Monday, November 19, 2012

Figuring Out What to Do Next

Sunset over the bay a half block from the house
I've been blessed to have the opportunity to spend the last 8 summers travelling to Long Beach Island, New Jersey.

My wife grew up there, spending her long summer breaks on the sand, working her first jobs in its shops and restaurants. To my son, it's where we go when it gets warm.  It's where he learned to love miniature golf.
Roman (with blanket) outside the beach house

Now, Storm Sandy has come along and disturbed our world down there. I'm afraid that what we knew, what my wife and son know of the place will be forever altered.

I've spent the last two weeks trying to think about what I can do to help. In my dark, cold apartment I began to put my plan together.

Over the last year, I've run more miles on LBI than any other place. It is flat, straight and boring. Exactly what I've needed to build the mental fortitude for long distance running. Summer running there is watching blurry landmarks miles ahead stay miles ahead of you as you pound away, foot over foot.

So, I am starting to put together a plan. My first thought is and end-to-end-to-end run of the island (36 miles), raising money for a local charity. The challenge I have in this part of the process is determining which charity and when to run it. Most immediate recovery efforts will be completed or at least stabilized before I can do this so right now I'm thinking more long-term in my choices.

In terms of timing, I'm thinking July 4th. We will see. More to come.

Barnegat Light on the northern tip of the island

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Mountain Madness (Part 1)

Suffering through Mountain Madness

It has been well over a month since the race, so it's time I finally get this post completed. Now, post-Sandy, I'm writing this from a hallway floor while my computer gets a full charge.

Sadly, since the race, I have not had much time running due to some severe strain in my left leg that is leaving me with significant ITB pain. I tried to take a light jog around the neighborhood to assess the storm damage, but ended up limping home after a mile. Funny, because it was the same thing in the right leg that made me doubt if I could finish the race in the first place.


Since my mid-summer ITB injury with my varied time-outs and re-starts, I contemplated this race as a "test". As my leg healed through the summer and early fall, I tried to build up the base miles, trying to pick up the pace. But I still had this nagging, profound level of doubt about this run. It would be the longest, hardest trek through the woods that I had completed since a dehydrated, nearly calamitous march down a long stretch of the Long Trail 20 years ago.

Two weeks before Mountain Madness (the 25k one), I decided that I would live and die by the work I had already put in. I determined that there was nothing left I could do to make myself more physically ready. I tapered and got some sleep. I didn't wake up at 4:30 am to run alone in the dark. I slept a little more and spent the mornings with my son.

The night before the race, I worked obsessively with my gear, worried that my toes would be torn to shreds, that I would not have enough water if I had to walk some long stretches, and that I wouldn't be prepared to get the calories I would need to keep the wheels from falling off.

By morning I was excited to get it started so that I could see how it played out. The weather was cool and damp. It had rained the day before so I figured it would be wet and slippery.

I had not been to the park before so was surprised to see how hilly it was. Being from northern Vermont, I assume everything below Massachusetts is flatland. So, I still find myself shocked at some of the steep terrain that New Jersey can throw out.

I nervously awaited the start by walking from my car to the camp house on the edge of a small lake. I checked in and made one last run to the car to deposit my outer layers.

After a quick review from the RD, we lined up on the grass and headed on our way. I am not sure why I thought I could do this race.

Next post - a report of my misery.