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<span style="font-family:'Courier New';"><span style="font-family:'Courier New';">Sometimes I get the feeling I should quit while I'm ahead. As I sit here typing this race report, I seem to be at this moment either in the middle of (or at the end) an unforeseen hot streak with my long distance running. If you recall, the last time I had written a race report was upon completing my first ever ultra marathon, The Pisgah Mountain Trail 50k in September (Found here: <a href="http://www.trailrunnermag.com/showracereport.php?id=32" target="_blank">http://www.trailrunnermag.com/showracereport.php?id=32</a>). A race in which I was very pleased with my results. In the time since then, I also entered and completed the Hartford Marathon. This race too went</span> <span style="font-family:'Courier New';">extremely well when I set a new marathon PR. I additionally exceeded another goal by running the whole running (no walking breaks). And just when I thought it couldn't get any better.....well, we'll get to that. For now let's take a step back, to Pre-Pisgah times.</span><br><br><span style="font-family:'Courier New';">Back in the summer, around August, my good friend and supporter JT, brought forth the idea of us running the Stone Cat Trail Marathon together. I immediately accepted but upon further consideration I decided to jump in with both feet and enter the 50 mile option for this event. In my previous race report I explained my desire to become an ultra marathoner and despite not having yet completed an ultra, I sent in my race application. Never mind that I had Pisgah coming up in less than a month or that entering Stone Cat 8 weeks after Pisgah (with Hartford in between) left me little recovery/build up time. Never mind that I was putting myself a full year ahead of previous plan of entering a 50 miler.</span><br><br><br><span style="font-family:'Courier New';">I now boldly placed a big X in the 50 mile option box and sealed the envelope (and perhaps my fate).</span><br><br><span style="font-family:'Courier New';">After successfully completing Pisgah I immediately setting my sights on Stone Cat. By my calculations, I had time for 1 recovery week, 3 weeks of training, a taper week (for Hartford), a recovery week (after Hartford), 2 more weeks of training, and a final taper week before Stone Cat. A lot to squeeze in but in my mind doable. My main concerns were the total of 5 weeks training I had. In this time I had to ensure I got in back-to-back long trail runs. From all I had read and the advice I had gotten from ultra veterans, this was the key to training for ultras. I'd like to say things went off without a hitch but as it worked out I was only able to get back-to-back long runs in my final 2 weeks of training (each run 15+ miles). But considering I had run a marathon, then 2 weeks of back-to-back long runs followed by a taper</span><br><span style="font-family:'Courier New';">week, I thought I had done enough. I had to accept that ready or not, it was time. I was now at the physical and mental peak of my training for the year (and in my life). As the final days counted down, I knew that unless injury, illness or mother nature got in the way...I was finishing this race.</span><br><br><span style="font-family:'Courier New';">As taper week began I shifted my "concerns" from physical and mental to the things I couldn't control, namely, mother nature and what she would throw at us come November 10th. As if she isn't unpredictable enough, this Fall in Southern New England has been extra unpredictable as it seems we've had an extended Indian summer lasting through October.</span> <span style="font-family:'Courier New';">However, with the arrival of November, Fall finally arrived. To make matters more concerning, I had even heard inklings of us getting remnants of a coastal storm by the end of the week. I had learned long ago though to not stress over what you cannot control. So, I simply prepared myself for the first real cold run of the Fall and hoped this was one of the times the weather man got it wrong.</span><br><br><span style="font-family:'Courier New';">As I packed my final items and prepared my drop bag with items I would require for each successive lap I could hardly believe the race was finally here. It felt like both "just another race" and uncharted territory at the same time. Since I live in fairly close proximity to Ipswich (2 hour drive) and since I had my family (i.e. support crew) coming with me travel arrangements were fairly easy. Easy as piling us all into the van and driving up through Boston during rush hour could be that is. As a precursor of things to come, the commute went as good as could be expected. Upon arriving at the Comfort Inn I had spotted numerous runners milling about the hotel. With the arrival of each one you could feel the pre-race anticipation building. We arrived at the Comfort Inn early enough to grab a quick dinner, take in an episode of Planet Earth on Discovery and even have lights out by 9:00 PM. The 4:00 AM wake up call would come early.</span><br><br><span style="font-family:'Courier New';">No matter how you cut it, 4:00 AM is early. O' dark thirty we used to call it in the Army. And when you're trying to cross every "T" and dot every "I" plus get a 10 & 7 year old up and moving, it can seem even earlier. Following the old Boy Scout motto though, I had laid everything out the night before. After a final check of The Weather Channel, I made last minute clothing adjustments and headed down for a pre-race meal.</span><br><br><span style="font-family:'Courier New';">Pre-race meal was a simple one consisting of a banana, english muffin and a cup of joe. The Pre-race buzz was thick with the room full of other runners and race talk dominating the conversations. At last, all the preliminaries were behind me. All the planning and preparation had pointed to this day. Recently I just completed reading Pam Reed's book "The Extra Mile", a very enjoyable book btw. One of things she stresses to new ultra runners is that "You are only a virgin once", meaning that there will only be 1 time you experience your first of each race distance, enjoy it, relish it. I allowed myself to do just that I took in all the sites, sounds & feelings at race check in. I got my number and eagerly awaited the race start. I reviewed my race strategy with my support crew, telling them what I would need and when. Pre-Race meeting was due to start at 6:00 AM but at the last minute I felt those all too familiar rumblings in the belly that I knew meant either risk being late for the race start or end up squatting in the woods shortly after the race start. I chose the former. So, I listened to the pre-race meeting from the back of the men's room line and hoped that this last second decision wouldn't make me late for the start. In the end (no pun intended), I made the right decision, even though I had to use the stall without a door and still made it to the start on time.</span><br><br><span style="font-family:'Courier New';">As we proceeded out of the school enroute to the race start, I could see that yet another factor was working in my favor. The weather man was indeed wrong (this time). And in the distance I could see the sun just starting to inch its way onto the horizon. And although it was cold (34 F) and there was a slight breeze (predicted gusts up to 35 mph), there was no rain. The layering I had chosen for the start was my typical early-winter running gear. A sleeveless Under Armour shirt under a long sleeve thick Road Runner Sport top, over that I wore my Road Runner Sports vest. I also donned my winter running hat and EMS gloves. As I did last winter, I wore long compression underwear under my running shorts. Injinji socks covered the little piggy’s under my now trusty North Face XCR 103's. I felt confident that I had given myself enough layering options that I could peel off as the sun came up and raised the temps (hopefully). In my drop bag was a complete replacement set of clothes, along with a shell in the case of rain. With the sun rising and the ground visible, I opted to go with out the headlamp, since I figured I would only use it the first half hour at the most (and then end up carrying it the rest of the lap).</span><br><br><span style="font-family:'Courier New';">I said last minute goodbyes and thanks to my family, heard some indecipherable instructions at the front of the pack and like that.....we were off....Lap 1 was underway.</span><br><br><span style="font-family:'Courier New';">Stay tuned.....Tomorrow - Part 2, The Race is underway....</span></span>
 

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tease!!!!!!!! hope you post part two soon!
 
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