In two words, that is precisely how I would have to describe the Beebe Farm 12hr running-fest that took place yesterday. The actual main event of the weekend was a grueling 48 hours of running, walking, crawling.. whatever mode of travel the runner chose to pass the time and pack on as many miles as one could in the allotted time. Nor’East Trail Runs hosted this gem of a race back in Dorset, VT (we were just there for the Lost Cat 50k and Dorset Hollow road race..found here!) and featured a 6 hour, 12 hour, 24 hour, 48 hour, marathon and 50K distances, a little something something for everybody, I suppose!
If I remember back correctly, the decision to run this event came while I was still riding the ‘runners high’ of the aforementioned events last month in Vermont.. thinking to myself that it would be a splendid idea to ‘try anything once’.
Lists were made well in advance to try to avoid forgetting any necessary clothing or piece of food that might be my savior on race day – and I have to say, I think I did quite well looking back! I had my grapes all washed and ready to go when I wanted something juicy at mile 11, Ciara’s gracious mother brought clementines which I scarfed down somewhere around mile 20, then came my trusty dates when my calves needed some nutritional loving around mile 36, but what really hit the spot was the rye bread dipped into pickle juice once I hit the 40 mile mark!
Nor’East Trail Runs of course had anything and everything to offer up, keeping the weekend runners bellies satisfied and fueled for the long miles ahead; pancakes and eggs were on the stove when I arrived early Saturday morning, shortly after they got the grills all smoky and filled the surrounding air with the tantalizing scents of burgers and hot dogs. The best part? They offered everything for the dietary restricted also, featuring gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options!
Unfortunately (or fortunutely for me!), I just did not feel like tackling the grease-fest.. so I opted for a glass (yes, you read that correctly.. a glass) of real, local maple syrup followed up several hours later with apple cider..and several glasses of the refreshing nectar!
The one thing I truly wish that I had brought.. which honestly were just forgotten were headphones! Twelve hours on the circle gravel track is really quite a mind game. While there were plenty of amazing and kind folks (some I recognized from previous events!) to pass the time in conversation with.. I think a podcast would have been a great addition to break up the hours, or even to be able to listen to any of the 400,000 musicians that scrolled into my head as the day cranked by!
So what did I do about this? I turned the music up real loud on my drive from New York to Vermont.. trying to get my fill of decent tunes before being trapped inside my head with my wacky thoughts for the on coming twelve hours.
I arrived early enough to check in with the team and pick up my new Beebe Farm fleece jacket and super cute coffee mug with matching spoon, but had I given myself an extra half hour, I think I would have actually remembered to put the ankle bracelet timer on my leg prior to heading over to the runner briefing at 8:50! A quick trot back to my car a quarter mile away and my problem was solved.. but certainly helped add to the rushed chaoic sensation of the morning.
Watches set to record and all of us were off, some quicker than others of course. I tried to stay reserved to start, hovering somewhere around a ten-minute mile pace, which afforded me the breath to chat it up with a mother next to me – she was running with her autistic son, they were here to run his first full marathon – and let me tell you.. the two of them absolutely crushed it! He was in the zone just trotting along when she would remind him to eat, drink and use the potty – really quite a remarkable sight to see!
Lots of “nice work!“, “lookin good!” and “you’re crushing it!“-‘s were exchanged and before I knew it the sun had rose to full force, I had thrown down my first eleven miles – each one of those miles had me eyeballing the 1 gallon jug of local maple syrup on the aid station table. I suppose one would assume this real maple syrup would be for the pancakes? I finally got up some courage, slowing to a walk near the table.. “hey.. could I have a shot of maple syrup?”, I asked Adam (from the awesome Race Director team of Adam and Eliza).
“We don’t have any shot glasses.. yet.” he replied.
I conjured up my inner Ciara as I replied, “My mouth is the perfect shot glass!!”
Turns out they just happened to have a red solo cup filled about half-way with the sweet, sticky nectar. “Here you go.. *hands me the red solo cup as I peer into it*, WAIT! Erik that’s not a challenge, man!“, Adam went to the other table to grab a spare biodegradable cup to split the 10oz of syrup. So I poured, drank about 4oz of pure heaven.. then refilled, and downed another 4oz.. and before I knew it the contents of the original red solo cup were coasting south, straight into my belly. Such bliss, washing it all down with a quick blast, 8oz of some of the best race coffee I had ever had and I was on my way, super satisfied with my decision!
