Monday, August 10, 2015

TrailsRoc Mighty Mosquito 99 Mile Relay

This past weekend was the inaugural TrailsRoc Mighty Mosquito 99 mile relay race. I'm having trouble finding the words to adequately express the enormity of gratitude and love I feel for TrailsRoc in general and this event in particular. Infinity of thanks to Eric, Sheila, Ron, Sean, Mike, Valerie, Dave, HBO and all the volunteers (especially Laura and Sonia. Next year you'll be running with us!) for your countless hours of work putting on this event and fighting off possums/mice and being the epitome of awesomeness. All the love and hugs to my SWAT Team, SPC1 and 99 Problems But A Mosquito Ain't One for always bringing the laughs and the encouragement and the snacks. Innumerable high fives and car touchings to Brian VB and Mike V and Chris O'B. I don't even know how you ran your 99 miles and 65 miles and 40+ miles out there but it was the most inspiring and impressive thing I have ever seen. All of my love and my everything to Pete who let me borrow all the things for this weekend, from his van to his cooler to his deodorant (Somehow I always forget deodorant when I spend the night before a race at Pete's house. But I did run the fastest I have ever run on trails at this race, so maybe there is something to that manly deodorant).

Friday night, my best friends from school had a pre-wedding BBQ party for Pete and I and it was so much fun. It is amazing to have friends who have known me since 7th grade and who are crazy busy raising these adorable tiny humans but still make time to hang out with the likes of me. I am the luckiest.

Saturday morning, Pete, Steven and I packed up Gus (Pete's van. I call him Gus because of the license plate. Sometimes I call him Fun Gus), and headed to Balsam Bagels for breakfast, where we ran into Bob. Once we were sufficiently carbed up, we headed to Mendon Ponds Park to check in and set up our camp/van camp/chair & snack circle. Van camp was made up of Gus, Shamu and Candy Van and was quite vantastic!
SWAT Team. Game faces on.

The race course consisted of three 5ish mile loops and each relay runner would run each loop once, staying in order. The SWAT Team really brought the beast mode this weekend. Steven, Alison and Brooke all crushed it with super fast times on loop one, then it was my turn. Loop one, marked with yellow flags, was a fun, hilly 5.5 miles. I'm pretty sure Ron designed this loop to hit all the highest hills in the park. It was awesome! I was a little nervous at the start. I don't care about competing and we were just there to have fun, but at the same time I didn't want to let my team down. The few days before the race had been stressful for me with some personal stuff going on, so I had done the thing where I cried a bunch to get it all out and then got to the place where I knew that somehow everything would be okay. Then, as it usually happens, I started running and everything turned out better than I could have ever expected. With my Beast Mode socks on, I headed out, hoping to complete this loop in under an hour. The time seemed to fly by. I was running mostly by myself, but I did get to see a few people in passing. At one point, I had some gunk in my throat so I spit it out. It was a perfect spit and I thought that Pete would be proud (a couple of months ago we had been running in Mendon and Pete stopped to give me some spitting lessons). Then I heard my watch beep and I looked down to see that I'd already run 4 miles! Surprisingly I was running pretty fast, for me at least. I turned a corner and saw Chris up ahead, just out for a 40+ mile training run on a super hilly course like it was no big deal. I was all like "O'Brien!!! Awesome job, you've got this!" And he turned around, probably like who is this crazy person yelling at me? I stopped to walk at the next big hill, then I heard him say "Get up there, Pratt!" so I knew I had to run the rest of the hill. I mean, if he was out here doing this loop 6 times, the least I could do is run this one hill. So I did. Then I got to run across a big log and that was awesome. Soon enough I was making my way to the finish, where I handed off our race bib to Bob. While Bob and John sped through their loops, I relaxed at chair camp with the crew, eating snacks and playing frisbee and climbing trees with Danielle.

Loop two, marked with blue flags, was a fast and flat 5.3 miles, designed by Sheila. I loved this loop. I was really cruising. I looked down at my watch once and was stoked to see I'd just run a 7:50 something mile. This race was the fastest I'd ever run on trails before and it felt great. Some days everything goes your way and you get to run fast and full of joy. There was a nice section of two way traffic on this loop, which I loved because I got to see a lot of friendly faces both coming and going. Before I knew it, I was coming back through the finish line again. We spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out and laughing. And all I could think was this is it, this is living at its best.

Then it was almost midnight and I was wrapped in a blanket at the finish/exchange point, waiting for Brooke to come in. Loop 3, marked with orange flags, was 4.5ish miles designed by Mike M and wound through meadows and root-filled trails. It was dark and I'm a morning person through and through, but oddly, I was super awake and pumped, albeit a tiny bit worried that I would get lost by myself in the dark because I am terrible at directions. Steven told me I'd be fine by myself in the dark, and I probably would have been. But like most things in life, it was better with good company. Alison and Brooke had both come in with the runners from Summer School Varsity XC, a team of teachers. So when it was my turn to head out, their teammate, Dan, said he would run with me. I told him I would try to keep up but he should totally go on ahead if he wanted. He promised to stay with me for the whole loop and he did. Trail runners are the best.  As we headed out, he joked "Didn't your mom ever tell you not to go into the woods with strange men?" And I said "That's how I met my fiancĂ©." He definitely pushed me to go faster than I would have if I was on my own. And it was a lot easier to find our way in the dark with two headlamps and two sets of eyes. Or sometimes three sets of eyes. We saw some glowing eyes on the side of the trail at one point, but luckily it turned out to be just a deer. During one of the meadow sections, we stopped to look up at the stars for a few seconds. I hardly ever run at that time of night and it was so peaceful and amazing out there. Soon we were running through the finish line again and then Bob and John brought team SWAT in for a 2am finish.

I slept for about 3.5 hours. In a van. Down by Hopkins Point. Then Pete, Steven, Brooke and I went to Pete's to shower and then Bob met us at the Golden Fox for breakfast. Then it was back to Mendon Ponds to pack up our stuff and say our goodbyes. I don't think I have ever been so tired or so happy. This race was most likely the last race I will ever run as Jen Pratt. And I couldn't think of a better way to pay homage to the era of Pratt and to welcome in the future era of Lacey. May the adventures and the runs and the love continue!

Lyric of the moment: "Run. Running all the time. Running to the future with you right by my side..." ~No Doubt "Running"

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