Monday, August 17, 2009


The MMD 50K is possibly the most difficult 50K trail race in the country with a total 34.2 miles with 14,855' gain. Karl Meltzer claims his Speedgoat 50K is, so I guess I'll have to run that someday to see and we'll see if we can get Karl out here for MMD some year ;-)

My adventure began with a 5K road race I "had" to run on Thursday evening, the night before the midnight start of MMD. This Cigna 5K is a huge race in Manchester, NH with 5000 runners. It is a corporate cup and I was entered for my company's team, Farm. The race went well, even though it hurt a lot. I ran 20:56 with an age graded time of 17:17, finishing 10th overall in my age group and first on my company's team. That just set my legs up for some painful running the next day in the White Mountains.
This will be my hopeful 5th MMD50k finish and if so, I will be the first person to do that. I missed 2007 because Deb and I were living in New Mexico and last year some severe storms (lightening and hail) stopped us on the summit of Mount Washington.

After dropping Tucker, the incredible escaping dog off at yet another new kennel, this one in Conway, we headed up to Dolly Copp campground where the weekend's festivities will be held, but not without fist stopping at Moat's and having a great lunch, a pint of some micro brewed pale ale and buying a growler of it to share with my fellow racers after we finish on Saturday.

We got there when only a few had arrived and picked a nice spot to park our truck/tent...and after awhile all of the racers arrived, some not until just before we began and one after we had begun! The afternoon was spent relaxing and hydrating (with water this time) as the race was planned to begin at midnight. We napped in the back of the truck for a few hours early evening, but didn't get much sleep.

Laurel Valley, Frank Giglio, Craig Wilson and Bob Najar just before Midnight

At just before midnight, we all gathered in the dark to begin....some grizzled ultra racers were there for another go at the Whites. There were many Hardrock 100 finishers standing there, as well as Barkley fun run finishers. Standing on one side of me was John Dewalt, the 73 year old who had just finished his 14th Hardrock and on the other side of me was Craig Wilson, many time Hardrocker and Barkley fun run finisher. Looking across the circle I see Laurel valley, who just ran 23 hours at the Vermont 100 and Ryan Welts, who just set a new Pemi Loop speed record of 7:04! Missing was our friends Andrew Thompson and Mike Dobies, who couldn't make it this year.

Rick Kerby got us going by driving the pace truck down to the trail head of the Imp trail. We had to run about 1.5 miles down to it and I can just imagine what the cars driving by thought of all the headlamps running up the road. Garry Harrington, Tom Parent, Jeff List, Stanislav Trufanov (I called him Santa Claus because I was having trouble remembering his name) and I took it out hard, running down the road at what felt like marathon pace....but I felt fit and ready this year to push the pace as hard as I could for as long as I could, this being most likely my last MMD.

When we reached the trailhead, we turned left and headed into the mountains for a half day or more...up it went, steep and long up to the Carter Ridge. Most everyone from our small group had run off ahead, while Jeff list and I paced ourselves for the long journey ahead. I was climbing strong, so Jeff backed off a bit, but when I reached Mount Hight I saw his light coming up the hill behind me. I had some trouble finding the trail, but soon did and got going. The running up on that ridge was spectacular....a clear bright sky full of stars with the glow of lights from the surrounding small New Hampshire towns. Running on the ridge was good, too....some small climbs, but for the most part flat, dirt with some small boardwalks in the muddy stretches.

On the Carter Dome summit someone had pitched their tent in the middle of the trail, which caused some discussion among us the following day. This guy was snoring when I ran by, but by the time some of the other runners went be he was irritated and yelling. Serves him right for camping where he shouldn't be. The rule is 200 yards off the trail.

As we summited each climb on that ridge...Imp, Hight, Carter Dome and Wildcat...the legs grew more and more weary. I really struggled going up the final one on that side, Wildcat, but pushed as best I could to keep ahead of Jeff. I even skipped going to the Carter Hut for water after telling him I was planning to do that. Funny thing was later on we talked about it and I skipped the hut to gain some time on him and he also skipped it, thinking I was there and he was getting ahead of me.

