Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Woodstock 2012 Babel

When you start a story, the words you use have meaning. If I say "Once upon a time...", I'm probably doing a children's fairy tale. If I say "No shit, there I was..." it should be a war story. And if I begin "It was a dark and stormy night..." it should be a mystery.

Unless, of course, it really was a dark and stormy night.

Woodstock 2011 was a bit of a mess. Rain for three days made the the race a pretty unique experience. The mud was unbelievable in some areas, comical in others, and unrunnable for a lot of the course. Led to a lot of great stories, though.

This friday, as the sun went down and drops started to fall, I thought: "uh-oh"
When the wind howled and the rain blew sideways, I thought about the 100K and 100 Milers out of the course, I continued to think... "uh-oh"
And as I failed to fall asleep because of the occasional plink of rain on my face through the 12 year old seams on my tent, the slightly more coherent yet no less valid thought sparked in my brain "Tomorrow is going to be interesting."

I do enjoy camping at an event. There's nothing quite like rolling out of a sleeping bag 30 minutes before a race to change, get stuff together and wander to the starting line. Saves on a lot of early morning driving frustration.

I started the race wishing luck to a few ultra newbies; Christian and Carolyn from the west side of the state, Becky with whom I ran most of the race, and Andy a quasi coworker from my days at Running Fit. We played tag during the race; occasionally fading and running with others or catching up when feeling good.

During the race I also got to hang with some of the best ultra runners I know: Ken the "green hornet", Martin S, Kevin G and others, all of whom have running CVs as impressive as the dedication it takes to run multiple 100 mile races.

The race itself, for me, went quite well. I planned to run it easy, if not necessarily smart. I think I succeeded in that. I wanted to enjoy the whole experience, and I think I did pretty well on that front, too.

I recited some poetry: yes, the obligatory Frost poem, but also Kipling's "Hymn of breaking strain" which is my long running anthem. No songs, though. Thankfully, this race was ear-worm free.

To me, there was something vaguely surreal about the race. Last year I stopped wearing my garmin regularly, and this year I stopped wearing it for most of my races. If I'm running for fun, I don't want to know my heart race, or pace, or time. And I *really* didnt' want to know how much further I had to go. Ignorance is bliss.

I still get the energy from the race, but it kind of removes the pressure. Makes for an interesting experience... a long hike in the woods with people cheering you on, giving you food, and a peace symbol medal at the end to go with the sense of accomplishment.

I'm very glad I got to see so many wonderful running friends this weekend; for those who were there and I missed, perhaps next time! For those who weren't, perhaps next year!