Hammy Slammy in Hillabammy
Hillsboro, NH - Henniker, NH
32 Mile Run
I love traditions and there is none better then the tradition started a few years ago by myself and a few friends then to run at least a 50K in every month as possible. Typically we'd start the trend anew in january and see how far it would carry us. The original plan was to run the Boston Prep 16 Mile in Derry, NH.. twice. A stunt we had managed to pull of the last 2 years previous. But a visit to the races website just 2 1/2 weeks out showed the race as all ready full with "no exceptions." Last year, after the race had filled, I contacted the RD and managed to weasel myself in. I didn't want to go through the trouble this year with the "No Trespassing sign" clearly sitting at the races front door. So I contacted Josh to get a feel for a new plan and what I got in return excited me, "I'm ahead of you Sherpa.. 16 mile loop here in HIllsboro.. Run it twice.. at our pace." It sounded great.
So in typical Sherpa-style I arrive for our predetermined 9am start at 9:45 hoping Josh and the gang had waited. Indeed they had. I quickly assembled my needs, readied myself and we stepped out the front door. Temps held steady in the lower 30's, Josh and myself trotting slowly down the dirt road and Leah on her bike. I didn't care how fast or slow we went.. I only cared about the miles. No word of a lie.. I was nervous as hell. Even though my running streak was now up to 24 days.. I hadn't completed a long run since some time in November. Could I hold up? Can I still do this? What if I bonk or peter out and want to quit?... ah yes. It's that same level of uncertainty, that level of risk involved in thee adventures that lures me to them. And without a second thought, I was running down a long road.
Josh designed a route for us using the mapping software on runningahead.com and google maps. I really liked what he had in store for us. We meandered out of the neighborhood he currently lives in, ran under Route 9 (RANH Route) and ran down a road just parallel to the highway yet offers a much more scenic offering. I quickly realized how much more I would have enjoyed this stretch of the Run Across NH if I had taken this road instead of Route 9. We ran along side the Contoocook River all the way towards Henniker. The river ran smoothly, gurgling every so swiftly towards the Merrimack Waterways. We on the other hand enjoyed the great conversation in getting caught up.. and catching each other up on those we know. Yes.. we be gossipers for sure.
As we entered the town of Henniker we both stopped for a bio-break. I walked off of the side of the road and began to do what I do.. when I did what I tend to do. I was not happy as I dashed off into knee deep snow for cover from traffic rushing by and yes.. even the local police station about 200 yards away. Josh went ahead as did Leah while I tended to myself. I gave my gloves to the ultimate sacrifice, left the snow encrusted woods, and caught up to Josh to fill him in on the hold up. Within minutes I had a few new nicknames the likes of Poo Poo Picasso and Doo Doo Da Vinci. After rounding the turn in Henniker we were now all ready half way through the first loop. The work is now really ahead of us as the larger and more frequent hills on the route lay before us. With an equal amount of straight aways along the way, it was easy to pick up some time. Soon we made it to the Emerald Lake Area. This final 4 mile stretch to complete the loop was mind numbing and slow. The roads are dirt.. now mush from the rising temps now in the low 40's, filled with potholes that resemble the likes of a mine field.. and after almost 16 miles of running.. the boys are getting tight and tired.
After loop one we duck into the house to clean ourselves up, to refuel, to get reorganized and to pick up Loni. Loni seemed on the fence about joining us earlier in the day and I was most excited to see her ready to go upon our return. After snacks and drinks (some of us literally), we stepped back outside and began to run once again. With fresh legs in the group and after a short rest, we had some spring back in our step as we plodded along, though I feel like as a whole the group was more tired then anything else. I know I certainly was but I also had a bit of drive to push the envelope a little bit. So as we took the turn back onto the road parallel to Route 9, I opened up the gas a bit and fell into rhythm. Having the iPod blaring helped, and with leah by my side to keep my mind occupied, I pulled away from Josh and Loni for a little bit to allow my body to finally experience a little flow.
As we reached Henniker.. all that Jazz had come to a screeching Halt. Loni was thinking of turning back to home a few miles early though we wouldn't let that happen. Josh and I were tired enough that our running turned into faster walking with a few moments of impressive shuffling thrown in for the hell of it. Either way, we were still laughing hard enough to make our faces hurt. The once sunny skies were now overcast as the temps continued to rise ever so slightly. A chilly wind graced our faces every so often and as one cohesive unit we made our way back towards the farm. Emerald Lake was even longer this time then it was last.. or so it seemed.. yet we survived. We dragged our feet across thawed out roads and arrive once again at the residence of Ms. Loni.
A HUGE thanks goes out to Josh for hosting the first 50K of the new year and for waiting for my butt to get up there. We really did have a great time laughing and yucking it up the entire way. This is what it's really about. No one wore a watch, we had no expectations or constraints... we simply ran.. and had fun.. and enjoyed it for what it is.. Always an Adventure. It's always nice to know you've still got it. As endurance athletes we sometimes take advantage of our base level of fitness... but we also sometimes forget just how far that level of fitness can carry us. On this day.. it carried me 32 miles.. on day 24 of the streak.