fact that he had been through some massive heart issues and he was still running ultra-marathons.  He said he was lucky his cardiologist was an ultra-marathon runner himself.  Don talked about his wife finding him looking like he was dead a few times when his medication wasn’t quite right.  He had to be very careful about dosage.  I asked him if that scared him.  He replied that it didn’t scare him.  I asked Don where he got his courage from.  He told me that going through experiences like these, made him value the quality of life.  He may be better off doing more moderate distances – but this is what he loves to do.  He also cited his faith as being a source of his courage. 

After Horse Creek I was on my own.  I saw David at every aid station –  he was wonderful at taking care of whatever I needed.  He went above and beyond.  Even though he hadn’t been training, he would drive to the aid station, park, and then run out to meet me.  It was nice because when I saw him, I knew that in the next 10 or so minutes I could refuel.  It was also wonderful to have company (as I was now running alone).   

The terrain from Horse Creek to Mystic was phenomenal.  There was a large mountain stream that winded along the trail.  I passed ponds, fields and even an old time gold panner.  At one point I watched as two horses powerfully galloped in unison on a field beside me.  I was taken by their beauty and strength.  They were truly the epitome of Lean Horse 100.  And then, just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, I got to run through two old railway tunnels.  I don’t know what the past railroad/wild west would have smelled like – but I smelled it.  I don’t think I could explain it to you if I tried.  Coal, iron, mist, granite, earth – it was an incredible smell.  Running through the tunnels I gave a little “whoo hoo” just because I love to hear an echo.    The towering granite that the workers would have had to blast through when building this railway came to mind as I ran through.  I was also treated to lovely waterfalls and their sounds.  I was happy that I chose not to listen to my music.  I was fully immersed in the environment I was in and was loving every minute.  It certainly helped that I felt so strong.  I can honestly say that I was no more fatigued that I would have been had I done a 6 mile run.  The scenery was THAT intoxicating.

After running through the beauty of Mystic, I got to Mystic Aid station (close to 30 miles).  I was feeling good and was leap-frogging several other runners (so I didn’t feel totally alone).  David told me I was doing well and was probably third or fourth woman.  Placement didn’t really matter to me at that point because I still needed to run most of the race and I was truly just enjoying my only responsibility that day of putting one foot in front of the other. 

Leaving Mystic, there was a short jaunt to Gimlet Creek.  The beauty of the trail hadn’t stopped and neither my enjoyment of it.  I passed through yet another old railway tunnel and an old mining camp.  Close to Gimlet Creek I came upon 4 cows blocking the trail.  They stopped me in my tracks.  There wasn’t really a way to go around them and they were just standing there like a bunch of bullies – not wanting me to pass (at least they appeared like that from my perspective).  They were eyeing me up.  I turned around to look if there was anyone behind me that could help out.  There was a woman but she looked to be between ½ and a ¼ mile behind.  I didn’t want to wait so I knew I’d have to do something.  Of course I told them to “MOOOOO-ve” .  They just stood there staring at me.  I didn’t think cows charged, but what if they did?  I inched closer and told them to “MOOOO-ve” again.  They stood there for another (endless ) minute.  Finally, without warning, two of them took off and the other ones moved off the trail.  I continued and was thankful that they weren’t “real” wildlife – apparently I’m not too comfortable with non-human animals.

David saved my butt again as I came into Gimlet Aid station.  He ran out for ½ mile and as I saw him I was close to a house along the trail with 2 large dogs.  When they heard me, they started running at me growling and barking.  Like I said, I’m not great with non-human animals (unless they are small and friendly).  David projected his voice and told them to “go away”.  They did – and I was happy.  We ran into the next aid station.    My shirt was entirely wet as the temperature had gotten a little warmer.  I was also a little salty.  I took this opportunity to put on a clean DRY shirt (which made me feel so much better).   My legs were feeling great.  Not a lot of fatigue and my mood was excellent.  

The only issue was that my left trapezoid muscle (in my back) was feeling tight and my chest muscles were feeling tender.  Why?  Apparently training without hand-held bottles was not a smart move for me.  Even though they only weigh a little – the repetitive motion of carrying them in your hands works those muscles that I hadn’t trained.  Oh well, not much I could do now.  David thought to ask the aid station workers if they had any muscle pain relief (A5-35) – surprisingly they did.  David rubbed some on the tight spot on my back.  I could feel the heat penetrate my muscle.  While it didn’t take away the pain, the muscle felt a little less tight.  Off to Rochford!

Running to Rochford, the weather took a turn and it started to rain a bit.  The scenery was still incredible.  However  I didn’t have a raincoat with me –  I knew there was one in the car.  I would get one from David in Rochford.  Mile 37.4 aid station… but where was David?  I really needed that rain jacket!!  I wasn’t sure where he was, but I knew I couldn’t wait around.  I grabbed some food and mashed it into my mouth.  Not sure why, but I took a PB and J, put some chips in the middle of it and it tasted good.  The volunteers filled my water bottles and I was ready to go.  But I really was cold at that point.  I wondered what to do.  Then I had an idea, I asked if they had a garbage bag (which they did) and I tore a hole for my head and two for my arms.  Voila!  My rain jacket!  I asked the aid station volunteers that if they saw a bald guy in an orange car – tell him I already left.  They said “Will do! “  and I was off to Nahant – 6 miles away.

The garbage bag worked well.  It trapped heat as I ran along and I was soon almost a little too warm.  No problem – it was easy to tear some vents.  Except for my shoulder – I was doing incredibly well.  This was the most pain free ultramarathon I had ever run!  The 6 miles from Rochford to Nahant was still pretty but uphill, I passed through the 4th (and last) railway tunnel.  The trail opened up to a valley before Nahant.  Thankfully David was at Nahant when I got there.  Apparently he had gotten lost and I beat him to Rochford.  I was grateful to get my rain poncho out of the car and for some more A5-35 for my shoulder.  It would be another 6 miles until DMTM (Deadwood Mickleson Trail Marathon Aid station) and another uphill climb.

Stay tuned for part 3.

It's a good day to be alive,