2009 Vermont 50 Mile Ride & Run

Today’s Vermont 50 Mile Ride & Run was a muddy affair. Steady rain made the course a greasy mess. This was the Livingston Family’s 10th anniversary VT50. Debbie and I weren’t a family when we first met in the parking lot at the Ascutney Mountain Resort in 1999. She was a trail runner and I was a mountain biker. That chance meeting and the courtship that followed has yielded nine more VT50’s (seven for Deb because she missed during her pregnancy years), a marriage, a house, and two kids. Despite the craziness of the past week and the newly expanded family, we were thrilled to make the trip to Brownsville for Sunday’s race.

Of my 10 VT50’s, I have ridden nine on the mountain bike (with one notable exception in 2007 when I broke my chain at mile 17 and ran the 33 miles to the finish) and run one. That one official run was today, though it came in the 50 kilometer race. I wasn’t ready for the big one, so I opted for the baby, but it still hurt to run 31 miles. It is too bad the race wasn’t a marathon because I had a really strong first 26 before cracking and fading a bit in the last five.

Debbie was a saint for hanging out on a miserable rainy day. Not riding turned out to be fortuitous because the mountain bikers got the short end of the stick today. The conditions were fine for running, but they were appalling (though not as bad as 2003) for riding. It was a shame because yesterday’s weather was spectacular. There wasn’t much hanging around after the finish. Folks headed for the showers, cleaned up, grabbed some grub, and hit the road. Travel for us isn’t as easy as it used to be. We made four stops on the drive home to accommodate various kids’ needs.

I enjoyed running the first three miles with Leigh Schmitt. Leigh and I chatted amiably about our families, his impressive 7th place finish at the Western States 100, swimming for training, and our plans for the rest of the season. We ran together on the opening flat section of dirt road, but as soon as we hit the first dirt road climb, I let Leigh, Kevin Sullivan, and another runner go up the road. I settled into 4th place and that is where I stayed for another 23 miles.

I didn’t have much running company, but when the 50K and 50M courses intersected, I had a chance to run along with the mountain bikers. It felt weird to not be riding, but I think I was better off. The bikers all looked to be suffering with all of the mud. There were a lot of mechanical failures and DNF’s. When the riders had to dismount and walk up the steep hills, I would put distance on them, then, they would come blasting past on the next descent. I actually spent several miles with my teammate A.Z Wenzel, who had a fine ride and avenged his Josh Billings debacle with a top 40 finish.

With five to go, I really started toΒ hurt and my pace slowed. I don’t think I was fueled properly, I was a bit chilly, and my legs were just plain tired. I lost a few spots and would have lost more if it wasn’t for Molly Housman. She was leading all of the 50K women when she caught me with a little less than three miles to go. She was kind enough to let me latch on. We talked about kids, running, the mud, and blogs. I was able to stick with her until the finish and it made the last couple of miles a little less painful. She maintained a nice pace until the end, when she decided to drop the hammer on me and gap me in the last 200 meters. No big deal. I owe her one. She had a fine run.

Leigh won the race in 4:01. Kevin Sullivan was 2nd or 3rd in 4:12. I finished around 4:44. The results weren’t complete, but I will post them when they are available along with some comments. I’m curious to see who won the mountain bike race and who won the 50 mile run.

It was a messy day, but it was still the Vermont 50. Since our little girl was born on her due date, she made this possible. It was touch and go as to whether or not we would make it this year. In the end, it all worked out. We are already looking forward to 2010 when Debbie makes her comeback. Maybe I will ride again next year. Bring it on.

Race Results

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