2008-09-20 - Gunpowder Keg Fat Ass 2008

17+ miles @ ~16 min/mi

"Are you cuckoo...?" I start to ask, then hesitate, trying to remember the name of the Race Director. The guys standing behind the registration table smile at me but offer no help. "Cuckoo ... cuckoo ... uh, Cucuzzella?" I finally get out.

"We're all cuckoo!" one replies, and then points me toward Chris Cucuzzella, RD for the Gunpowder Keg Fat Ass run today. I shake his hand and thank him for organizing the event. Gunpowder Falls State Park near Hereford MD is as lovely this year as it was at the 2007 race but today's temperatures are 30°F cooler—and that makes a gigantic difference in comfort and performance.

An hour later, friend Mary Ewell exclaims, "I'm steaming!". At the first aid station she pauses to point out fog rising from her shoulders, visible in the rays of sunlight that peek between the trees. I move around until I can see the mist streaming off me too. We both remember our JFK 2007 Preparation run of 20 October last year when we saw the same phenomenon at dawn in Rock Creek Park. Our day began early, as Mary left her home and picked me up for the long ride to the park. Before the start we greet Megan, Michelle, and other running acquaintances.

RD Chris apologizes for the water-only minimalist aid station today, but a personal emergency has preempted a key volunteer. But hey, it's a "Fat Ass" race, so Rule One is "No Whining!". Mary and I donate to the kitty that Chris is collecting for the park (he raises several hundred dollars today) and place our jugs of water among the dozens others have brought to share.

Then we're off, trailing along at the back of the pack, enjoying the lovely day. Half a mile later I trip on a tree root and take a dive—oopsies! Fortunately the result is only a scraped knee and a little blood, but no major damage.

A mile farther down the trail we meet young Heidi, bent over as though she's about to vomit. We offer her sympathy as well as her choice from everything we're carrying: water, electrolytes, ibuprofen, anithistamines, candy, etc. "Water!" is her choice, and after a few sips she feels much better and starts to walk/run with us over the hills. Heidi is just out of college, she tells us, and is now a teacher dedicated to working with autistic children, thinking about going back to school to get an advanced degree. Last night she was up a bit late partying, she confesses, and perhaps that's what upset her stomach. Soon she's recovered and runs on ahead.

Mary and I catch up with Paula near mile 4, and I debate with her which of us is slower. (Evidence shows that I am!) Then we introduce ourselves to Gail, who turns out to have run the VHTRC Women's Half Marathon last weekend in a time surprisingly close to Mary's—small world! Onward we trek, chatting together for a while until Gail outpaces us. Karen of the MCRRC greets us later at the tiny aid station as our paths intersect there. The out-and-back loop course offers us many such opportunities to see faster runners.

Mary and I are happy campers, walking and jogging through the woods, until alas at mile 9ish when Mary's turn comes: she trips on a twig, falls, scrapes one hip, bruises a muscle, and twists the other knee and hip. Arggghhhh! At her insistence we carry on, walking more now, but decide to skip the middle out-and-back 2.5 mile circuit during our second major orbit of the 10-mile course.

At mile 15 we hear a voice calling us: it's Gail again, standing in the middle of the Gunpowder Falls! "Falls" means "river" in the local parlance, and Gail is hip-deep in the water near the ruins of an old bridge, cooling off her tired muscles. The start/finish campground is directly across from us. We're tempted to take the invitation and save a couple of miles, but Mary decides that "17+" sounds better than "15" and her injuries aren't too bad.

So onward we go, through seas of grass. Two-by-twelve boards, placed over drainage ditches beneath the high Interstate-83 bridges, bounce and teeter as we cross them. Just under 5 hours we cross the "finish" line. RD Chris logs us out and accepts our thanks. Tim Gavin, new HAT Run race director, greets me; he's recovering on the gate of his pickup truck after doing 50 kilometers in the same time it took Mary and me to do about half of that. I salute him.

During the drive up to Gunpowder Falls I play with Mary's car's GPS system, without much success. On the way home she lets me mess with her radio during an unexpected traffic jam, likewise without luck in terms of finding useful information. Soon we pass the local accident, however, and all's well again. We stop at a Wendy's to get some quick food.

After hearing a fragment of CCR's "Proud Mary" we start discussing song with "Mary" in them—Mary knows them all—which leads us to reminisce about our favorite show tunes. In chorus we sing "Maria" from "West Side Story" together as we cruise the Baltimore Beltway. It's a happy day.

split time mile location 2007 split
0:510:51~3.5mini-aid station (first time)0:49
0:351:26~6mini-aid station (looping back)0:36
0:552:21~10start/finish (lap one)0:53
0:072:28-pause to eat/drink -
0:593:27~13.5mini-aid station 1:00
1:004:27~17.5start/finish (lap two)0:53

What I ate: at the major start/finish aid station, potato chips, two donuts (a chocolate-topped glazed and an old-fashioned sour cream), cookies, animal crackers, half a boiled potato dipped in salt, etc. En route I take two Succeed! e-caps plus a Clif Shot gel and a ginger chew Mary gives me.

(cf. Gunpowder Keg Fat Ass 2007 and Jog Log ...) - ^z - 2008-09-26

(correlates: Gunpowder Keg Fat Ass 2007, PeripheralPunditry, ElusivePimpernel, ...)