Monday, October 26, 2009

RR: 2009 RANH Part 4

This is PART 4, and the final Part, of a Series
To Read Part 1 CLICK HERE
To Read Part 2 CLICK HERE
To Read Part 3 CLICK HERE


The Perfect Storm

The three of us walked up the slight incline of the old General Sullivan Bridge. The rush of the Route 16 traffic flies by on the newer bridges to our left. Turbulent salt water continues to fill the Bay. When this process occurs, it creates a current so fast that you can only find a current so strong in 2 other places on earth, or so it is reported. The process repeats itself as the tides flush out. The wind whips out of the North East now, my face is weathered, beet red, drenched and cold. Snow mixes with the rain more frequently now. I'm done drinking, I'm done eating, I'm nauseas I'm tired yet I'm still moving forward. As we run across the bridge it's easy to glance down to the ocean below as we run over the connecting pieces. It's scary yet the bridge is big enough to allow us safe passage. Usually birds perch upon the green steel, but as the wind howls today, there are none.

As we make our way through Newington towards Portsmouth, I couldn't help but sink into a trance. The chaffe is so bad that it's been bleeding.. since Northwood some 24 miles ago. It stings, burns and is just overall killing me slowly. I shuffle my feet ever forward, knowing that the rubber soles of my shoes are all but gone on my heels and I'm now rubbing off the foam base of the footbed. I slip into a trance, concentrating intensely on putting the pain out of my mind, the discomfort, the chiling rain and snow when all of a sudden I start seeing a light fog rolling across the road. I'm hallucinating, losing it, finally going out of my mind. My equilibrium is thrown off and I stumble a bit and feel like I'm missing steps as my mind lunges forward down the road at a speed my body cannot possibly follow. And then, I hear a voice, "Hey Kid.. you OK?" I look to my right and see a female figure running beside me. My initial thought is, "Who the hell is this?" and then I realize it's Julie. Julie who has been running with me since Epsom. "Yeah.. .well, no. I'm losing it. I'm going out of my mind Julie. I'm all out of sorts. Hallucinating and all kinds of crap." She replies, "Yeah.. my equilibrium is off.. we're almost done though." As she herself starts to fall into a rough patch, she is mindful enough to keep pushing us down those final miles, with TJ quietly in tow.

We avoid the puddles when we can as we run down Woodbury Ave and then I lead us behind the Shaws to a lesser known trail. We walk silently through the woods and when we emerge we see Eastern Mountain Sports Portsmouth. We notice the crew waits under the canopy for us to appear from the other direction. They've no idea I've taken the run this way. I see no need to have gone to the light then backtracked. We arrive at the store front where I drop my pack, they turn around and though surprised, jump right into action. "Soup, Grilled Cheese, Drinks, Soda? What do ya need?" Josh asks once more. I'm so tired of the question, more tired of the choices yet I marvel in the amazing job he continues to do, all smiles, awake.. and willing to help these runners get to the ocean. A reporter from Foster's Daily Democrat saunters over and begins asking me a series of questions. You can read his work by CLICKING HERE.

I gaze around at all those who have assembled. The crew is here still bringing me hot chocolate in last ditch efforts to keep me fueled and warm. My co-workers come out of the store to give me a hug and congratulate me for making it this far in such terrible weather. My vision is blurred and foggy. I feel distant, not here. People ask me how I'm doing and I reply, "I am really losing my mind now.. I'm out of it. It's time to finish this and go home." The crew agrees as we munch on banana's, sip hot cocoa and entertain the reporter some more. It turns out the reporter, Geoff, is a fellow team-mate of mine on Acidotic Racing. He was very friendly, professional and I admired him all ready. He went ahead to find a location for some good action shots for his story. I told the crew to saddle up, asked Maggie if she was ready to join us, and a party of 4 runners walked from the EMS parking lot on the way to completing the last 6 miles of a very long journey.

When we reach Portsmouth I try playing out in my head which way to go through town. It's different trying to negotiate these streets when you're used to seeing them by car. "You ever been to Portsmouth Julie?" "Never.." "Lot's of History here.. pretty old school, Enjoy." We wind our way through the tight downtown streets of Portsmouth still decorated with colonial trim and colors. We run past dozens of shops, bars, restaurants. Many people are out milling around under umbrella's, bundled up, having no clue who we are or where we've come from. The coffee shop in Market Square is jam packed, as it always is, with people pressing their faces to their laptop computers sipping caffeine and otherwise continuing the traditions of an artificial life. I'm so happy to be out here.. in the cold wet world shuffling along down the brick lined sidewalks of a 400 year old city. Then suddenly, we're lost.

I knew where we were, had an idea of where to go but given my level of mental awareness I really had no idea if I was right or not. I began to worry and process it all out in my head. I see the Police Station and city hall up on a hill. I feel like thats where I want to be, but I'm so unsure. I feel lost and I begin to panic. I call the crew and ask for directions, I hear them whip out a map and try to guide me in to them. I'm moving so slowly that I feel like I'm not making any progress. My throat swells and my eyes well up with tears. I'm so frustrated, so spent, and yet I find out that I am indeed where we need to be.. only we took a longer way to get here adding 2 miles back onto the journey.

We approach the mobil that sits at the intersection of Routes 1B and 1A. The crew is here waiting for us. They've parked under the Gas Pump Canopy, trying to stay dry. The wind comes down in sheets, it's been pouring for awhile now, the wind whips, the snow mixes in and the temp continues to drop. I take off my yellow Jacket and Sarah hands me a clean Team Sherpa Shirt, the same one I've worn at every race for the last 2 years. I keep my North Face Flight Series jacket on and pull my shirt down over it. I feel like Clark Kent, I'm me again, I'm whole. I put my hat back on, my gloves.. everything is simply soaked, even my feet. I look over and see Loni suited up again, "What are you doing?" I ask her.. "I'm going to run the last 2 with you." I'm super excited that she's decided to come on out for this and now we're back to a group of 5 and head out onto the road one last time.

So here we were running down one last stretch of road. The heavens openned as the rains and snow continued to fall to the earth. The winds pummeled us from all directions, swirling about. As cars drove by they kicked up a frigid spray complete with road grime and miscelaneous particles. I started to look back on this adventure and try if I may in these final moments put it all into perspective. What started out as a frigid run on a chilly autumn morning, evolved into a journey through a Kalaeidescope of color underneath a veil of bright blue, sparkling space and humbling grays. I had run across an entire state and experienced a part of both its humble yet meager beginnings and it's bold and brazen futures. I'd experienced it's people once more, heard their good tidings, reveled in their laughter and scowled in their tough exteriors. Yet above all else, I came face to face with the part of this state that always is terbulent, it's weather and waters; and as I ran towards the shore I reminded myself how the beast reared his ugly head for many many miles yet I still soldered on, fearless to the inevitable and yet possible and sought the finish line.

