Sunday, February 17, 2013

Non Infantis Flendi: Martha's Vineyard & The Isle of Winter (2/16/13)

Race: Martha's Vineyard 20 Miler
Location: Vineyard Haven, Oak Bluffs, Edgartown
Goal Time: 2:19:59
Actual Time: 2:20:37 (2nd, Clydesdales!)

In the 1st Century AD Tacitus described Ireland as Hibernia, "the isle of Winter":
"si quidem Hibernia medio inter Britanniam atque Hispaniam sita et Gallico quoque mari."

My recollection of High School Latin states that Tacitus felt Ireland was "between Britain and Spain and in the seas by Gaul."  Or maybe that it was the "point where mediations were held about the various characteristics that differed" between several brown breeds of dogs.  (Out of context either one could be correct.)

Indeed the isle of winter was so formidable even the most powerful and expansionist empire the world had ever seen would dare conquer it.  Although apparently Tacitus' son-in-law, the rogue Governor of Britannia Julius Agricola, did attempt to build an invasion force.  (There is something else in Tacitus' text, if my High School Latin holds up, where Agricola can see Hibernia from his house and Agricola claimed Finn MacCool was "palling around with terrorists.")

... but, I digress.  Situated a 45 minute ferry ride from Wood's Hole, si quidem Vinea Marthae medio inter Nantucketum atque Paenisula Moruae sita et Massachusettsium quoque mari.  And throughout the week there had been much fear among those running a 20 mile race on the Vinea Marthae that it would be an insula Hibernia.  As we crossed the ferry, the chance of various degrees of rain, sleet and snow ("slushballs from the sky", as my father calls them) dwindled from 50% to 20%.  Things were looking hopeful.  It seemed that I may have actually overdressed with my arm-warmers and high socks.  But - as I often tell my poker buddies - 20% is still one-in-five; it's not impossible. 

The weather was cool - 35F - at the start and I went out with a bunch of the boys who were warming up with 7:00/miles.  The first three were great and then they sneakily dropped the minute per mile on me without me noticing.  At 3.5 miles, I looked at my watch and we were doing 6:25.  Before I walked into a Teutoburg Forest problem and Augustus started demanding his legions back from me, I said, "Whoa, guys.  I'm now going to slow down."  Each one of them were a little shocked to see me still running with them and agreed with my plan to go back to 7:00/miles.

Tyler, who I think was just trying to go easy, dropped back with me to keep me company through the run.  Over the next couple of miles my hands warmed up and it looked like Hibernia was a mere scare and fear of those runners who like to fear things.

Around mile six, I saw some sweat fly off my hair in a weird angle.  It took me a second to realize, that wasn't sweat and it didn't fly off me.  In fact my hopes that the weather would pass was like trying to go - as Steinbeck argued - ad astra per alas porci ("to the stars on the wings of pigs").  Over the next 10 miles, I attempted to maintain my 7 min/mile pace as gradually Vinea Marthae seemed more and more Hibernia.

Tyler continued coaxing me onto 7 minutes and cajoling me away from stupid actions.  The sleet and snow and rain continued to fall and soak through my arm warmers and my shoes.  Fortunately at some point everything is numb so it can no longer feel the Hibernian weather falling upon it.  The trails iced into skating rinks that required running on the road. (Drivers were mostly great).  Police and volunteers directed traffic and crossings.  (Can I give three - no four - cheers to the volunteers here?  Running in that weather was awful.  But sacrificing your day to stand at windy corners and point crazy runners left and right?  Superheroes!)

At 17, I told him I couldn't continue on anymore at the pace.  He moved ahead at a more comfortable pace for him.

At this point the 11 miles of Hibernian "slushballs from the sky" had left me shaken.  It took all my strength to, in the words of Virgil, "durate, et, vosmet rebus servate secundis."  Which my high school Latin says: "Toil on and things will be better the second time."  (Robert Fagels more eloquently - and probably more correctly - says: "Bear up. Save your strength for better times to come.")

Miles 18 and 19 dropped well off the 7 minute pace.  With one mile to go, I had to run a 6:40 to break my PR from last year.  I put all my effort into it.  But, my 6:42 mile was not enough and I missed last year's time

In a letter to the governor of Libya, Pliny the Younger said that the Martha's Vineyard race would require something: "Non infantis flendi"  (No Weenies!).

SRR Shoutouts -

Kieran placed 5th overall and 1st in his age group
Deb Downs took 2nd in her age group
Tim Morin and John Wichers each took 3rd in their age groups
John Wichers and I made a one-two punch taking the top slots in the Clydesdales.

The ever democratic Somerville Road Runners were represented by 18 people - from Kieran at 2:5 to Urvi at 4:08 - taking home the inaugural "Running Club Cup."

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