What is a Trail Nerd?

A trail nerd is a runner who loathes the pavement, does not let a little bad weather stop them, does not whine, and is always ready to help a fellow trail runner. They originate from Kansas City, then like little seeds, propogate in other areas. Wanna be a nerd? Just join one of our group runs.

Monday, February 4, 2008

White Rock 2008 - Juice's Account

Early arrival at base camp (aka the Lodge) a day early this year yielded a treat. Every year White Rock Mountain shows us another treasure. This year was no exception. Driving up at dusk, in the blowing snow and fog was simply mystical. Thursday night Joyce and I had the lodge to ourselves, and Paula had already got the wood stove going, so it was warm and toasty. Candle light dinner of salmon and pasta, cooked on our old stove. What a treat.

The next morning was winter wonderland, so I went out and got a few pics in the early morning light. What a beautiful sight! As the morning went on, we wondered where Craig and Mary were – they were to have been there sometime before noon. So in our waiting, Joyce and I cleaned the cobwebs off the ceiling fans, walls, and ceiling. Then came the call from Craig. The road to White Rock was blocked by a downed tree. That began the series of things that made this weekend special…

Joyce and I went for a hike around the rim trail – only for the clouds to roll in around, and under us – hiding the valley below, and giving the illusion of being on top of a 14er – above th clouds. From time to time they would part, exposing a ridge several miles away, only for a moment. As we walked back up the road, Craig and mary drove up, in THE dirtiest vehicle I’ve ever seen the Captain drive. I don’t think anyone got a picture of it…

As the evening passed, people started rolling in, the beds started filling up. We ended up with a total of 17 in bunk beds that sleep a maximum of 20! That’s the most we’ve ever had at the lodge! We were cooking dinner at about 4:30 and BAM, the power goes out. Come to find out, the entire mountain was out – Paula said she would call the electric company – said this is ‘normal and would take a couple of hours to get it back on. So we finished cooking dinner on the wood stove, and lit candles. As the sun went down, we were all getting comfortable with the dark, and then BAM, the power is back on. Linda and kip were the last to roll in about 10:00 pm, and with them tucked in, we went though the night with no major incidents. I got up a few times to keep wood in the stove. And to pee, since I had been hydrating all day…

4:49 am – My eyes open up, and look at the clock before the alarm goes off (as usual). I get up and start making coffee, and hot water for oatmeal. At that point I made a major decision for the day – to leave the lodge at 6:45 am and run DOWN the mountain (partially in the dark) and meet the start of the run at 9:00 at the bottom. Then run up, yielding a 50K, and no need to shuttle in a car both ways to and from the lodge. It was the eco friendly thing to do, I thought. In reality, if I did it the other way, I would have to face the prospect of seeing the lodge at the halfway point – it would be hard to turn back down and leave the warm wood stove…

5:30 am – I’m getting dressed, and load up my pack, and head out the door, and I tell everyone ‘see you at the bottom!’ – they were all surprised, although I had told Craig earlier in the week that I might consider doing this. His response was ‘Interesting..’ I should have known – that was his way of saying ‘You’re a FOOL’.

5:45 – On the road down, my light bobbing on the road, I’m watching for patches of ice, trying to get traction on snowy spots, and trying not to breathe ‘up’ as it would create a cloud of ‘breath’ in the light and fog up my view of the road.

5:50 – a car pulls up behind me and stops – out jumps Betty, who had heard about my little plan and decided to join me. I was only about 2.6 miles down the road, which means she got dressed and in the car REALLY fast.

We ran down the long hills, and take the up hill sections at a brisk walk pace – not wanting to expend energy we knew we’d need later. A couple of miles from the bottom (about 13.5 miles into our run) we started crossing paths of people who had already started – they took an early start. At just about 9:03 am, we reached the bottom, turned around and started back up – that was the last time I saw Betty… until much later anyway.

To turn around and start back up was really tough – knowing you still have 15.7 tough miles in front of you – that was the first moment I thought, you DUMMY, you saved the hardest part for LAST.

From that point forward time, and miles simply blurred. I remember stopping at Grays Spring aid station and drinking some cold Sam’s Cola. I remember stopping at the second aid station (none of the aid stations were set up when I was going down…) and the girl telling me I was doing it the hard way. Duh. I remember starting up the last 5.5 mile long climb to the top, and getting about a mile into it and I stopped, looked at my GPS, and took note of the mileage then kept going. I felt like I had traveled at least another half mile – when I looked it was 1/10th of a mile… SHIT!

Did I mention the mud? On the way down in the morning the ground was still mostly frozen, so there was not much wet spots. As the morning went on, the sun came up, the temperatures soared into the 40’s and low 50’s and the top layer turned to mush – so most of the road was a nice layer of wet, sticky, mud. It would clump on your shoes, then it would grab some gravel, and invariably toss a pea size rock into your shoe. So I’d stop, take my shoe off, get the rock out, and balance, trying not to touch my sock on the ground.

Just before the last two miles to top of the mountain, there is a flat section – as flat as it gets in the Boston Mountains – I was jogging along and looked up – here comes Betty. BACK down again, I thought what the hell is she doing? John was following her in the Jeep, as he does on her training runs. (John says the cold feeling of the front bumper makes Betty a better runner…) When we meet up she says ‘I gotta finish the 2.6 miles that I drove down to catch up with you – just to make it right’. Wow. She is one tough chick. John says ‘Joyce asked me to check with you – do you need a ride to the top?’ To which I HAD to say, ‘No Way – I’m going to finish this 50K’. What a fool.

I keep going and as I hit the last 2 mile climb to the top, here comes Joyce in the FJ – I managed a smile and told her I was beat, but intended on finishing on my own two feet. I shed my fleece vest and started the last climb – which is very steep – about 8-10% grade, and then the last ¼ mile is about 10-12% grade. It was simply ‘one foot in front of the other’ – that last two miles took me about an hour. Which really blew my ego. I finished in 8:09 +/- I was hoping for about 7:30 or so. Although, that is much better than my last 50K time of over 9 hours…

At the top, my lovely wife was there to get a picture of me finishing, which forced a smile on my face. This was BY FAR the tougher of the two 50K’s I have done. On retrospect, I’m not sure how I feel about the 50K – not sure I could call it a run, as I think I walked almost as much as I ran. But I do know that I maintained a strong aerobic and anaerobic pace for over 8 hours, which tells me I’m in pretty darned good shape, at least cardio wise. Hauling about 15-20 extra pounds over the mountains did not feel good. Although my lower back gave me no trouble at all. The worst pain was my quads, and my feet – no blisters, they just ached.

I feel like now that I have completed two 50K runs, and looking forward to a third one in April, that I am an official ultra-runner. Gotta get some pounds off so I don’t have to drag that extra weight up and over Pinnacle Peak in April…

2 comments:

Ben, aka BadBen said...

This site really rocks! "Nerd Nation" is making in-roads toward TOTAL WORLD DOMINATION (and having fun along the way).

Happy trails,
Bad Ben

417BikerGirl said...

You give me hope for the Sylamore! Sounds like you had an awesome time and the pics are gorgeous! Might be one to put on my calendar next year.