Sunday, November 8, 2015

Mendon 30K 2015

I told myself I wasn't going to do this race, that 5 loops of this course last year was more than enough. And yet, somehow I ended up at the starting line, hugging Laura to stay warm.

I blame it on the weather. Registration for this race closed on Tuesday at 11:59pm. When I checked the weather on Tuesday morning, the forecast said 50 degrees and dry for Saturday. Perfect for running, and probably the best weather in the history of the Mendon Trail Races. Typically it's rainy or blizzardy. A "good" weather year is exceedingly rare. So then I had to sign up. The weather made me do it. Well, not entirely. I was also craving a long run to keep my mind off the fact that Pete is traveling this week in a not-particularly-safe part of the world. Running is just the thing when I need to work out whatever is on my mind or to focus on nothing except the awesomeness of the present moment or to make me too tired to think about anything at all.

When I woke up Saturday morning, my legs were tight and unhappy. I have never used a foam roller but for some reason my brain was all Hey, do that foam roller thing. So I did. The foam roller looks all innocent and innocuous, even a bit inviting. But don't be fooled. That bastard is not your friend. It is very painful. But then somehow my legs did feel a little better. So maybe the foam roller is like a no bullshit, tough love friend?

We met up at Alison's house and Steven drove us to Mendon Ponds Park. We arrived around 8am, just as the 50K runners were heading out. We picked up our bibs and then hung around with the crew in the lodge (where the fireplace is!! why do we ever leave this place?). Someone mentioned that you could drop down to the 20K or 10K during the race and I thought that I would probably end up doing that. I don't know why, but I just felt like this race wasn't going to go well for me. It had started to rain and I was cursing the weather forecast for being a liar, liar pants on fire.

But by the time the race started at 9:30am, it had cleared up and it was cool and partly cloudy, ideal for running. I was cold at the start but warmed up quickly once we started running, a fact that I always forget when deciding what to wear. Note to self, less is more. Especially when it comes to clothes. For running. In the first mile, I just focused on breathing and relaxing. I remember thinking that it was a beautiful day and I am incredibly lucky that I get to spend so many of my days on the trails with my friends. So I told myself that whatever happened today, I would just roll with it and love the crap out of it.

Thanks to Dave Cornell for the photo!

The first loop went by quickly, in just under an hour, which I think is the fastest I've ever run that 10K loop. And I've run that thing so many times. I ran all the hills, even that stupid kitty litter hill (it's covered in tiny stones that remind me of kitty litter). That was Todd's fault. I could see him just ahead of me and he ran the hill. And if the King Of Hills runs the hill, you gotta run the hill. I felt surprisingly good, but also a little worried that I was going too fast and wouldn't be able to maintain it. Around mile 5, I caught up to a guy who I assumed was also running the 30K but then he told me he was running the 10K. And I was like oh shit, that's not good. I should not be running with 10K people when I still have 2 loops left to go after this. But I was also like this is probably the only time in the history of trails that I'm ever going to be this close to Todd in a race, so I'll just try to keep up with him for as long as I can.

The second loop also went surprisingly well. I was mostly by myself, but I did get to stop and chat with Sheila briefly when I came upon her being all awesome and totally rocking the 50K. I finished this loop in just over an hour, feeling good enough that I headed back out for loop 3, after only a brief moment of wanting to stop at the 20K mark and call it a day.

The third loop was, not gonna lie, painful. Not the sharp pain of injury, but just the dull ache of fatiguing muscles that were all We don't normally run this fast. For the love of cake why are we running this fast? I had run most of the hills in the second loop (even kitty litter hill again. I can't even blame Todd. That one was entirely my own fault). But now my legs were protesting this policy. So I started power hiking the uphills and trying to let go and unleash on the downhills and flats. I was mildly successful at this, in that I didn't trip and fall. The last 3 miles felt like an eternity. I knew I was so close to the end but I felt like I'd never get there. Everything reminded me of Pete - 2 little kids playing catch with a football, a guy cheering who was wearing a RIT hat - and that made me miss him even more. But finally I saw the fence and the final downhill to the finish. Suddenly my legs started sprinting. And I was all like Oh hey, sudden burst of energy, where've you been? I could have used you 3 miles ago. This loop was my slowest, at an hour and 5 minutes, but still one of my personal fastest times here.

Thanks to Sam for this photo!

We hung around for a little while after the race, cheering, drinking hot chocolate and eating PBJ bagels. Then we went back out on the course to try and find Stephen's water bottle that he had tossed in the woods when he got tired of carrying it (within the first mile, which made me laugh). But we didn't find it. My stomach was feeling all sorts of no good for the rest of the day, which I hope doesn't become a thing because I really don't enjoy spending that much time in the bathroom. Ain't nobody got time for that shit. I had to drink my weight in ginger ale before I finally felt better.

I could say that I'm not going to do this race again. It's probably not going to be this gorgeous in November in Rochester again next year. And there are just soooo many loops. But even I don't believe me. Because this race is awesome. The trails are beautiful, the uphills are great and the downhills are even better. Brian Thomas and the Rochester Orienteering Club always put on a well-organized event with a relaxed, casual vibe. And there's no better way to spend a Saturday than hanging out with your friends in the woods eating PBJs.

Lyric of the moment: "And when the gas runs out just wreck it, you insured the thing. I don’t need to walk around in circles, walk around in circles, walk around in circles, walk around in..." ~Soul Coughing "Circles"

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