My luck is terrible…
The drive from Connecticut to Maryland is roughly 4-5 hours so I planned to head there right after work on Thursday. I’d be able to get there right around 10-11ish crash for the night and spend the next day vegging.
I had done all my homework, read race reports, made arrangements for my crew(how does she put up with me) so that we were all on the same page.
Well, things changed a bit when we got blasted with our first major snow storm of the season.
I ended up stopping home after work to shovel the driveway and wait it out a bit. Around 9 I decided, I’d make a run for it. I got in my car (filled with gear, a cooler, snacks) and began what was to be one of my worst driving experiences ever.
It took 9 hours to make it to my destination. There were cars in ditches every few miles, plows hadn’t come out yet, and a good 4 hours was just getting to the NY border. One thing was for certain, I was going to pass out as soon as I got to the Air BNB.
I arrived safely at my destination, stripped, and hopped into bed. I was asleep before my head hit the pillow but of course my phone went off 2 hours into the deepest sleep of my life.
Even though it was a short lived moment of peace, I felt well enough to grab a bite at a local pub, bang out 3 miles, and grab some food for Race Day.
Packet pickup was at a hotel not far from where the starting line would be the following morning. It was easy to find and everyone was really friendly. I thanked the RD for putting on the event and he chuckled, “you won’t be saying that tomorrow!” I was nervous, but ready to take on my first 50.
After leaving packet pick up, it was time to pick up my crew from the airport. We stopped at brewery called Heavy Seas to enjoy flights and burgers. I highly recommend the loose cannon IPA.
We woke up around 3:30 to begin getting ready. I showered, drank some water, drained fluids like 4 times, and loaded the car. We made good time getting to the start. I left my drop bags with the attendant and listened to the pre race speech. I was feeling pumped now!
I made my way to the head to apply some SNB and clear the way for a smooth run but ended up stuck in a slow moving line.
Finally it was my turn! I quickly applied the anti chafe lubricant and went about business but after leaving the stall, i realized I was in a ghost town. No one was around.
I made my way out to the start and asked did we start already???
Some shouted they all took off about 30 seconds ago.
Crappp!!! I’m starting DFL! I waived bye to my lady and set off. The first mile and a quarter were on roads. It was a nice down hill so I was able to catch up to a group and steady my pace.
It was still dark so we had to use headlamps as we navigated to and through the trail head.
The trails were pretty smooth with super gentle rolling hills. I started over taking the group I was with slowly and made my way from group to group.
My lady met me at the first aid station to switch out my bottles and offer encouragement and I was off quickly. I didn’t want to spend too much time in aid stations for fear of making cutoffs.
There was snow and mud lakes that we were running through for most of the day. I saw a family of deer around the 8 mile mark and kept pace with a group for the next few miles.
Around mile 12 we hit another road section to get us to a cutout where we would pick up the trail up again. I made some good time on this section while waiving at cars the whole time. They must have thought what the hell is this guy wearing and why is he so dirty!We even passed a Starbucks which I’ve heard that people in previous years have stopped for coffee.
The lady met me at the 17ish Mile mark to change out my waters and hand me a bag of chips. Lays Classic were so clutch in that moment so I took them a long for the run. I came up to this guy who started to laugh as he saw me eating and running but I talked him into enjoying a few chips with me too.
I was keeping good pace and hoping for a sub 12 hour day. Official cutoff was 13 hours. I made the marathon mark where my first drop bag was. I was getting pretty chilly so I put on a rain jacket and changed my socks/shoes. I felt much better and took off again with a sandwich in hand. Around mile 28, I made it to the ruins of the Stone Mill where it appears that some kids tried to turn it into a modern day mumble rapper. Hard to tell from my photography skills but it was tagged all over.
Shortly after, I made my first connection. This was the Ultra scene I’ve heard about. I ran with a guy named Dipak(sorry if I spelled your name wrong) for maybe 8 miles and heard about all of the intense races he’s done. It was inspiring to hear but he encouraged me to go for my goals and not let anything stop me. We parted ways at the next aid station so I kept trucking along.
I met and ran with a Marine next. We shared some stories and kept each other distracted from the tedious motions and quietness of the forest. We were eager to make it to the mile 38 where rumor has it there bourbon. We were passed by two women and my friend from before caught up.
This portion of the trail consisted of single track with a few small switch backs, mud, puddles and fun.
I spent the next 6 miles running the single track solo. I was making good time and was still on par to hit my goal. I came up along two guys around my age and greeted them.
I asked one of them if I could pass and he ignored me. I attempted again and he blocked me. I was pretty heated about it so did a little bushwhacking to get in front of them and lost them.
I was in the zone at this point. Got on the phone with The crew to have her get everything ready for a quick change. I came into the next aid station hot and changed my socks and shoes, drank some soup and Gatorade. I felt refreshed and ready to take on the less than 8 miles remaining.
I made moves quickly, and started looking at my watch way too much! I was excited to be almost complete with my first 50 but still obsessed with time. If everything went well, I would make my goal!
And then it happened… my foot caught a root and I stumbled to the ground. After that I could tell something was wrong with my foot and could barely put pressure on it.(Turns out I cracked my first toe nail)
I ended up doing a mix of running and walking to get me through the next few miles and I had to pull my headlamp out for the second time of the day. I was passed by the busta who wouldn’t let me by before and a few others.
I felt disappointed to have this happen but was grateful it was towards the end of the race.
I met my crew at the last aid station, swapped out my bottles and began the final stretch of the 2018 Stone Mill 50.
The last mile and a quarter were the same roads we started on. I was pumped because I could make up sometime and my toe was holding up through it. I passed a couple and a few others along this section.
One guy closer to the end told me to pass him but I could use some company at this point. He started telling me about his experience and how he would never forget it as it was his first 50 also. We entertained each other for about half a mile and decided to cross the finish line together.
I didn’t meet my goal time of sub 12 but I made it well within the cut off times of the rest of the course. They also allowed people who missed the ending cut offs to keep going because of the weather conditions.
My body was exhausted but I felt proud to have finished my first 50, in the rough conditions, and make some friends.
Finishing time 12:51:02