The miles clicked by (literally clicking as I ran across the timing mats) and I grew curious (and hungry!) about when Ciara’s mother was planning on dropping by – I figured I would have one of my tomato and vegenaise on rye bread sandwiches since I would be happily slowing my pace to spend time with her.
Not only did she bring my pickles (I left some food in her fridge as I spent the night at her cabin to make the morning commute shorter) but the cooler she brought could barely zip! Packed with oranges, apples, carrots, ginger ale, a full block of tempeh – it felt like I could have survived the week out there on the track with all the treats she brought!
I thought I was spacing the food and drink out far enough while trying to avoid ornery leg muscles seizing up or becoming dehydrated in the afternoon sun, which I did.. I felt great but there was a point that my stomach said “no more” and detested all solid food.
“Mind if I have a glass or two?” I asked the youngsters who were now our hosts of all things delicious.
“Go ahead, we have another jug in the back.. and if we go though that.. well there is an orchard right over those mountains!”
This young fella had the right attitude toward this fresh apple cider!
Ciara’s mother, Tuesday had been gone for several hours and I was limited to a run-walk technique. I’d like to say it was a methodical and thoughtful technique, but I was now fighting off the occasional acute stab that would oscillate from side to side if I tried to pick up my pace.. so I was basically limited to a 16-minute power walk around the track.
Just then a fellow runner came trotting up and slowed to my shuffling pace and asked how I was doing, this would be the most interesting man I would meet all day.
Regretfully, I never did get his name, I simply remember him as #48.. I’m sure I will learn his name once the results are posted and give him a big thank you for all of his help during the day!
“You’re in FOURTH PLACE!” he disclosed and continued on for the next couple of minutes giving me backstories on the other racers who made up the lead pack; everything from the ‘guy in the blue shirt up there’ who is more of a bicyclist and has a torn tendon in his leg, turns out our friend in the blue shirt had gone out too fast and despite being 5-6 laps ahead had faded fast and was talking about throwing in the towel at 50 miles. I was at 36 and upon doing some quick ‘ultra-math’, I knew I should be passing 50 miles if I kept up this mediocre pace!
“If that doesn’t put a little pep in your step, I don’t know what will!” Yelled number 48 as he hastened his shuffle and took off. Throughout the remainder of the event, we talked a lot as he would pass by: he used to be extremely overweight as a child and his father put him on the track team, he had not stopped running since – and man, he sure enough looked like a lean running machine!
Up to that point I was completely unaware that the current stats were being displayed, I honestly assumed I was hovering somewhere around 14th place, and that would have been fine with me – I was watching the miles fly by 38, 39, then FOURTY MILES! Up until September 28th I had never pushed past 33.25 miles, this was all new and exciting territory for me – but to do it and be in fourth place? Un-freaking-real!
I had one thing on my mind: Dates. I knew dates had always treated me and my finicky belly very well at any other event, or when running in the mountains – reliable and predictable energy that takes care of any leg calf fatigue.. such an amazing burst of ‘everything is okay‘ energy!
I’m sure curious minds were fixed on me as I ran-walked another lap, this time with my arms held high; the sun had fallen behind the surrounding mountains and a slight breeze had coasted in. There were threats of storms, but we saw nothing more than a few flashes of lightening off in the distance.
Arms in the air, breathing slow and thoughtfully: slow inhale held for several seconds and then releasing through my nose, I was able to shut my eyes and live in the moment – almost in a meditative trance-like state. It was truly blissful. I actually felt okay in those minutes.
Being able to relay all of the many emotions that welled up from 11 miles all the way to 53 miles to Ciara back at home was unlike anything I had in the past, my own secret weapon of encouragement at my fingertips!
She kicked my ass into gear when my ass needed kicking, and I cannot thank her enough for that!
The sun was gone and finally at mile 46, I did not want the company of anyone around me.. I was hurting all over and I just wanted to collapse into my mind, experiencing all I could.
