A few minutes after crossing the finish line at the VT 50 I said to Emma "Under no circumstances are you to let me sign up for Stone Cat. Not even the marathon." I was not feeling very good.
On the drive home a few hours later I said "I think I'll just do the marathon, is that okay?" and like a good Trail Monster wife Emma told me I could. So when we got home that night we filled out our entry forms, Emma for the 50 and me for the marathon, and we mailed them the next day. So here I find myself, six weeks between a 50 and a marathon trying to figure out how to recover from one and train for the other.
Hopefully I can shed the black toenails before the next race.
We decided to take at least a week off after VT to recover, no major problems but we definitely needed some rest. Saturday we went for a nice long walk at Bradbury and then Sunday I got up absurdly early to help out with the Maine Marathon. I met Erik at 3:30 am to help set up all the aid stations on the course and then got back to the start line just in time to get ready for my next volunteer job. I spent the rest of the day picking up trash with the fine folks from Atayne.
Atayne is a performance apparel company founded by a couple of nice guys who are good runners, with a great idea about making clothing from recycled materials. Jeremy Litchfield and Michael Hall (Atayne's founders) coordinated a massive effort to clean up the Maine Marathon by separating recyclables at each of the aid station, as well as the finish line, and to do a sweep of the entire race course picking up all trash whether or not it was generated by the marathon. My job involded working at the 11.5/14.5 mile aid station in Yarmouth picking Gu packets out of the paper cup trash barrel for a few hours. I then ran from there back to Portland along the course with Jeff (Trail Monster) and Mike and Paige from Atayne taking turns pushing a baby stroller rigged up as a garbage carrier and running with trash bags. The highlight of the day was the Soy Sauce Sluts DVD that Mike found, and I think that went right into his pocket rather than into the trash. Other memorable trash items included a toilet seat and several McCain/Palin signs.
I got a really sweet shirt out of the deal (and all that satisfaction stuff about leaving the world a better place...) All said and done I got in almost 12 miles of slow running, like 3 hours slow, and I was totally beat. And I'm sure I smelled pretty bad too.
Monday was a rest day and Tuesday night I returned to Twin Brook for the first time in like three weeks. There was a pretty good turnout that included Blaine, Erik, Floyd, Jim, Shauna and Kathy. I forgot to bring a watch but I think we got in about 6 miles at a pretty good pace, nothing special but by no means slow. Felt good.
Wednesday we did a little wife carrying practice at the Western Prom. Thusday I ran from work with the intention of doing 2 laps of back cove, but Emma had found that pushing herself a little too much too soon left her in pain, so I decided to stop after one lap while I was still feeling good. No need to prove anything this week, besides, I was sort of saving myself the wife carrying competition.
Saturday we met Jim and Shauna (aka Fezzik and Buttercup) and headed up to Sunday River for the North American Wife Carrying Championships. I like saying the full name of the event because it makes it sound like we're going up against the best in the continent. We got there early enough to walk the 278 yard course before hand, including a practice run over the hurdle, a careful wading through the water pit and a run over the dirt pile. We were feeling pretty good about the preparation we had done this year, but as the start time approached we both got a little nervous. Based on when we registered for the event Emma and I were assigned number 7 which means we were scheduled to go in the fourth round of head to head competition against couple number 8. Unfortunately couples 1,2,3,5 and 6 wussed out and didn't make it to the start line so all of a sudden Emma and I found ourselves lined up as the first team to go.
This kinda sucked. I really wanted to see at least one team go through the course before us. Without much preparation the race organizer shouted "saddle up!" and before I knew it we were off and running. Not knowing what kind of time I had to beat I took off like a bat out of hell, I just wanted to get to the log hurdle first since that's where we got hung up last year. It was at least 150 yards up a gradual slope over very uneven terrain before we got to the first obstacle and I got there miles ahead of our competitors. We made it over cleanly and picked the speed back up again briefely before we hit the water pit. It was a steep and slippery descent into the freshly dug water pit and my pace slowed to a walk as the water level came up to the full height of my inseam (brrr...)
Not sure if our competitors were closing in or not I attempted to start running again as soon as we left the water. I leaned forward to gain momentum, forgetting that I had the weight of 90 beers (the prize if we should happen to win) on my shoulders and I stumbled forward dropping Emma. In a flash she was back on my back and we were off to tackle the last obstacle, a 6 foot hile pile of dirt. In a panic to hold onto our lead I took off running up the steep incline but as soon as the ground started to slope away on the other side the momentum got the best of me and lurched forward launching Emma ahead of me down the wood-chip covered slope. Feeling completely humiliated at having dropped my wife twice I got Emma back on and made a careful jog to the finish line. We managed to finish a full 5 seconds ahead of our competition but with the time penalties that would be added for the droppage I knew I had completely blown it.
Last year's winning couple returned to defend their title and it just so happened that Jim and Shauna got paired up against them. I'll just say that Jim ran a good race, Shauna held on tight, and last years winner was escorted off the course with his arm in a sling.
After the competition we got some beer, had lunch and then went for a nice easy run on the trails at the nearby XC ski center. None of us had much energy and we all had bellies full of food so we did a little under 4 miles before calling it quits.
On the side of a mountain we had the choice of going up or down to start with, not sure if we picked the right way.
Sunday morning we headed up to beautiful Lewiston, no really, it was a gorgeous day and right along the Androscoggin river with all the trees in full blaze it was quite pretty. We joined our friend Linda as she embarked on her first road race. Linda's son Chris was a Trail Monster who died in a car accident earlier this year and we decided to dedicate the Bradbury Scuffle race to Chris. Chris' parents Linda and Jerry were a big help at all the Bradbury races and Linda was inspired to take up running to carry on an important part of Chris' life.
Like any good adventure Linda found herself in some rough patches but she fought through it with a determination that would have made Chris proud, and Emma and I were glad to be a part of it. Linda just barely missed winning an age group prize, she finished 5 seconds behind first place and 4 seconds behind the second. Next time they better watch out!
Feeling a little single-track withdrawal I headed to Bradbury this afternoon to get in another run. My timing was probably pretty bad, about 2:30 in the afternoon and the place was infested with leaf peepers. My plan was to run a modified version of the Breaker course, skipping the descent on South Ridge and the climb of the Summit Trail, and I wasn't going to let any slow moving Mass-holes get in my way.
On my second lap I heard a small child say "daddy, isn't that the man we saw before!" I didn't stick around long enough to hear the rest of the conversation but I imagine it went something like this:
dad: "yes Billy, it is the man we saw before"
kid: "daddy, can you run that fast up a mountain?"
dad: "no son, your mother and I are fat and lazy and this 1.5 mile hike is just about killing us!"
7.75 miles at an even 9 minute pace. It was hard work but felt good. A few more runs like this and I'll have that big toenail completely dislodged.