Aside from a nagging achilles tendon (fixed with a shoe change), recovery from Grindstone went smoothly. I took it easy basically the entire race there, which I guess helped a lot. I did two interval workouts in the two middle weeks between races, and a couple tempo runs as well. What else can you really do to prepare when you have a race only a month out from a 100 miler? I topped out at a 48 mile week, which might actually have been more than I should have done, but everything worked out for the best.
I had a very different thoughts going into Mountain Masochist compared to Grindstone. Being 50 miles on an easier course, I knew it would feel short and fast, and I had just spent about 5 months preparing to go slow for a very long time. I was also excited to go and Hurricane Sandy only exemplified that. I love bad weather and snow, so I actually thrilled to hear of snow on the second half of the course. I figured that the snow would slow everything down a little and force some slogging (exactly what I can do right now). I also figured that I wouldn't suffer as much as a lot of people nearby me, which would be beneficial late in the race. I can never seem to get the right combination of clothes for 30ish degree weather, and I was warm once the sun was up, ditching my arm warmers at AS #3, and taking my gloves on and off all day. Nothing really happened in the first half of the race. I ran from mile 13 to the loop with Rudy, and we just methodically moved up through the places all the way. Relentless Forward Progress. I stopped to fertilize the trees and he went on to a super great finish in 12th place in his second 50 mile. With the loop came snow, high up my shins in places. The footsteps of those in front of me hadn't yet flattened out the snow, but just formed footholds awkwardly spaced apart, forcing a lot of awkward running and hiking. If I had realized how big of a break this ended up being in the middle of the race, I would have probably run most of the climb up to Buck Mountain, but so it goes. The snow was a blast, and I ran with complete reckless abandon on the downhills--something that I really love to do in the snow when everything is soft and smooth. Talking to people after the race, I seemed to be the only person who really enjoyed going through all that snow.
The snow got pretty deep and slog-worthy after leaving the mile 42 AS. I left just ahead of Gary Robbins who (of course) caught up soon and we shared a couple miles together working through the awkward snow/ice covered trails. He had actually run an extra 4.5 miles (the only way we were near each other) and was making his way back up, still having a blast. Since I was wearing Montrail Rogue Flys (great shoe), he asked about them and the conversation turned to races and Grindstone as he was there too. He told me my Grindstone time was "fucking awesome" which as a pretty great boost trudging up the steepest climb of the race before we go downhill the rest of the way to the finish. Gary moved on and I stopped one more time before taking off after him. I hit the last aid station with 4 miles to go at 8:36, determined to make a sub-9 hour finish, so I took a cue from cross country days, and started windmilling my arms to drive up my momentum. The final mile of downhill ended up being ~5:56, super fast for mile 49 of a 50 mile race. I took two bottles of my Succeed slurry, several packages of chomps, and two cans worth of mountain dew, plus some food at the aid stations. The slurries have made racing a lot easier, I have energy throughout, and I think I've gotten pretty good at burning fat for fuel. Few the few days after races, even after I've made up the calorie deficit, I seem much leaner than I used to.
I squeaked by in 8:58, meeting my original time goal for MMTR--before hearing of the snow conditions. Plus 20th out of 297 starters is kind of cool, I'm not used to that. This race actually took more out of me than Grindstone, so I'm taking it easy all week before putting in some focus work for Hellgate next month. That will be fun. Hellgate is something special, and so far everything this Fall has gone smoothly. I won't DNF this time; I'm ready to suffer. As soon as I crossed the finish line at MMTR, Dr. Horton said to me, "I hope you saved something for Hellgate." I hope so too, I've got some redemption to take care of there.
Side note/more important: This is the VT Ultrarunning Club's first true team race, and we had some great placing and 100% finisher's rate! Something that is definitely made even better by the course conditions. Rachel maintained second in the LUS on her bum ankle, cringing all the way to the finish line. David persevered through a rough day, Wyatt had fun all day, and I should probably ask Kelly how her run went. Seeing people finish at and after twelve hours was very inspiring--those guys and gals are MUCH tougher than the rest of us, that's a long time to be out there and it hurts a lot more. I was finishing back there just last year, I know how that feels.
See you people in 5 weeks.