I had no idea what to expect in running across New Hampshire this year. I only decided to do this 3 weeks prior, and with little to no preparation, just faith in my inherent an acuired abilities through the years, I stepped to the pavement on a frigid October morning with a mission to simply run East. I struggled with the idea of making this 125 Mile adventure into a mere 118.5 yet I cared no in the end. As I ran these final miles, I kept in perspective what the ultimate goal had been; to experience the state, it's land, it's people and to carry the river to the sea. I had no waist bag through these final strides, I had what I needed in my left hand and as I swung my arms up and down to help propell me down the leaf covered, ran slick road. I had that tiny vial of water I filled at the Connecicut River over 34 hours ago and I had run it all the way to the Gulf of Maine.

The biggest thing that I experienced this weekend which towers above all comparable thoughts, is the thought of the people whom came out to enjoy this journey with me. In the end over 30 people had come out to cheer us on at some point during this run, a respectable number providing the humble grassroot nature of the journey. I watched as they appeard hand in hand, arm in arm.. together, smiling, laughing, intrigued and helpful towards the mission. From bringing soup or cocoa to an extra blanket. To provding a smile a hello or just to share a few miles. To provide company, conversation or to give a lift. To hold me up and guide the way, to say hello to those driving the same distance in support.. or simply to just exist vicariously through the adventure, it is hard to not humble one's soul.

The Finish
As I near the bridge at Odiorne I get hard on myself. Disappointed that I'd cut miles off the adventure. Upset at how much I'd actually walked to get here when this was supposed to be a run. Angry at how long it took me in the end. At a point in time when I was supposed to be victorious, I was defeated. We cross the bridge and up ahead I see a figure running towards us. "That must be Gilly" I say and soon enough, I see that it is. With a huge smile she comes running towards us, "Hey buddy.. you made it!" I give her the best answer I could, "I suppose I did" with every bit of disappointment that I could muster into the sentence. In the background I could hear a rushing noise and I thought, "Where is the river around here?" I looked out across the Salt Marsh and see only the rain and snow continue to come down in sheets. The wind falls silent, I slip back into a trance as my eyes focus on simply whats ahead of my feet.

I kick it into gear and painfully fall into one last sprint. I run as fast as as hard as I could. I can hear the others with me trying their best to keep up with me. I have no idea how close or far behind they are.. I'm zoned in on being done. We take the turn up the driveway when I notice I'm ahead by about 10-20 yards and I kick it in even more. As I crest the tiny hill and run past the front gates of the State Park I glance into the parking lot to see virtually no one. Just me, the 5 with me, a huge area of pavement and 4 cars. In the distance I see the crew jumping in the air and waving their arms. They jump and wave and yell, "Yeah John! Wooo hooo!" I can hear them, but how come I don't feel the Woo Hoo? I look left and see a small group walking out of the Seacoast Science Center and as I focus in on the bright orqange jacket on the bearded young man.. I realize it's more of my friends from the Outdoor Education Department. My sails had been blown out and once again.. my ship had come in. I was psyched to see them.. such a surprise.
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I walked slowly down the parking lot, waiting for them to join us near the beach. I car comes driving by and Karen, Marketing Director for the Center steps out with a camera. She snaps a few shots and congratulates me. I cross past the gate and hug Sarah.. the crowd follows me as I wave them towards the sea. I walk down the trail to see a Finish Sign erected amongst the rocks. I cross out onto the jumble of stones. The tide is out yet huge waves continue to crash against rocks and walls in the distances. That rushing "river" I had heard was actually the turbulent waters of the Atlantic, stirred by the force of the Nor'Easter. I stepped to the top of the small hill, raised my arms into the air and yelled on the top of my lungs "Yeahhhhhhh!!!!!" We did it... we made it again. Across the entire state of New Hampshire, one painful step at a time. And in that moment, I took the vial from my left hand, unscrewed it's top and turned it upside down, releasing the river into the Gulf of Maine. Mission accomplished... again.

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"He who chooses the beginning of a road chooses the place it leads to. It is the means that determine the end. " ~Harry Emerson Fosdick
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Sarah gave me her coat and after a few photos with friends, we head inside the Seacoast Science Center to a small reception theyv'e assemlbed for us. I sit gingerly into a chair, eat Apple pie and sip Apple Cider from a mug. They thank me for helping them during this journey, a show of gratitude to which I know not what to say. To date we've raised over $500 for the Center and I ask those of you reading her to consider donating still. You can do so by CLICKING HERE I hope you will. They service in education that they provide our young children is important. It is my hope that through this journey and through their journey we all can learn to teach our children what possible is rather than what is IMpossible.
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Huge thanks to the 30+ individuals who came out to support the run. I really could not have done it with out you. Thanks to Nate for his friendship and guidance through those early miles. Thanks to the ladies for guiding me through the night. Thanks to Julie for hanging tough during the worst of times and special thanks to the crew.. who remained awake for longer then I did in ensuring we make it to the ocean once more. Many times in this report I mention my lack of motivation to accomplish the task at hand.. I hope in the coming months, with my new set of goals, my desire to run, dream and achieve will help dispell the demons of depression that still live within my soul. I didn't have to run across New Hampshire again.. but deep down within my heart.. I wanted to. Not for me.. but for the people and the relationships akin.

~"Sherpa" John Lacroix

Saturday, October 24, 2009

RR: 2009 RANH Part 3

This is PART 3 of a Series
To Read Part 1 CLICK HERE
To Read Part 2
A Miles To Go Before I Sleep...
Not far down the road from the Epsom circle is a rest area on the right. We ran into the small parking area and I hopped back into the passenger seat for another quick 5 minute snooze. The car is so warm as Sarah has the heat blasting. So far my crew has done an exceptional job of conversing with me and trying to keep me awake. My pacers are amazing, yet their best is yet to come out. They talk to me, they talk to each other.. we laugh, we share stories... we just run. But as the night wears on it gets increasingly tougher to keep my eyes open. As we moved along my head would slump forward and I'd wake myself up. Kind of like the same nodding action one would have while sitting in their chair at home watching Sunday Football on a rainy afternoon. Sunday Football... on a rainy day is what was to come.. and I was certain by now that I'd still be out here somewhere. Somewhere traveling East on this endless road. After 5 minutes, they drag me out of the car and get me back out onto the road so I may continue the journey home.

