The mist in the valley on the drive up. It is slightly more breathtaking in person (although it is not a person but instead a meteorological phenomenon, otherwise I would introduce you.)
The mist looms ahead. Soon, my car would plunge into it like a bullet speeding through a bag of those cotton balls that women (and metrosexuals) use to apply and remove makeup, but not like those little wedges that they also use, because they are of a different density (and consequently volume (assuming a constant mass.))
I attempt (and fail) to make a contribution to "maple syrup and nature" themed art (a rising star in modern art. Invest now and reap the benefits.) This bottle (courtesy of Josh) got me through some tough times. Thanks, Josh!
Josh walks towards the Waterbury Ice Center (your center for ice when in Waterbury.) The tables groan under the weight of food and drink, and that was just at the beginning before local restaurants started bringing a veritable smorgasboard (Swedish, 'a buffet of many small dishes') of fine cuisine. Then, it was time for some two-fisted face stuffing (100% sucessful on my part.)
Although it appears like that gentleman was doing "The Robot", he was merely warming up before the race. I can't help but feel that this was another one of those breakdances that got away.
RD Josh holds the official start clock and prepares to send us on our merry way. When he said this course was very runnable, I totally forgot that the man telling me this has won every race within a 100 mile radius. His runnable is my dieable.
I wasn't sure that 'runnable' was even a real word, so I immediately leapt into action and looked it up (there is a dictionary in every room in this house.) Turns out that 'runnable' was coined for a boats ability to head upriver or a computer programs ability to function. Thus, when Josh said this course was runnable, he obviously meant if you were in a boat or in cyberspace.
And we are off! There was a brief amount of pavement to get to the trailhead, and then there was 8 miles of pain, and then there was either 12 or 24 hours of said pain. Why do we do this again? Ah, yes. Because our memories are sadly impaired.
Already I am way in the back. I like to pretend it is because I am taking pictures. Matter of fact, that may be the whole reason for bringing the camera. Just another tool in my bag of excuses.
The scary tunnel at the entrance of the trails. Not sure what the purpose is for this tunnel, but maybe that's because I don't have a degree in either civil engineering or its evil counterpart, uncivil engineering (where people design and build things for nefarious purposes. They also insult you while they do it. Thus, the name.)
The beginning of 2 miles of pure mountainy Vermont traily goodness. The trees are particularly lovely, but we hardly ever look at them since to look up is to see that there is a big hill ahead. Eyes on the ground, people. Eyes always on the ground.
The first of many delighful foot bridges in Waterbury. There were actually so many of them that I did not take pictures of all of them (first time ever.) I am going to recommend this trail to Foot Bridge Magazine, as soon as someone gets up off their butt and founds it, and I subscribe to it, and then I write a letter to the editor, and then maybe they don't publish it due to space constraints (but how likely is it that such a magazine would have space constraints? (About as likely as anything I say.))
The trail goes up the rock, then over the chasm, and then up the hill. Good stuff (at least the first time around. By the way, never ask anyone after 15 miles how good the trail was, unless you are the sort of person who enjoys a real earful.)
The second bridge is as pretty as the first, but it is more lengthy, for it starts in the foreground, then continues on for quite some distance, and then finishes up in the background. In this way a great bridge is made.
A rock I affectionately refer to as "The Big Rock." I really wish I was more creative with names. I should ask the gentleman who lives down the street and has a cat named "Monkey" for advice (by the way, his wife withdrew his right to name pets almost immediately after it was granted.)
Oddly enough, I saw footprints to the right of the bridge in the mud. Good thing I didn't witness the one who scorned this curving bridge, or we would have enchanged words. These words would have been nouns, verbs, and adjectives (primarily, although I would not rule out the occasional conjunction.)
Imagine the feeling of running down this hill and then using this bridge to cross over the stream bed and then continuing on your way. Can you imagine it? No? Well, you didn't seem to have any trouble with Mr. Rogers Neighborhood of Make-Believe, so I don't see why you can't work with me a little here. I mean, King Friday XIII? Did you even know he was named after a horror movie?
The height of this bridge seemed greater in real life. You must believe me, and you can if you ever believed in Lady Elaine Fairchilde and her Boomerang-Toomerang-Zoomerang! I know I did.
Smooth and sweet. Pine needles and gentle rocks and happy little trees. Oh, and a thin rock standing on its edge that this picture singularly fails to capture the majesty of.
Does this qualify as a bridge? Well, in chemistry a bridge is an intermolecular valence bond between atoms, so technically, everything in existance is a bridge. Chew on that.
As Rodney Dangerfield once said, "Hey, nice landscaping. Looks like the trees threw up."
Consider this bridge to be a ticket to a woodland adventure, except that you do not want to carry this ticket in your wallet or pocketbook, and the attendant will not be around to punch your ticket, although he might punch your clock in this overly extended metaphor.
This bridge saved us the quad-busting pain of several feet worth of up-and-down. Now do you know why I love bridges?
Josh marked this course so well that I didn't get lost even once. I think this is the first race that has ever happened. Labelled pink tape and reflective red and silver striped tape should be made mandatory for trail races.
Pie plates with striped arrows. Mandatory.
Rasta man says, "I represent a religious movement that has been expressed to Western Civilization primarily in reggae music." He also says to keep running because the loop has over five miles to go.
Bridge. Woods. Trail. Awesome.
The grandaddy of all woodland bridges. Its serpentine shape and incorporation of large stones and tree roots should astound all but the most jaded bridge afficionado (or as we liked to be called, "Bridgeonados")
Ferns litter the ground amongst small trees which allow enough sunlight to filter through in order to support the undergrowth while at the same time making the soil too acidic with their leafy droppings. Thus, the trees giveth, and the trees taketh away.
Somehow, I managed to catch up with a few runners. We ran for a while and chit-chatted. It sure does make the time go by, at least for me. I think they enjoyed it too since they seemed to run faster whenever I came near, which means that my conversation was motivational (at least, in the Neighborhood of Self-Deception.)
This was the best section of the loop, and not just because it was near the end. Soft pine needles and funky lines of trees with some fellow ultrarunners = good. Being alone climbing hills tripping on roots and rocks = less good.
Although we did not run over these bridge pieces, I kind of wish we had. Unfortunately, they were a bridge to nowhere, and that is not where I wanted to be.
I sprinted ahead to get a couple of pics of my new buds. Since I did not get speared by a trekking pole, I guess it was the right thing to do.
What? More up? Whose idea was this, anyway? Oh, yeah. It was mine. Why didn't anyone try and talk me out of it? Oh, yeah. They did. Why didn't I listen? Oh, yeah. I'm dumb.
I rather like the rocks strewn along the path here, even though my feet did not. I've got blisters on top of my blisters that are over scars of old blisters. Still, it's all in a day's work.
A moral dilemma. Do I run to the right around the trees or take the short cut to the left? Answer: Run around the trees. Every time. Hey, I've got to look at myself in the mirror every morning, and that is hard enough as it is without guilt.
A bike jump or a foot bridge over a log? You be the judge!
Notice how the logs and smaller rocks create a line of sight towards the large rock? It's like everything here is working together to make this a picturesque site. And you know what? They are successful. Well done, lads. Well done.
It is getting dark as I finish my last loop. Mr. "I'm gonna get 50 miles" quickly became a Mr. "I Hope I can get 50k." I ate a delicious slice of humble pie (but hey, dessert is dessert!) Josh put on a great race (awesome ultrarunner as RD = awesome race.) Keep an open spot on your 2011 calendar (and try and make that spot at the end of August or it will be of no real use to you.)