Uphill, Both Directions, in the Rain...

On Sunday I ran Stu's 30k out of Clinton MA. Through Sterling, W. Boylston, Boylston and back into Clinton. You know it's a good race when it goes through several zip codes, right?

Here's the map and elevation profile:

Stu's is a legendary race. I believe the 2011 race was the 32nd. Lots of folklore, and many hardcore old timers gathered in the gym to tell their stories. I arrived early picked up my bib and set-up my "dailymile?#NERTs" sign so my fellow #NERTs could find me. The first to arrive on the scene was my good friend Chris (@cyktrussell), followed by my running buddy for the day Jeremy (@silentproject), then Alett (@petfxr) and Adam (@adamm9) and Heather (@wickedphysics). We all sat around discussing our training and plans for the race with Chris, as he is a seasoned Stu's veteran. There was quite a bit of discussion over which race was more difficult Stu's 30k or the Boston Prep 16-miler in Derry. It seemed as if the agree to disagree lack of consensus revolved around "Derry is harder, but Stu's is longer (that's what SHE said)!"

I've been gearing-up mentally, and frankly dreading this race for months now. Every time I'd drive to the liquor store, when returning home I'd drive up the long slow burn of a hill going up 140 to the turn-around near mile 10 and say to myself "Ugh. That is going to SUCK the life out of me!" As race day approached, I was only hindered by a total lack of consistency in my training during February due to personal and family illnesses, etc. Life gets in the way, right? Well I had started to steel myself with some strong runs leading up to race week. I wrote a blog post here about losing my mojo, and almost as soon as I typed the words I seemed to get it back. I had a great 16-miler on the Boston Course in MISERABLE conditions the previous Sunday with my buddy Matt (@luau) and continued to get stronger with each subsequent run. I was feeling ready for this race.

While discussing and mapping-out our pre-race strategies Jeremy and I decided to run together. The whole race. No matter what. It was my first Stu's and Jeremy's first time running longer than 16 miles, and we will be running the Vermont 50 together in September (actually in a large group that includes @trifatlete, @thinmedic, @sarahstanley, @luau, @maslife, @saltyrunner and more). So we decided it would be a good race to get to know each other. Chris had a lot of sage advice for us, including but not limited to: "go out slow and try to negative split the back half." Discussion soon moved to the Boston Marathon and the Eastern States 20-Miler coming-up. I mentioned that I'd heard from several people that they ran ES20 and had their WORST Boston ever. Chris smiled and said "I know lots of people who've left their Boston on THIS course. You don't wanna leave Boston out there today."

We started discussing our nutritional plans and the first shred of doubt started to creep in. Jeremy was fully stocked with Powerbar Gels and chews, and was discussing bringing his water pack. I told him that I'd decided to leave my Fuel Belt at home and was only going to carry some Sport Beans with me. You see, ever since Boston last year I've been trying to increase my metabolic efficiency by running further  with less fuel and less water. This course was said to have water and Gatorade every three miles. I figured that would be enough. So, Jeremy left his pack in his car. Thank God he brought all of Powerbar fuel. We left the gym and headed toward the start.

As soon as we got outside i fired-up the Garmin to sync with the satellites. I don't know what's going on with my Garmin lately, but it's taking FOREVER to link up. By the time we started it still hadn't synced. The weather was cool with a light drizzle. Perfect running weather IMHO... Finally, according to Jeremy's Garmin, it linked-up with the satellites at 0.11 miles into the race. We started-out in a nice little group, me, Jeremy, Adam and Alett and Heather. As we moved in front a little, Alett said "See you later! Have a great race!" And I said "No, no, we're going to hang with you guys for a while!" I knew she was planning on running around 9:30/mi splits and this was where I wanted to stay until the turn at 10. This was what we had discussed and settled on. But next thing I know, we were running and talking and talking and running and the miles just started clicking-off.  Every mile that clicked-of faster than the last Jeremy and I would look at each other and say "We really need to slow down."