As we continued out onto Route 4, we reveled in the splendor night can give. The trees and distant hill sides are merely shadows across the land. There was no moon which allowed the thousands of stars to glisten high above. On this stretch of road, the lack of light pollution really allows the night to be dark and the stars to shine. But my eyes are closing to the point where I really do begin to fall asleep. A few times I remember stumbling forward and waking up before I stumbled forward enough to fall on my face. Eventually, I'd fall completely asleep.. while on my right Gilly would wrap her arm under mine, and on my left Julie would do the same. Loni ran behind me to ensure I did not fall backwards.. and this is how it went. Running is a perpetual motion and at some point the brain slides into Auto-pilot. Left right repeat.. like a metronome I stagger forward down the road while the two women hold me upright and simply allow my feet to do what work they can. They try to have conversation with me but it is no use.. I'm sleep running as the miles and the time clicks on by.

As we duck into the various aid stations, I vaguely remember now how they went. We stop at the Northwood Mobil for a quick break before the long run up past Johnson's. As we make our way onto Route 4 and run past the famous Dairy Bar, wind whips across our faces and chills our bones ever so slightly. The girls continue to encourage me to keep running. I get sleepy again and Gilly comes close, "Close your eyes bud." I have complete faith in my friend as I close my eyes and allow her to lead the way. As we run into the Parking Lot at Coe-Brown, we both get into the car and sleep for another 20 minutes. I'm losing time yet time is not of the essence. I remember that this is not a race, it is a journey. Some will question me later, "Did you sleep" and the answer will have to be yes. I guess I'm not good enough anymore... I'm a chicken, a bum.. I'm letting myself down laying here in the car so many times. It's freezing outside, when the door opens I shiver again. I want to go home yet I want to go on. I sleep in shifts, I sleep when I run yet I refuse to quit... I rise once more, and the ladies lead the way. "The sun will be up soon John.. just keep going" Julie explains in a motherly voice. She was so warming and comforting. This is just what I needed at this time, and I realize as we run down the road that these 3 women are saving my life, they are saving the run.. and if I make it to the Ocean it will be mainly because of them.

I sleep-ran down route 4 for what I thought was 10 minutes. The sun rises once again and I finally snap to. I feel great, I'm moving again, smiling, joking.. I'm alive. I tell the girls, "Man that was the longest 10 minute Nap." "John.. it was more like 3 hours." I was so disappointed. I had burdened these women for 3 hours. As if running this great distance was hard enough, I troubled the greatly by trusting them with my life, my safety. Keeping me up right and out of what little traffic drove by. I felt terrible.. yet we were still moving forward.. All of a sudden a car drives by and it slows down.. it's Chris Dunn from Acidotic Racing, "Hey SJ! Way to go bud.. keep it up! We'll catch up with you," referring to his wife Karen, they turn around and head back East. I look up and see that it's a cloudy morning, I never saw the clouds move in and leave the earth overcast. I knew it happened while I was sleep running. The storm is coming.. and I'm running right into it.

Meanwhile we run into the Irving Station in Northwood and I opt for a pit stop in the bathroom. I enter the store with my can of Bag Balm and the last rubber glove. The clerk looks at us as asks, "Is this some kind of special walk? I saw you folks walking this way up the road.." I kind of smirk as I look at her, trying to calculate the best response. "Actually.. I'm running across New Hampshire for the Seacoast Science Center. I've just run here from Vermont... started yesterday at 6 am and this is Mile 90." There is a long pause and she looks at me after tilting her head, "it's only 90 miles to Vermont from here??" It was hard to not laugh at her as I walk into the bathroom. The magnitude of the run had gone completely over her head.. which is to be expected. Even the Police in Epsom had no idea.. nor understood. Such is life.. I guess it had been a kind of special walk.. and from her to the end it was about to be too. The chaffe has overtaken the run, and the level of joy physically is long gone.

The Sherpa Shuffle
We leave the Irving and continue on. The main goal right now has been broken down to, "Make it to Lee." Lee is the 100 mile mark and I'm seriously considering quitting. My achilles tendons are so tight that they no longer flex. My feet are fixed into the same position and I clop down the road like an injured horse. My quads are fine, my calves have gone numb. My feet pulsate with every heart beat. The chinese believed that the nerves in your foot are the gateway to the entire body.. I'm starting to agree. I can only muster up a "Sherpa Shuffle" as we continue down the road. The soles of my shoes are wearing down to almost nothing. These shoes that are so over used, that my toes are poking out the sides. The next few miles afford us a few downhill sections which allow me to lean forward a bit more and easily stumble ahead. I still fall asleep, and Gilly allows me to close my eyes one last time. These ladies have been nothing short of heroic, I know owe this run to them and their diligence in getting me ever forward. At Mendum's Landing, we stop and I walk to the car. I get in the passenger seat for one more 5 minute nap when a van comes driving in. A man gets out, puts his hat on and say's hello the the crew. It's my advisor from School, Michael Gass. "Resistance is futile" I explain as I crawl out of the car and barely stand outside. I have another grilled cheese sandwich and immediately engage in conversation with Mike. I now have an excuse to keep going..

As we head back out on 4 we see 2 runners coming ahead from up the road. I knew it was the Dunn's finally coming back to join us on our run. They file into the group, which once was 4 is now 7. We stick to the breakdown lane as Chris engages me in some wonderful conversation about the running club he runs and I proudly belong to, Acidotic. We talk about how the year has gone, the year to come, others on the team. We even manage to crack a few jokes, happy that if I have anything left its my sense of humor. I lost my sanity long ago. Hardly believing that I'm still moving, I listen in to the other conversations around, and try to include as many people into the ones I'm having as possible. We come to the big downhill into Lee and I push it as best I can. As we get to the Lee traffic Circle Mike exclaims, "Hey.. can we go through the center? We've gotta go in the Center!" "Why?" I say with a twinge of attitude. "Because I've never been there.." "OK Mike.. let's do it" We run into the center of the circle and as we get there we all look around. Mike exclaims, "Isn't this great?! What an adventure! What an experience!" I knew exactly what he was getting at as a huge smile gleams across my face. Yes Mike... it certainly is a great adventure. We stop traffic as we cross route 4 and head into the Dunkin' Donuts. I've run 100 Miles in 27 Hours and 50 Minutes. Not my greatest of times as I'm here 3.5 hours later than last year. But I'm still standing, and about to take stock.

