In early September a Facebook post from a bunch of friends saying they signed up for Stone Mill got me interested. A few weeks later I was signed up and started training. I figured I had about 5 weeks to build up to acceptable shape and I did. Every one of my friends dropped out, but I decided to stick with it. Going into the race I had no clue what my pace would be. I’ve run 3 50s. One was in the snow, and two were fatasses where I ran completely alone for 35 miles. I scanned past results and settled for a goal of around 8:45. Which would be a 45 minute PR at the distance. Knowing the course is very runnable I did a lot of miles of training on the Perkiomen trail and the regular trails at Evansburg. The trails of Stone Mill were very similar in elevation to Evansburg.
The first mile of Stone Mill is downhill on a sidewalk before hitting the trails. I was probably somewhere around 30th place and the pace was just right for this early on. Mile 2, when we hit the trail, was a 9:59 and that was the slowest mile for the next 20+. My plan was to stop as little as possible at aid stations. I wore a pack with a bladder for the first time ever. For every Aid Station up to mile 24 I simply grabbed a handful of chips or pretzels and kept moving. Kym and the kids came to help me out and I would basically just get high-fives and keep going.
The course was very well marked. The only part where I was slightly confused was I didn’t know there was a long (~2 mile?) road section leading to the mile 14 Aid Station. I was following a group of runners who appeared to know what they were doing, but I couldn’t help question it. We crossed a 4 lane highway, then ran about a mile on the sidewalk, then crossed right back over it when they realized we shouldn’t have crossed the road. The fact that we were on the wrong side of the road is probably why I wasn’t seeing any course markings. But eventually we came to the aid station and crossed under the road back to the trail.
|Photo: James Williams|
|Photo: James Williams|
|Photo: Dan Reichman|
I made my final exit of the trail just in front of a guy I had passed. As we started up the road he passed me and we jockeyed a few times. He joked it was like a snail chasing a turtle. At one point I gave up chasing him and turned around. I saw two other people exit the trail and decided I didn’t want to get passed. I ran strong to the finish. When I crossed the finish line, the announced said “Tim, come see me.” I was the first 40+ year-old-finisher and that won me the Maryland Masters State Championship. On paper, the best running accomplishment of my life? 8:31:18, 16th overall, 1st out of 66 in my age group.
|If coach woulda put me in fourth quarter, we would've been state champions|