The ski trails on Wildcat Mountain

Soon we reached the top of Wildcat and had to run down the ski slope....I had remembered from our strategy discussion the day before that Jeff said that he thought that the best slope to go down would be Catapult, which turned out to be correct. It was pretty fast running with some spots very steep. The growth on the slope was about ankle to waist deep, but you could almost always find an easy path. My feet were soaked from the run down on the grassy slope, so upon entering the only aid station in the race at 15.5 miles, I decided to change my socks. While doing this, Jeff came running in...The goal was to reach the aid station by 6am and I left at 5:30am with Jeff following close behind. We had one person in front of us now as Garry had to drop out due to an injury he got from a fall a week earlier and Tom Parent had gone off course a bit and fell behind. Off to catch Santa Claus!

Upon reaching and beginning to run on the Crew Cut trail, Jeff caught me and we would be trail companions for most of the rest of the day. Our goal was to summit Mount Washington by 8AM, which was not going to be easy because the most difficult climb was coming up...Huntington Ravine. We took turns setting the pace, and while climbing made sure we were drinking and taking in calories. At this point with the heat of the day coming, I was drinking water with electrolytes in it and First Endurance EFS Liquid Shot. I don't like eating much solid food at all, especially when it's going to be hot. Calories are calories and between the Liquid shot and several packages of Clif Shot Blocks, I never had any bonking issues. I would take a drink of the EFS, then a little while later east a block every 15 minutes to keep the calories up all the time. If I keep it steady, my stomach stays happy.

There are so many things you have to regulate when trying to keep the stomach, legs and head happy...but I think the most important thing is to keep those calories up. If you get into a bonking situation, you don't think well and start to make poor decisions. Then your stomach goes and you can no longer drink and worst of all, you don't drink anything! When that happens your race can be over if you don't recognize the I prefer to just keep the calories coming in, and drink as much as I can. Even with that in this heat I didn't drink enough. I didn't pee once all day long.

Up the Tuckerman Ravine trail we go and while climbing, behind us comes Tom Parent, who was gaining on us, yet said he wasn't feeling too well and based on his training was going to stop.

Jeff coming up behind me on the Huntington Ravine Trail

Soon we reached the Huntington Ravine Trail, which is a large slab of rock mostly at a 45 degree angle which you have to find handholds to put your fingers and toes....there are also some places where you need to do some rock climbing to get up and over a cliff edge. Last year we had to do this in the middle of a hail storm, but this year it was just getting hot. At least the rocks were dry...occasionally we would catch a glimpse of Stanislav, but he was easily 20 minutes ahead of us.

Jeff attempting to make one of the more difficult sections

It took us 3 hours to reach the summit of Mount Washington, so we missed our 8am goal, but did get there at 8:30, beating the bike race that was being held that day. After going in to get some water, and going up to touch the summit we headed down the trail to the Gulfside trail, which would eventually take us to the final trail down to the camp, but not for 4 hours later...

The "true" Mount Washington summit
Some of my New Mexico friends would laugh at this sign

The sun was now out and even though it was early in the morning, it was getting hot. Luckily occasionally we'd get some cloud cover when a cloud passed overhead, but mostly it was full sun. We headed East towards Mount Clay, our first bump to go over. Here Jeff was having some stomach cramping troubles, so stopped to take care of that while I continued on, saying I'd be going slow due to the heat and he'll be catching me soon. I have had so much trouble in the heat at races, that I am overly cautious, so I slow down, drink lots and try to eat some calories... I got up and over Clay and headed towards Mount Jefferson, the next loop. This was one a tough long climb, so I was preparing by taking my last long drink of the EFS Liquid Shot, probably giving me a good 200 calories. After drinking that my stomach felt a little queasy, so I slowed down some more and even stopped on top of Jefferson to take in the view and take a picture. Not seeing Jeff coming just yet, I started down and headed to Mt Adams. The Lowe's Path up to Mount Adams wasn't that bad a climb, but I was starting to cramp up in the legs. I've been taking in more than enough electrolytes and had plenty of fuel, so maybe not drinking enough...I pushed in the fluids and again stopped on top of Adams to take a short break and that's when Jeff caught up to me. His words were "I got my mojo back!" And I reminded him what I had been saying all day long "Keep pushing the pace, because you just never know what might happen up front!" He pushed down, while I told him I was going to stop at the Madison Hut for some lemonade...and this time I meant it!