While at Dunkin's I head inside to do the deed... again. I tell my crew all I want is a donut. Mike runs inside and stands in an enormous line. He buys me a Jelly donut and as I walk out of the store I delightfully stuff my face with the first new piece of food of the entire run. No chips, no soda, no soup, no grilled cheese... a JELLY DONUT and it was the most magical fat filled thing I'd ever had. The sugar lined my mouth and stuck to my facial hairs. I was happy as I clam as Sarah snapped a picture with me giving the best smile I could. Loni drops out of running with us having made it 30 tough miles. She is still recovering from an injury and I am most proud of what she's accomplished. Gilly grabs my waist pack for me and agrees to run it to Durham for me so I can have a break. This was wonderful as I'd worn it the entire 100 miles. We pick up TJ Weaver, a UNH Freshman joining in as part of his adventure for a class. We lose the Dunn's and we leave dunkin's as a group of 5.

The Oyster River Plantation

As we near the route 155 Off Ramp I start to head for the on-ramp. "I never thought of the on-ramp! Genius!." Mike says as we continue to run against traffic. "I thought we were going to cross Route 4, run down the off ramp, under the bridge... and I thought.. How stupid!" I smiled as I looked at Mike and said, "I'm one step ahead of you Mike... and I did that last year. It was stupid." We leave Route 4 and head onto 155A (Main St.) and keep rolling towards UNH. The wind has shifted and the temp has dropped a bit more. You can feel the air changing. Up ahead we see a bike with a florescent green rider on it.. it's one of my Professor's Brent Bell. I'm super psyched Brent is out here. He is no stranger to endurance having ridden his bike across America years ago. I very much treasure his friendship and guidance in my life, and him being here really inspired me to stand tall and move as best I could.. which at this point was merely a fast paced stroll into the Field House at UNH. At the Field House we lose Gilly. It starts to rain with large snowflakes mixed in. I ask for my yellow rain jacket and tell the crew to get ready for the storm. I look at Josh and he suggests that given my deteriorating condition as well as the deteriorating weather, we cut out the extra 2 miles in Durham we'd normally run. I agreed to cut it out and head right for Route 4. We're running out of time and don't want to keep the Science Center folks there for too long, I agree. I struggle with this decision for the next 3 miles.
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We run through downtown Durham, past the University of New Hampshire, Past the many small shops that line Main Street. We even run past a the Congregational Church. The preacher is holding the door open for her exiting parishioners. She waves at Brent, "Brent, I saw your facebook, is this him?!" Brent replies, "Yeah.. this is Him.. he's running across the state!" She looks as me with a huge smile, a wave and a thumbs up," I smile and wave back and over the next few steps I lean towards Julie to tell her, "That's what this is all about.. seeing people smile, bringing people together.. I love this." Yet as we continue through gasoline alley back towards 4, I start thinking about the miles yet to come. I think long and hard, all ready having a hard time knowing we've cut 3 miles off of the adventure. I feel like I'm letting myself and others down, and as I lean towards Julie one more time I get this overwhelming feeling of "who gives a crap." I lean in and say, "All that matters is that I get from Vermont to the Ocean right?" She nods her head yes.. so I tell the others, "Hey guys, I'm thinking about cutting out the miles through New Castle as well. I bet it could save me about 3 or 4 miles. I'll ask the crew, but I think it's a good idea given my condition and this weather." The rain is picking up as is the winds. We run back out onto Route 4 and veer back off at the Waste Water Treatment plant. I run in and ask Josh for the Map. Together with everyone, we decide that cutting out New Castle would save another 4 miles. We could connect to the End route Via Route 1A. I am convinced that this is a good idea, and we're now down 7 miles. I grab more food, Brent now leaves us after having ridden his Bike about 3 miles and we continue out onto 4.. now as a group of 3.
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Route 4 is busy for a Sunday. The shoulder gets smaller and smaller as we near the bridge that spans a small inlet to the bay. We get in line single file and finally see the salt water. We can smell the ocean air, I can smell the barn, I just have no juice left. I'm done, I'm exhausted, I'm hurting bad.. I want to be done. We arrive at the Emery Farm, the rain is now coming down in sheets, the wind is whipping out of the Northeast. The temp continues to drop. My crew is sitting in their vehicles waiting for us to arrive. As they come out to help us, you look at them as they cringer their faces and shrug their shoulders. I stop for a brief moment and thank Mike for joining us, he has to depart to do the family thing now after having run/walked the last 12 miles with us. I'm wet, I'm cold... the mental race has long since been on. I'm struggling to maintain my composure.. yet I know it'll be done soon if I only keep moving. I thank the crew and push to see them once more.. only this time at Newick's Seafood Restaurant at Dover Point. As we stop here I'm trying to take stock again, always mindful of how my body is holding up. I can finally feel the blisters on my feet. One is right on the ball of my left foot, the other on the big toe of my right. It's impossible to ignore them. It's raining in sheets.. the work is only just beginning. Yet I think to myself.. 3 more stops remain. EMS, 1A/1B, The Finish... I make this break a quick one.. and we head off down the road once more..

(Continue To Part 4 CLICK HERE)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

RR: 2009 RANH Part 2

(To Read Part 1 CLICK HERE)
On The Road Again
Nate and I slowly staggered back out onto the sidewalk and gingerly continued our journey down Main St. in Hillsboro. Every time I stopped my hamstrings tightened up. I left every aid station walking.. funny.. yet walking. Eventually I could get it up to a nice little trot, comfortable, just letting the miles click by under my feet. My feet which were aching but not as bad as they have in the past. Of course, as soon as we left the aid station, we both had to pee again. I guess this is the better of the two evils when it comes to relieving ones self during these runs. I'd rather pee and pee clear then pee red or not at all. We ran past the Cumberland Farms we visited at 4:30 am to get breakfast. We chuckled again at what the cashier had asked us earlier, "You guys goin' skiing?" We told him what we were doing, we walked out, and he chose to interrogate Leah. A rather funny conversation given the truth to what we were doing. Nate's shin was starting to tighten up a bit, we thought he'd work through it for sure so we carried on.

