Trail Run 22:50:00  102.0 mi (13:26 / mi) +3408m 12:10 / mi
23:49 total time; 22:50 moving time. Winner last year was 23:27. 5th. Lots of drops.
To quote Alex: my everything hurts.
Mileage note: Suunto said 108, seems to overestimate when it's on long battery life mode. Course says 96, Strava says 99, most tracks are 101-103. I'll go with 102. It's a lot.
So … September 30 my friend Harry emails saying there are slots open in the Midstate Massive 100 mile race, from Windblown to Rhode Island. I was going to do something stupid, and this seemed like supported stupid. Plus I'd always wanted to hike the Midstate Trail, so why not all at once? Also, I looked at my training. The 36 for 36, a Presi PR, a Pemi PR, and another Pemi on the docket. Way more miles and vert than usual. I hadn't been training for anything, but inadvertently trained for a 100.
Registration closed that night. I signed up. Ran the Pemi, took the week off.
Last week was a flurry of activity. Making a pace planning sheet (which actually was a pretty good estimate). Getting together all the food (options) planning some crewing. Finding a pacer. The latter really worked well. Tom D from CSU is running a 100 in a few weeks, and had been thinking of signing up for the 50 anyway. Pacing means he gets to run it for free.
All systems were go on Saturday. Weather was not really ideal: 70 and sunny, cooling down overnight and 50s by morning. A bit on the warm side, but not super-hot. I was in the final wave: 9 of us going out at noon after five waves of 10-20(ish) people starting at 8 a.m. Meant I got to sleep in and eat in the morning, and that I wouldn't be climbing Wachusett in the heat of the day.
Went off at 12:04, with a pack full of food and water. It's kind of sad to see Windblown's trails growing in, but I also knew that the first mile was that nice downhill, and kind of let it run. Then took the hiking poles and went up and stayed up the rest of the race. I can't imagine running a 100 without them.
Got caught by anther guy also running his first race and we ran a couple of miles together, having passed a couple of "more experienced" runners. It was warm and I kept the pace down so as not to overheat on the hills. Drank enough but still got a bit dehydrated until I was able to slowly rehydrate over the second half of the race. The aid stations were not-that-well stocked, which was understandable given covid. So no piles of M&Ms or pickles or other goodness, and the water stations were touchless, hold your bottle and get the water. But uncrowded, and mostly worked fine. Still, it meant carrying a bit more food. I was also carrying other stuff, like phone charging equipment and an extra headlamp, plus some extra clothing, so my pack was a bit "heavy."
Anyway, once off the Wapack (not too crowded except near Watatic where I ran through a family photo, amongst other things) the course got a bit easier. The guy I was running with went ahead, and there was one place the trail had been rerouted through a logged area and was indistinct, so I got a bit off-course (although not off-course enough for my phone to yell at me, which was a nice feature of the tracking app). The trail was generally well-marked, although in a few places it could have used some auxiliary and reflective markings. Anyway, a guy I'd seen at the aid followed me, I realized I was off trail and turned back, he seemed unhappy and cut off through the woods to find the trail. He wound up running the course sub 20 and winning, but still, play the game, right?
Caught up with an 11 o'clock starter and passed him once I'd realized I had put an hour on him already. Some lovely running through the woods, mostly on trail, not too rocky. A few climbs and descents, some views, one really nice campsite by a lake. Not bad for an hour from Boston. Just south of Baldwin Hill, and on across Route 2 to the aid station there where my parents were crewing, which was helpful. Refilled for the next push to Wachusett base, which I knew to be hard, and which was. Where the trail descended a particularly steep pitch I saw another runner sitting stopped. "Are you okay?" Yes, but confused whether the trail actually went down these rocks. It did.
More aid at Wawa, packed up with new food and water for the trip over the mountain. Dark now, too, and passing lots of other runners. The climb wasn't bad, just head down, and nice that it was cooler at night, and breeze, if not drying out yet. The drop off the back side was quite steep, but then I hit the first long road section, where I was able to drop in some 10 to 12 minute miles. Then on and off of trail segments, which were reasonably runnable, and I was able to hold 14 or 15 minute miles across most of it with pretty gentle terrain. Much of it was a trail of headlamps, and it is far less creepy to see other people on a trail at night when they are supposed to be there.
