Monday, July 09, 2007

Big Leo puts mind over matter in the Blue Hills

One of the best things about being a competitive athlete is the ability to surprise ourselves. For some, it’s a faster time than we expected, but for most of us, it’s pushing ourselves to finish a race deep down we thought we might not be able to.

At about 30 minutes into the Blue Hills Skyline Trail Race, Big Leo Fahey was having those thoughts. He had jumped at the chance to run a challenging trail race when I emailed it out last week, but after running the first quarter of the race he clearly had some regrets. It was written all over his face. I know that look, too. It was the look I had on my face that time I was at Six Flags and got on a ride with no line without seeing what it did--and then realizing what I'd gotten into with no way of getting out of's a look of concern, disappointment, frustration and a tiny bit of disgust.

For the uninitiated, the Blue Hills race is a very challenging 7.2 mile course over the skyline trail, filled with very steep climbs and a LOT of very technical footing—sharp rocks line the majority of the trail on this race. Winning times are over an hour, if that gives you an indication of the difficulty for even the most experienced trail runners. Let’s put it this way—not a lot of clydesdales in this one.

But Big Leo surprised himself (not me, I knew he’d get ‘er done) and toughed it out. He pushed himself HARD on the uphills and negotiated the technical downhills like a pro—you’ve never seen a guy this size dance downhill like he does, even when his legs are completely trashed. Even the long final descent down the ski hill Leo pushed himself to the limit.

In the end, Leo finished a race I am sure he didn’t think he’d finish on a hot day in July. It was two hours of torture, but when you get to our age, sometimes it’s hard to surprise ourselves. And when you do, it feels good.

Friends of NETT Karen Ringheiser and Dima Feinhaus both ran the Blue Hills race for the first time and did great--Karen winning the female Masters prize and Dima cruising through it smoothly (official results to come later)

1 comment:

banana #3 said...

Great Job Leo!

Sounds like you just kept re-raising until the skyline trail folded!