Inside the Madison Hut where I got my lemonade

The Star Lake Trail off of mount Adams sucked...plain and simple, or maybe it was just a reflection on how I now felt. The rocks were large, pointy and slippery and the trail was steep. I wanted to keep pushing as best I could to prevent from losing my 3rd in order to not waste time, I went into the hut and filled my bottle with lemonade and threw 4 bucks in the cup. I got out in a jiffy and headed up the Osgood Trail to the Mount Madison Summit, the last climb of the day. It was now really getting hot and my legs wanted to cramp if I moved the wrong way. The lemonade was absolutely delicious and I emptied my bottle at the top, took a picture, looked East, saw the cairns and started down.

Here I had to be careful to not miss the left turn onto the Daniel Webster Scout trail. The day before everyone said it was an easy one to as I went down, down through the rocks I came upon Laurel valley's boyfriend who showed me the turn right ahead. he said the first guy missed the turn and continued down the Osgood trail and the 2nd guy flew down the right trail. OK, Jeff, see....ANYTHING can happen!

Final trail back to Camp and the finish...
...3.5 miles to camp, 1 +more mile to the finish from there!

I started down the Daniel Webster trail, but the legs were in rough shape. I would get the start of a cramp and would have to stop until it subsided. The trail above treeline was nothing more than a jumble of large boulders and the sun was getting hot with it also reflecting back off the rocks into your face...hitting treeline was so nice. Shade and the start of seeing some dirt, the further down you went, the shadier and softer the trail got. A couple of times down lower we crossed a small stream where I'd stop to soak my head to cool off and it felt nice. The trail seems far longer than I expected, but if you have been running trails for as long as I have you begin to recognize what Deb and I call the return to the civilized world. The trees start looking different and the trail is more heavily used. I crossed over a dirt road and was hopeful that this was the road we take a left on, but dammit, I saw a blue blaze across the road heading down in the woods. On and on I go, 3.5 miles that feels like 10....getting hotter and hotter, thirstier and thirstier. Every now and then I thought I saw a tent, but it would turn out to be a dense maple tree....I was seeing things move out of my peripheral vision, the mind now playing tricks after missing a night's sleep and being on the trail all this time. Finally I pass a couple of hikers who said the road was just ahead. I heard voices, a little girl calling her daddy....yes! The campground!

I stepped off the trail onto the road and ran as best I could...slightly uphill meant some walking, nothing left in the legs, just how you like to end a race....nothing left. I see the road to Barnes Field, take another left and run (well, walk) up the hill into campsite #11. Done....3rd place, 13.5 hours, nothing left. 5 finishes, that loincloth is mine! Complete success...

Minutes after I finished, sitting with the other two finishers and those that weren't so lucky.

Nothing much more to add but all the fun of post MMD....sitting around drinking beer and eating all the great food that Jonathan cooked for us, anywhere from chicken to steak, corn, beans, name it, it was there somewhere on that table. And yes, as usual, plenty of beer!
Thanks goes to Jonathan Whitehead, RD...Rick Kerby, C0-RD...Julie Kerby, MMD mom...Anke Roth, painting the finisher awards rocks and anyone else I may have forgotten.

This is how we all felt Saturday evening, modeled by Lance Whitehead, Mini RD

Unofficial results would be something like this:

1. Jeff List 13:06 hours
2. Stanislav Trufanov 13:21
3. Steve Pero 13:30
4. Eva Pastalkova 14:30 (she started late so unsure) 1st female
5. Laurel Valley 2nd female 16 hours approx
5. Rich Collins, tied for 5th
5. Bob Najar, tied for 5th
6. Bob Combs 16:15 approx
7. Deb Pero 17 hours approx, 3rd female
7. Pat Wheatley 17 hours approx
8. John Dewalt 24.5 hours
8. Craig Wilson 24.5 hours
8. Kevin Zelechoski 24.5 hours

This is from memory, so I may be completely wrong. I seem to remember hearing there were 15 finishers, so I missed someone. Also starting but not finishing were Garry (last year's winner) Harrington , Ryan (new Pemi Loop record holder) Welts, Tom (I'm not a) Parent, Noah Duarte and Frank (rawfoodfrank) Giglio.

