Sunday, December 6, 2015

Flashes of Brilliance

We headed south Friday night after work so that Ryan could run the 32 mile TARC Fells Ultra this weekend. While we were out running and crewing, Sam spent Saturday with Irene and Dana, helping them decorate their Christmas tree. She couldn't have been happier :) Thanks, Grammie and Grampie!

Cutie pie

Ornament helper

Hanging ornaments with Grammie

and Grampie

Sam and the tree

The Fells race is the last TARC race of the year and a tough one at that with loops of the 8-mile Skyline Trail, a rough and rugged hiking trail circling through the reservation, for either 32 or 40 miles. But Saturday dawned bright and beautiful, and honestly, we probably couldn't have asked for a better day for it. With no ice or wetness on the course, the runners didn't have to deal with slick rocks, it wasn't raining or snowing, and the crew members got to spend the day outside in the sunshine. Perfect.

John made the journey down to help me crew for the day, and we had fun chatting and helping and hanging out in the edge of the Park N Ride lot for the day ;) So posh! ;) With five Trail Monsters plus our friend Brendan running, we had plenty of runners to look out for and many minutes of excitement and action mixed in with our periods of "endless waiting" ;)

Everyone was all smiles today and it was a lot of fun to see everyone running out there, having a good time and turning in some great results too. Crewing for this group was easy and we had some great laughs out there for sure!

Goofing around as the race starts ;)

John coming through his first loop

Ryan coming through the first loop

Tom quickly follows

George, all smiles, of course :)

Xar looking happy and strong

Start of the 4th loop. Hurting a bit but still smiling

Aid station assistance

I won't divulge the conversation here, but there was much laughter and some blushing... 
on John's part ;)

Finishing kick complete with grunting ;) 6:27 finish time

Ultra running is hard

Applying things... This is true love right here :)

Tom finishes all smiles

Mike, Vicky and Maya came up to see Ryan finish which was fun, and we hung out for a while after Ryan and Tom finished, chatting and catching up, but eventually Ryan began to fade and we headed out before the final TMR finishes. Happy to see the reports of smiling finishes soon after we left. 

John finishes his 40

George done

Xar all smiles at the end of her 32.

Official results aren't posted yet, but I'd say the Trail Monsters put in a strong showing. I'm especially proud of Ryan for finishing his first ultra of the year. Better late than never ;) After a year of building back up his base, he managed to put in some solid mileage in the late fall, and did a great job of not only getting to the start line but the finish too. He looked strong and controlled throughout, and was all smiles, with no "cranky runner" to be seen. Yes, this race, with its steep ups and downs, wasn't his forte, but he handled it all well and finished in style. 

A lot of people who know the Ryan of today don't necessarily know that he was an incredibly talented high school XC runner, running on a strong team who won meet after meet and who still hold the record at their school for the lowest team score at a championship. They may not know he won the Gator Trail 50k in 2011 in a time of 3:56:29, which is pretty damn fast. And despite my best efforts, his 50 mile time of 9:23:19 at Lookout in 2011 still stands as the 50 mile Household PR (I really need to get on that...). There was a while there where he strung together some impressive race results, but in recent years, he's been hampered by injury after injury. Still, there have been flashes of brilliance here and there, and I know that one of them happened this weekend. I'm hopeful this is a turn-around for him and I'm looking forward to seeing what next year brings. I may be biased, but I have always felt Ryan is a really strong and fast runner. Whenever he's felt discouraged and vowed to stop running and racing, I've always encouraged him to keep at it; I know that he has more solid racing in him. 

On my end, Saturday was a tiring but fun day with no running but a lot of standing around and walking. I was a bit sad to not be running on Saturday as it really was the perfect day, but let's be honest, I was in no way ready to tackle that course at this point in time. Also, crewing is important too. Ryan has supported me in many ultras over the past few years and it was nice to have the chance to help him out in return! It's always fun to see the race from the other side and help out fellow runners and friends when we can. 

I definitely wanted to get in a run this weekend though, so when I woke up today I headed over to the other Brad. Nothing as long as 32 miles, but a lovely 8.5 miles none the less. It was a crisp, frosty morning with blue skies above. I ran the typical GAC 6-mile loop and was incredibly grateful to feel energetic and loose, to have a normal stride and not feel like I was being impeded by my tight hip/butt. The frosted grasses shone and sparkled in the sun, I saw two deer in the field, a nuthatch inched up a nearby tree, a pileated woodpecker called overhead. Back at the parking lot before an hour was up, I headed back into the woods and ran the loop that Sam, Ryan and I had hiked the other weekend. With plenty of hills on the inner loop to keep me honest, I finished up feeling strong and happy, thinking about the few small flashes of brilliance tucked away in this run and that maybe, just maybe, I'll actually be ready to begin truly training again at the start of the new year. I don't expect every run to be a good one but I do so need those flashes to keep me motivated and inspired. Glad to have had a glimmer today. 

Frosted grasses sparkling in the sun

Frosted field and blue sky

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great report, D!

I'm still sad I didn't have a special coffee for Ryan, He deserved one!