We left the cozy confines of Hillsboro and headed for Henniker. This stretch of road is one of the worst. You look up and all you see is the pavement. The road goes straight for 2 or so miles, banks a right.. and when you get there.. it goes on again. Every time you think you're there, you're not. The miles click by but you don't get any closer. It was all we could do but to put our heads down and just chug along, ignoring the view and just getting there. And then I ran over something, I stopped.. backed up and picked it up. Nate asked, "What the hell is it?" I replied, "It's a man with no arms!" Nate chokes on his drink as he half spits it out in laughter. I put the tiny action figure, it resembles the man in the yellow hat on Curious George, and marvel that he has no arms. "I'm sure I can find something better for this guy to do.. with no arms and all." (He is sitting above the stove as we speak). We continue on down the road, head down, marching along when I run over something else. I stop, back up.. and pick it up. Its a plastic frog about the size of a tennis ball. I spot two sensors on the bottom of the frog, when you touch them both, the frog ::rib bets:: and lights up red. $3.99 at Bed Bath and Beyond.. I just found the Beyond. I put him in my waist pack as well and continued running with my souvenirs.

As we reach Henniker Nate calls his wife Amy to tell her of our progress. His toe is still bothering him, that blister.. and his shin. I head off into the woods for yet another bio break. As I step off the road towards the side, I step into swampy marshy water. My foot fills with water and when I take it out, it smells and is orange-brown. YUCK! I'm pissed.. and when I get to the Restaurant at the turn, I head inside once more. A wedding party waited outside, the bride walking her dog, (oh brother) as an older patron followed me inside. I was walking into the restaurant, doing the "Sherpa Shuffle," carrying a tin of Bag Balm and a Purple Rubber Glove. "Looks like you're hurtin" she says, "Oh yeah.. if you only knew." As I came back outside, Nate tended to his feet once more, popping that blister, letting me know that we were gonna have to walk slowly down into Henniker Downtown. I had no problems with that. I grabbed some Gummi's, refilled my bottles, and snagged a PB&J Sandwhich. We thanked our crew and started walking. I ate as I walked, tired from the run into town, knowing another less then exciting run lay ahead towards Hopkinton. As we walk down into the center of Henniker I hear a voice, "Hey, where you walkin' to?" It's my mom, and she's come to help. We tell her to drive ahead and see us at the park just a mile and a half ahead. I was on the phone with Sarah, her family singing me happy birthday. It was chaos and I wanted to escape all ready. The main thing that makes this run so great is that it gives me the opportunity to take a break from life.. and to think about ONE THING... Left Right Repeat.. nothing else. Nothing.. yet as night began to fall, I felt the dynamic changing.

At Amey Brook park we stroll in in front of a setting sun. It's getting dark now as we don our headlamps and reflective clothing once more, "We were further down the road last year by this time huh?" Yes... yes we were as Nate asked. We are about an hour and a half slower at this point this year but doing ok. Nate's shin hurts, my chaffe is atomic, my feet ache.. I all ready am dreaming about bed. We sit on the tailgate of the truck and eat some of Mom's Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup, a well received "peace offering" which was followed up by a cup of hot cocoa. A runner came running down the street at 8 minute pace.. Nate and I looked with out jaws open "Where the hell is he going?" We chuckled and as he returned we welcomed him to join us on our journey to the ocean. Something tells me he didn't believe thats where we planned to go. The weather updates start flowing in from crew, I got aggravated by this. I didn't care. The bottom line was that I had every piece of clothing I owned to combat the elements. I was ready, willing and able to continue on in adverse conditions.. whatever it took to get to the beach I was getting there. We get ourselves together and once again slowly walk from another pit stop.

Concord or Bust
Back out onto Busy Route 9 we work our way East as traffic zips past at speeds that would flatten us if hit. Cars travel in excess of 60-70 mph on this stretch of road. As we plod down the street it's hard not to notice the varieties of roadkill that we pass. Skunk, racoon, mouse.. no humans.. Yet. There were a few times where cars were drifting into the breakdown lane as we ran. It was a scary show, never knowing if your last step would be your last. We stroll into the Dunkin Donuts and see two new faces, Jim Graham and Peter Larson, from Concord, had shown up to run a few miles with us. I finally emptied my pockets of the man with no arms and the frog, I went inside dunkins.. yet again... and came out a new man. I cursed the spaghetti sauce Sarah bought this past week.. it cursed me. People marvel at the decor of the crew vehicle, unaware of what we were doing. They saw a truck covered in lights, raised a questioning eyebrow and then headed on their way. We leave here quickly and continue on towards Concord.

Back out on Route 9 we travel over the bridge that spans Elm Brook and its subsequent ponds. We peer south over the open water and distant trees, now nothing more than shadows, as we watch fireworks lift into the sky and burst in the distance. We had no idea what town or place had fireworks tonight, but it was a beautiful sight. We only saw them explode, we heard no sound, just the rushing of cars. We exit Route 9 and finally get onto the quiet roads of Hopkinton, NH. As we travel under the underpass we see our crew vehicle. Nate is slowing down, worried about his shin. Other than that he feels great. I really knew Nate was going to make it across the state this time. In the best shape of his life, chipper, happy, just enjoying himself. I was still very much enjoying his company but my achilles tendon was acting up on my right leg. I felt a few muscle cramps in my left hamstring earlier and can only think I was being protective by overcompensating. We speculated the same with Nate's shin, over compensating for that blister he had. We stayed in the station a bit longer than normal, leaning against the truck. After 59 miles of running, nothing tasted good anymore or sounded appetizing. We asked for real food at Concord EMS, refilled our bottles and headed out up the next hill. As we made our way back out onto the road, we see two headlamps come bobbing towards us, Jim and Peter were finally here.

And 2 Makes 4
We continue running through the quiet town of Hopkinton. As we look around we see homes settling for the night. Lights off or dim inside, the real glow coming from the glistening of a variety of Halloween Decorations. The boys were great company, fresh faces always help. They ask us typical questions of people who just join an ultra-runner. How do you feel? What does this do to your body? What have you eaten? Etc.. We pass Jim's car parked at the Cracker Barrel store in town. He stops to grab a drink and drop gear off. When Jim returns to us he tells me a story about how he told his kids he was coming out to run with me, and they responded, "Wow, across the whole entire state?!" This story actually really touched me.. and in these moments, early in the night when I am thinking of returning home early for a warm bed.. it keeps me going. A truck drives toward us dangerously close to the curb.. high beams on. Jim stumbles and hurts his toe. He urges us to go on. and we do as he keeps pace just fine with a slight hobble.

