Monday, October 12, 2015

Green Monster Trail Challenge 25k (race report)

The inaugural Green Monster 25k back in 2012 changed the course of my running life. It was my first "mountain race" as well as my first race beyond 10k. It opened my eyes to a whole other world of running hidden in plain sight within the world I'd already known for some time.

In 2013 a 50k race was added to the event and I completed it as my first Ultra.

In 2014, a month after my first 100k finish at the Pine Creek Challenge, i again toed the line at the Green Monster 25k, but this time as a "pacer" for a friend attempting his first difficult Pa mountain run. We traversed the route together in 4:10. I got to see the route at a lower heart rate than I would if racing to my full potential, giving me my first real chance to take in all the beauty without an accompanying feeling of lactic acid burn and a heart threatening to burst from my chest.

2014 was also the year that I was invited to manage the day to day operations and online advertising efforts that go into The Green Monster Facebook Page (if somebody annoys you with Green Monster ads on Facebook... thats me). I took up this responsibility late in 2014, so when 2015 came around I was looking forward to having 365 full days to do my darnedest to reach as many runners as possible.

Early in 2015, my intention was to race the 50k once again. I thought it might be interesting to participate in The Green Monster on a rotating schedule, alternating between 25k and 50k each year. But after a string of injuries and my competitive drive on the wane during the first half of the year, it quickly became apparent that the 50k wasn't really any option for me in 2015. But there was no way I was going to miss the race....

Seeing as I was running so little, I had an excess of time to devote to promoting the race on Facebook, and I'm proud to say that both races saw record attendance this year, including a near-sellout for the 25k.

In those months of "barely training" I also met a wonderful woman named Aly. Shortly after she began running/hiking with our local group- the Valley Running Club - in May, we traveled to and from the Prowl the Sproul 10k in June and 'hit it off,' as the saying goes. Her desire to take on the Green Monster 25k as her first race beyond 10k presented me with the opportunity to take on the course at a pace my under trained body could handle, while simultaneously helping her to achieve her goals, as well as giving us the chance to spend the day together.

A consider myself a mediocre runner at best. In 2012 I finished the 25k course in 3 hours, 26 minutes and 32nd place. This year I finished dead last in 7 hours, 54 minutes, 10 seconds. What did I take away from the experience?

- 8 hours is 8 hours, and 8 hours (my second longest workout ever, next to my 12 hour, 30 minute finish in the Pine Creek 100) is a long time to keep moving forward under your own power no matter who you are or what your fitness level is. Even at a low heart rate, my body gradually broke down as the hours added up. I' still got sore and tired.

- The people at the back of the pack are tougher than those closer to the front. Oh sure, those of us who usually finish in the top 25% move a little quicker, but it takes far more mental fortitude to preserver, hour after hour, alone or nearly alone, with the course sweeps breathing down your neck, while knowing that most folks have finished, had a cold beer and a hot meal, and are on their way home.

- Tell your runner what they need to hear, not what they want to hear, and don't take their responses to heart. The mood can grow a little dark out there, in the lat hours, the comments savage, but they truly appreciate the motivation and your refusal to let them quit on themselves.

- No matter where you finish, first or last, when you run a Pa Trail Race, cheers and cowbells await you at the finish.  

- Aly is tough as nails. She more than doubled the distance of her longest event and did it, not on the back of tons of training miles, but rather good old fashioned guts and determination that inspires me.

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