The Rhode Island 6-Hour Ultramarathon and Relay on Sunday was an experience. I learned what it really means to be part of a team. Charlie, Chris, Danny, Judson, Rich, and me represented Acidotic’s Relay team. Ryan Welts, another Acidotic teammate was running the ultra solo, with support from teammate and girlfriend, Kristina.
We had a clear day, cloudy skies, and a cool temperature; perfect race weather. The race goal was simple: run the 2.7-mile loop as many times and as fast as possible for 6 hours. The course was a bike path through a park in Warwick, Rhode Island. Rolling, but mostly flat, it lent itself to some pretty quick running.
The race started with Judson busting out of the gate like an animal, establishing a lead that we would hold for most of the day.
In sequence we ran our laps. I was amazed by my teammates. All day, they had fun, joked around, and ran like the wind. I felt like the only one who wasn’t running well. A couple weeks ago, I injured my foot while running a logging road in very thin racing shoes. Impact from running on golfball-sized rocks had inflamed the area around the metatarsals on my right foot. I took it easy in the days leading up to the race, thinking that it wouldn’t be a problem on race day. I’ve never experienced this issue, and underestimated its severity in relation to racing. After my first lap, it was obvious that the injury was effecting my running. I stayed positive and didn’t say much, hoping that I could exercise some mind over matter strategy and beat my first lap time of 16:51. In the meantime, my teammates excelled and their spirit carried such a strong presence.
Lap 2 came, I ran with all I could, and after the lap was complete, I decided with the encouragement of my teammates to sit out for a lap. I soaked my foot in the bay next to the race course, and took on an observer’s perspective toward the race. The amount of exertion and grace coexisting on that course was incredible to witness, and something that I hope to remember. I was witnessing what I believe to be real athleticism: Force and grace coexisting as if in a dance together.
Judson, Charlie, Chris, Danny, and Rich stepped it up for the rest of the day and each ran 4 laps, with Judson rounding out a fifth that finished just shy of the clock. Charlie powered through a calf injury while joking around with the rest of the team. I felt honored to have put in what I could for the day with such a great and fast group of guys, but bummed out by the injury and the resulting speed-decreasing effects.
On the upside, our team won, and we took home 3 cases of Harpoon. Somehow, running and beer go together so well.
Another silver lining in being injured is that I have had the chance to experiment with alternate training methods. Cycling, I’ve seen some beautiful sights around home.
Between exercise on the bike, doing calisthenics at home, and easing back into running over the next couple of weeks, I should be prepared to race hard as we enter snowshoe racing season…