Everything still looking good for us at this point! Thanks Melody!
Instead, we'd quickly return to chatting and then soon added a third runner to the mix, we'll call her Rosie (she was wearing a Rosie Ruiz fan club shirt), a friend of Alett's from the Cambridge Running Club who told us it was also her first attempt at Stu's. The three of us settled into a groove around mile 4 and pulled each other through the first 10 miles with splits of (8:49) (8:53) (8:36) (8:26) (8:18) (8:36) (8:31) (8:23) (8:36) and (8:57) respectively. The 6 mile water stop was closer to 7 which aggravated me. Then the 9 mile water was after the 15k mark and I tried to eat exactly HALF of the Sport Beans I had with me when it came into my sight line. Unfortunately, they ended-up being far chewier than I remember them from the previous week and I couldn't swallow them, even with the water. so I chewed on them for about another 0.25 miles. The next two miles I really started to struggle but focused on keeping my cadence up. The rain started coming down pretty hard here. Mile 11 and 12 splits were (8:51) and (8:54). Then the wheels started to come off.

As we watched Rosie Ruiz pull away from us, I told Jeremy he could go ahead if he wanted, I didn't want to hold him back. He opted to stay with me and help me get through this "rough patch." Mile 13 was (9:28). Jeremy offered me a Powerade gel and I was in no position to refuse. It was HORRIBLE and sticky and even worse we had to run at least another mile or two until I could get some water to was it down. Then I felt the stabbing pain of a small rock in my shoe. I reached down to pull it out but only succeeded in pushing it further down. I ran about another half mile and had to stop to take my shoe off. I couldn't see it, but Jeremy said he saw it pop out when I pulled my shoe off. I said "We'll see." An my friend from zip-lining (Sean) passed-by and asked if everything was okay (we had passed him around mile 6). I gave him the thumbs-up and kept on trucking.

Mile 14 came in at (9:41). Suddenly I felt that friggin' rock right under the ball of my right foot. I had to stop. But I got that little bugger and cursed it as I threw it to the side of the road. But I couldn't get my legs going again. I told Jeremy I had to walk for a bit. So we walked to the next telephone pole and got running again. Mile 15 - (10:23). The rain was really coming down hard now. I tried to eat the rest of the Sport Beans at the water stop, but they were al stuck to the half-open packaging and I dropped two on the ground when I ripped it open and only got to eat tow of them. Believe me, I contemplated picking the other two out of the mud at that point.

I still couldn't get my shit together and had to walk for a bit again in mile 16 (10:12), it felt like I was getting blisters on the balls of both feet. Jeremy and I joked that it was okay to walk because we were just "practicing our ultra technique." I got a little burst of energy from somewhere, and it was a mostly downhill mile for mile 17 (9:28) in which I just let my legs fly and felt the recovery. That was until we hit the steepest hill of the course as we rolled back into Clinton. We looked at each other and said "Ultra technique? Ultra technique." And power-walked up that big bastard. Then we ran down the backside and knew the last bear of a hill was around the corner and stopped to stretch our calves a bit. Then took off to conquer the last hill. With our "ultra technique," of course. Except, I think we ran more of the final hill than we walked because I seem to remember it hurting. A lot. I mean everything was on fire as if I were running a 5k. Mile 18 (11:56).

We got to the top of the last hill and knew we had about a half mile left. Just then, this annoyingly chipper girl came running by and said something like "They have TWINKIES at the end of the race boys!" We both looked at each other and didn't need to say anything, but the look was "aww... HELL NO!!!" We started running with all we had, keeping her within striking distance of my "Kenyan" kick. With about 200 yards left I started my kick and I heard our cheering section at the finish line screaming, I heard Jeremy grunting off my right shoulder, and I passed her, I heard the Twinkie girl let out a whimper. She broke. I think she may have even stopped or something, because she's nowhere to be found in our finish line picture.

Where'd the other guy come from? I didn't even see or hear him. He's like the silent assassin or something.
Looking at the results, it appears she finished a full 6 seconds after us which is weird considering we passed her with like 40 yards left. We finished that last 0.64 miles with an 8:46/mi pace. I don't know where it came from, but... Anyway. It was by far one of the most grueling and difficult races I've done to date and definitely tougher than Derry. I really need to get my nutrition plan straightened-out before Boston. Time to buck-up! Official time 2:52:33.67. I can do better next year...

There is no tomorrow. Go out and get it today!


  1. I did stu's last year and it was a bear. But, it's a good gauge for how ready you are for boston. Nice job getting it done.

  2. Didn't I say that Stu's was most definitely TOUGHER than Derry??!