There’s something special about April. Sure, it’s my birthday month, but what I’ve really savored about it since moving to Massachusetts is that April – and my birthday weekend specifically – always align with DRB. That’s short for “Don’t Run Boston,” which is the Trail Animals Running Club’s inaugural event dating back to 1997.
A 50K, DRB was the creation of one of the original Trail Animals, Howie Breinan. His course winds all over the rugged trails of the Blue Hills Reservation, amassing around 5,700 feet of gain along the way. Miles 10-16 are on the gnarly Skyline Trail, and none of the 31 miles are marked. The race is free, always has been, and you get more than what you paid for. Specifically, you get a full day of adventure on some incredible trails, and if you’re lucky then you’ll spend your time running and hiking alongside new and old friends.
This year marked the fifth time I’ve run and completed DRB. Each one of those finishes is memorable and special in its own right. This year was particularly important for me as it marked my biggest day of preparation yet for the 100.7-miler at Notchview in July, but I didn’t have time to worry about that while running DRB. Instead, I got to be the tour guide for our small group of six runners for the first 13 miles, and then for just Alex and Fernando the rest of the way after one runner dropped and two others ran ahead. It was Alex’s fourth time running DRB and Fernando’s first, so it was special getting to give him his first tour of the course and making sure he was successful.
Of the five times I’ve run DRB (2016, 2017, 2021, 2022, 2023), this year was perhaps the best weather for me. It was overcast all day and sprinkled briefly during the early miles, but the course was almost completely dry and temperatures were in the low to mid-50s all day. I ate well, hydrated well, and avoided having cramps for the first time since 2017. We finished in 7:39, making it my second-fastest time ever on the course (6:30 in 2017) and a 33-minute improvement from last year.
I was patient but not complacent in the two weeks following the race, and I bounced back well. Alex and I closed out the month by hiking Mt. Monadnock in New Hampshire.
In addition to DRB, I had multiple 20+-mile runs in April and 131 total miles for the month, bringing my yearly total to 558 miles through the first four months of 2023. I’m glad I listened to my knee in March and was able to pick back up in April. I still have a lot of work to do – many miles to go – before running Notchview in July. I haven’t put in as many miles as would be ideal for a 100-mile goal, but I think I’m where I need to be right now. There are nine more weeks left to prepare and I think I’m in a good place. Onward!