Here is path that led me back to Oil Creek in 2012:
In October 2011, I found out that Allison and I were expecting our third child. I was so happy with the news and this really put me in a good place after the disappointment at OC.
-Stone Mill 50 miler => So in November I ran Stone Mill. This year the race was about 54 miles long and the course was more challenging than the inaugural year. The day did not go real well for me as I had to make several unscheduled ‘pit’stops in the woods because something was going on in the digestive track. I finished still and was greeted by Allison, Virginia, and Julia at the 48 mile mark. I met some guy from CNN around that point and decided to take it easy and sparked up a discussion which brought me to the finish line.
In December, I took a much needed rest and focused my time and attention on the holiday season. I also started VSL#3 based on a recommendation by the doctor and it seems to be working well. The insurance plan covers it which is a bonus ++!! I also entered the lottery for MMT and thought I would have no chance but I actually made it. I then had to seriously think about the commitment and time required traveling to VA for the training runs. I decided against MMT and thought logistically it made more sense to run the CAT 100 at the end of April. There were tradeoffs to this decision. The CAT is a FA event with 25 runners but thought I could train on the course and still be able to spend time with the family on the weekends.
-WE-CAT 50K => I ran the Winter Edition (WE) Catoctin 50K on 1/28 with 7 other runners. This was from Gambrill to Manor and back. Same course at the Catoctin 50K in July. Good group of runners and nice day for a run in mid-winter with fantastic weather.
It was a revolving door of sickness (luckily nothing major) this severely limited my running in February but everyone recovered and were back on schedule by the end of the month.
Seneca Greenway 50K – To continue with training for the CAT 100, I signed up for the Seneca Greenway 50K and spent the day out in Montgomery County. These are the same trails that Stone Mill is run on so I was very familiar with them. It was muddy in sections due to recent rain but the day itself was beautiful. It was a great training run.
-Maryland AT hike => Jon and I planned an overnight trip on the Maryland AT. This consisted of two 20 mile hike days and an overnight at a shelter along the way. We really had no set agenda except to make it to Harpers Ferry by the end of the second day. We parked on car at Keep Tyrst and one car at Pen Mar. We went a little north to the Mason Dixon line then hiked to the Rt 70 crossing on the first day then camped out overnight. My friend really knew what he was doing so I learned a few things from him.
-CAT 100 (Flat CAT) =>this was supposed to be a mountainous course on the Catoctin Blue and Maryland AT that turned into a C&O canal towpath course. I tried it, was extremely disappointed in the course and quit at mile30. I will never ever run a race that is entirely on the C&O canal towpath, NEVER.
--The Ring => This was an awesome race that I really enjoyed. I like the remote feeling of being in the mountains while still receiving fantastic support from the VHTRC crew. There were so many difficult sections of the course but what I liked about this race was my ability to tough it out after seriously considering a drop at mile 30. I stuck it out, kept going and made it around the entire 71 mile loop.
I was planning on running the TWOT course on the weekend of the 13th in Virginia with someone I met at the Ring. Then I received an email from Tom through LLRC. The email said that there were a handful of spots available due to last minute cancellations. At this point, I started to ponder my options. Am I ready? Can I afford it? Will this be too much of a drain on the family? Etc. I had several discussions will Allison and then went forward and registered for the event in mid September. So I wrapped my limited training up and packed for the race feeling pretty good leading into the race. No health issues this year and my weight was real good and I was mentally ready for the event.
This year I was going to stay on the gym floor again but I was bringing the queen size blow up mattress. This was so much more comfortable than the floor the previous year. I left around noon on Friday and took the 6 hour drive to Northwestern PA. It was a beautiful drive through PA and I arrived around 7 pm. I then picked up the race packet, set up ‘camp’ for the evening, ate pasta dinner and then headed over to the local pub to watch the last few innings of the Orioles vs Yankees series Game 5. I had a really good IPA microbrew but was disappointed in the outcome of the game. This turned out to be my only disappointment with the weekend.
On race morning, I woke up, deflated, ate some breakfast, turned over the drop bags, and changed. My only big decision of the morning turned out to be pants or shorts. It was 25 degrees out so I went with pants. Count down and off we went off into the early morning of October 13th. Down the asphalt path to the trailhead. About midway down the asphalt path, I turned off my headlamp (as I did last year) and enjoyed a beautiful view of the stars and said a few prayers for the courage to continue whenever I felt like quitting and for the safety and health of my family,
The first loop overall was uneventful but it really put a beating on my feet so I changed out into my Montrails at the end of the loop. The aid station fare was well and the volunteers were extremely helpful. I enjoyed the aid station themes this year and AS #1 did a great job with the ghosts and goblins. They really put on a good show at this race and there was no let down with aid this year. So I took it easy and moved along at a comfortable pace remembering that my goal was to finish. I greeted Rockefeller and Ida with a smile. By the end of the loop the weather had warmed up nicely for this time of the year.
Loop 2 was not much different, this year I sat down at most of the aid stations for a few minutes to rest my feet, eat and hydrate. I was really trying to focus on the distance this year and not time. In fact, I left all watches, garmins, etc. in the bag this year and did not carry anything on the course. It helped!! Towards the end of loop 2, right after nightfall, it started to rain. I was prepared with a trash bag which I promptly stuck over my head to stay dry. At the middle school, I rested for a few minutes and headed out. Right after the bridge it started to pour down rain and I was thinking “I am glad that I am not back at the Middle School” because it would have been difficult to leave. The rain lasted on and off for the next 6 hours. Sometimes heavy and then light, it was become quite an adventure. The third loop became very challenging mentally. I was getting very tired after Petroleum center and for ½ hour I needed to sit down every couple minutes to prevent myself from falling while running. After that ordeal, I started signing loudly to wake myself up. That worked but then as I was looking down, I started seeing things in all the leaf cover on the trail. At one point, I thought I saw a flashlight, reached down to pick it up and it was a 3 inch piece of wood from a tree. Next, I started imagining that I saw crumpled up bibs and thought they were from previous year runners that dropped out of the race. Anyway, all this nonsense ended when I reached AS #3 which I arrived at 10 minutes later than the previous year. I told one of the AS workers that I had to leave quickly because this was the AS I dropped at in 2011. I asked another AS worker if it was going to rain more and he said look up, I did and saw nothing but a clear star filled sky. I headed out to finish Section 4, mid way through the sun came up and it was beautiful how the sun illuminated the trail during the stillness of this autumn morning. Another snapshot of something I will remember from the race.
Back to the middle school again and ready to face the last 7 mile section of the course and the ‘Hill of Truth’. I didn’t hang out long at the middle school because I wanted to get this thing done. I knew I was going to get it done, just keep an eye on the feet and prevent any last minute ankle twists due to bad footing. The ‘Hill’ was tough but not overly so. As I headed back over the bridge by the school I could see a bunch of people standing there clapping and cheering but I wasn’t sure they were for me but as I got closer they were! It was a fantastic end to a wonderful event.