As we continue on towards Concord, we can see the lights of Concord Heights, the blinking towers of Epsom and Northwood. A clear sky allows for the world to cool a bit faster this evening as a light breeze remains after the days brisk winds. Flurries begin to fall from the sky "It's friggin snowing... great." I watch as tiny whisps of white fall in front of my headlamp. We stop one more time at St. Paul's school. Nates wife has all ready come and gone when I get there. Nate, despite being in minimal discomfort is running much better than I. As he should.. he has 1500 miles on me for the year, a testament to his dedication to training. Me? I'm a slug. Slinking along.. feeling bad for holding the gang back. I still don't think I have any business being out here and I start thinking about going home for the night. Nate and Peter surge ahead while Jim gets stuck running in the back with me. My feet ache, my hamstrings are tight, my achilles hurts. The chaffe is getting to the point of unbearable.. and as we head down the hill through downtown, I'm starting to weigh my options. As we run into downtown, us boys are sharing stories as boys do, Jim tells us an exceptional one and we even run by the location where it happened. It's times like this where I need a god laugh the most and the boys are doing well. We turn the corner onto Concord's Main street and as we run in front of the State House, I snap a photo. A mentally ill woman yells at Peter, "I'm not gonna move out of the way for you pal!" I got a kick out of it, I turned back and said, "Peace love and harmony babe"... thats when Jim told me of her condition.. I felt terrible. Ugh..

We arrived at the Concord EMS, walking as a group into the parking lot. My dad and step mother were there, my mother and step father. Sarah was now in attendance, Gilly was there with her boyfriend David. Loni was ready to run.. and I was ready to sit down. I sat down in a chair as Josh fed me some more chicken noodle soup and some hot chocolate. I looked over and saw a Fast Lane sign on my Dad's car, I still have no idea what that was about but it was funny. I thought as I looked at it there the fast lane is no longer existent. After 67 miles of moving through the day, and with it being 10pm or so.. I was moving rather slowly. I went over to the truck and had Sarah help me make a clothing change. I took off my fleece lined tights, which by now have rubbed me raw, and put on the old pair of running shorts from this same run last year. Those shorts are the ones I cut the liner out of at mile 73. I slipped on a pair of fleece pants, changed jackets, and got ready to head off into the night. Last year we ran 1 mile in the parking lot here, this year I decided it was no necessary. I give Sarah a hug, she's so warm and happy. I whisper into her ear that all I want is to go home and she replies, "Whenever you're ready."

The 124 mile run was now down to 123. After another short break, I rose from the chair, thanked everyone and asked Nate if he was ready. He came over to me and put a hand on my shoulder, "It stops here for me my friend." We looked at each other square in the eyes, and smiled. "Yeah... good choice bud." "I promised Amy I wouldn't hurt myself. I had a great time, a great time running with you.. I'm cool." I can't say that I wasn't jealous. I wanted to go home, to a nice warm bed.. but I was out here.. about to run through the frigid night. I was so proud that Nate had come out. There is no doubt in my mind that he would have made it to the Ocean and then some. He is quite the amazing athlete these days, but only he knows the costs he is willing to pay. I respect Nate so much for making the decision that he made, we needed not talk about it more than it was worth. I said good night, thanked my best friend, told Loni and Gilly, "Let's Go!" and we headed off into the Night once more. This is the essence of Ultra-running. To be down and out, not wanting to continue, hurting, tired, hungry, sore... and still you rise to your feet and continue the struggle forward.

Where The Wild Things Are
We walked slowly up the hill towards the Heights. Gilly is a ball of fire. She talks and talks. Her excitement is hard to contain. She means well, she has no idea what kind of condition I'm really in. I wondered if she forgot how she felt at the Vermont 100K when her pacer jumped in to help her. It's easy to lose sight of perspective. At Dunkins I walk into the bathroom.. again. I walk out with my can of Bag Balm. Some customers notice what I'm carrying, you should have seen the stares. I walk back outside a bit emotional. I'm so tired of my bowel issues, the chaffe.. having to even deal with it. It's making things miserable. I can barely run and I feel walking is faster. We continue our slog up through the heights. We stop at Shaws where the crew waits again and then we push ahead towards Horse Barn Rd. I'm getting really cranky, tired.. drowsy. At Horse Barn I have to stop. I walk over to Sarah's car and get in. I ask for 5 minutes and I get my wish as I take a nap.

Things in my memory start to get hazy, I'm nodding off as we continue on down the road. Route 9 is now behind me as I walk out onto 4 with the speed of herd of racing turtles. As we climb out of Loudon towards the top of Chichester, we pass a cop. His door is slightly open, it looks like he wants to ask a few questions. He never does. I hear something in the woods and assume it's a deer. We continue our climb, the cop has moved, I never saw him go by, he's up the road waiting again. I can only assume that he is in a way helping us out. Making sure traffic moves slowly coming down the hill at us. I'm thankful for this subtle gesture. As we reach the Hess station at the top of the hill, I can barely keep my eyes open. I immediately walk over to Sarah's car again. I drop my waist pack and stagger to the passenger side door. I hear my mom saying good night, I'm not responding. I slump down into the car and tell Sarah I want 10 minutes. I fall asleep quickly and am awoken by Sarah. The cold air rushes into the super warmed car. I start shivering and ask for 5 more. She closes the door and 5 is what I get. They drag me out of the car, attach my waist pack back on me and the 3 of us head down the road again.

We leave Hess and cruise downhill towards the swamps before being forced to walk up hill once more. The hills here in this section are long and cold. As we make it towards the Epsom Circle, I see the crew in the Wendy's Parking lot. We round the corner and head in. Julie (Rawveganrunner) is there. She's made the drive from Western Mass and has been waiting long enough. I walk in wanting in another nap, but I couldn't bare the thought of making her wait any longer. I promised her should could run with me, except I'm not really doing much running. Julie starts telling us about her run in with the Police. They ask why she was parked there and she told them. They tell her that the run across New Hampshire was a few weeks ago and assume she is lying or crazy. The police, I know, were referring to the Reach The Beach Relay, a 200 mile relay run from Cannon Mountain to Hampton. Maybe the thought of someone running from Vermont, alone, is beyond them. But then again, this was the same place last year that a cop stopped Josh and I from running down route 4 because we looked "distressed." Either way, the cops in Epsom need a huge chill-pill! I make a quick change in clothes, get warm once again and thank Julie for coming. She's dressed in pink, her hair in pig tails.. smiling. I'm not a man with 3 women and a long way to run.

We slowly walk out onto Route 4 and into the Epsom circle. We run around and exit off onto 4 East. Ahead of us lies the rest of the inherent darkness. I dread what lies ahead. I'm tired, sore and shuffling along as best I can. I'm very much doubting I'll make it to the ocean. I'm all ready thinking about quitting at Lee... 100 Miles. And as we continue on down the street, my head falls down as I continue to fight the sleepies. I question my sanity. I question why I am willing to go through this pain. I think about those who are counting on me, those who have come out to support me.. I have no idea what to do.. and then I remind myself that there is only one thing too do.. Left Right Repeat... through the night..