Equipment used...
Golite sleeveless shirt and jacket (tied around my waist all day)

This will be our last post for several weeks...time to recover a bit from this past month's adventures that I've been writing about. Next up should be a Great Traverse (26 miles, 10,000' of climb) in the Adirondacks on Labor Day weekend, then it's taper time for the Bear 100!

Steve and Deb

Monday, August 10, 2009

Grafton Loop Trail

...and the beat goes the Bear 100, that is!

On Sunday Deb and I (yes, and Tucker) ran the Grafton Loop Trail with a bunch of Maineacs and it was a mighty fine day on the trail. The Grafton Loop Trail, near Newry and Bethel, Maine is 38.6 miles long and has approx. 9200 feet of climb. We summit 8 small mountains and spend most of the time on Moose poop covered, muddy trails under the tree canopy. I have never seen so much Moose poop in my life! I think we were running through their official bathroom! I also now know what it tastes like....more on that later.

The adventure began with the 4 hour drive up from Jaffrey to the campground we stayed at, the Grafton Notch Campground. What a gem this place clean as you'd want and everything you feel you need while camping and only 25 bucks a night. We like to just sleep in the back of the truck, so there wasn't much prep, so we spent the afternoon relaxing, listening to John Denver and James Taylor on the MP3 player through the truck's stereo. Around dinner time, Tom Parent showed up and brought out his Banjo, Guitar and Mandolin and entertained us with his great string plucking. What better way to prepare for a day on a beautiful, but tough running trail. Soon we had some chili and dogs for supper and hit the sack after a couple of beers. The weekend certainly started on a high note!

Deb showing off our lunch for the next day....SPAM!

Awaking at 5am, I didn't sleep well because I forgot to bring my alarm clock and couldn't help thinking about what time it might be, all night long. If we were doing the trail on our own, I would have slept like a baby because there would be no pressure to get up when we did, but when you're meeting others, the pressure is there.

By 5:30 we were driving the 2 miles down the road to meet at the trailhead. Standing there were several runners, most of who we had never met and after the introductions and Tucker yelling at everyone "let's get going", we got going down the road (Rte 26) for a half mile to the trail head.

A smattering of Maineacs about to hit the trail

We were running the loop in the clockwise direction, and in doing so will complete the first 17.5 mile section, then reach Rte 26 further north for a lunch stop, then complete the final 21.1 mile section of the loop for a total of 38.6 miles. The climbs aren't as big or as long as the Pemi we did last week, but we certainly got what we were hoping for!

As everyone ran down the road, I just walked the half mile section with Craig Wilson. I don't like to rush these things and like to let the body slowly warm up, so it seemed like a perfect time to walk and talk. I hadn't seen much of Craig this year because neither of us made it out to Hardrock. As we reached the trailhead and began jogging, Deb and Tucker were standing there waiting for us and for the next 15 miles or so, we stayed with Craig who was having some knee troubles. Eventually upon reaching the climb to Speck, the high point on the loop at around 4170', we started to pick up the pace a bit to get this climb done and get down to have some lunch.

Speck, the high point of the loop looms in the distance

One unfortunate and what could had been more serious thing happened on the run down. The downhill from Speck was steep and rocky with wet rocks. At one point, while following Deb down, my foot started to slip on a large downward facing boulder, which then caught a dry patch. My foot turned, slightly spraining my ankle. I fell the several feet to the rocks below, poking a deep hole in my knee and scratching up the left side of my body. Lying there with Deb looking down at me, I thought my season was over. Also in her hand was the camera I damaged last week on the Pemi. This is one tough camera! (BTW: It's an Olympus FE-360).

I felt throbbing pain everywhere....but just said to Deb to let me get up and start walking to see if there is anything seriously damaged. First several steps were not good, but I then realized that I "was' up walking so nothing could be broken. So then I started jogging and within 5 minutes we were back to flying down the trail, but with the steps chosen a little more carefully.

