Pink Shoes, Heavy Metal, and the Land of the Lost
By Nick Neakrase
What a fun event. My second ultra in association with the VHTRC was a blast. The first was back in March with the CCT 50K, which as many of you know is equal parts orienteering and running. The course for the Potomac Heritage Trail 50K was very well marked and very well supported, having said that, my day was not without self-inflicted detours. Thanks also to Kerry and other race director gods who ensured that we all had terrific weather.
“If nothing breaks, I’ll keep going”. This was my mantra going in. I planned on using this as a training run for the JFK50, which really meant that I could use it as a viable excuse to drop out if I wasn’t exactly “feeling it”.
The day started out great, I was running mostly with my Saturday morning buddies, Dave Olsen, Al Yoon, Grace Hong, and Tara Herlastnameescapesme. Tara did the first half with Grace and then Vickie took over for the second half. Which caused me to keep calling Vickie – Tara until she, Vickie, corrected me. Did ya follow all of that?
As we reached the trail, we prayed to the Patron Saint of Ankles and hit the leaves. When we all started to get stretched out along the course, I ended up with “Hey Pink Shorts” Renee (Laughlin), aptly named for running by an earlier check point before being called back to the sound of “Hey Pink Shorts!” She had pink shoes too! Anyway, I digress, again. So, Rene and I ran together during the Canal and across Key Bridge to the much fabled Heavy Metal Aid Station. A thanks to Mike and Michele, A PB&J and a quick discussion about heavy metal vs. industrial music and it was off to the rock wilderness of the PHT.
Everything was going pretty well, and still nothing was broken so I kept up the pace. (The aforementioned “pace” is not being disclosed at this time). Up I went to the Chain Bridge Aid Station. Farouk was there and was quick to help refill and replenish, although I did see you running later on Farouk, nice work. After Chain Bridge I spent some miles with Ed Cacciapaglia on my way to Turkey Run and a rousing reception, thanks to all for not only the support, not only the food and drink, but also the enthusiasm.
After Turkey Run, it was two miles up to I-495 and the turn around, where my lovely wife Cindy was waiting with ice cold Gatorade and other goodies. She also was there telling people to “stay high” to avoid the only real bit of mud on the course. I unloaded my Camelback and had a few minutes of conversation about my 3:45 time and the fact that nothing was broken yet. Marti (Kovener) and some others passed by, when all of a sudden my favorite pace setter came up the trail. Gaynor Bourgeois was my loyal running partner and co-orienteer-er-er for the CCT 50K, and “Team Gaynor” was back together again. A kiss for my wife, and Gaynor and I were on our way back down the trail. Through Turkey Run, across Chain Bridge, back down the Canal to Fletchers and that’s when the fun really began.
We were joined at times by Russ (Evans) with his handy-dandy GPS. This marvel of technology was along for the ride when we still got lost TWICE! The first time Gaynor, Russ and I missed the park bench and ended up on Reservoir Road. When we realized we were on the path back to the C&O, we turned around and added a mere 1.5 miles (or so) to the run. By now I was turning into Salt Man and slooowwwing down. Gaynor, god bless her, kept the pace strong and she faded off into the distance. Russ and his GPS kept saying “We are close”, and despite the fact the we were (in fact) close, when Russ and I got to Rock Creek Drive, we just couldn’t believe we were supposed to be there so we went back down to the trails and looped around a couple of times (Or maybe we were just LOOPY). Hey Russ, welcome to Team Gaynor and the Land of the Almost-Lost (Sleestaks are scary!)
So, call it 3 extra miles, and a semi-solid 6:56 time. Still, nothing broke, Salt Man drinks a beer and all is well.
See you at the JFK.
Nick Neakrase, first PHT 50K