Anstr was right: it was wet and muddy. And fun, except for the parts that were wet and muddy. The part I liked the best was eating bagels and pizza at the end. I thought you would like some random thoughts (as most of my thoughts are) about this event. Before I forget, kudos to Joe Clapper for making this all possible.
TequilaWhile money may not grow on trees, it's surprising what you'll find hanging from the branches in the Do Loop. How about a bottle of José Cuervo and a baggie of limes? As a public service, I'd like to give some background about this drink: "Since 1950, tequila has become a drink of distinction, bringing world-renown to a small Mexican town, the town of Tequila. True tequila is made from the Weber blue agave, a relative of the yucca and amaryllis. Agave is harvested when it is 12 years old and the juice after fermentation is known as pulque, it is then distilled in pot stills and creates a fiery drink called mezcal. Distilling for the second time refines the tequila which is aged in wax lined vats to produce white tequila or in oak casks to produce the mellow, gold colored tequila." Now you know. The official José Cuervo web site says drink responsibly. I don't think "tequila bonus miles" comes within this admonition.
High balls A highball is a cocktail that can be made with different liquors and often mixed with ginger ale. I think the ginger ale is a good idea, especially for trail runners who might be feeling a tad queasy. If you're not queasy, then you might want to try José Cuervo. But I'm not hear to talk about highballs-I"m here to talk about high balls.
"Depending upon the river, you could have some parts of the trail below Hemlock
under water." This is what Anstr wrote before the event. I had the same discussion with Gary the night before. Sure enough, the trail at that point was under water. Most of us took the portage and avoided the trail which was submerged. We called this "bushwhacking." For some unexplained reason, Anstr was standing in the river, or should I say "trail." It seemed quite deep. As the woman I was running with exclaimed: "Look at how high the water is. It's up to Anstr's balls!" Once again, I was mortified. Why couldn't she use more appropriate nautical terms like "fathom"? The depth of water is measured in fathoms, one fathom being 6 feet. >I can't fathom why women use such crude language. Anyway, the next time you see Anstr, please don't stare at him to see how deep the water was this past weekend.
Trail conscience By the time I waded through the water to get to Floating Bridge (this is the bridge just north of Bull Run Marina) the second time, I decided that I would avail myself of the opportunity to take a short cut back into Hemlock. I have to say it was very easy making this decision. I had mentioned this to Gary earlier in the race, but he said that I would get an "*" by my name when the results were posted. I told him that results weren't posted for a fat-ass. He said they were. I told him I wouldn't mind the "*". Besides, taking a shortcut, while not "condoned," is acceptable. Here's what Anstr wrote just before the event:
Short cut opportunity: If, on your way back, you want to cut off a mile or so, look for the new Red blazes for the horses as you approach Hemlock. A second short cut opportunity is to go straight up from the dam. Obviously, we don't condone short cuts, but this is a fat ass and anything goes.
I had decided that I would take the so-called "second short cut opportunity." I pretty much had all the fun I could eke out of this run, my hands were cold, and I wasn't looking forward to "bushwhacking" my way back up the trail.
I can't remember where I had gone ahead of Gary. So, when I decided at Floating Bridge to take a short cut, my goal was to get to that trail junction before Gary could catch back up to me. About a mile from the junction, Kevin passed me and said Gary told him to give me a ration of shit. My first thought: what did I ever do to Gary? My second thought, which I asked was how far back was Gary?. The answer: about a minute and a half. I decided to try to stay as close as I could to Kevin since he was probably running faster than Gary. As I found out later from Gary, he had spotted my stylish yellow attire (hat and vest), and he too had picked up the pace. Unbeknownst to me, the race was on.
At the exact moment I got to the trail junction and was about to make a right and head up the trail, I heard from behind me: "No you don't." Was it possible that my worst fears were just realized? Yes. I turned around and sure enough, it was Gary, who then said: "I'm your trail conscience." Unfortunately, I hadn't read Anstr's guidance until after the race, so I did not avail myself of the argument that taking a short cut was acceptable because "anything goes."
It's hard to describe the mental effort it takes to run a longer distance when I had been looking forward for about 45 minutes to taking this shortcut. I just wasn't psychologically prepared to run a longer distance and certainly not with Gary. I must say with great pride that I was able to continue on despite this overwhelming adversity.
Where's Linda? As Gary and I were running along, I remembered that Gary had been running with Linda, and I asked, "Where's Linda?" It would be easier for me to just recount the conversation:
J: Where's Linda?
G: I left her a little while ago.
J: This is her first ultra; why did you do that?
G: Because I need a lead in case she sprints at the end. Remember how we couldn't keep up with her on the Greenway?
J: No, I remember how you couldn't keep up with her on the Greenway.
G: Well, she's not too far back.
J: I don't think it's right to leave her. We are in a confusing part of the course; people sometimes have trouble finding the turn back up to Hemlock, especially those doing it for the first time.
G: What's your point?
J: I think we should wait for her.
I'm happy to report that we did do that. And we three finished together, all holding hands. It was nice to finish a race when it's not just me and Gary holding hands.
It doesn't matter . Although the water had subsided since the morning, some of the trail was still under water as we three headed back up the river. As we approached this section, Gary started to walk through the water, and I asked if we shouldn't bushwhack up the hill. As for the water, he said, "It doesn't matter." We had made several water crossings before, and the water was still as cold. But we were in this water for twice the time. Linda and I both agreed that it was not only cold but also downright painful. When Gary walked out of the water ahead of us, he turned and said, "I think it did matter." I can't fault Gary for making this more unpleasant than necessary; actually it's my fault because I just can't believe that I still listen to him. I hope you all can learn from my mistakes.
First ultra In addition to Linda, this was John's first ultra. John is Margie's husband. Both came all the way from Delaware, which I believe is still a state as opposed to a toll-collection special purpose entity. Congratulations to John who probably came to the realization on Saturday that not only is he married to a special kind of idiot but that he is now one, too.
Don't Loop . I would like to point out that avoiding the Do Loop is not a condoned short cut opportunity. Kerry later referred to this part of the course as the "Don't Loop." The Do Loop is an essential part of this event. People who didn't do the Do Loop should get two "**" by their name. And this stigma should follow them until they complete the Do Loop next year.
Who's doing MMT next year? I told Kerry after the race that I heard that she was going to be running MMT next year, and she said Jaret doesn't know what he's talking about. [Jaret: I didn't even mention your name.] But Jaret did tell me he was going to do it. He said Mike Bur (who still owes me $22 for the belt I got him) is going to set up some training runs. Mike Gholson is another likely candidate; he, Bill Sublett and Russ (who will probably do it,too) are going to set up training runs as well.
Who's doing The Ring next year? Apparently, my article on The Ring has sparked an interest in this event, and I told Gary so. He said talk is cheap in December. Remember, it was Gary who said that, not me.
This fat ass pretty much wraps things up for this year. Until next year-
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