Sunday, May 1, 2016

Medved Madness 2016

I woke up early Sunday morning to the sound of rain. Hoping for the best, I ate some Sunny Six Grain toast with almond butter. Sadly, the bread, while delicious, did not make it any sunnier out. It had been a great weekend filled with adventures in eating Indian food, celebrating Baisakhi and attempting Bhangra dance at Tandoor of India with Prem and his family, Bob, Alison, Steven and Todd, and going to May Day Underground, Brainery Bazaar, the public market and packet pick-up with Alison. But then I looked out the window Sunday morning and I knew it was going to be a sloppy, wet, muddy mess of a race. I started to get nervous that I would be tired and slow or fall in the mud/horse shit. And then I thought, why am I nervous? It's just a race, it doesn't matter. And then I started to cry, because what actually matters to me is Pete and he is not here. I finally left the house after two false starts, where I had to go back in and wipe off the tears. But once I arrived at Hopkins Point and saw everyone, I was happy, not so much with the rain, but at least to be there. 

Steven and I did a warm-up mile, which brought some heat back into my body and convinced me that I'd be overheated in the windbreaker I'd been planning to wear. So I changed into a long sleeve t-shirt just before the start of the race. Mort made some announcements, Dan told us there was a bucket in the pond and we had to run through the water and around the bucket, or drink from the bucket, and then we were off to the start line. Thankfully, the rain had mostly stopped at this point and it was just a bit damp and chilly.

The course is three separate 5ish mile loops, marked with different colored flags since some of the loops overlap a bit. On the first loop, I told myself my mantra for this section was relax. Right from the start I could tell it was going to be a muddy day so there was no point in delaying the inevitable. I was behind some people who were hesitating on a muddy single track section, but I didn't want to hesitate, I just wanted to go. The Doors song popped into my head, "The time to hesitate is through. No time to wallow in the mire," as that was exactly how I felt. I passed a few of the cautious people and slogged on through the mud. When I came to the first road crossing, I heard my name and saw G and Jenn on their road run, with impeccable timing! I spent most of the race running by myself, but at times I could see Prem and Mark ahead of me so I'd try to catch up with them. Sometimes I did, but then inevitably they would pass me again. The water we had to run through at the end of this loop did nothing to clean the mud off my legs and sadly, there was just dirty water in the bucket, not chocolate milk like I was hoping. But I got a high five from Mort as I passed through the finish chute and headed out for loop two.

Loop two, I told myself the mantra for this segment was repeat. I was trying to actually do a "race pace" and it felt good, I just had to keep it up. But repeat soon morphed into re-Pete. Which made me tear up. So I put my hand on my chest, over the dog tags I was wearing under my shirt, thought I love you Pete, and then the mantra became refocus. My plan was to run every hill and only stop to walk once I got to Cardiac Hill at the end (because I need more hill work, as I feel woefully underprepared for Cayuga marathon next month). This was all going well until about mile 9, when running the hills stared to seem like a terrible idea. I would catch up to Prem on every uphill and then he would take off again on every downhill or flat. The mantra devolved into release, wherein I would release an internal monologue of profanity to fire me up each hill (*edited for content: Freaking lawmower not freaking starting yesterday, freaking Navy being a freaking cockblocker for 7 freaking months).

The third loop was more of the same, only longer. Mud. Chasing Prem and Mark. Internal swearing powering me to run up all the hills. But I still felt good. I was going at a challenging yet mostly comfortable pace. My leg game was strong. My head game, while a bit shaky pre-race, was back on point. My stomach game, however, was about to go off the rails. In the last few miles, the mantra further devolved into don't regurgitate. Thankfully, I did not. I caught up to Steven, which never happens, so I knew something was wrong. He did not look well and told me he'd run out of gas, so I gave him a nut bar from my pack and asked if he needed water or salt tabs. He said he had both, so I kept going. For what felt like forever, but was actually less than 4 miles. Mort is awesome, but his loop is kinda the worst. It felt interminable, so much so that when I finally got to Cardiac Hill, I was overjoyed. Because I could finally take a walk break, and I knew the course was practically all downhill afterwards. Also, Alison was with me at this point, which motivated me to try and keep up with her to the finish, where we got simultaneous high fives from Mort.

Alison, Chris and I walked the course backwards to find Steven and make sure he was okay. He still looked pale and in pretty bad shape, but he finished like the total badass that he is. I went back out to cheer for Stacey and Laura, who are totally kicking ass at running all the miles this year. Valerie, who is like the fairy godmother of finish lines, gave me a chocolate peanut butter brownie, which was of course, the best ever. I went back to the lodge, changed into dry clothes and enjoyed the trifecta of awesomeness: friends, food and fireplace. Stomach game continued to be kinda iffy, which was annoying. But I did finish about two minutes faster than last year, so I can't complain.

This is one of those races that I will end up doing almost every year. Because it's just awesome. Even though by the end I totally understood why people use the term "out of the woods" to describe someone who has made it through a trying ordeal. I'm kidding. The woods are the best. Though coming out of the woods to food (but seriously, that veggie rice, that ish was so good! I could see that it had mushrooms in it and I ate it anyway, it was that good), shelter and 10th anniversary race cake is pretty sweet too.

Lyric of the moment: "So when you're caught in a landslide, I'll be there for you, I'll be there for you. And in the rain, give you sunshine. I'll be there for you, I'll be there for you. And every time that you're lonely, every time that you're feeling low, you should know, I'll be there for you, I'll be there for you, you know..." ~Oh Wonder "Landslide" (This is becoming the theme song of every race. Because apparently there is no escaping the mud ever.)

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