(Continue to Part 3 CLICK HERE)

RR: 2009 RANH Part 1

Out Of The Darkness
I sat inside Leah's car, the windows fogging ever so slightly, signifying the clash of the frigid air outside and the luke warm air within. I peered out into the darkness, glared at a bridge I'd seen only once before and asked myself in an annoyed fashion, "Why am I here again?" I openned the door and stepped outside into the frigid night, it's cold... damn cold.. 20 degrees cold. The moisture that has worked its way off my body and through a few layers of clothing is all ready freezing on my fleece pull over. "I really don't want to do this.. not now.. I'm not ready." A testament to my lack of training over the last few months, and my decision to run this thing about 3 weeks ago. I had no business being out here.. a common theme.. but yet here I was, about to step back into the tunnel. Another common theme.

So here we were. Nathan Sanel decided to come back and try is luck one more time against the relentless roads of New Hampshire's countryside. Josh Robert and Leah Belanger agreed to serve as crew. We all sauntered around the vehicles getting ready to go. As the whisps of breath rose into the air, I began to smile as I watched excitedly at the movements. You could feel the angst, the nervousness that comes with a task this daunting. Or was it just me. As if 100 miles wasn't long enough.. I needed to add another marathon to that. I question my sanity as I walk down to the river, Josh and Leah behind me. I walk to the water, unscrew the cap to a small vile and submerge it in the water. The vile fills, I raise it up, screw the cap back on.. and shake my head. "This is so stupid..." Not the vile.. the idea. The idea that exactly one year previous I enacted these same actions.. and thought the same thoughts. I finished then and said, "I'd so do that again.." And magically, one year later.. here we are. At AGAIN.

My step brother has driven down from Montreal, on his way home from a work trip. He left there at 1am to be here. We probably got about the same sleep. I got all of 3 hours of it, I knew it would haunt me later so I chose to not think about it now. I filled my bottles, finished my pop-tart, orange juice and a boost. Sucked down a gel. Secured my waist pack to my waist and began walking towards the bridge. I looked like an odd Christmas Tree when the lights hit against my reflective gear. Cars and trailors rushed by at blazing speeds, the air reaked of carbon. I stepped onto the bridge and looked at my watch, it was 6am... I ran across into Vermont, turned around.. and started running East.. East.. thats all I needed to know for the next 2 days.

The Journey Commences
Nate and I filed into the tiny breakdown lane of Route 9 West and headed East. We'd spent many many Wednesday afternoons running with each in preparation for our events. However this year has been different. We're two men too busy to get together for such madeness it seems. So finally, as we bounded down the highway, we had a chance to catch up on all of our favorite topics. Nate is like my extra big brother. He cares about me, looks after me. I knew he was out here to support my journey, but he wanted to get that monkey off his back from last year. Then he dropped at mile 70, today he planned to go the distance. I wondered if he'd even come at all, and when I heard he was and what his plans were it was about the only thing that got me excited for this run. Running with Nate is always an adventure. A collection of immaturity and insight, there is nothing else like it.

The sun rose in the Eastern sky and we ran towards its warming rays. We were all ready over heating in our mass collection of wardrobe we chose to wear for the first section. I was all ready dying to see the crew, so I could peel some of this fleece off. I was sweating hard, dying even, but knew I'd rather be warm then cold. We talked and laughed and ran up and down hills without a care for time or pace. We just ran, settled in, and enjoyed the journey. This was the initial vision I had for this run, and it was important to keep this attitude intact. To see New Hampshire from a different perspective.. to see it, hear it, touch it, smell it. As we ran by the closed doors of businesses and the slow arising 'steads with smoke billowing chimneys, I felt as if we were welcoming New Hampshire to the new day. "Good Morning New Hampshire! It's a beautiful day!"

The weathermen had called for a washout the entire week. Rain and snow Friday into Saturday. A gloomy weekend, a good one for soup and cider. Laziness on the couch, quality time with family. We brought every piece of clothing and jacket we could possibly run in with us. If it was going to storm, we had it, we were prepared. Nothing was going to stop me from getting to the Gulf of Maine.. Nothing. And as the sun continued to rise, we bounded down the long hill into the city of Keene.
RANH1 009
We rounded the corner into the Super 8 in Keene's surrounding town area. I stepped inside to use the restroom. The Indian lady I found didn't speak very good english, if any at all, but she knew the word bathroom. I was a mess. Here I was,a short stalky sweaty mess, standing in a lobby to a hotel which I have no room for and asking for the bathroom. I understood her pointing and mumbling and made my way into the fitness center. I chuckled as I thought of the irony. Maybe I should do a few reps? The hotel was so warm and cozy. It was hard to leave knowing that I was in a building full of beds, hot showers.. food. Yet I walked back outside into the frigid morning air. I delayered a bit, changed some clothes around, and we started running once again. The mental struggle was certainly there today.. from before I started to a simple bio-break here.. I knew it was going to be a long way home.

From here the real work begins. The hardest part, the toughest section of this run is the climb out of Keene and the descent into Antrim/Hillsborough. As we left the city we noticed how full of life it was for 8am. And as we made our way past the hospital, we noticed the steady stream of cars that had begun to file in from the East. Travelling against traffic while traffic is heavy is quite a task. As each car and truck and trailor rushed on by, it carried with it a gust of wind, super chilled from the quick movement of molecules. The wind and road grime hammered against our faces. We shook the chill off and kept moving ever forward. A wind had picked up and blew in our face.. we didn't seem to be winning the battle as I cringed from the feel of the air. This weekend was Pumpkin Festival in Keene, hence the reason for the traffic, which would affect us for the rest of the day.

As we continued our climb out of Keene, we saw a trail off to the side of the highway. "Hey look! A Trail! Ooooo..." We began a conversation about "next year..", yeah next year when we do this again. We should do it on trails. Find as many trails as we can and connect them all from West to East. It would be harder yet better. No pavement, no traffic.. just New Hampshire. We loved the idea and it filled our mind with fantasy for the next few miles. We continued to climb, running when we could, walking when we felt like it until we reached Granite Gorge.

