Mike G and Justin had been talking about the concept of a "sea to summit" run for the past year. That is running from sea level to the highest point in the state - Jerimoth Hill 812'. It seemed kind of far and hard to me. But in the past few days Mike was able to put together a route and plan that seemed doable - 24 miles from Apponoag Cove in Warwick to Jerimoth Hill in Foster. He assembled a fast group of long distance runners, and I was able to tag along. I was nervous that the pace might get too fast too soon, and couple that with the endless uphill terrain and my lack of training for this distance.
We met up in Warwick at 6:45AM. The group included WTAC members Mike and Jeff (who made the van drop and aid station), and Justin; TNT members Bob J and Dave P; and also Ben (Gunshow). We wandered around looking for a spot to access the water, and after a quick photo shoot, we were ready to really begin the adventure. The first few miles weren't the most scenic, but they passed quickly with plenty of conversation. We followed a rail trail before turning down a footpath. I'm not sure how Mike had figured this into his plan, but it worked. After a few more side roads, with the first brief hills, we settled onto a rural and pleasant road called Hope Furnace. I glanced at my watch a few times to check overall time, and did notice the pace was in the 7:20's. I hoped I could maintain it. Soon, the road descended and my fear of the fast marathoners pushing the pace materialized. I dropped back and hung with Gunshow who was already hurting, but he is the toughest dude around, and would gut it out for 2 plus more hours. My watch beeped and it was a 6:44 mile! Yikes.
The pace did even out a bit, but soon we had to stop as we realized we missed a turn. Checking the map, we should have turned right a couple of miles back. Luckily, we could reconnect with our course without backtracking, but we were adding two or three miles to our run. I guess this would now be an uphill marathon. Restarting, I felt cold for the next mile or so. We hit a long gradual hill that warmed me up. Then it was another long descent as we reached the Scituate Reservoir. I would find myself up front on the climbs, and bringing up the rear on the downhills. We soon reached the halfway point aid station Jeff and Mike had set up. We were at 15 miles (1:51). I hoped there was less than 12 left! I had some Gatorade with water, and a gel. I grabbed another one and carried it for later.
Everyone groaned as we began moving again. Our bodies thought we were done. The terrain was rather flat as we ran along the reservoir. We then turned onto a dirt road. The soft footing was much welcomed. We began gaining elevation again. After a rather steep hill that I climbed well, I found that my legs did not recover. This was at mile 19. I then hung back with Jeff and silently suffered for the next few miles. It's tough knowing how many miles are left, and I was out of my comfort zone time and distance wise. At the 2:45 mark, I slowly began eating my gel. This was more for a distraction than for need. Our group got more strung out. I moved up a bit on a good sized hill, but still felt very tired on the flat sections. I finally perked up when I reached the last road, and could see Jerimoth Hill in the distance (I assumed). This was a straight highway, so it took much longer than it looked to finish. Oh, and the last hill was about a mile long. Somewhere on this climb I passed the marathon mark, at around 3:12. Not bad for an uphill training run! I reached the road summit and then waited for our group to reconnect so that we could take the snowy trail to the real summit together. Total distance ended up being about 27 miles, with 2000' of elevation gain. A really unique run with a great group of guys.