2017-11-11 - Stone Mill 50 Miler

~51 miles @ ~19 min/mi

http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/Stone_Mill_great_blue_heron_catches_fish_2017-11-11a.jpg"I'm vicariously enjoying your warm bottoms!" says somebody sitting chilly in the back of the car while those in front enjoy seat heaters set to the max. Drs Kerry and Kristin join me at 0400 to ride to the 2017 Stone Mill 50 Mile Endurance Run. Temperatures are in the low 20's, and icicles soon form on my beard — brrrr!

We start at 0505, after a pause for pre-race selfies. Kerry wears bib 45, a number of special significance in her family history. At mile 3 in the woods a pair of green eyes blink at us, from a deer by the trail. A new Petzl headlamp makes night running much less scary.

At midrace a great blue heron stands tall in the C&O Canal. It plunges its beak into the water with a big splash, and as it come up Kristin shouts, "He got a fish!" A trio of male mallards paddle. Vultures circle overhead.
"That's one marathon down!" says a race volunteer, as we pass mile 26.2 on the towpath. It's K&K's first official ultra, though in training runs we've gone beyond 30 miles already. Today's random-click tarot card is the Six of Wands ("Success"!); the random-click mantra this morning counsels "It is what it is!" Great wisdom!

And our adventure turns out well. After a few dozen miles Kristin begins to suffer significant knee pain and wisely decides to drop at mile ~35, in an aid station where a ride can be summoned to get her back to her car. Kerry perseveres. Our pace is slow and we miss the critical mile ~42 cutoff by ~20 minutes. So we turn in our chips and continue unofficially. At about 9:10PM we finish, total time 16+ hours. It's all good!

Countless comrades pass by and cheer us along the way. Don Libes, on bicycle patrol at the Canal, is specially encouraging and funny.

(photo by A Lin at Pennyfield Lock)
Kerry & Kristin & Kase Guevara & Toni AurilioOn gravel Tschiffley Mill Road at mile ~29 we catch up with cheerful Kase Guevara and Toni Aurilio. This is precisely where I met them four years ago, running with "Tape Girl" Janet Choi during the 2013-11-16 - MCRRC Stone Mill 50 Mile Race. That day I snapped a photo of the trio flying happily along. Deja vu!

"11 - 2 miles — what does that mean?" asks someone as we pass a Seneca Creek Trail milepost a bit later.

"Uh, I think that's really 1 and 1/2 miles, written vertically," says someone else.
"Don't say 'Careful' right after somebody trips!" OK, it's a bad habit, but hard to break. We take turns stumbling. At mile 44 I fall, thankfully into a bush. Stream crossings are mostly uneventful, but some result in wet feet. Temps rise into the mid-30's by afternoon, then drop below freezing after sundown. At aid stations hot food is a delight: grilled cheese sandwiches, tater tots, quesadillas, and vegetarian miso soup. Yum!

In the woods we discover an arrangement of deer skulls wearing witch's hats near mile 40. Kerry poses with them; see for comparison 2014-03-08 - Seneca Creek Greenway Trail Marathon 2014 where they bore Santa caps.

"No way! Sorry to shine my headlamp into your eyes, Kerry, but I had to see your face. You can't be the mom of college kids!" says Ironman Shelley Sinclair. At mile 42 we meet her, exhausted and frustrated from going off course earlier and missing cutoffs. We escort her out of the aid station and guide her through the woods for the final nine miles. Shelley's hip hurts on uphills, Kerry's hip flexor is troublesome on downhills, so we walk along and chat in the dark, sharing candy and stories. At the finish we give her a ride back to her car.

Happy ending!

(trackfile) - ^z - 2017-12-06