I was sitting in front of a cast-iron furnace pulling glacial mounds of ice out of my beard. It was -7 outside, but I was managing to stay somewhat warm in the concrete structure on Mary Ann Miller's farm property just outside of Atoka, OK.
I thought back to 30 minutes prior, when I was running through the woods of Mary Ann's property headed back to the finish . I had just signed the sheet at the last check-in table, which was also one of the self-help aid stations out on the course. On the dirt road headed back I saw Ruben Aguilar coming up on his way to the last check-in. He was about 4 minutes behind. I had the privilege to run much of the first 17 miles with him. We yelled encouragement to each other as we passed.
Two hours ago we went through the start/finish area to complete our first of two laps. The temperature was dropping rapidly and it was becoming harder to get water out of our freezing bottles. I smashed my bottle against a tree to break off the ice so I could top it off. I asked if there were any extra GU's around. Mary Ann thought I said juice, and asked if I liked Apple.
A little over 4 hours ago Matt and I arrived at the property where I would run my first race of the season, a low-key 50K directed by Mary Ann. Run almost entirely on her property, the course is a mix of rocky and technical single-track, fast two-track and some dirt road. Everything about the event was Old School. A throw-back to the way ultra running was in its pioneering days. I'd heard from folks about how ultra races used to organized group runs with a clipboard at the beginning and end. You write your own time down and that was it. I would find out later from my brother that while I was out on the course, Mary Ann told tale of how ultra running used to be. While she was telling my brother this, she was showing me.
Snapping back to the present, I realized we needed to head out to get a jump on the ensuing ice storm. I grabbed my bottle of red wine, the spoils of the day (I would later have to use a screw driver, a screw and a vice-grip to pry the cork off), and thanked Mary Ann as we headed out. I told my brother as we walked back to the car that we had just spent the morning back in time, and it was a real pleasure.
(Enjoy some pics from the day. All photos courtesy of Mike Langille)
beginning of the race around the lake
finishing up the run