Plants First, Fish Next

The original intent of this journal was to chronicle the trials and tribulations of the struggling twenty-something, as I searched for love and happiness in the small city-burb of ManchVegas, NH. Now, I'm thirty-something, I've found love in many forms, happiness in even more, and now the struggle is just... well... life. And finding time to do the million and one things I want to do- including writing.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

FatAss 50K (on a bike) Part 1

My Runner had originally signed up for the Boston Prep Race this weekend.  Always frugal, he decided to save the entry fee and create his own run.  Thus the Fat Ass 50K was born: two 16 mile loops in Hillsboro and Henniker.  Since I'm convalescing, I rode it on my bike.  Sherpa joined us from the Seacoast, and Puma Girl on the second loop.

The forecast had predicted 37* temps and rain for Sunday.  Thank you, nature, for holding off on the rain, though the temps were low.  My Runner, Sherpa, and I on my cycle headed out at 9:30am in a crisp winter day with the sun shining through a few clouds.  The loop is beautiful, starting out on packed dirt roads and paved back roads of Hillsboro.  We cross under the highway and turn onto a road following the Contoocook River (ask Sherpa how it got it's name... )  In Henniker we cross over the highway again, following a rolling path back east, leading to the neighborhoods around Gould Pond and back to the start.  As the day moved from sunny to overcast, the landscape remained beautiful: country roads, downtown Henniker, a highway overpass with views of the mountains all around.

I love being out with My Runner.  It wasn't until we couldn't run together that I really knew how much I loved it.  I missed my running partner.  Sure, I miss running, but I mostly miss running with him.  Honestly, it's a great time for us.  We talk and laugh and catch up, we challenge each other, and sometimes it's the easiest time to say the hardest things.  Being out there with the bike wasn't the same, but it was close enough.  32 miles is a loooong run, even for an Ultra Runner, in the off season, and I'm glad I could be there with him through this challenge.

Sherpa seemed psyched to run Sunday morning.  If you haven't read his blog, I encourage you to.  While I don't agree with every opinion he has (and he's got a few...) I do agree with his core philosophy about human potential.  Hell, I've experienced it.  When I first met Sherpa at the VT50, he asked if I ran.  I'm pretty sure I laughed at him and at the thought of me EVER being a runner.  Well, shows what I know.  Anywhoodle, Sherpa was a frickin' riot on Sunday, catching My Runner and I up on some gossip, telling dirty jokes, sacrificing his gloves to the defecation gods, dancing down the road to Led Zepplin....  Not that there weren't quiet moments, but if you're gonna spend 6 hours in the cold, having a good time makes it much funner.

After a bit of food, bathroom breaks, and (for me) warmer socks, we were back out on the road.  Puma Girl joined us for the second lap.  Puma Girl has been training hard for the Peak Snowshoe Marathon and was nursing some heel pain, but luckily found that was not an issue today.  It's always great to see someone challenge themselves, and Puma did just that and came out on top.

A fresh addition makes a difference in a group.  Granted, I felt somewhat removed the whole time since I'm on wheels and they're on feet, but I could still observe the dynamic.  Actually, I could probably see it clearer.
I often had to choose to bike on ahead or slam my breaks and steer to the side to avoid traffic.  I preferred going behind the group rather than in front if I had to.  I liked seeing everyone, making sure they were all ok.  Still, even in front I had time to think about the day - we were out for 6 hours - and the group.  I remember when I was in high school in Venture class, Coach K would tell me that leading is harder than following.  I always knew that to be true when one is the lead in planning, on a group project, etc, and I was comfortable with that kind of risk.  But leading on a trail was frightening for me.  What if I'm going too slow?  Too fast?  What if I miss a marker and get us lost?  What if someone behind me sees my ineptitude and calls my dumbass on it?  Eventually, with the help of that class, I pushed my self to lead more often on the trail and let others lead more often in the planning.  I still find it challenging to be in the lead on excursions, but the combination of that experience at 18 and my subsequent years in this world have enabled me to let go of the anxiety and the questions.

Part 2 posted soon!

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