Lunch was great....a Spam sandwich with cheesy nacho dip for a spread, washed down with a Coke. We usually don't eat like this, but on the trail any calories are good calories. In the famous running novel "Once A Runner" it is mentioned somewhere that "if the furnace is hot enough, it'll burn anything" we went with that thought when making our lunch.
Tucker had some Vienna sausages and Heather brought some delicious blueberry crisp that we all enjoyed. After 30 min's or so we wanted to get going, but Bob Najar (who was the only other runner continuing, several had opted to stop here) wanted to wait for Craig to come in to watch his dog, Bodie so he could continue with me and Deb. After waiting another 10-15 minutes, he decided to just go on with us, so off we go on the 2nd segment of this loop.

Aid table at the 17.5 mile point

Upon leaving the parking lot, you cross Rte 26 and climb up the Appalachian Trail to the top of West Baldpate (3680'), then run over to East Baldpate (3812'). Climbing up the long hot trail to West Baldpate I started to feel that familiar sweating and overheating that brings me to my knees in most hot ultras, but this being a prep training run for the Bear, I decided to back off, fall in behind Deb and just bring down the HR to start feeling better. It worked and by the time we reached the top I was starting to feel much better, never having that feeling again all day long.

East Baldpate, taken from West Baldpate

For fuel the first half I had pure maltodextrin in my 70 ounces of water in my Nathan HPL-020, along with a pack of Clif Shot Blocks, which kept me well fueled. Then after the feast at the parking lot for lunch, I started drinking only water and the First Endurance Liquid Shot. As I have said in a prior post, this stuff is rocket fuel for me. Deb also used it and felt great all day.

We had to slow down a little bit after East Baldpate because Bob was having a low moment, also complaining of a headache. I've had so many good runner friends have strokes recently, that we decided to stay with Bob until we knew he was doing ok, so we continued on running down the hills and waiting up for Bob until the Long Mt (3021') summit, which is the 2nd to last climb of the day. After we enjoyed watching Bob kick our butts on the climbs, we knew it was ok to continue at the pace we felt good on the way down the other side of Long, we ran and ran down the soft, rooty trail. Somewhere along here I got my toe caught on a root and did a perfect 10 rank faceplant. Luckily it was just soft dirt, leaves and Moose poop because I barely got a scratch, but bent my glasses pretty badly when my face rammed into the earth. I have scratches on the cheekbone to prove it! ;-)

Puzzle Mountain summit beyond Long Mt Summit, our next 2 and final climbs

As we ran down Long, we could see Puzzle Mt (3142) across the valley and it sure looked large and discouraging. "Oh, that ones going to hurt", I said to Deb. Deb ever upbeat said let's just keep putting one foot in front of the other and we'll get there! On, on we went and it was a long haul from Long to Puzzle (6 miles), but soon we began to climb. Deb had run out of water so we were sharing mine, with about 5 miles to go. Deb sweats a lot more than I do, so I rationed my small sips to let her take several every 15 minutes or so. I never ran into trouble with that and she was happy to have the extra water. Just to mention we both started with 70 ounces, but because she sweats so much, probably drinks twice as much as I do...we learned another lesson in that she has to carry more than I do for sure. 70 ounces would normally be enough for 21 miles, but with the time on feet being 7+ hours, we should have had more...or at least a filter, as is what bob was doing...He only needed to carry one bottle!

The climb up Puzzle went on and on. It was a frustrating climb in that it would climb up to a certain height, then parallel the top for a bit staying at that altitude, then take a right - climb straight up for a bit, then go left again. I thought we'd never get to the top! When we finally did we then could not get to the real summit! It was a fairly bare summit and was beginning to rain with a cold wind. We'd reach what we thought would be the top, then it would traverse over to another top! Then when we reached the final tippity (is that a word?) top, we couldn't find the trail back down, which was about 3.5 miles long. We split up, Deb went one way and I went the other and after about 10 cold and wet minutes, we finally found the trail down. Now we have to deal with wet rocks again!

