|"Even if something is crazy, if you talk about it often enough it begins to sound reasonable," Michele Harmon says in describing how she lured Mike Broderick into doing his first 100 miler with her. Mike died from lung cancer two years ago, and this morning a crowd is gathered to remember him and run along his favorite trail. Michele and Mike trained with each other and ran the Rocky Raccoon 100 together in 2002. At mile 80, Michele reports, Mike declared "There shall be no more running in this race!" They walked it out together. Linda Wack, Doug Sullivan, Tom Corris, and others tell stories of Mike's helpful spirit, praise his wife Jill and family members who are present, and reflecte on how much Mike still influences us all. On the trail 90 minutes later, Megan Carroll and Gayatri Datta and I exchange our own Broderick memories. Mike coached trail runs and marathon training programs. He took the time to run with everyone, and when he was with you he listened, advised, and made you feel special regardless of pace.|
Before the talks begin Joe Clapper greets me. He's the director of the "Magnus Gluteus Maximus" (yes, that's Latin for "Big Fat Ass") VHTRC fun run and reminds me that I need to sign up. I do so on the spot via iPhone browser. Then Rebecca Rosenberg chats with me. We're thinking about the B&A Marathon in March, for which registration has just opened. Rebecca plans to do the Rosaryville 50k next weekend. I'm tempted to join her, but suspect it would be madness to do so just before the Stone Mill 50 miler. (But when has that stopped me?!)
We start running at 9:40am, speedsters dancing ahead on the trail. Gayatri leads a small pack including Megan, Rebecca, and Don Libes. We talk, walk the hills, and eventually settle down to trekking. Don and Rebecca run onward. Megan is about to reach a symbolically-major birthday and is building up distance after time off. She explains weight training and other exercises, which sound like a wise strategy after her experience of injuries when building toward major marathons in years past. Megan has entered the HAT Run 50k lottery, and I offer my advice for that race: hillwork! When she notes that I seem to have become much faster I cheerfully reveal the Big Secret that CM Manlandro taught me ca. 2008: it's OK to keep running even after you're tired. (Duh! But it was news to me, in a way. Thank you, CM!)
Heading downstream there are numerous small tributaries streams to cross. Gayatri is in the lead and slips near the top of a gully. I slap a hand to the small of her back and stop her fall. We joke about toppling domino-fashion backwards into the ditch, like the Three Stooges. Soon it's my turn to stumble and almost take a tumble. We meet a pair of bow hunters trekking along the path. After 4+ miles on the GPS Megan turns back, and though she says it's unnecessary Gayatri and I decide to accompany her; we've had enough distance for today. I'm running in between my two companions again, trip on a root, and do a spectacular stagger-recovery to avoid knocking Gayatri down. Megan witnesses it and almost applauds. A little later, in the lead I nearly fall again. Gayatri and I both are wearing Brooks Cascadias, and suspect that they're slightly longer than the road shoes we're accustomed to. Fortunately the toe protection is good and neither of us gets injured.
Megan moves out in front of Gayatri and me as we re-enter Seneca Creek State Park. We re-converge to finish the run; I take a photo of my comrades in their color-coordinated turquoise-aquamarine attire.