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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Wa-Wa-Wapack Weekend - Part 6

The climb up Barrett Mountain was awful. I felt awful. Everything was awful. But as we approached the top and the ground started to level and we got a little shade, my queasy feeling started to lift and I felt a rush of energy. The next two peaks - New Ipswich and Pratt went by quickly as I pushed ahead and started downhill.

Bill rejoined me and we caught the same two runners who left the Windblown aid station before us. We talked a little with John and Dave (finally getting their names). They were taking the downhill section pretty slowly - no doubt due to the pain in the quadriceps from the relentless, steep downhill pounding. I could take it no more and pushed ahead to end the misery. I knew it would flatten out soon and I was looking forward to our next aid station - even if it was the "4 gallons of water on the side of the road Binney Hill Road" aid station. I wanted to get there first to my share of what was left of the 4 gallons.

I thought I took a wrong turn. I started to hear heavy metal music blaring loudly up ahead. A far cry from the "Deliverance" banjos, but still as disconcerting when running alone in the woods. The 4 gallons of water had magically transformed into an unassuming guy and girl, a table and a pickup truck bed full of food and drink. If we were running through a desert, I'd have thought this a mirage, and given the hot day and dehydration of the previous 7 mile section, I still wasn't sure it wasn't.

Having already gotten my second wind, this would have to be my third wind. A real manned aid station at 39.5 miles - the farthest I had ever run continuously - was awesome. I ate and filled my bottle. John and Dave joined us as Bill and I headed out. The slow uphill out of the aid station was manageable and the sun started ducking behind heavy clouds that were forming providing more relief. We started up the back side of Mt. Watatic and John caught us. We crested Mt. Watatic and started the downhill to the start/finish line.

Again, we met John taking it slow on the downhill so we continued past. Bill had a calf cramp and told me to go on as he slowed to walk it out. I met Jen again slightly up the Mt. Watatic trail and she ran with me down to the access road and towards the start/finish line.

I made it. Eleven hours and 22 seconds after I left this spot at 5 AM, I was back. I checked in and ate. Bill quickly followed not a minute later. Soon John and Dave crossed the line also.

The volunteers were now asking us if we were going to continue on. I had almost forgotten. Hitting the finish line usually means you're finished. But to complete the Wapack 50, you need to leave the finish line, run back over Mt. Watatic to the rock-and-roll rest stop (Binney Hill aid station) and then back over Mt. Watatic to the finish line again. Bill, John and Dave all said they were done. I looked at Jen. "If you're done, you're done. But you know you can do it. You'll probably regret it if you don't." It wasn't a dare, but I headed back out just after 4 PM.

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