Puzzled (and tired) on the Puzzle Mountain summit

Jogging slowly down, all I could think about was the Cokes in my truck. My stomach was growling and I was getting antsy, wanting to get it done. Tucker took off ahead and that always means someone's up ahead on the trail and sure enough there's Bob Dunphy walking down. I caught up to Bob and he said "I knew if I backed off that you, Deb and tucker would catch up eventually". I had a short discussion with him, then said there was a Coke with my name on it and shot down the trail....Deb stayed with Bob for a few minutes more, but then remembered who had the water. As she started to fly down the trail chasing me down, she whacked her hand on a boulder, which immediately swelled up and turned purple. She is today getting it x-rayed as the doctor who saw it this morning thinks it's broken. More on that when we get more news.
(As of Tuesday, we haven't heard back from the doc, so no news is good news)

The trail was growing dark as it neared 8PM under the thick forest cover, but we didn't drag out our lights, just slowed down a bit. Soon we saw the trail entrance and were done.

Upon arriving at the truck, we sat talking with Craig for a bit, then about 15 minutes later Bob Dunphy came down and we decided to leave because we had a 4 hour drive and it was now 8:30. As we were pulling out of the parking lot Bob Najar came down the trail....everyone was home!

It was a long day....we didn't get home until 1AM and I had work the next day. I had to take a shower because I was covered in caked mud and blood streaming down my knee.

It was a great day, lots of good climbing, learning to deal with things that can go wrong and no one died. We'll now lick our wounds for the week and be at the starting line of the MMD 50K on Friday at Midnight at Dolly Copp in the White Mountains. One little "stupid' thing I'm doing on Thursday is running a 5K at the Cigna race in Manchester, NH for my work team. That is going to hurt and I see a personal worst in my future ;-)

To view all the photos I took, go here.

See whoever's going to be there at the MMD 50K on Friday...
Steve and Deb (and tucker, who's been sleeping now since we got home)

PS: This just so happened to be a new personal best distance for Tuck. Prior to this, his longest distance was the few Pemi loops (31.5) he's done. Coming down off of Puzzle, he looked better than we did!

Monday, August 3, 2009


The Bondcliff Trail

As another stepping stone to the Bear 100, we ran and hiked the Pemi Loop in the White Mountains in NH this past Saturday. This will be the third time that Deb, Tucker and I have done this loop with the last time being about three years ago. This time we had Bogie, a friend of ours join us as he is preparing for the Cascade Crest 100 at the end of August.

The stepping stones are last week's White Mountain hike/run, this weekend's Pemi Loop, next weekend's 38 mile Grafton Loop in Maine and the following weekend's MMD 50K in the White Mountains. After that will be a couple of easy weekends when we have the granddaughters visiting then we'll hit the Whites a couple more times in September before the Sept 25th Bear 100.

Back to this weekend's Pemi...the Pemi Loop is a 31.5 mile single track trail in the Pemigewasset Wilderness area of the White Mountains. The climb adds up to around 9,160 feet, which is quite a bit and turns out to be a great training run for a 100 mile. If this were a 100 mile run, the total climb would be in the range of 29,080 feet! That is Hardrock material!

We began at around 6:45 am after a great night camping across the road at the state run Hancock Campground and after a good night's sleep we headed into the town of Lincoln, which is right up the road to get some coffee and a breakfast sandwich. I always consider the S/F of the run to be the middle of the bridge over the Pemigewasset river, so as we made our way across it I just took a note of the time, which was 6:45....about 15 minutes earlier than the plan.

Bogie, Tucker and Deb just on the far side of the bridge

The weather was could not have planned a better day. It was warm, yet dry all day long and as we began jogging down the old railbed to get to the Bondcliff Trail we started shedding our long sleeve shirts, never to put them on again.

The start was up Bondcliff on this CCW direction, which I have always preferred because it saves the nice run along the Franconia ridge for when your legs are tired, which is a good thing. Run on tired legs!

The Bondcliff was incredibly muddy from all the rains we've been having lately, so we started with soaking wet feet. But the good side of this is there was plenty of drinking water for Tucker. Tucker did quite well this time around. The past couple of times we came to a couple of sections where we weren't sure we could get him to continue due to a cliff section or a large crevasse he had to jump over, but this time he traversed the trail like an old pro.

