It’s dark and I’m running on the side of a New Hampshire freeway chasing a blurry blinking dot a half mile in the distance. The wind whispers rumors of a hurricane as I crest a hill and start down the other side, slowly closing the gap on that dancing light.
The kill will come soon. All those runs up and down Indian Hill are going to pay off. I will conquer the light. I will swallow it whole and eat its glowing heart. I will show no mercy. Just a curt nod and wave and a slight acceleration. I will skip any pleasantries if the person is in costume.
I pick up the pace as I visualize marking up the van window with another blue tally mark. This is the moment when the little sprites leap out of the darkness and attack my hips and knees with their tiny, sharp Ginsu knives.
I am halfway through my second relay leg.
This is when Ragnar gets real…this is when I ask myself why the f*ck am I doing this?
It’s Saturday morning and the van smells like a Frankenstein combination of boiled cabbage, Febreeze, and beef jerky. I’m in the third row, half bent over with my hands on my slightly distended stomach. For the past thirty hours I’ve been conducting a delicate chemistry experiment on myself. What is the proper combination of Tums, Pepto, and carbs to keep my GI tract happy through three legs of a Ragnar?
My stomach gives a troubling burble. Or was that a purr of satisfaction? I’ve lost track under the avalanche of antacids I’ve poured down my throat.
The line of honey buckets is only yards away. As the sun has risen, the conditions inside have gotten worse at each transition area. My friendly Scottish teammate came back whistling at the last stop and happily told me his body’s response to stress was to empty the tanks. Cheers to that, mate, but mine is quite the opposite.
At the first sign of stress, TSA security lines, or unfamiliar toilets, my digestive tract clamps down like Scrooge McDuck’s grip on a dollar bill. The only cure isn’t more cowbell, but a quart of prune juice and some quiet contemplation. Neither of which are readily available during this 200-mile team trek across New Hampshire.
There was a moment during my third Ragnar leg that the pain faded away. My quads stopped hurting, my knee wasn’t barking, and I no longer felt my sweat-soaked singlet chafing my pink parts. I was consumed, utterly and completely, with doing some furious calculus. There was still almost three miles to go and my stomach was giving off dire warnings.
Neither Isaac Newton nor Bill Rodgers could make this math work. I wasn’t going to make it. Not even close.
The second annual, and first in-person, Medfield 10k was held Sunday June 13th. I ran the race and, despite the unseasonably warm temperatures had a great time on a new and challenging course. I’ll be back next year to try to improve on my wilting, second half fade.
Here are 10 things I liked about this new, local Metrowest 10k road race.
The Goddard Stomp Duathlon put on by the local outfit On Your Left Racing was last weekend in Rhode Island and while none of my training had included bike handling with ski gloves, the event was a fun run-bike-run challenge to start the 2021 season.
The weather didn’t fully cooperate. It was raw and cold, even for April in New England, but by the race start, I think everyone was just relieved it wasn’t still snowing and that we were actually going to be racing outside of our own basements.
When is a race not really a race? In the time of quarantine.
It might be a long time before we get back to live-action road races but last Sunday, I had the unique opportunity to race a 5k. Through a weird hiccup of circumstance, I actually won the HMEA 5k last year and when COVID forced this year’s fundraising event to go virtual, they invited the men’s (me) and women’s winner to run and be live streamed on Facebook as part of their fundraising day.
So how did it go?
This year’s Old Fashioned 10 Miler was going to be about redemption. At least, that was the plan. Last year’s race went off the rails almost immediately. Despite not really training more for the distance (I’ve been on the bike a lot more this winter), I was determined that this year would be better than last. I did everything I could to make sure this year left me with better memories. I managed my taper, my fatigue, and my meds carefully in the lead up to Sunday. But you still never know. You gotta toe the line and find out.