VT100

Late and incomplete this fell out of memory before I could really get it all down.

There came a reassuring point during the Vermont 100 when the effort and the salt felt remarkably routine. There on a dusty dirt road in the Green Mountain State I reached a level of comfort and confidence that makes most of the details of the race not worth noting.

The conclusion of the race saw a few minute PR for me (On an arguably tougher course) and validation that my previous sub-24 race was not a fluke. The whole day ended up feeling like I was attending a wedding, or some other celebratory event with friends. A blur of motion and hugs and high fives. I guess high fives aren’t common wedding presents. Lots of TARC folks and lots of love to go around. I absorbed a serene moment the night before the race in the tenting area listening to Van Morrison and the din of human encampments.

The overall theme of the day was by and large about accepting help from others. I have an incredibly hard time dealing with things that seem to threaten my independence, or might detract from accomplishing something without help. I know on an intellectual level that no one ever accomplishes anything alone and that our very existence is built on the hard work of countless other lives. I wrestled with having anyone to act as my crew or pace me. Absolutely nothing to do with them and everything to do with me.

Eventually I relaxed on the subject and had my companion from last year’s shit show join me in the last ~12 miles of the race. Crossing the finish line with him (and the lack of sleep) made me quite emotional.

To truly accept help from another person is often to open up a vulnerability in yourself. If they overcome the barriers I put up to helping me, then the gesture is very strongly felt. I think part of why I sometimes don’t feel close to people is that I don’t open myself up to their help.

Anyway, for the race itself I took a heart rate limited approach to the first 30-40 miles. I probably set the limit way too low as I tried to keep my BPM below 140. In a typical training run moving at a good click I’d be very comfortable at 145 and I think that’s what I should have aimed for. I had a ton of piss and vinegar left for the last 20 miles and passed close to 30 people I think. My feelings about the race feeling routine probably came from the fact I didn’t leave the starting gate at an unsustainable pace like I usually do. No vomitting and the low points weren’t as harsh as they usually are. Having a pacer definitely helped in the last 12 to keep me a little more awake and accountable and not sitting down in the middle of the trail.

Running with the horses was an altogether stellar experience. I was mildly freaked out by their weight and power when the first few passed me but it really became apparent that they wanted to run with the runners. I think I even caught a horse show-boating up a hill when I was struggling. I talked at length with one of the riders during and after the race about the training programs the horses go through (Very similar to our own), their drive, their stomachs (Their stomachs are suited for hours of grazing which is sometimes at odds with hours of trotting), and this particular horse had trail running shoes on! Apparently they apply with glue and allow better traction and a more natural feel (They expand with the hoof).

As I stopped to piss at one point in the evening I heard a rider behind me trying to encourage their horse to walk past me. I was apparently the first human they had seen all day with a headlamp on and it was a bit freaked out. She asked me to say something to the horse so like an 11 year old girl I said “Hey Horsey!”. The horse gave a reassuring sigh and immediately slipped by me.

I did one other ultra since VT100 and it was a blast. I have some other goals I want to tend to but somehow remain fit enough in the event I get into Arrowhead. I've run only 2-3 times in the last 5 weeks or so and I can't say it feels good. I am still waking up with arthritic feeling ankles and when I went for a brief jaunt tonight it felt like I hadn't taken any time off.

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