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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Weymouth Woods 100k- an outsider's walk in the woods

This was suppose to be my first attempt at 100k and I guess it was, since I did pay the fee and was prepared to start training... However, there was no attempt, not even a hint of one. With 2 months of detraining and hobbling I was happy to arrive at Weymouth Woods in Southern Pines, NC with the ability to walk without a limp or noticeable pain in my left foot. I am paying the price for impatience and poor preparation.

I arrived at Weymouth around 5 hours into the run with Lynnea, Sylas and Aster for a hike in the sandhills on a perfect January afternoon! I was really looking forward to seeing the progression of runners over the distance and how each person's demeanor may change when fatigue came upon them and the endless roots grabbed and woke them.

Lynnea and I toted the smaller mammals around a short loop on service roads which paralleled the inner course and allowed us to see and hear ultra runners in their natural habitat. 5+ hours in the runners were in full story telling mode. They seemed relaxed and energetic and in that magical place where placid euphoria masks itself as lunacy to the un-initiated.

Dropping Names
It was a bit chilly and boring for some to stand around for the whole afternoon so we headed back to the car. On the way we were fortunate to traverse one of the more technical sections of uphill trail... and with a stroller. Not ideal. But in between approaching runners we carried Sylas onward Pharaoh style to the top of this section. Here we spotted Daniel Lieb, Tommy Black and Georgia Snail each around the 50k mark. And all I had done was ride in a car all morning while these guys were just getting warmed up at the halfway mark.

I said good bye to Lynnea and Sylas and Aster and I tightened our laces for a long walk around the course!

We headed out with a pack of food and water, warm clothes and cheer to spread to the runners! I was happy to see Jade out there near the end of a loop in my favorite section of the course. We stood under the tall, straight pines and talked about all things ultra and commiserated a bit about nagging injuries. Jade is always ready with a smile which is such a powerful tool to go to battle with on the sometimes despairing trails.

Onward we went meeting runners of all abilities as they made their way along. Some were walking, some were crushing, some were recovering and some just enjoying the day for what it was without much worry about anything but the moment of perfection they were in. I saw Tommy and Snail again and they were looking really good now, relaxed, smooth and quick around 40 miles in! I was feeling really proud of these guys as they had obviously done the work and were executing perfectly when it counted.

All That and Space too!
There were a lot of runners out there on the 4.75 mile loop. But there was certainly much more space on the trail, no congestion. Even while walking toward the race Aster and I had a lot of time to reflect on where we are in our training. Well, Aster was reflecting on the bread she had just eaten and thinking ahead to peanut butter crackers. As Tom (2011 Chattooga 50k Winner) continued clicking off laps on his way to what looked like a breeze of a win my thoughts couldn't help but float towards spring training plans and a weekend in early June. The annual test of how I've been living and training and hoping I am able to meet my standards of performance and enjoyment!

I came upon the midway aid station and pushed through to avoid congestion and any dog phobic runners. It looked like a great place to spend some time and I hope to make a steady stream of visits to the hostel in 2013. I was really impressed with how firm the trails were in this section compared to what they can tend to be. These horse trails can be like beach sand when really dry but it appeared red clay had been brought in to remedy the situation. I am sure those who have run Weymouth before were appreciative of this update.

Running Bug
Aster and I walked our way to the swamp and the boardwalks as the sun was getting low. Runners had donned night gear; headlamps, jackets and gloves (and a tutu for one runner!). I could tell Aster was getting a bit low on batteries and my left foot was feeling a tad tired as well, (not painful though) so we began the trek homeward including some foolish RUNNING for about 3 minutes PAIN FREE. From there we walked home. Lynnea grew up about 1/2 a mile from the midway aid station and it was super convenient to just walk home after taking in this great event for the afternoon.

As the trail faded and the asphalt appeared my mind shifted back toward home again though left with the lingering impression of pride I feel to be associated with the kinds of people who would brave doubt every day and conquer it. This courage leads to success and tangible evidence of this was witness on a January afternoon in Southern Pines. I can't wait to be running it next year!!

For now... Onward to The Now!

1 comment:

  1. I'm with you . . . next year. This year it was just fun being there and volunteering. Sorry I missed you! Next time!


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