I finished the 2012 MMT as a solo finisher, in 33:56:25.
For the longer version, please read on:
After getting in the Hardrock 100 for 2012, I abandoned the idea of getting a pacer or crew for MMT. After my rock star pacer and crew of 2011, that was a hard act to follow. There was also a rule for the solo division: no headphones, aka no music.
If I could keep my finish time around last year, without the pacer/crew, that would be a very good goal.
Race morning dawned cold. I started in a race singlet. I knew I would be warm, in no time.
I actually jogged up quite a bit of Moreland Gap Road. So I actually ended up in quite a crowd of runners when we started up trail, onto Short Mountain.
I tripped about one-half mile on Short, and it got it’s blood tribute, as I cut my knee open.
Conga Line on Short
Being further up in the pack, I got caught up in a long line of runners on Short. That meant, we were actually walking. There was even a few times where we came to a complete stop. I was actually getting bored!
I heard Jen mutter behind me “We have got to GO” and I took that as incentive to move up in the pack.
Finally, a runner stepped off the trail, and the speed increased. Then I got around a few more people, and actually broke into a run!
After leaving Edinburg Gap, I started chatting with Joe. Joe was running his first 100 mile race, in honor of John Chapman, an Armed Service member, (Air Force) killed in action in 2002. We got to share quite a bit of trail between Edinburg and Powell’s Fort.
Joe had brought many people with him, including his mother and John’s family. They were all in red shirts, and were at many of the Aid Stations, cheering in ALL the runners. It was pretty neat, it felt like we had a little marathon cheering section. It was good to get some positive energy off them, and I appreciated them being out there this weekend.
All is Well
I make the climb over Elizabeth Furnace, where Paul “The King” Lefelhocz catches up to me. Paul is one of our NEO TC members, so we get to share trail time up and over the climb out of Elizabeth Furnace.
I am still ahead of all my planned splits, which I am pleased with.
I meet up with Rudy, as we run up the road, toward the Veach Gap AS. We see a sheriff’s deputy getting a long branch out of the woods, and he tells us to go left of the vehicle, as there is a rattlesnake curled up in the road behind the vehicle! I hope this is the only rattlesnake I will see this weekend.
I climb the long climb out of Veach Gap. This reminds me of the long climb out of The Wild Oak Trail, up to Little Bald Knob. I am still ahead of schedule.
I am at Habron at 1909, my planned time is1925. This is also where I picked up Mongold last year, so now I am on my own, no one is holding my hand.
I pick up my light instead. I also ditch my maltodextrin hand held bottles. The malto dextrin was moving a bit too quickly through my system, making me have multiple bathroom breaks. (This also happened at Reverse Ring with the malto.) I had five stops on the road to Habron, which can start adding up. So I decided to ditch the MD, and just get calories off the AS table.
Hydration: Or a Rookie Mistake
I kept running out of water. I could not understand it. I had a 70 oz bladder, and I was out of water well out of before every AS. (Very late into the race, I wondered if I was carrying the 70 oz bladder, or the 50 oz bladder. Guess which one it was…)
Habron to Camp Roo
I pass my friend Rudy here, and I don’t see him again until the finish. Last year, this was where I had just picked up Mongold as my pacer, and I can honestly say I really didn’t notice the climb, as we were just talking and gossipping the whole time.
So this year, I am all alone! So I notice the climb!
I finally make it back up to my beloved orange (The Massanutten Trail) on the ridge. I am again with Paul and a few others, but I stop to adjust my headlamp, and never do catch back up with them.
I get into Camp Roosevelt about a half-hour behind my projected split time now. Since I am now eating off the Aid Station table, I will spend more time in the AS. I decide to not look at my watch. I have to eat and get calories in; it is what it is.
Ah,Kern’s. If anyone is a Star Trek TNG Fan, there is a Klingon named “Kurn” (pronounced Kern) so I have always Klingon-morphised Kern Mountain into seeing it as Big Bad Klingon.
After running Reverse Ring in February, with the non-ending 20-30 mph winds on the west side of the MMT, I had almost gone psycho with the wind noise and could not wait to get off Kerns.
This was no different Sunday morning, during the MMT 100. Although it was a bit warmer. I did get to share some trail with Mark McK, so that helped break up the monotony, as we tried to remember how much more trail we had to cover. We both knew the ending section, to the road! I kept waiting to get to “Q’s view” as I knew that would be at the farther end of the trail.
Paul C. and I pretty much ran down the road to the Visitor Center together. This also seemed longer than I remembered…
Training for Hard Rock
I picked up my trekking poles at the Visitor Center. I wanted to try them out on some climbs, late in a race, and the Bird Knob Climb seemed like a good place to do this at.
I did notice the poles took the pressure off my quads. However, I could feel it in my upper arms. (Note to self: start doing upper arm work before HR).
Made the climb to Bird Knob, and Ant Hill Road seemed so long! How come I remember these sections as being so much shorter?
Finally, we are at the AS, at the famous Pesta Family Corn Chowder. I am not feeling that hungry, but I have been looking forward to their Chowder since Reverse Ring! I carefully eat a bowl..it stays down.
I start the one-mile down hill, to the Brown Trail, but sadly, I am moving slowly. Way slowly. Now I am climbing up Brown Trail. Slowly. I get to the top, and now there are downhills.
