Manitou's Revenge 54M - Phoenicia, New York 5,5
Elevation Gain: 15,000' - High Point: 3940' - Low Point: 600' - RESULTS
June 20, 2015 - When asked if I was ready just prior to the start, I commented that I
am always ready, and so it seems true with my ever expanding experience of racing.
While others fidget nervously with platitudinous banter I shift into a patient mode of
quiet confidence, not that I assume I can deliver some miraculous performance without
much preparation, but more a deep-down knowing that whatever challenge lies ahead
will be dealt with and overcome, or not.  Without expectations of outcomes, every
event becomes yet another in a continuous string of opportunities to test one's mettle
and possibly grow.  Therein lies the excitement for me, and reason enough to return
again and again.

Manitou's Revenge is definitively the most challenging trail run of this distance that I
have engaged.  This would be my encore performance here in the mighty Catskills.  
Only three weeks previous I had run likely the most challenging 50K of my career in
North Carolina, so my legs were quite familiar with the brutality they were once again
going to take on.  But recent training runs were few in number, short, on roads without
hills to climb, so I would have to count on experience, mental toughness, and the 
extra rest I had been reluctantly getting to see me through this one.

Nonetheless, I was poised to put on a good effort and substantially improve my time
from my previous performance here.  The race started in six waves at five-minute
intervals.  I asked to start in the final wave so that I could play catch-up all day, which
I much prefer to being passed.  As it turned out, that strategy worked out fine as I
was able to overtake 32 runners during the day, but then gave back at least eight 
positions in the final miles as I was forced to slow.

The first ten miles with climbs over Acra Point and Blackhead went as planned in two
and a half hours.  I took up with a friendly group during the following ten miles, which
slowed my tempo more than I had planned.  Finally breaking away I got back into
rhythm by the time I reached Palenville at mile 21.5.  The climb out of Palenville over
the next ten miles to reach Platte Clove was slow going with extremely wet and mud-
slogged trails from a very wet spring.  Any effort at maintaining tempo was negated
by the increased care required to safely negotiate the muddy trail.  I purposefully 
slowed to prevent my shoes from being sucked off and to minimize lateral slippage.

My legs, breathing, and energy level were good, so it is unfortunate that I could not
run up to my potential.  But then everyone else had the same problem, so the 
playing field was level.  I enjoyed the day, much cooler than the previous effort here.
I wasn't pushing it, but was just running well within myself to keep control and avoid
stumbles and falls.  The race was going well when I switched out gear and resupplied
at Platte Clove before the march up the Devil's Path would begin.

After 31 miles, this is the meat of the course.  My climbing legs were not up to par
with my lack of hill training, but I still managed to summit Indian Head with what I
perceived to be less effort than I had ever experienced before.  The 1500-foot climb
to the top went quickly.  Usually this climb seems to take forever, but not on this day.
After an easy descent down to the col, I seemed to roll to the top of Twin without any
duress.  All was going well until the clouds dropped and began coating the rocks with
moisture and light rain.  Climbing down Twin calls for caution under dry conditions.
With wet rocks every step was a potential disaster.  I shifted to survival mode to 
reach the bottom before safely going over the following thousand-foot climb up 
Sugarloaf.  The descent into the aid station at Mink Hollow was not as treacherous,
but the wet rocks had me unnerved, so I was being quite deliberate with each step
to avoid a fall.

The final climb up Plateau is always daunting, but I pushed it to make up time without
feeling any stress.  I was still functioning well within my limits when I reached the turn
off Plateau in well less than an hour.  From here onward the trail was new to me as
I was running it for the first time with daylight.  The descent into the following aid
station was quite steep, but I could see well enough to run nearly all of it without
incident.  The climb up Edgewood out of Silver Hollow seemed arduous.  I could feel
myself tiring for the first time after 14 hours of running.  Dropping off Edgewood to
cross Warner Brook in the waning light of day turned out to be harrowing.  I was
losing control of the resilience and strength of my legs and feet, leaving me to slip
and stumble at seemingly every step.  I didn't fall, but it was a nightmare for awhile
to reach the stream crossing at nine o'clock.

The rain was increasing as I finally turned on my headlamp to follow the route.  The
air seemed misty with low lying clouds, diffusing the light, making visibility more
challenging.  It seemed to take forever as I stumbled up the switchbacks on my
ascent of the final climb up Mount Tremper.  I was no longer enjoying myself - not in
any pain, just stressed from exhaustion.  I didn't have quite enough to race the entire
event.  My eyes weren't responding very well to conditions either.  I was close to
just stumbling around in the woods blind and so I made no extra effort to quicken my
tempo.  Still, my attitude was good as I proceeded with patient resolve.  I had had
an enjoyable outing and would just ease into the finish without concern for time.

After catching up with a friend at the final aid station on approach to Mount Tremper,
I hobbled on through a torrential downpour for the final five miles.  I hadn't run in 
this kind of rain in forever, and perhaps never in the dark.  I was soaked and on the
verge of hypothermia when I began the final three mile drop back to the valley.  My
eyes were giving me fits as I could not discern slippery rocks from surrounding mud.
Very carefully I walked as deliberately as I could, but was still slipping with nearly
every step.  Totally misjudging one rock I fell hard on my back, really feeling pain.
I layed there in the mud in shock for a short time before continuing my plight to the
road below. 

Once on the road I was able to run comfortably over a mile to finish.  My legs were
surprisingly good, probably from walking so much over the final seven miles.  Finishing
in somewhere around 18.5 hours I should be satisfied, but I know that I left a good
two hours on the course due to conditions.  Oh well.  I do not expect to return to my
friend Charlie's race.  There are other objectives that will take priority.  So I bid a fond
adieu to good memories on the Long and Devil's Paths.