Bimbler's Bluff 50K, Guilford, Connecticut  4,4
Start Elevation: 56'        Elevation Gain: ~5000'
October 21, 2012 - There are days when you are champion and drag the beast 
home by the tail... and then there are days when you get eaten by the dragon.
This day was the latter; after getting chewed up and spit out, I am licking my
wounds and sharpening my lance for the next encounter.  Too much time
and energy spent doing yardwork - pushing leaves - rendered my legs and back
weary at the start and unable to find the right rhythm to race effectively.

Nonetheless, it was exciting to travel to Connecticut for a change of scenery 
and race up the bluff above the Long Island Sound, above the little town of
Guilford.  Upon the invite of a pretty woman I met while hiking up Castle Peak
in Colorado in August I ventured off the beaten path and found myself really
enjoying this course and the camaraderie of New Englanders whom I generally
don't have occasion to race with elsewhere.

With temps at about 39 degrees and a crisp rising sun, about a hundred and
fifty of us headed out immediately onto single track after a lap around the field
in what would be just about perfect running conditions.  Yellow leaves were
beginning to cover the trail as we got into queue and wound our way patiently
through the woods for the first couple of miles.  Finally the trail opened up to
enable the field to stretch out and allow each of us to race at our own pace.

Going into it without expectations I was still surprised at just how rocky the trail
was.  The roots weren't bad, but there was little relief from the rocky challenge
beneath our feet.  I immediately formed a liking for this course - tough and
beautiful - so cruised along in good company for a few miles without much
duress or challenge.

I took up with a few friendly people of similar ability and ambition and moved 
along through the leafy woods very casually.  I never really got into race mode, 
sensing early that I was generally tired from doing so much yard work lately. 
Legs and back were worn out at a deep underlying level.  I had been concerned
at the start about a groin pull that woke me up throbbing at 0430 - the same
inocuous injury that stopped me in the middle of my last run nine days previous.
Not knowing the extent of the injury I chose to give it the benefit of the doubt
and run more gingerly than I usually do, shortening my stride and refraining 
from quick bursts.  For the first half of the race I could feel groin tenderness
at each step, but it finally subsided and was only mildly apparent after that.

After nine miles we climbed up to the bluff for which the event is named and
enjoyed a view south toward the Sound, offering a beautiful contrast to the
rest of the run of rolling, winding leafy trails.  Overall it felt good to cruise
along without much effort, enjoying the warm sunshine on a primo New England
fall day.  Despite being able to normally dance well with the rocks I still took
four hard falls during the race - more than I've fallen collectively on tougher
courses all summer.  Guess a little bit of fatigue makes that much difference in
being able to lift the feet.  Everyone seemed to hit the deck at least once,
however - it was just a tough, rocky course, with falls to be expected.

After about 25 miles the Achilles that I ruptured three years ago began to
protest with a tell-tale burning sensation, then my calf seized up to protect it.  
All I could do was walk on and off the rest of the way.  Though I was generally
tired, I had plenty of energy left as I finally eased across the finish in a
pedestrian time of 6:47:30 for 61st place after walking so much.  I figured I
gave up a good hour or more to injury and fatigue this day.  Oh well, nothing 
time won't heal.  I had a good time and really enjoyed the social side of the
race.  Chalk up number seven this year.  Adieu Connecticut, thanks for showing
me a good time.