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

Friday, May 6, 2011

7 Sisters

Finishing another (and my
last) 7 Sisters Trail Race
[Courtesy Gianina Lindsey]
"You cannot get ahead while you are getting even."  -Dick Armey

Amherst, MA -- 7 Sisters just isn't "my thing".  Two sisters, heck even 4 sisters maybe...but seven is way past my limit.  Last weekend I once again ventured to western MA with my teammate Rich Lavers (and others) to take on the vaunted 7 Sisters Trail Race.  Despite my epic physical collapse last year, I made the decision to give this race one more go in an attempt to redeem my performance from 2010.  When we arrived on race site we met teammates Timmy Lindsey, Dan Hayden, Judson Cake, and Ryan Welts.  Unlike last time around, this time around I had a race plan.  Run the downs going out easy, power walk the steep ups, and try to split between 1:15-1:20.  The race starts with an immediate 15%+ sharp basalt scattered ascent.  The combination of being fresh (it's the beginning of the race) and fairly descent at climbing (up) this initial section was a great warm-up.  Rich and I stayed together for the entire 6 miles out.  As I picked cautiously downhill other competitors flew by.  Having done that last time and failed miserably I tempered my competitive spirit and let them go.  As we approached the turnaround I was surprised to see that we had run a 1:14.  It really felt much, much slower than that.  Both of us caught a quick splash and headed back out.  At some point in the next 20 minutes I told Rich that we might as well turn the event into a 2-man adventure race and work together to help each other to a PR.  Rich had run 3:20 here last year after a terrible fall and deep forearm laceration with 4 miles to go left him no other choice then to walk it out.  With our 1:14 split, assuming both of us stayed upright, his PR was safe and with as good as I felt mine was also in play.  On the return trip we'd take turns pushing and pulling.  When I noticed he was falling off the pace I put him in front so we'd stay together (a typical strategy in adventure racing).  After a series of climbs he'd return the favor.  And then, with less than two miles to go, my 7 Sisters demons returned.  As we negotiated a steep ascent my legs seized causing me to immediately stand upright making the climb nearly impossible.  I called to Rich to ask if he still had any of the Shot Blocks left that I had seen him stow before the race.  In a twist of tremendous fortune he did and he graciously gave them up.  Without him, and those Shot Blocks, it would have certainly been a repeat performance...or worse.  In moments the cramps had abated and we were again moving purposely forward as the clock ticked past 2:40 on our final ascent.  Now with only minutes to go to set a PR (2:49:11 in 2010), Rich led us down the final steep sketchy descent.  With all I could do to stay upright and with my adductors twinging to signal an impending revolt I shuffled downhill toward the finish taking one last peek at my watch.  Although not a picture perfect effort, I crossed the finish in 2:46:18 good enough for a nearly :03 PR and a nice final chapter to my 7 Sisters experience.  Rich finished 8 seconds ahead securing his own PR and redemption from a course that took it's measure of flesh last spring.  It was also a great day for acidotic RACING as Trigger Point Performance sponsored athlete Judson Cake finished 8th overall, Ryan Welts 14th, and Dan Hayden 34th.  And less than two weeks removed from his first Boston Marathon, 7S rookie Timmy Lindsey finished in just under 4 hours.  A cruel testament to the brutality of this race.  On the 3 hour ride home I had plenty of time to reflect.  Although pleased with the PR, I finally realized that this type of trail/mountain 'hiking' is just not my cup of tea.  I'm simply just not motivated enough to put in the miles necessary to perform to my potential but I have a great deal of respect for the 82 people who finished ahead of me.  7 Sisters is an epic race.  But from now on I'll experience it through the tales of others.

NEXT UP:  Northfield Mountain Trail Race



  1. Chris,

    Hey you PR'd, that's always a win.

  2. Nice report. I also got destroyed by the course in 2010 and got revenge against this brutal course in 2011 with a PR. That last major climb out of the low place seems to have sidelined many runners with cramps....shot blocks and Cliff Shot are the only way through it!