2010-10-09 - Andiamo 2010

~44.9 miles @ ~11.6 min/mi

Rule #1 of Ultrarunning Pacing: Never Pass Michele Harmon! At this year's Andiamo I foolishly keep Michele, elite ultrarunner, in sight for the first several miles. She's taking her time, cruising at ~9:25 min/mi pace near the back of the pack. Near mile 7 we pause at the first aid station. I grab a handful of candy and depart ahead of Michele—and my wheels fall off at mile 20. She catches up with me at 26.2 miles (a 4:37 marathon by my GPS) and glides by. Her fiancé cheerful Joe Clapper is cycling along with her. He kindly gives me some beer, but it isn't nearly enough. Michele finishes an hour ahead of me.

This makes my third Andiamo in a row; for reports on previous events see 2008-10-04 - Andiamo 2008 and 2009-10-10 - Andiamo 2009. I clock in at 8:40:43, eleventh place out of fourteen participants. My average pace for five-mile segments of the 44.91 miles tells the sad story: 9.5, 9.6, 10.2, 10.6, 12.4, 12.6, 13.8, 13.4, and 12.0 min/mi. Overall it's 45 minutes slower than last year, 15 minutes faster than in 2008.

The Andiamo follows the length of the W&OD Trail, which currently has a construction detour that adds roughly a quarter mile to the total distance. At race mile ~8 as the course climbs a ridge near farmland I see a vulture soaring just above the trees to the south. It circles close to me, climbing out of the shadows. Beams from the rising sun make the trailing feathers on the bird's wings glow translucent as the light catches them. I'm reminded of "The Windhover" by Gerard Manly Hopkins and recite it aloud to myself:

I caught this morning morning's minion, king-
    dom of daylight's dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
    Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
    As a skate's heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
    Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird, — the achieve of, the mastery of the thing!

The dawn-vulture really is so lovely that my heart stirs. Shortly thereafter as I trot through a suburban neighborhood I see two young ladies running ahead of me, wearing cross-country team shirts. They step off the path to do squats, jumping jacks, and other calisthenics. I try not to gawk. "You're great!" I tell them as I pass by. My heart stirs.

http://zhurnaly.com/images/Andiamo_2010_z_finish.jpgThe day warms and the miles grow longer. Family duties prevent any of my comrades from coming out to taunt me. That's fortunate, since after the halfway point I begin composing heart-wrenching pleas for a ride to the finish line. Fuzzy black and brown caterpillars crawl on the asphalt. I spy one small snake. I take Succeed! electrolyte capsules at frequent intervals, suck down PowerGels for energy, refill my hydration backpack at water fountains, and accept the fact that I have to walk more and more.

With four miles to go I experience significant intestinal "distress", perhaps from dried pineapple rings that I ate a dozen miles earlier. Thank goodness I'm carrying a few paper towels. As afternoon shadows from nearby buildings lengthen I accelerate in the final few miles. I hold up my hands to surrender at the finish line.

(photo courtesy Charlie Miracle)|

In the days after the race I experience some of the same things that friends have reported, including weight gain, toenail bruising, and insomnia. A series of bizarre dreams feature:

And I really don't like apricot jelly!

^z - 2010-10-16