In fact, lots of downhills. After the first section of downhill, my quads are warming up and unlocking. I catch up with Jeff and Tara, who are running MMT as their first 100 mile…”huh!”
I don’t know whether it’s the chatting, daybreak, or the chowder, but I run every downhill off BK. I kept wondering where the hell Picnic Area AS is, but the distance is between 6.5 or 8.5 miles.
I finally arrive. This is Quatro’s AS, so this is double bonus. I tell Q “I need calories” and I try to get as much food in as possible. Now I heard it’s “8.9 miles” to Gap Creek II and my heart kind of sinks. I’ve been running out of water at ALL AS, and I know I will run out again.
(Note: I am too proud/stupid to ask for an additional HH or water bottle. It’s my own dumbass fault.)
Picnic Area to Gap Creek II
Note: I don’t like this section. This was my low spot last year. I need to come run this section on a training run and get more familiar with this.
Okay, you leave Quatro. You know you have to cross Rt 211. But the trail goes on and on and on. You still haven’t even gotten to 211 yet!
I kept expecting Roy Heger or Gary Knipling to catch me. Gary and Roy had (at that moment in time) 14 and 12 MMT finishes. Now, usually, Gary is actually never behind me at MMT. And Roy usually passes me at miles 30 to 40 in a 100 mile race. So, with them still behind me, so late in the race, it was kind of unusual, but they are veterans,they know what they are doing.
This section of trail is about the least familiar section of the whole MMT for me. I know I have “Dry Creek Run” to go up. But I just don’t remember alot of this.
First, though, you have to actually cross Rt 211. This seems to take forever. I FINALLY Get there. I am hot. I know I am going to run out of water. I keep looking for Gary and Roy. I have to use my inhaler.
I am not even sure how to describe the section through here. I know where I am, I know where I need to climb. I finally cross where Waterfall Mountain is. And now I am doing switchbacks, across the same damn creek. All we are doing, is climbing, switch backing, and going back again. And it’s hot. And I am getting way over-heated. I’m getting a bit worried about heat stroke/exhaustion/ whatever you want to call it.
A runner catches me and I whine to him “Will we get to Dry Creek soon”? And he indicates it is still a distance off.
I hate everything right now. I am too hot, I am worried I will time out (irrationally) of the race at mile 95 and never live it down. I am hot. I am out of water. I am not to Dry Creek yet.
All I remember from Dry Creek was fading here. Then we crested the ridge, and there was a big downhill, to the road.
Dry Creek isn’t that bad. Of course, mentally, I am awake and fine. I’m a bit pissed, so that helps with adrenalin. Now I want this section I remember, as a downhill run.
Well, I do get to the downhill. And, like pretty much every part,the section is far longer than I remember. This downhill takes me a looong time, to finally get to the road.
Crisman Hollow to Gap Creek II
I’ve been thinking about the ice at the AS for..oh, three or four hours. Once I was not climbing, the heat wasn’t bothering me so much, but all I want is to get ice on my neck and back and have a nice cool beer.
It’s amazing. I hit the road, and I catch up with with 3 or 4 runners I haven’t seen in a while.
Again, another section longer than I think. But all I am thinking is ice, cooling down, and 8 miles to the finish.
Gap Creek II
I finally get to mile 95. (This is actually a 104 mile race). I’ve got one more climb, up Jawbone, then down the other side, about 4 miles of road to the finish. I drop my trekking poles, I get water. I get ice in my bra and a fresh shirt. I drink coke. I take coke and ice in a hand held from my drop bag. I leave with the PA group but they quickly out pace me.
All I got to do, is climb Jawbone. Which really is not that big of a climb. I summit Jawbone, and then start the run down. I now catch up with the PA group, give them the briefing on the last remaing rock sections to the Moreland Gap Road.
Now I am off to find Billy. Bill has now finished MMT 6 times. But Bill has nausea problems. I have already heard Bill hasn’t ate since Habron Gap. Mle 54. But he’s still out there. I’ve been hearing he’s only minutes ahead of me.
I catch Bill about 1/2 mile or so from the finish line. He’s walking. That’s fine. Now we are both walking. We are going to finish. Well under the cut off time. So I would rather spend time with my friend, and hear about his day,and night, first.
Our friend Bob catches up as we are casually walking up the little hill to the finish. He yells at us, but also understands our position.
Bill and I stop and wash the mud off our legs before we head to the finish line. The Rippers come along and we wave them on. Bill and I are still walking, and waiting for Bur to announce us, before we have to break into a trot and run across the finish line.
We finish in 33:56:25. I finish, feeling physically great. That low spot, from Picnic to Gap Creek II, is long gone. Maybe I should also add, feeling mentally and emotionally great also. I am very pleased, to be finishing a 100 mile race, on a good high point.
I am very pleased with my 2012 finish. I did this with no pacer, no crew, no music. I made a bunch of mistakes, which resulted in some good suffering on my part. Several of these mistakes were stupidity, so I hope I can correct them.
I love running in the Massanutten Mountains. It’s a hard course. It’s a beautiful course. It is a well organized race, with awesome volunteers. It is not for everyone. But I cannot think of another spot that I would not want to spend two days in May at.
Thank you to all, the Virginia Happy Trails Club, volunteers, crews, for an awesome weekend in the woods!