"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those timid spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat." -Teddy Roosevelt
What a day to slog through 14 miles of mud! I raced the 10th Annual Xterra Muddy Moose 14 Mile Trail Race this morning in Wolfeboro, NH. As luck would have it, the past two days here in the northeast have been unseasonably warm as we went from wintah right to summah. The objective today was to use this effort as a training session for next month's Pineland Farms Trail Race. The longest I had run in '09 was 10 miles...on the road. Knowing the conditions would not lend themselves to 7:00 miles I projected a goal finish of right around 2 hours. A strong showing of acidotic RACING teammates turned out including Austin, Liz, John Skewes, Erik, and the ever present Sherpa John. The Muddy Moose is an interesting event with two events happening simultaneously, a 4 & 14 miler. Everyone starts together so the trick, as I've been told, is to not get dupped into pushing hard early with the 4 milers. I did my best to hold back and find a comfortable pace early. Liz was right with me and Austin just behind as we made the turn into the first two miles of mud. Sherpa was just ahead and I watched intently as he seemed to select the gnarliest line choosing to run through the mud as oppose to my line...around the mud. I figured I'd find enough muck as the race progressed so I tried to save my legs. By roughly the 4 mile mark I had passed SJ again and seemed to hold him off for the next 6 miles. During those six we negotiated an interesting (but unknown to me) lollipop. At one point on the lollipop (I went right by the way) a number of strong runners flew past me running in the opposite direction. I deduced right away that it must be an out and back. The 5 or 6 places I had picked up at the 5 mile aid station in my mind had moved me up into the Top 10. As runners kept running past me (in the opposite direction) I lost count at 15. Puzzled, I turned and asked a fellow competitor the course layout. It was then that she informed me of the lollipop with runners having the option to right left or right around the loop. At the 10 mile mark (more or less) SJ hammered past me on a sweet ridgeline singletrack section. He implored me to follow but I could feel him slipping away as his ultra training has definitely put him at a sizeable fitness advantage over me (not to mention the 10+ years he's got on me). I maintained the gap as we raced down a dirt road but I had only one gear...and that one was pretty darn worn. He disappeared for the last time as we hit the 2 mile muddy section. I was definitely impressed by his fitness having a chance to experience it close up. I managed to run the final climb to the finish and taped in 2:06:&change. Didn't bother to find out the place as I lost at least 3 spots within the final 2 miles and was a little discouraged at my finish. My bet is just outside of the Top 20. Carrying the 60 oz of HEED and Endurolytes was key. Other than the typical AT tenderness that dogged me the entire way, I didn't seize up and really only lacked fitness at that distance. I've got a month to get fitter at the 15k+ distance. The clock is ticking.
"Beyond the very extreme of fatigue and distress, we may find amounts of ease and power we never dreamed ourselves to own; sources of strength never taxed at all because we never push through the obstruction." - William James