As we rolled into the aid station I took a look at Leah and she looked a big ragged. Probably tired herself, the crew had taken a few naps in the car while waiting for us at the stations previously. I looked at Leah and asked her if she was going to make it. She did not look too thrilled, "It's a really crappy job waiting for us isn't it?" This was only her second time crewing. I knew right now it was a drag for her, but as it went on, she'd reap the rewards of being part of something special. I asked her for patience, "it's not a glorious job" she smiled and nodded. Nate and I ate a little bit, snacked on the typical ultra foods, Banana's, chips, drank water and gatorade and asked the crew to have lunch ready at the next stop before we headed back out onto the road.

The Crew
It was a no brainer when it came to asking Josh to Crew for me during the run. He was there for the last 80 miles last year. He's an ultra-veteran having run 10 VT50's by now. He has the mind of an ultra-runner and knows what to do. Leah is his girlfriend. I didn't know if Josh was going to say yes when I asked him to crew, yet I wasn't surprised when he fired back with the answer rather quickly. He had his truck loaded to the brim the night before the run. A gnarl of Christmas lights wound it's way in, through and around the kayak rack. Nate and my Binto Box were lowered into the back as well as a cocophony of food. Josh was as dedicated and into the run as anyone, ready, prepared, anxious. I appreciated the help of these two beyond what can be expressed in simple words. I'm glad I chose them as it proved a wise decision.

Going Down?
The roads leaving Keene climb up to the Gorge Ski area, after stopping here we head back out on Route 9 and follow the Ashuelot River further up hill towards Nelson. This section of the route is the most desolate and uninhabited by man, yet the effects of days past still linger on amongst the woodline that follows the road. Long rock walls extend for vast distances through the wood. We pass by a few colonial style farm houses, where the owners continue to prepare for the pending winter. We run through small towns as smoke billows up from chimney tops. We pass a neat old Sugar House that appears to be falling into the earth.

We climb some more and are awarded with views out across the countryside, of hills and villages a short distance away by car, yet forever on foot. This is the hardest section of our run.. yet it is also the most beautiful. I love the hills, they make me feel so free and so alive. After we crest the highest hill while playing our new game (yes, no).. we start heading back down hill. We meet up with our crew once more where the Mondanock-Sunappe Greenway passes over the road.

Nate and I stroll into the aid station. Nate all ready has a tiny blister on his foot. I sit down as Josh hands me a cup of Ramen. I drink the soup slowly while nate plays doctor with a pair of nail clippers, getting rid of a nusiance nail. I look at his feet and gag.. ah yes. The true resolve of any runner is partially determined by how far he/she will run on bruised, battered and mashed feet. Poor Nate's toes look like a science experiment gone wrong. YUCK! I eat my grilled cheese and we have some fun with our noodles before finally adjusting the clothing again, the sun is finally getting warm and we smile ear to ear. I'm still tired.. moving along, slowly, just moving. We figure out that we've just run a marathon... a 5+ hour marathon to get here. It's going to be a long journey to the ocean. Especially when I'd just ducked back into the woods for another bio-break.

We head off down the road and start to wind our way down and around towards Antrim. Nate runs past a Honda hood ornament, picks it up and we try to figure out a way to wear it as a necklace. Like Flavor-Flav and his clocks. We toss it back to the road like good stewards do and continue running. Nate is full of life, energy, good form. I'm tired all ready, slouching forward and trying to figure out in my mind how the hell I'm ever going to make it to the Ocean. I'm all ready thinking about how Concord would be far enough. Nate talks and I just listen, I'm falling out of a talking mood and begin to crash. We roll into the Antrim Rest Area, I change my tops for clothes to get dry pairs on. The crew promises to dry what I had on. I sit in the grass and take a few minutes, sipping hot chocolate. Nate pops the blister finally trying to keep up with his body. He goes inside for a bio-break.. I warn him "Don't Look At The Map!" referring to a map inside with a push pin that says, "You Are Here."

We head off down the road and as we take off nate looks at me and says, "I did it." "Did what?" "Looked at the map.. Dude..... Dude." We stop to pee..again. Nate's been going a LOT, me.. not as frequent but I'm going. We head off into the woods at one point and go to do my thing when "CRAP!"... literally. I asked Nate for help, he hands me a napkin and I use some leaves. I was beyond aggrivated that this happened, totally unexpected.. and it was about to change the course of the run for good. I had had good control over the chaffe.. until now. Now it burned.. and I cleaned up as much as I could before we took off again. The aid station was 2 miles away. I texted Leah what had happened... there was no reply. When I got into the aid station I asked if she had gotten the text.. "No why?" "I sh*t myself.. no big deal."
RANH1 036

I took a few minutes to get myself in order once more before we carried on. Josh and Leah were doing a great job of keeping us fed and leaving with full bottles. Only thing is, I was coming in with full bottles. As we left the fire house, I felt clean but the chaffe was now letting it's presence be known. I put the pain in the back of my mind and pushed on. Nate and I continued to reminisce about Last year, "here is where that reporter called last year..." As we head into Hillsborough Nate finally says something to me about my fueling. "You gotta start drinking John.." He was right, and I knew I had about 40 or so minute to finish a 20oz bottle of Clip2. I need to get caught up at these next few stops or I'd be in trouble later.

Franklin Pierce's Hometown
We enter Hillsborough and continue down Route 9. Soon we reach our turn off and head off of the busy Highway and down West Main St. As we start running down through some residential neighborhoods we look ahead and see a car turning not far ahead. An impatient pick up driver decides to go around by driving in the breakdown lane. As he comes back out onto the roqad, I decide to run out into the road.. I was so annoyed. The guy then swerved to hit me. I guess I deserved it.. for running out there.. but jesus buddy. PATIENCE! Nate and I arrive into the busy section of downtown Hillsborough.

As we run into the Irving station we see our Crew. Loni is here now.. another ultra-runner from NH. She agreed to help, she also lives with Josh, and even run the night sections. I was so psyched to see her this early! They all tended to us. We had cold Coke's waiting for us. Nate laid down in the mulchbed. They asked how we were, we're both tired, our feet are starting to hurt and it's only been 44 miles. I hold up my bottle for Josh, look at it about 85% gone and say, "I tried dude." He takes it from me and refills it. I eat Gummi Bears, chips, and a banana. It's starting to cool down again, we're behind last years time yet enjoying ourselves. As Nate and I rise to our feet once more, we head out of the parking lot... heading ever East. "How you doing John?" "I'm tired man... tired." "Yeah.. I am too for some reason.." Maybe it's because we've run 44 miles of roads. It was a gorgeous day, now its overcast, the sun is setting.. Maybe it's because we didn't get much sleep last night.. either way.. We've got mile to go before we sleep... Miles to Go.... Left Right Repeat.

(Continue To PART 2 CLICK HERE)