Janice and I needed to eat dinner and we attempted to eat in Ellicott City, but it was impossible. We were turned away by police. Main Street was still blocked and the one restaurant we did see was packed. Hopefully no seats at The Judges Bench is a sign that the city is making strides toward recovery. The Ellicott Mills Brewery was having a fund raiser and that's where we were trying to go. Thankfully I read on Facebook that the brewery fund raiser was a success.
I found this info online:
•Donations for merchants and residents: www.HelpEllicottCity.com
•More information can be found at https://www.howardcountymd.gov/https://www.howardcountymd.gov/
This old backstop near the start/finish tells the tale.
Those leaves stuck to the chain link show the high water mark.
That same Patapsco River formed the spine of the body that was the MD HEAT Race course. The race wandered the network of trails lacing up, around and across the Patapsco Valley State Park near Elk Ridge Maryland. I met Nick Yeates, the race director, 5 years ago at The Megatransect and we ran into each other again at The Tussey Mountainback 50 miler just three weeks later. Nick was a huge fan of the Megatransect and his hope was to create his own version near his home in Maryland. This was the 5th running of the MD HEAT Race. The course is a 16ish mile loop, twice for the 50K runners and one lap for the 25K crew. Terrain of all kinds to include a slippery boulder scramble through a stream and one climb that was kinda' nuts (I wonder if anyone was able to run it). There were three aid stations out on the loop and for the 50K, the start/finish was also an aid station. (Aid Station #1 wasn't in place for the 50K, so the first 8 miles you were self-supported...no biggy)
I had the luxury of having Janice with me as crew for this run. Due to parking restrictions at the park, runners and others were asked to park remotely at a nearby Park & Ride and use a shuttle bus to and from the race. Janice and I decided that dropping me off at the start and her meeting me at Aid Station #2 was our best plan of attack. It was a good plan until we found out how far into the park the start line was and we were greeted by a Ranger blocking the gate. He was quite nice though and he let us pass when I assured him that I was being dropped off and Janice would be on her way.
The start area was buzzing as the first shuttle bus had just dropped off a load of 50Kers. Volunteers were setting up as Nick and his Dad circulated ensuring everything was in place (with the awesome hats they were wearing, they were easy to pick spot - sorry I don't have photos to share) I stashed a drop bag at the pavilion as we'd pass through there to start lap 2. Janice sat in the Jeep toiling over maps. Trying to make sense of a map of the park compared to the map of the race course. We weren't real sure where the aid stations were and if they were even accessible by car, so as Nick said "Ready, Set, Go!" I was just hoping I'd see Janice somewhere around the course. I really wasn't concerned, she's a pro at this crewing thing, I'm no longer amazed when I see her pop up in the remotest of spots. Besides, if she couldn't find me, cell signal was good here so I'm sure she would've just practiced her Pokémon hunting skills playing Pokémon Go.
|Through this tunnel the first climb awaits.|
The race rolls out through some easy park grounds and on a park road before making an abrupt right turn through a cool little tunnel and into the forest. The short stretch on the road was funny (for me), I had a guy running right on my heels breathing forcibly...kinda' like an old locomotive. I moved to the other side of the road and he matched my steps and stayed right behind me breathing like a Heifer next in line at the slaughter house. Annoyed, I stepped off the road into the weeds and stopped. It was fun to watch the twisted look on his face go by, seemingly wondering what I was doing. Not sure what that was all about...maybe he thought he was drafting...I just have to laugh at some people's running habits.
Hills came early and often, but the majority of the trail was runnable and shaded. The trail does pop out onto power line clearings where the sun was brutal, especially as the day went on. Numerous stream crossings became welcome allies as I was carrying an old bandanna and dipping it in the cold water and squeezing it over my head became the day's air conditioning. It did get hot, I believe we ventured into the 90's and the humidity wasn't far behind.
The trail dumped us out onto this paved path for a
short distance till we reached the Swinging Bridge Aid Station.
Crossing the swinging bridge.
Dirt + Sweat = Mud
|The swinging bridge through the trees.|
The second half of the loop seemed to have less climbing and around mile 13 there was another aid station staffed by colorful volunteers. Their theme was from the movie Cast Away complete with inflated Palm Trees and Tom Hanks' buddy Wilson keeping watch on the goings on. Janice met me there as well, she said it was an easy park and walk into the forest. I swapped out my hydration bladder and had some yummy frozen Mango concoction at the aid station and I was on my way again.
|Just a cool tunnel.|
Applause for the "Trail Banditos" - excellent course markings!
Didn't go off course once.
The second lap was a quiet adventure as I found myself leap frogging with a young guy and gal for much of the remaining mileage, but the trail otherwise seemed empty.(I learned later that 21 of the 50K starters decided to call it a day after the first hot hilly lap.)
