Mikes Valliant (Tucks) and Keene (Wood Frog) outside Madison Springs Hut, the final morning of the great Whites adventure.
Mike Keene has befriended a sizable buck. He reported his antlered amigo after his last run at Tuckahoe State Park. On December 26, we went for a 10-mile jaunt through Tuckahoe, and came across a good-sized buck at the same section of trail. Whatever Keene is carrying in his Nathan belt, he isn't sharing it with me.
Our run was a great final trail run for 2007. Like an interval run in places, pushing the pace early, and then a final sprint across the bridge (Keene took the sprint, bastard!). I will try to hit the roads a time or two more before the end of the year, but that is likely my last trail run for the year.
And since it is the end of the year, this is that time in the real world, as well as the blogosphere, where folks recap the top moments of the year coming to an end. So why should a discourage such a fine tradition? Here are some of the highlights from the Valliant 2007 running journal:
10-milers - Annapolis, Chestertown, and Cherry Pit. The highlight here is a 10-mile PR for me at the Cherry Pit 10-miler on April 1, a time of 1:20 and change. I held back during the entire race waiting for it to get tough, and wound up almost sprinting the entire last mile. A smarter run would have pushed me into the teens, but there is always 2008!
Bay Hundred to Baltimore - we certainly out-did the marathon in terms of distance this year, and I had already finished the Baltimore Marathon two years ago, BUT... the story here was running with Keene, Pierre Bernasse, and Jim Richardson, and all finishing, with Jim running his first marathon at age 60. This race was also a turning point for me, coming back from being sick, in deciding that I was going to give JFK a shot.
Bridge-to-Bridge - within 6-7 months of Bill Frost and Bradley Hower running the idea by me, we held a race. A half-marathon and 5K, to be exact, with 60 runners in the half and 40 in the 5K, to keep numbers round. It was a blast to help measure and determine the course, to help promote, sign folks in, and congratulate finishers. It was also a blast to set a half-marathon PR of 1:51, on 2 hours of sleep the night before the race! And one of the most memorable aspects of the race, was test-running the measured course with Keene, on April 7, in sideways snow and freezing rain. It was an absolute blast. The experience surrounding the race was exceptional.
Holiday Lake 50K++ - running and finishing our first "ultra." And meeting ultra-legend David Horton in the process. The race started in the dark in 12 degree weather in Appomattox, Virginia. Fantastic scenery, camaraderie, the sound of the ice on the lake melting as the race went on, and the feeling of finishing, despite leg cramps and dark moments on the second/backwards loop of the course. I decided in late 2006 that I wanted to finish an ultra in 2007.
The White Mountains - fastpacking up Tuckerman's Ravine in New Hampshire's White Mountains was a life-changing experience. The Appalachian Mountain Club's huts were as welcoming as any 5-star hotel. Ridge walking, trail running on the AT, meeting a thru-hiker, who turned up again in St. Michaels, rekindling a love for soup, and learning first-hand the difference between miles and mountain miles.
Daughter Anna's first 1-mile race - At 5-years-old, Anna finished her first race, distance: 1 mile. Ava and I accompanied her, riding in and pushing the jogging stroller, and offering coaching and cheering. Anna had a tough time in a couple of places (mostly boredom, I think), but each time Olivia, Eleanora, and Mike Keene would pass by and cheer her on, and she'd pick it back up. I have yet to find a feeling that wells up quite the way hearing our daughter tell our friends and family, "I ran a race today and it was a whole mile!"
JFK 50-miler - the report is still pretty recent on here. After crossing the finish line, before heading into the school to get fed and showered, I almost broke down in tears, for having finished, and for what it all meant to me, after running for more than 11 hours. After a poor fall in terms of running and running health, this was an unparalleled experience and a life accomplishment.
That's my list. This has also been a year of getting to know and know better, running folks. Running with a training partner, the aforementioned Wood Frog, has helped motivate and push me to go for new adventures. Meeting and running with Pierre, Jim, Don Marvel, Stephen Bardsley, David MacKendrick, Nancy Toby, Ron Bowman, Jon Fox, Kevin Baum, to name a very few. Certainly feels like we are creating a running community. And along with personal goals for the year, that would be something to see grow and thrive in 2008!