Friends tried to talk, so I forced conversation about mountains and what life was like while not on this doggone circle. I just wanted my peace and quiet – that is.. until I saw a familiar face: Tuesday was back for more fun – and this time donned her Altra running shoes!
Big hugs were exchanged and we were off down the track! Pretty sure by this time I had slipped into such a tired state that I rambled and went on down the rabbit hole of not making sense, but I didn’t care, I wanted to share the chaos that now traversed my scattered brain.
Since number 48 had told me about the scoreboard, I made it a habit to veer over and scope it out – thinking that perhaps I would slip up into third place and not realize it, but I was also able to monitor their calculated mileage and my lap count.
So close, and with an hour and fifteen minutes to go, I was still in fourth place. Our friend in the blue shirt was pulling off more and more frequently, but he was still out here – and he was running! Tuesday offered to jog a bit, I politely declined – being completely satisfied with my 16-minute per mile shuffle and potential fourth place finish!
We talked and talked, as much as I wanted to just tuck away into my pain cave and just auto-pilot the last hour away, I felt extremely lucky that she wanted to come back at such a late hour of the night to help.. even if I did stumble sideways into her a few times!
By now, I began to feel a certain taste of pain in my quadriceps that was henceforth unknown to me.
Just. Keep. Moving.
One more beep from the timing mat as yet again I veered over the left to check the stats: 49.68 with time to spare.. I would surpass my fifty miles for sure! In fact, two more laps brought us to 52.29 miles with 10 minutes 28 seconds left to hammer out as much steam as possible!
Just then I heard my name, it was the timing guy running after me with a little red flag. We were instructed to jab that sucker into the ground on the right side of the track when the clock hit 9pm. The end was in sight and it tasted so sweet.
All those miles that I had endured, the sun burnt legs, the chaffing, the shuffling feet, the pickles and rye bread eaten; it was all for this moment.
9pm. Game over.
Whaaaaat?! I never saw my place bump from fourth to third – that literally happened as we began our final lap in the last 10 minutes (I didn’t see it happen). Holy heck, all I could do was keep quiet.. I truly believed she erred, but without questioning her, I took my 3rd Place piece of slate award.. still, slightly in shock, I suppose!
It wasn’t until later that night, going through the photographs that I found that I did take third place after all!
What a magical tormential experience.
I write this now, merely 12 hours after completing my first 12 hour, 53 mile travel by foot with restless, tired, beaten up legs.
Those words running through my head so early on in my day and continuing to swim violently upstream, trying to stay afloat in my mind. I love the crew, Adam and Eliza are absolutely incredible Race Directors, and rad folks for sure! They just seem to get better and better at what they do, becoming more organized with each event! The weather was just lovely out at the horse farm, I got to experience a side of myself that I rarely find at the mountains, pushing gravely deep past the point where I just want to curl up in the grass and whisk away.
Despite reaching 2,733 feet of vertical gain over the day: I miss my mountains. I miss time spent on the trails with Ciara and our doggies. Twelve hours after running 53 miles, I can safely admit: I want to finish hiking the 48 high peaks of New Hampshire with Ciara, I want to thru-hike more, I want to sink my trekking poles into the glacial slopes of Mount Hood, I want to travel to new places and see new things in our bus – knowing me though.. I’d give it another 48 hours and I’ll want to do this crazy adventure all over again!
I cannot thank Ciara and her awesome mama, Tuesday enough for helping me kick butt (or.. get my butt kicked!) and helping me get my mind through the grueling, tough times! Of course to all the friends I got to see again and new friendships made through running silly distances! Many thanks to everyone at Nor’East Trail Runs for giving us all a stellar venue to destroy our bodies and truly see what we mortals are made of!
It really was an incredible day!
Thanks for following along – got a question about running plant-based? Let me know.. shoot a note!
Have an awesome day – time for me to refill my coffee and limber up a bit!
Overall stats for Beebe Farm 12hr
Recorded with COROS Pace
- 53 miles
- 12 hours
- 2,733′ elevation gain
- 0 bathroom breaks
- 1/2lb green grapes
- 4 clementines
- 1/3lb dates
- 10oz maple syrup
- 8oz coffee
- 2 pickles
- 1 slice rye bread
- 6 cups apple cider
- many ounces of water