My second visit to the Swinging Bridge Aid Station,
that injured runner shuttle wasn't there for me.
I've forgotten to mention "The Wall". No, not the Pink Floyd album, but an actual stone wall that stood between you and the finish line. With a bout a tenth of a mile to go the course settled right in close to the river and I haven't learned why it's there, but there's this ancient stone wall that seemed between 10 and 12 feet high. It runs perpendicular to the river from a rock outcrop so my guess is that it was built to manage rising waters. Yes, runners were expected to get over it. On the first lap I crossed it with two other runners who told me it was much easier this year due to the river silt mounded up by the flooding. That fact didn't make it any easier getting down the other side, especially on the second lap on tired legs. I wanted Janice to see the wall, so afterwards we took the short walk there. She not only got to see the wall, two finishing runners appeared as she was snapping photos of the monstrosity. We switched quickly to cheering mode and I think the one woman really appreciated the help getting down off that thing without incident or injury.
The fun at the finish line was unrivaled by any other event I've run. It started with a freeze pop, Janice got to hose me down and there was abundant yummy food along with various ice cold craft beers. This is the only race I've ever run that actually has its own Brewmeister. Hat's off to Jeremy Swan and his home brews that worked so well after 32 miles in the heat. If you've been wondering about his race, wonder no more, go run the damn thing! Cheers!
It's been an interesting year for me. I've crossed a bunch of finish lines and I can't thank Janice enough for putting up with me through everything.
I've joked that for 2016 I bought a membership to the Ultra-A-Month club and it's been a fun challenge to attempt to complete one per month. I'm not fast, in fact some of my finishing times have been laughable, down right embarrassing. Embarrassing or not, I'm proud that I've finished every race I've started this year.
Huge thank you to ClifBar for their amazing nutrition support. I know that no matter how bad it gets, if I just keep eating ClifBar stuff, I'll have the fuel in the tank to survive to the end.
The year hasn't been all happy finish lines. My heart decided to remind me that I'm 55 years old and surgery was required to stop the episodes of SVT that were stopping me in my tracks. A heart rate of 260 bpm is pretty darned scary...glad it's gone. Huge thank you to the doctors and nurses at Hershey Medical Center, I now feel like I've got a brand new heart. Wednesday before this race I had a follow up appointment with the Cardiologist, my BP was 120/80, HR 52 bpm and I had an EKG and an Echo Test that the doctor said showed my ticker was good for at least another 50K.
My heart was a challenge, but the ground shaking event of my year has been losing my Father. At 93 years old Dad passed quietly one night in July. For 55 years I called the most kind supportive man I've ever known, Dad. He's gone from this planet now, but he's now more present than ever. My Dad's death could've been a setback I guess, but instead I saw it as inspiration to live on as strong as possible knowing he's over my shoulder keeping watch every step of the way.
This year my running has had numerous interruptions and set backs, but I feel my training is getting back on track and I'm well on the road to recovery.
1/16/16 Phunt 50k Trail Race Elkton, MD 6:26:09
1/23/16 Frozen Snot 13.5 Mile Trail Run McElhattan, PA 5:52:29
2/20/16 Frozen Heart 50k Callaway, MD 6:14:38
3/06/16 Naked Bavarian 40 Mile Leesport, PA 8:11:23
4/30/16 C&O Canal 100 Mile Knoxville, MD 29:03:26
5/14/16 Glacier Ridge 50 Mile Portersville, PA 13:24:26
5/16/16 Cardiac Ablation Hershey Medical Center Hershey, PA
5/25/16 My 55th Birthday
6/18/16 Highlands Sky Trail Run 40 Mile Davis, WV 11:14:36
6/4/16 Colin's 5K Run Central Dauphin HS XC Course Harrisburg, PA 27:05
7/14/16 Daniel Eugene Ligon passed away after an amazing life here on God's Earth.
7/30/16 Allegheny Front Trail Run 50k Philipsburg, PA 8:16:34
8/6/16 5th Annual CD/CDEast High School XCTeam Challenge 5k Harrisburg PA 27:49
8/13/16 Chiques Challenge 4.5 Mile Run/2.5 Mile Kayak Columbia PA 1:22:12
8/27/16 MD HEAT Race 50k Elkridge, MD 7:56:32
9/10/16 1st Annual Possum Glory 50k Ebensburg,PA
10/8/16 Oil Creek Trail Runs 100 Mile Titusville, PA
11/12/16 Stone Mill 50 Montgomery Village, MD
One more 50K in preparation for the Oil Creek 100 and a 50 miler after that to round out the year.
I guess my Ultra-A-Month membership was only the 11 month package...
Colorful Patapsco Valley Mushrooms - crewing an old slow
ultra runner can be pretty boring...