Saturday, November 6, 2021
Start: MA/RI state line (parked at Douglas State Forest, MA and hiked in)
End: Charlestown Blue Shutters Beach
Mileage: 76.36 (+2.18)
Elevation gain/loss: 5072’/5689′ (246/148)
After spotting a car at the beach on Friday night (having called the town and police to confirm we were approved to leave a car overnight in the lot, despite it not being allowed), we got up at 3am and headed out by 3:30am, arriving at Douglas State Forest by 4:15am. We hung the DCR parking pass I got from my local library on the rear view mirror, pulled our gear together, and headed out by 4:25am. It was 28 degrees and very chilly. We hiked quickly by headlamp, trying to get warm while also not losing the trail. We made our way to the state line a few miles away by around 5:05am.
We took pictures at the border and end of the Midstate Trail and start of the North South Trail, then started our watches at 5:15am and started running. The cold and dark kept our pace fairly slow for the first few hours, but once the sun came up and we had gotten through some of the trail’s most technical sections, we started picking up the pace.
The first 25 miles went by pretty quickly, and then time slowed down. The halfway marker wasn’t halfway by mileage, and we had go to for at least 2-3 more miles before arriving at the marker; it was a psychological struggle to know that I was halfway done but hadn’t hit the sign yet. At the sign, we took some pictures and then kept on moving.
We tried to not look to see where we were, mileage wise, because it didn’t help. We had to shed layers a few times in the heat (55, hah) of the day, but as soon as the sunlight waned, we had to layer back up. As the sun went down and the miles started to look the same, time seemed to be endless and the temperature dropped back towards freezing. I accidently saw the mileage on my watch at our last water filter break and it hit me hard that we had at least 3 hours left. I tried to hunker down and just keep moving. Once we hit the 8 miles left point, Justin seemed to perk up for a few miles, which helped dig me out of my misery and remind me that we weren’t that far away.
Justin seemed to hit a wall and struggled hard for the last 6 miles, but I was feeling pretty good. It was a distance I could comprehend and be joyful about how close it was to the end. So I went out in front, kept us on trail in the dark, and power hiked as quick as I could. Once we emerged onto the road for the last time, I opened up my pace and hit 6 MPH for the last 1.4 miles to the beach, enjoying the smooth road and downhill angle, and the proximity to the car.
We made it to the beach just a few minutes before 1am. We dipped our toes in the incoming tide’s waves (since it was 30 degrees, we decided against a more thorough greeting), took some pictures, and then needed to rescue our dropped trekking poles from being washed out to sea. We slowly walked back to the car in the parking lot, started the car blasting heat, grabbed a snack from the trunk, changed into dry shirts and sweaters, and hopped in the car to drive the hour back to my friend’s house. Along the way, we found the only open restaurant (McDonald’s), and napped while we waited in the long line of cars. Once we got back to my friend’s house, we slept for maybe 4 hours, had a big breakfast, and then my friend drove me back to my car in Douglas State Forest.
This run was a testament to my continued growth and learning. With the cooler weather, I was able to stay well hydrated, and I kept up with my nutrition. Water sources were regular and relatively prolific; I only felt thirsty once and found water under the road soon after. My food plan worked well, primarily using gels and chews with some bars and waffles mixed in for additional fat and protein. I judiciously used caffeine, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen in the second half of the run, and that helped me keep my energy up and pain down. My feet and legs felt amazingly happy in my Hoka Speed Goats and I never needed to change my socks, despite bringing 2 extra pairs. I didn’t get any blisters or chafing, which feels like a miracle. With our excellent pace of ~4.2 MPH, we broke the last unsupported FKT by 3 hours. It’s still sinking in, what we accomplished. It was a wonderful experience, and I’m looking forward to running the Riverlands 100 with Justin in May 2022!