Dare Mighty Things

"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

Sunday, May 2, 2010


Amherst, MASSACHUSETTS--It's been a while since I had my rear end handed to me like the 7 Sisters Trail Race handed it to me today.  Just a complete arse whoppin.  About the only saving grace was spending the day (uh, sharing the agony) with teammates.  aR had a strong showing with six athletes including Ri, Ryan, Steve W., Rich, Geoff, and myself.  The light rain and overcast skies pre-race should have been an omen.  The clouds definitely burned off with temperatures soaring into the mid 80's.  Not having run this race before I was completely at a loss as to a race plan (probably another omen).  Steve and others had filled me in on the course but no measure of words could have prepared me for the killer climbs that lay ahead.  The start was exactly as described...10 feet of running before the entire line of runners began immediately walking uphill.  Rich stayed close and we picked our way up the first climb.  I was feeling very strong for the first 6 miles to the turnaround arriving at the end point around 1:12.  I had lost Rich and passed Wolfe somewhere between 4 and 6.  As I was leaving the turnaround aid station Steve was rolling in and hollered that he was coming after me.  Shortly before the 8 mile mark, while negotiating a steep rocky ascent, my quads began to seize.  I knew right away that it was going to be a long 4 miles to the finish.  I picked up my hydration and Endurolyte rate but with very little success.  While I could shuffle along on some of the flats none of the ups or downs were runnable for me.  It wasn't long before Wolfe caught and passed me.  He encouraged me to tag along but the conductor had already punched my ticket on the pain train.  I refilled at each of the water stops on the way back and even stopped to pee.  Looking at my watch as I summited the final climb, with only a treacherous basalt scree descent to the finish, the watch told the entire story.  I crossed the finish line in 2:49:12.  I was over :30 slower on the way back.  When I finished and sat down both of my quads went into a hyperspasm from hell and I laid on the ground for 20 minutes with my legs straight until the cramps abated.  Although I think my nutrition was adequate, I think my pacing was way too fast.  I should have hit the 1/2 way mark closer to 1:15ish.  As I write the results are not posted, but Geoff was around the Top 10, Ryan the Top 25, and Ri just outside of that.  Wolfe finished 4 minutes ahead of me (1:00 if you subtract the time I took to pee).  In the only real trail mishap of the day, Rich took a 'Graham' on a descent within the final 3 miles and suffered a deep laceration on his forearm.  After he fell he was so spooked that he walked the rest of the way.  Roughly 4 weeks until Pineland Farms and I need to find my mojo again.

NEXT UP: Hoppin Mad Mud Run


  1. Heck, I never broke 3hrs on that course. Great job! You still have your mojo... it's just hiding from those 7 evil women!

  2. At least you got you're ass whoppin out of the way. You'll be the one doing the ass kicking at Pineland Farms.

  3. Your post race experience made my quads hurt and I am just sitting on my couch

  4. don't get too down about your results from Sisters on an 85 deg day. it's the toughest race in the Grand Tree Series (imho). knowing the course well and not being very heat tolerant, i had a race day temp. limit of 65 so i took a pass. unless you're unphased by heat it's just a grueling $25 training run. good on ya for sticking it out.

  5. I had a similar thing happen to me with my quads in the Alps last summer. There was no way it was electrolyte or dehydration related, and I concluded it was simple muscle fatigue. Both myself and the Sherpa I was running with cramped on an ascent up to col, but we managed to recover by walking about a 100 meters and then easing back into the pace. There really is no place to recover at 7 Sisters without basically stopping. I usually get cramps right at the final climb at 7 Sisters, even on cool days, and a similar thing happens about 2 miles from the finish at Escarpment.

    The fatigue may be due more to the downhills than the uphills, as most don't run hard downhills in workouts. Many a runners race has been ruined by hard downhill running at the Sisters.

    That heat sure was rough...


  6. Ben, thanks for the great insights. I think you're absolutely correct that it was probably more quad/adductor fatigue than dehydration per se. As Ben Franklin once said, "Fatigue makes cowards of us all."

  7. That was my first race ever. I had no idea what I was in for. For some reason I can't wait for next year...