Stone Mill 50 Miler

Stone Mill 50: "I Get By with a Little Help from My Friends”

by Kathleen Cusick

Disclaimer #1: Your choice of the Beatles or Joe Cocker, but to read this race report properly, please start singing, “I Get by with a Little Help from My Friends,” in your head NOW.

Disclaimer #2: If you are wanting a race report that conveys nutrition and gear utilization, splits, etc, you should stop reading now (but keep singing).

Kathleen Cusick - Stone Mill 2015I “ran” the Stone Mill 50 miler this past Saturday in Montgomery County, MD. Barry and Darryl put on a great event with smooth rolling trails, well-stocked aid stations, and wonderful volunteers. I committed to this race several weeks ago, not realizing that it would be the week following the Pinhoti 100 (Alabama – Roll Tide!) miler. However, I really wanted to honor my commitment – plus it was supposed to be sunny! I have done ten 100+ milers this year, and eght of them have been in nearly all-day and all-night precipitation of some type. What follows is my little race report of running a 50 miler the week after a 100 miler.

My legs, while not sore at the end of the Pinhoti, were definitely fatigued – I was like an old mare with no giddyup. This was likely due to the Cloudsplitter mud sucking all the energy out of them; then getting sick; then running Tussey Mountainback sick; then flying into the rain and wind of the “Windy City” the day following Tussey. But I digress ....

Toni Aurilio - Stone Mill 2015I was excited in the week leading up to Stone Mill for the chance to be on smooth pine needle trails in sunshine. However, I had no idea if my lungs were up to a 50 miler. I didn’t care. I prepared myself mentally to be out there the full 13 hours. I also knew that to finish this race, mentally and emotionally, I would need “a little help from my friends” along the course. I contacted members of Team Gaylord several days before the race, asking for their support, and also asking if someone could have a wheelbarrow on hand in case I needed to be pushed for a while (they worked the Riffleford Road AS, which is mile 10/40). They were enthusiastic in their replies, and I was thrilled to learn Toni Aurilio would also be out there running. (I first met Toni while doing the summer Double Ring – I will never forget coming into Camp Roos and Toni waving hot dog tongs and yelling phrases that I will omit from this race report in case children under 18 read it.) I KNEW if I saw Toni out on the course, she would kick my sorry butt along!!!

At race start, I trotted along, never wanting to be breathing hard. I was amazed at how quickly the early miles passed! And how good I felt! (I am NOT saying I was running fast, I am saying the time passed quickly.) Whenever I got a little down, I said to myself, “Make it to Bob, make it to Bob,” (Team Gaylord leader). I made it to their AS, excited to see them. During this race, I fell in love with the Hammer Niccola gels, so I grabbed a gel and moved along.

Again, the miles passed quickly. I did not walk at all, just trotted along. The trails were in great shape. I was surprised to roll into the Stone Mill AS (mile 28, and I literally rolled, as I tripped and fell going into the mill) in just over 4.5 hrs. I was really wanting a beer, but all they had was bourbon. I grabbed some avocado, and my 5 Hour Energy (since it was still there, I knew I had beat Gary Knipling into this aid station, as he told me before the race if he got there first he was going to drink it). I trotted down the dirt road, knowing there would likely be some special road marshals up ahead. Yes! Tom Corris and Art Perraud – and when I asked for beer, Angel Art shared his delicious pumpkin ale with me! “I get by with a little help (and beer) from my friends.” 

Bob Gaylord - Stone Mill 2015The stretch from miles 28-40 were enjoyable for the most part. I got a little tired once in a while, so would think, “Make it to Bob, make it to Bob.” I was very excited to see them again at mile 40, they lifted my spirits and made me want to hurry and finish so I could go back and hang out with them. 

During the last 10 miles, uphills, which I normally love, demanded a walk. That’s ok, it was a beautiful day in the woods. The last 1.5 miles on the road, I put on my IPod to drown out traffic – amazingly, I ran that entire section, even the hill. I crossed the finish line, grateful to be alive and feel the sunshine and enjoy the trails, and re-confirming my belief that it is entirely possible to do whatever we set our minds to (like run a 50  miler the week after a 100 miler) - “with a little help from our friends.”