|DNF: Did Not Finish. Again, on the fourth attempt to run a 100 miler, expectation falls short in the face of Reality. But I stay open to the possibilities and do finally "run my age" in miles, and do reach ~100 kilometers, and do have a wonderful time trekking through Long Island's Rocky Point State Pine Barrens Preserve with Rayna Matsuno, dear friend, epidemiologist, and experienced ultrarunner. A few months ago Rayna learned of the inaugural Tesla Hertz Run, told me of it, and after patient effort snookered me into entering with the promise of her support.|
So between mile ~46 and midnight when I decide to call it a day, Rayna and I hike through the woods and discuss Bayesian statistics, the Game of Thrones fantasy saga, mindfulness, sensitivity vs. specificity of diagnostic medical tests, love, programming languages, yoga, Japanese slang, self-actualization, favorite movie quotes, and countless other topics including the meaning of life. As a pacer Rayna can't lead the way or carry gear for her runner, but she can assist in navigation and gently encourage the spirit. There is no way I could have gotten nearly as far without her gracious companionship and constant vigilance. And I feel great the next morning — no blisters, chafing, or significant soreness. Thank you, Rayna!
And in spite of intermittent metatarsal pain the 18 hour journey truly is All Good — and I really am glowing in the photo that Rayna takes of me at mile ~15.
|My son Merle's mega-suitcase is an instant resource that I can draw upon every 2 hours 45 minutes when the THz's path takes me past the midpoint of the ~10.4 mile loop. Rayna and her buddy "K2" can almost set their watch by my appearances, as I steadily follow veteran Meredith Murphy for the first 30+ miles. She patiently answers my questions about her amazing Badwater experiences, racing and pacing. We discuss nutrition, shoes, our families, work, and more. It's so nice to make an unexpected and helpful new acquaintance. After the first three laps when Meredith pauses in the woods I feel strong and trot ahead, with her blessing. She goes on to finish the 50 miler.|
Whenever I see Rayna at our Aid-Station-in-a-Box she ultra-efficiently takes care of my needs. In turn I try to be coherent and direct. "Six gels and a Snickers candy bar, please!" ... or "Just some water and a package of Oreos!" ... or "I need a change of socks!" At mile 36 when that happens Rayna grabs a tiny towel and quickly massage-cleans my feet. She explains that it's crucial to prevent blisters. All I know is that it feels great! (Thanks again, Rayna!) I advise K2, "You must ask her to do this for you!"
|As part of being a good trail runner I pick up litter whenever I can. At one point along the THz route there's a bottlecap from a local brewery, featuring a mystical all-seeing eye. Is it associated with Nikolai Tesla's nearby Shoreham laboratory? Did Tesla's experiments in electromagnetic radiation cause any strange phenomena among the wildlife? A few days after I get home I find what seems to be a deer tick on my shoulder. Will its bite give me super-powers, or simply Lyme Disease? (My doctor prescribes a dose of doxycycline in case it's the latter.)|
As night falls I see little emerald-green gems sparkling by the path. Hallucination? Ah no — upon closer inspection they turn into brown spiders, their beady eyes retroreflecting light back to my headlamp. Kind friend Stephanie Fonda, who is running a night 50 mile experiment and pacing her comrade Marshall Porterfield, tells in her THz race report of seeing the same "glinty-eyed wood spiders".
And then there's the insect battle that I lose, in late afternoon at the mid-course aid station, when the bowl of candy corn is swarming with yellow-jackets. I reach in to grab a handful (of corn) and come out with just one (wasp). It stings my left little finger — ouch! The pain only distracts me for a lap or two, but the swelling lasts a couple of days.
|The inaugural 2013 Tesla Hertz run is the brainchild of Vinny and Nichole Cappadora. They do a splendid job, as do all the cheery race associates I meet. The loop through the woods is well-designed, and strangely enough not at all boring to navigate. Helpful volunteers assist runners at the only major hazard, where the trail crosses Rocky Point-Yaphank Road.|
After a circuit or two, in fact, certain corners and features become old friends: the sandy hill, the narrow channel, the mountain bike path crossings, the rusty ironwork protruding from the concrete pillars that perhaps once supported a high-tension power line. Not to mention the high school football field where the amplified announcer calls the plays of an invisible game, which is followed in the evening by a party. Homecoming, perhaps?
And there's the creeky old tree that lies aslant through the fork of its neighbor, and groans as the wind blows to shift it slightly, like a bow across a violin's strings. Every time I pass by it I feel a chill and remember Stephanie Fonda's term "widow-maker" for a falling branch. Fortunately, nothing untoward happens. The post-grunge song Machinehead by Bush runs through my noggin for much of the day, as does Tubthumping by Chumbawamba. As its chorus repeats, "I get knocked down but I get up again / You're never going to keep me down." Today, however, there are stumbles but no falls.
|Nikolai Tesla's experiments may had some nonbiological effects on the locality. To save the phone battery I only record the sixth (and final) lap of the adventure using Runkeeper. But the Garmin GPS captures the entire distance and the full 18 hours. As the graph shows, in violation of the conservation laws of gravitational potential energy, every lap is ~40 feet lower than the one before. Is it a magical Penrose Staircase? A warping of the spacetime continuum? Or perhaps, more mundanely, is the barometric altitude correction fooled by an incoming high-pressure cell during the race? Hmmmm ...|