Right before the 50 mile point it spit a little rain, I almost ran a shortcut to the aid on Route 122, and then climbed up to then run down to the midpoint parking area, seeing Harry on his way out as I came in. Tom was there, I found some new food, and we set out with his huge waist strap light bar which was very nice for me to be running in front of; my light basically lit up the shadow it cast. The first 15 miles out were mostly on trails, and mostly run in the 15-17 minute range. 5 of us, Harry included, got off trail when the trail led into a pasture and only a couple of markings high on a tree showing it went left; a place some better signage would have helped (there was another a few miles later). But mostly the blazing is good.
We hit a long road section through the town of Spencer, which was quaint, then more trails, then more roads, holding about 12s on the roads, at times a bit faster, but definitely some walking on the ups as my legs were getting tired. The sun came up as we passed through Charlton, by a 1700s-era tavern and then over the Turnpike and another long road section. Fewer people now: we were past the meat of the 100s but most of the 50s were ahead of us (the 30s wouldn't finish until after I did).
I had had my first Coke at Wachusett, and subsisted overnight on mostly Coke and Tailwind between each aid station (a 500 ml water bottle on my chest) plus water. The bottle would fizz and I was covered in stick stuff, too. We were managing 11–14 minute miles on the road, slower on trails, but I was struggling, and walking some road sections. Somewhere I had a short bout of nausea, but it passed (overall I fed myself very well), and I was able to quell it with some Coke as well as starting to hit the hard stuff: double-caffeinated gels.
In Oxford, super-crew Mel came out to meet us and I stumbled into the aid station, but there was a lot of rejuvenation. Maybe the crew, maybe the sun, more likely the caffeine really coming into play. We left there and I was able to find a third gear which had been missing for a while. Tom said I was at least able to shift from first to second and back (walk to slow run) but now with some drugs I was able to get to an actual, honest-to-goodness, ten minute mile. Tom mentioned that sub-24 might still be attainable, and I wanted to bank some time on the roads for that, and I could.
Mel missed us at the next aid station because she'd seen a friend's house (ah, the wonders of blindly following GPS and not realizing where you are) and the aid station mileage didn't match the tracking mileage (mileages in this race seem to have been suggestions) but came chasing after us with the request egg mcmuffin, about which I was very excited. I ate half, it went down great, and I stupidly handed it back instead of stuffing it in my vest, so it was cheezits from there on out. Still, I felt great for about 15 miles on caffeine, and maybe could have kept it up longer or started it earlier. Something to consider for next time.
We had a lot of time banked, which was good, because the trails in Douglas State Forest are miserable. Not even end-of-a-hundred miserable, it's like being on top of the Presidential Range, except without the views. Jumbles of scree, very little in the way of runnable singletrack. Must have been way overgrazed, or a moraine, or something. I was able to keep some sort of pace up amongst the jumbles, but never get into a flow. There was two miles on one of the railroad grades, which was much nicer, but then the last couple of miles to the state lines (Connecticut and Rhode Island) were steep and rocky and I was pretty ready to be done. We had plenty of time, though, and I was able to sprint-hobble to finish under 24h.
Finish was subdued with covid, but there were picnic tables to sit on, everything hurt but nothing too badly (no huge blisters, no terrible chafe, no broke things), they had a food truck I definitely partook from, I opted not to swim in the lake because I didn't trust myself to not drown and also didn't want to have to start the bending over process to get my shoes and socks off (and I wasn't sure how bad my feet were and if there was stuff I wouldn't want to put in the water). Then we delivered Tom to his car and me to a bed.
So, it was kind of great! And I think I like the distance. Do I want to do it again? Well, maybe. Somewhere different (Superior Trail? Out west?) and somewhere I can get 5 more ITRA points so I can go do the UTMB, right? Yes. That. Great job by the race org to pull this off.