When the blisters have popped and you have trimmed off the dead skin and when the swelling has gone down, what memories of the race are you left with? For me it's the blisters, swelling, etc. But after time has passed, other repressed memories surface, and here are a few.
VHTRC Seniors. Steve Pero had the idea of putting a team together of just VHTRC seniors. He wanted fast runners, too. But since he couldn't get all the fast VHTRC seniors, I was asked to join the team. Not that it's sour grapes or anything, but I'd like to say a few words to those teams that recruited the fast seniors. It's not fair. I've heard of robbing the cradle, but this is a blatant case of robbing the nursing home. I hope those team members get a deleterious skin rash when they crawl under their team blankets. Anyway, we five "teamies" all exchanged emails before the race setting forth in great detail the various excuses we would have on race day if things didn't turn out quite as well as we had planned. Good thing, too, as we would need them. Which brings me to Kerry Owens. Before the race she had told me she was not in shape. That didn't make me feel all that great as she passed me (she had already passed Frank and GaryR) just before we returned to Fountainhead. But to make matters worse, as she passed me, she said, "Your team has issues." I didn't say anything at the time, but I was thinking: "We don't got no stinkin' issues; we're just old." I'm sure (or am I?) that her comment was not ill intended. Besides, Kerry is an experienced trail runner, having completed more 65-mile 100s than anybody I know.
Runner Dude. Not only did Steve assemble our team and as such was the team captain, but he also finished in an excellent time. If he could only run faster, our team would have done better. But Steve is not content with just forming the team, he also likes to meddle in your personal life. For example, after the race when we had all changed and were lounging on the grass, he told me that I shouldn't tuck my t-shirt in. He said he used to do that but Deb told him that it looks better not tucked in. I told him I wanted to look like a geek. The next day at breakfast, I told my kids that we were going to go outside and that I was going to change into shorts. My daughter (age 8) said, "Don't tuck your shirt in, it's not stylish." I asked her where she heard that. She said, "That runner dude from yesterday." Thanks, Steve; now I'll never get my kids to tuck their shirts in. We just have to remember that kids are impressionable. And speaking of impressions, she has a great impression of someone falling down. After the race, she was imitating someone falling down in a weird way. When I saw her doing that, I asked her who fell like that. She had apparently been watching someone and she pointed over to John Hayward, who had both knees and an ankle wrapped in ice. I would also like to point out that John was on Kerry's team, so if there's a team with issues, it's that one.
Volunteers. One of the things that struck me most about the race was how helpful the volunteers were. Maybe it's because it's been a while since I've run a VHTRC event. You can't even catch your breath when you come into an aid station before someone is asking, "What do you need?" or "What can I get you?" It's surprising what the volunteers will do for you. Let me give you an example. I was with 2 runners, and one of them said that in a discussion he had the night before with one of the volunteers, it was agreed that if he (the runner) would give her (the volunteer) Mardi Gras beads during the race, she would take off her top. As it turned out, he did and she did. The other person I was with at the time said you could hear the cheers three ridges away. I, of course, thought this discussion was all rather shameful as guys just don't talk about things like a woman's breasts on a trail run. Having said that, I'd like to say that the email Gena sent me and others this week was pretty accurate. [Editor's Note: This e-mail contained a picture of a young boy at his first baseball game with a woman next to him in the stands trying to earn beads. To show the picture here would violate the VHTRC's decency policy.]
Runners. I'd like to mention a few runners I encountered along the way, although being mentioned in one of my articles is a dubious distinction at best.
John Prohira. John had an excellent race, finishing almost an hour faster than he has done before. I saw him several times during the race as we seesawed (is that a word?) several times. John is a well-known and well-respected ultrawriter. I'm well known for not being John Prohira. When I first came up behind John in the race, I wasn't sure I should say anything because I didn't want to interrupt any metaphysical reverie he might be in. And I wasn't sure what I should say. I'm not the kind of person to get into some advanced philosophical discussion on the benefits of ultrarunning (which, incidentally, I have yet to find). Anyway, after much pondering, I finally blurted out: "Hey, John, what part of New York are you from?" Well, that broke the ice and pretty soon we were talking about Mardi Gras beads.
RATS. CourtneyF and MikeY had another great race. Courtney finished over half an hour faster than her previous best time, making me wonder what else she's putting in her SUCCEED capsules. I also saw BrentF who asked me when I was going to run without my shorts, thus resurrecting memories of pure misery at MMT last year. Thanks, Brett.
Harry Bruell. If I ever write about seeing Harry in a race, you know the course has an out-and-back section. There are several kinds of people in a race: those who don't enjoy it and look it, those who enjoy it and don't look it, and those who enjoy it and look it. Harry is in the last group. He is always smiling. There are only two runners in this group: Harry and Greg Loomis. There is nothing more demoralizing than struggling in a race only to have one of those two guys going by you the other way with some phenomenal lead and with a big grin. They are both nice guys, but sometimes you just want to pull out some duct tape and cover up those grins.
Frankie from Jersey. They (not me) say people from New Jersey are not very bright. Frankie is no exception. Here's proof. He left the Fountainhead aid station just ahead of me and was a little confused about how to enter the white trail on the way back. He was visibly upset. He was also vocally upset. In fact, I would give him a "10" for upsetness. It was a great performance, even better than mine at Arkansas Traveller last October when I missed the turn just after the Powerline aid station. Anyway, Frankie spots me and asks if I'm going back and I said yes. He said he'd follow me. I know what you're all thinking: "What idiot would follow me in a trail run?" And that's what I thought, too. I didn't want to tell him that there are two people in ultrarunnerdom that you don't want to follow and that one of them is me (Mike Bur is the other, who by the way, also missed the turn after the Powerline aid station at AT100 the year before me).
Barry Lewis. I didn't realize Barry was that fast. Or that pampered. He gets better treatment from his wife than the elite athletes get at the Boston Marathon. As just one example, I saw them driving away after the race. The dog was in the back of the van. Barry was in a reclining seat in the middle holding a drink. And his chauffeur, I mean wife, was driving. They had about a 3-hour drive. Barry was probably asleep by the time they got on I-66.
Bob Phillips. Before the race, Bob told me that he was thinking about running MMT100 and wanted some information about drop bags. I make a list of the contents of all my drop bags at MMT and told Bob I'd bring them to the race. After the race, I went looking for Bob. He was sitting on a blanket with his leg stretched out up the hill with ice on his ankle. Well, it sort of still looked like an ankle. I can only imagine the size and color of it the next couple days. Apparently, he turned his ankle at mile 1.5 (he had sprained it pretty badly on Short Mt. earlier on a training run). I told him that he wouldn't be ready for MMT and that he certainly didn't want to risk spraining it again at MMT. Nevertheless, I gave him my papers and left, wondering what idiot would sprain his ankle so badly early in a race and then run on it for another 10+ hours.
Since I'm late in paying my membership dues, I would like to say that the VHTRC sponsored a world-class event. I'd pay my dues, but I'm still waiting for my $22 from Mike Bur.
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