November 6, 2007

Gentle, Gentle Fun

Saturday's Mountain Masochist Trail Run 50-Miler was a day of smiles, laughter, the drinking in of picturesque views and sharing of running with some of a neatest people anywhere.

The beautiful setting that is the mountains around Lynchburg was the scene for some pretty sweet reminiscing during my 13th successful traverse of the vaunted MMTR layout. Masochist was my first ultra back in 1991, quite an introduction for a relatively OK road marathoner who thought he might be able to score a top-10 as slow as those guys seemed to be going on those trails. I ran the first 43 miles or so, then walked the next six with tail firmly tucked between legs before blitzing the final mile to the finish.

Somewhere along the way that day, I found a piece of myself that I have held pretty tightly to ever since, across more than a decade and a half, some 85 ultra finishes and another 35 or so marathon finishes too.

Saturday was a fitting tribute to that first foray in ultra-mania. Coming in superbly fit, I chugged my way to the halfway point in 5:15, then just out of the blue decided to keep it steady and see what unfolded. What unfolded was a general slowdown that found me taking time out to stop and watch the glorious mountaintop sunlight, break to stare at the most purple leaves I have yet to notice, just generally gulp all of it in. Thanks to Rob Apple for sharing with me a unique view of nature borne from, among other positives, his previous FIVE-HUNDRED AND THREE successful ultras. Wow!

Sometimes, if you're lucky, you get the chance to witness the personification of "amazing." I got to do just that as I shared the final 12.5 miles with the venerable Mr. Apple. Very, very fun time.