Groundhog Fall 50K, Punxsutawney, PA  3,4

Start Elevation: 1295'        Elevation Gain:  4079'      Highest Point:  1841'
September 7, 2013 -  I have made a habit of not repeating a race in recent
years, arguing that there are so many outstanding ultra events and beautiful
venues that I would prefer to chase novelty, or arguing that any encore
performance would be burdened by expectation of improvement and thereby
subject to a risk of disappointment.  This race is evidence that things are
indeed evolving with my outlook toward the sport.  With experience and the
accumulating limitation of injury I can no longer reasonably expect to improve
on effort from year to year, so disappointment is off the table.  Novelty is still
a major draw for me, but increasingly the familiarity of a course and the
pleasure of spending time with previous acquaintances is very rewarding.

So I toed the line for my "hometown" race for the fifth time, certainly a record
for me, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, never once suffering ennui from having
"been there, done that", while experiencing my slowest finish time for the
route yet.  Perhaps I better understand what brings people back perennially
to Punxsutawney for the 50K, and for other events too.

There is not much to talk about with my effort.  With all the racing I have done
this year, I felt encumbered most of the event with a deep weariness from
inadequate recovery and held back from truly racing by limiting injuries.  Despite
sensing I was starting too quickly, my split times were way off even my slowest
previous attempt.  For something like this I chose to sacrifice time and comfort
to enjoy the camaraderie of friends and new acquaintances, and just grin and bear
it. There will be other stellar performances ahead; today was decidedly just for FUN.

I particularly enjoyed running again with Mary Siegel and hope to do more of 
that yet this year.  Finally meeting 65-year-young Scott McCray set up a friendly
rivalry to keep my attention on stepping out instead of slacking off.  He too is
one I hope to reckon with again after he soundly bested me at my own game
of upping the tempo the second half of an event to play catch up to the 
finish. And running with first-timer 16-year-young Paul Brauer made me feel
like a kid again, sharing in his enthusiasm as he forged into brave new territory
with every step.  There are so many people that I love and share a passion for
running with at this event; I could write more than a paragraph on each one of
them; running here is always like coming home; I would not rule out coming 
back again for another even slower encore just for the happy reunion.  That
expectation will surely never meet with disappointment. 

My finish was still above a 5 mph pace in 5 hours 51 minutes and 5 seconds for
28th place.  All things considered that was satisfying.  I had planned to do the
Presidential Traverse in New Hampshire this day, but opted out after a back
injury and weather forecast there.  Who wouldn't trade a sunny 70-degree
perfect day for 40 degrees, 40 mph winds on Mount Washington, and a 
chance of an electrical storm?  I have always preferred fair weather.  I will
take on the Presi's another day.  This day I belonged in Punxsutawney.