Tuesday, October 04, 2011
MiniPonies Tackle the Trails at Nipmuck Marathon
A couple hearty MiniPonies took to the trails at the Nipmcuk Trail Marathon on Sunday and the results were one great finish, one acceptable finish given the circumstances, and a whole lot of stories to tell.
First, we'll check in with Mary "Candy Pants" Smith on her race. CP finished 7th woman overall in 4:50 (time means nothing in this event, except to say it's a rugged run). But it's not even so much WHAT she did, but how she did it. Starting out easy, weaving her way up through the pack, bee-bopping along most of the way, and finishing looking like she could have run another 10 miles. Here's her report:
"Overall this was a great race! A little crazy, a smidge muddy, and a bit hilly...but I would do it again. The race was 2 out and back runs: 6+ miles one way back to the start and then 6+ miles in the other direction and then back to the finish. The out and back on the single track made it tougher to pass (especially when the speedy runners were coming toward you) but it was encouraging to see the other runners. Somehow Dave managed to provide pertinent advice both times we passed each other.
I was a little nervous going into the race, wondering if I trained enough - I just ignored that part of my brain until the race started. The pre-race de-brief was informative yet, shall we say 'interesting'. I don't think words could explain the actions of Nipmuck Dave & his pre-race mud jaunt. When the race started, I was toward the back, which was good and bad...good because it forced to start slowly, but bad because it was hard to pass on the single track. The people in front of me were walking up every hill and through every mud crossing (and there was plenty of mud). The 1st 3 miles of the race were slow and mentally tough - trying to navigate around the other runners. About 30 minutes into the race, the weather gods decided it wasn't muddy enough, so they brought on some more rain. It rained just long enough to make sure everything was soaked and that the mud was plentiful.
I got to see Dustin & Doris (our biggest fans) at the half way point. Dustin told me I could quit the race, but I told him that if I quit - I'd have to find another marathon to run before the wedding (I set a goal for myself to run one more marathon before the wedding-mission accomplished). I enjoyed the 2nd half of the race more than the 1st, even though the 2nd half was slightly longer & more technical. All the runners spread out and I was able to run alone in the woods...and there was less mud. Plus, since I started so slowly, I was able to speed past people who were starting to struggle. A memorable section of the 2nd half was having to slide over a big fallen log (because it was too big for me to jump) but then crossing a marshy area - where I had to wade into shin deep water for 3 or 4 steps before I got to the footbridge (which was also submerged). I thought of it as a way to clean off some of the mud. The course continued through the woods, on a short stretch of dirt roads, over some significant climbs, and down a treacherously slippery set of stairs to the final turnaround.
The last 6 miles were challenging, but we were all like horses headed to the barn. I tried using Jean Dany's attitude of "run harder when you're tired so you finish sooner". I saw Doris & Dustin again at one of the aid stations, and then was off to finish the race. The last 2 miles were the toughest but I knew the end was near. As I crested the last hill and headed to the finish I felt "OK" but was glad to see Dustin waiting for me at the bottom - I knew it was almost over and that I was about to finish! I finished in 4:50 slightly slower than Dave's 3:55 effort.
There was post race food and drink (who in their right mind wants more Gatorade after a marathon). We got some food, checked some results, & I even found some evidence of Candy - CP lives on!! Thanks to Dustin & Doris for waking up at 5am on a Sunday, and especially to Dustin who missed all the 1:00 football games!"
Crazy Dave could have taken a lesson from Candy Pants and taken a different approach. Unfortunately for him, the race played out in a not-so-pleasant manner. A slightly upset stomach meant he limited his food intake to basically less than half a sports bar. And for a race this long, that spells disaster. The last five miles, he was not his usual peppy self and struggled up some of the hills he was actually looking forward to early on. The result? He gave up two places in the last 1/4 mile to finsih 6th overall in 3:55, good for first master (thanks mostly to a kids' soccer game up in NH somewhere).
As the photos on Dustin and Mary's Facebook show, Crazy Dave was basically a ghost after the race (check out the last picture as well as Dustin's hilarious comments throughout!), turning whiter than Pat Boone at a Clan rally. Not to worry for all of his many many fans out there, all's well with Crazy Dave and he's back to his usual wisecracking self (as the previous and current sentence will attest to).
The Shenipsit Striders did a great job putting this race on for the first time in the fall. They made sure there was plenty of mud, a couple knee deep water crossings, and plenty of aid at the aid stations and volunteers on the course. Congrats to Clint Morse, taking the reigns from Nipmuck Dave.
HUUUUGE thanks to:
Dustin for waking up at the crack of dawn, driving all the way there and back, taking pictures and all out support.
Doris for the continued support and post-race medical care.
The race volunteer in the white Boston Marathon jacket who watched Crazy Dave like a hawk after the race, repeatedly asking if he was okay and if there was someone coming to get him. No joke--that is exactly what he (I) needed at the time whether he (I) knew it or not.
The Newton Wellesely Hosptial Bear for checking vitals.
And ALL of the race volunteers who spent a long Sunday in the woods so that a bunch of us whackos could run around in the mud.