Tucker trying to get up a tough climb for a dog

Doing the Pemi in the CCW direction also has the first half as the easier half, saving most of the longer, steeper climbs for the 2nd half. To me the halfway point is the Galehead Hut, which is a perfect place to stop for lunch. It also happens to be the most remote hut of the hut system in the WMNF. Lunch was great...a bowl of potato soup and 2 glasses of lemonade. I have read that the official halfway is Twin Mountain, which is about 8 tenths of a mile before the hut in the CCW direction.

Galehead Hut, time for lunch!

On to the climbs....we reached Galehead at about noontime, a little over 5 hours into the day for us, which was right on pace for a 12 hour finish, which was our goal. Knowing that we had Mount Garfield (4500') and Mount Lafayette (5260') yet to climb, adds to the time on the return...but once you crest Lafayette, you are treated to some fine running for most of the rest of the way, which is a good 8+ miles.

Mount Lafayette looming ahead

Signs on the ridge

The Franconia Ridge has it's usual ups and downs, which are really several more 4000 footers named Lincoln, Haystack, Liberty and Flume. On our run and the mounting fatigue, we mis-counted the mountains and thought we had done the last one (we were back in the trees) when all of a sudden we start climbing again, I look at my altimeter and we're above 4000' again! We really didn't want that, but for training it's always good to have yet another unexpected climb.

The very runnable Franconia Ridge

One thing that happened on the ridge was I was stopping to take pictures and Deb and Bogie were getting further and further from me. At one point I stopped to take a shot of the Greenleaf Hut down below and after putting my new Olympus camera in the front pouch of of my Nathan pack, I turned to run down the trail to catch up and at one point had to side step to prevent going over the edge and went chest first into a boulder jutting out of an outcropping of rocks. The next picture taking I saw that the LCD cracked on the impact, but it probably spared me a cracked rib. All I have is a sore bruise where the rock pushed the camera into my ribs. Hopefully I can buy an new LCD to swap out because the camera doesn't have a viewfinder, you need to shoot using the LCD, which if I had known wouldn't have bought this model.

We soon reached the familiar steps on the Osseo trail, which takes us down to the river and finish. Deb and Tucker going down the steps on the Osseo Trail

While jogging down this great trail, I decided to hammer down to work the quads some more and Deb stepped aside to let me go. I soon heard footsteps and knew Bogie was chasing me down. It wasn't until I heard "on your left" that I kicked it in my race mode pace. There was no way I was letting this "kid" by me now and soon I heard the footsteps grow fainter and fainter :-) Back on another run we had done years ago with some friends, I turned my ankle real bad on this trail and was thinking about that while running down at what was probably better than a 7 mpm pace. That time I turned my ankle because Tucker forced me off the trail and I stepped on a soft shoulder, this time the tired tucker was staying back with Deb, his mommy. I also felt much more confident running in my LaSportiva Fireblade Trail running shoes, which are closer to the ground than most and prevent ankle turnovers. I love these shoes!

On reaching the bottom I took my usual leg soaking in the cold river and it felt great. Bogie joined me five minutes later and Deb in ten minutes. Deb stepped into the water and said "do we want to try and get it done under 12 hours? We had plenty of time to do this, but sitting there soaking wasn't going to help. I said I didn't really care, it was up to her and she said "Let's go!". So we ran down the flat 2 mile Lincoln trail to the bridge. At first my legs were really cold from the soaking and wouldn't work, but soon I was cruising down the trail with Bogie and Deb in tow, passing the tired hikers. I reached the bridge and sat down in the middle of it with 11.5 hours at 6:35PM (20 minutes subtracted for the lunch stop) and felt great. Legs were tired but still worked at a fast pace when I needed them to, they came just a minute or so behind me.

Tucker just wanted to be in the truck

Deb and Bogie went down to soak, while tired tucker wanted to be done and in the truck.

The end

This was a fantastic workout....we all felt good and feel the training is going well for our 100's. We then cleaned up and went into Lincoln for a pizza and several Cokes before the 2 hour drive home. To view all the pictures I took, go here.

Next up the 38 mile Grafton Trail Loop with a bunch of Maineacs!
Steve and Deb (and Tucker)