There’s nothing quite like the excitement of an ultramarathon, with pre-race nerves the night before and visualization of the challenges ahead. However, run an ultra from home and while the nerves might be less jittery, the excitement is still front and center.
Bacon and eggs sizzled on the griddle as we made our final preparations before setting off on our very own 50k. As we gobbled down our feast, our newly licensed, 16-year-old son made his way down the stairs, car keys in hand. With his new freedom, my husband, Guy, and I have had a bit more time to get ready for our adventure. “Text me when you get there” is my way of releasing the anxiety over my baby who is now driving. Our oldest son, a freshman in college, is upstairs cramming for finals, as his first year of college comes to a close.
May in Vermont is fickle. It’s like a mixed bag and you never know what you’re going to get, but it’ll probably be any of the following: rain, endless grey skies, sunshine or days when you’re blown sideways. However, snowflakes are not unheard of. The forecast for our own ultra was a mix of sun and clouds, with gusty winds and temperatures in the low 50s. Not great for our Tahoe 200 heat training, but it could’ve been worse.
We’ve interviewed lots of folks for our Blue Collar Runners stories and one of the main themes we hear from runners is that their favorite trails or roads are often close to home. There’s comfort in knowing every corner of an old dirt road, the bend of a trail or the feeling of city lights guiding you home. We feel grateful every day that we can lace up our shoes and explore our own neighborhood.
The first few miles brought us up Sheddsville Road. The route is our nemesis and a joke among running friends, as it’s always an uphill climb at the start. Eventually, we veered off to an old dirt road named Queen Victoria where the farms and homes nearby are gorgeous—each one full of character and history.
By mile eight, we hit the trail section, which was a welcome relief. I felt a sense of calmness among the trees as our shoes splashed through mud, making us feel like kids again. As we plugged along, I thought about how lucky we are to run in such an inspiring, peaceful place.
Our aid station, at mile 15, was our local country store, where we eagerly ordered a grilled cheese sandwich with tomato, chocolate chip cookie and Coke. From there, the miles continued to fly by as we talked about life, kids and work. Owning a business with your spouse is rewarding and tricky at the same time, and we strive to keep balance. We sometimes use portions of long runs to hash out ideas and problems, as well as find solutions. Even board meetings happen out on the trails.
The climbs are never ending in the Vermont hills, so we used our trekking poles, which we’ll also use at Tahoe. My thoughts kept going back to our upcoming race in September as I tried to imagine the beauty that will unfold over 205 miles. Excitement mixed with a small amount of dread, I also imagined the suffering that will inevitably be a part of the race.
During the final miles of our 50k adventure, we saw our friend, Jim. He is a carpenter, farmer, father, husband and accomplished ultrarunner.
While we’re catching up, it’s hard to not think about all the miles we’ve shared along the back roads and trails. He was also one of the original three amigos who ran with Guy during his first Vermont 100 in 2011.
Running local is near and dear to us. It’s the same three cows we see at the bottom of Bannister Road, it’s the friends and neighbors we bump into, it’s the roads we taught our kids to ride their bikes on and it’s home. As we rounded the corner to our driveway, our watches clicked to 31 miles and we smiled at each other. It was then that I was reminded of a dear friend’s words that ring so true: We get to do this.