William and I made the trek up to North Alabama for Mountain Mist 50k. I love that race, it was the first Ultra I ever ran, and it’s pretty much all gnarly, rocky, steep single track, which is right up my alley. We lived in Huntsville for 10 years, and I spent many hours running up on Monte Sano mountain when we lived there. Though at the time, I was running roads and not trails. I’ve completed Mt. Mist 6 times now, on my way to 10, to earn a 10 time finishers jacket. That will be the first event of any kind that I’ve done that many times.
In any case, I ALMOST did not even go up to run. On Monday, I called my friends in Huntsville and told them I wasn’t coming. I was so out of shape, I really didn’t know if I would be able to finish, and saw no need to just go up there and suffer. By Wednesday, I was rethinking it. I called again, and let them know that I would be there Friday evening, ready to run (or try to) on Saturday.
Turns out, I had a great time. While I am very overweight, and have not done much of any running since last July. Since Badwater last year, I have done two 13 mile runs, and a few 10 milers. Other than that, it’s been 1 or 2, 3 miles runs most weeks, and not every week at that. My weight is as high as it’s ever been in my life. So trying to cover 31 miles of rocky, mountainous single track trail, with fairly strict cutoffs was not going to be easy, and maybe impossible. The race is advertised saying ‘ THIS IS NOT A HIKE’ and I know this course is not for walkers, it’s a trail RUNNING course. Being aware of my lack of fitness going in, my Hunstville friends and crew smartly decided to use two vehicles and be setup in two teams, one team for William (their William, not my son William) and girlfriend, who likely would be very fast, and me, who would not be very fast. I knew that my job was to be conservative, use the knowledge of my body, effort and caloric/fluid needs to maintain a fast enough pace, without putting myself into too difficult a situation by pushing the pace. I would not have time to overextend myself, crash and burn, and recover. Had I done that, I would not have finished.
My goal was just to enjoy the day, and put another finish in the bank. I actually had a great time, never was in any distress or pain, and just cruised very easily. I was somewhat nervous the first half, as I really didn’t know what to expect of my out of shape legs and cardio system, but everything held up ok. By the half way mark, I was feeling pretty good about things, and able to really enjoy it. Vince met me at every aid station, and I really enjoyed stopping and chatting with him for several minutes each time. One guy on the course, that I kept passing, asked me how I kept passing him, when he never remembered passing me. Turns out I was hanging out in the aid stations talking to Vince, and he’d go by, then I’d catch and pass him. I ended up running the last 1.5 miles with this guy, who was also from Florida, and finishing HIS sixth MMist also.
The day was classic Mountain Mist, heavy fog in the morning, with very limited visibility and cold. William Ansick, my young 21 year old friend from Huntsville did awesome. Tami and I are friends with his parents, and we’ve known William since he was a little bitty boy. He was at my first Mountian Mist run with his family helping me at the aid stations, and has been to several of my triathlons as a spectator. In addition, he’s been part of the crew on all three of my Badwater runs. After High School, he took up the triathlon sport, and is now also ultrarunning. This was his third, and fastest MMist, and the cool thing, his time 5:19, is also MY Personal Best on the Mountain Mist course. I’m sure next year he’ll blow that away and it’s been pretty neat to see him go from little boy, to coming to watch me race, to crewing Badwater, to now becoming a quite accomplished young ultrarunner. Congratulations to him.
For me, I’m very motivated now to hit the trails again, do some running, start eating right again and get myself back into a fit, running state. It is going to take a while, but I’ll get there.
William(my william) and I had a good trip up, and back. He had fun climbing and playing on the playground while I was running, though I know he tried the patience of everyone. On the way back, we made a detour to Florida’s highest point, details of that to follow.