trailstasher

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Promise Land 50K trail race April 25 2015

Promise Land 50K++ (34+ miles) of tough mountain trails..LOTS of climbing..technical..and beautiful.  This is arguably the toughest/best 50K on the East coast.

http://www.extremeultrarunning.com/2015_pl/application.pdf

http://www.extremeultrarunning.com/2015_pl/entrants

Look at the major climbing and elevation change!

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This was my first 50K, back in 2012, when only barely trained up for a half marathon level.  After that 2012 race, my ankles and hip flexors were absolutely trashed and hurting bad.  I was happy just to finish the 2012 race under the 10 hour cutoff.  I think I ended up with a 9:20 or so time.

Moving forward to 2015.  I was still not trained up for this.  I trained off and on the last part of 2014 at the 13 to 16 mile level.  2015 has mostly consisted of racing, resting, tapering and resting again, so no real training at all.  But…that is basically how I roll.  I tough out these ultras on half marathon level training.

My goal for this race was 8 hours, but realistically I was predicting around an 8:30 time.  My prediction was based off of the other ultras I did this year.  My time at Terrapin was 7:28, so I figured to add roughly an hour for the 4 extra miles (as Terrapin had lots of climbing, as well).  I was also worried about my legs recovering and feeling strong for this race.  I have done too many back to back races, without much recovery time.  This will be my fourth ultra in 4 months, plus a 15 mile race, a 10 mile race, and a few 10ks.  The 10ks were even extremely tough ones!  I had a few decent training runs since November, but not many.

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This race is/was exciting for several different reasons.  First, it is an exciting race by itself, due to the toughness, atmosphere, reputation and beauty.  This is pretty much a bucket list type race for the East coast, anyway.  We camped out at the race site, the night before.  Camping out there is an absolute must do.  There is a big grassy field that everyone parks and sets their tents up at.  Another reason it was exciting was that 2 of my best friends were doing their first ultra…Sara Martin and Robert Drinkwater.  I was very excited for them.  It was also Brian Lang’s first ultra.

Other friends that raced were Dru Sexton, Josh Gilbert, James Decker, Matt Prescott, David Landes and Caleb Johnson.  Gina Gilbert was there crewing and supporting us all day!

Race start at 5:30am!  I slept ok and got up at 4:30.  I didn’t habe coffee, which is an extrem rarity for me.  It was in the low 40s I think   I had shorts, a short sleeve shirt and a long sleeve shirt on.  I ended up tying the king sleeve shirt around my waist for most of the day.  The weather is extremely unpredictable here, especially at the different elevations.

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The race starts at the camp and goes up a gravel road for less than 3 miles.  We hit single track after that.  There is some climbing, but then you hit an extremely nice part..smooth trail, grassy with views and very little climbing.  You climb some more.  Early in the race and depending on where we were on elevation, it was sleeting!  Yet, it was relatively warm while sleeting..odd.  A technical beating downhill is next..then a good stretch of road going downhill.  You are now at the lowest point at mile 20.  You know there is lots of climbing left.

From mile 12sh to mile 30 is called the “Dark Side”.  You can see why on the map.  I had totally forgot how hard mile 20 to 30 is, especially with 20-mile-tired-legs.  This part is going to Apple Orchard Falls and the climb after that.  It is very very technical and lots of climbing.  This is part of what makes this race what it is..it is beautiful, but comes with a price.  I thought I had a chance at a sub 8 race until I got to this part.  I was painfully slow.  There was a group of 3 college age kids that was near me.  One girl (that looked very strong earlier) kept bending over like she was going to puke.  Her 2 friends kept waiting up for her, but finally left her after the falls.

At some point, later in the race, it got really cold.  It had been light raining off and on all day.  I had tied my long sleeve shirt around my waist.  I put it on for the rest of the race.

At times the race felt like a death march.  It was brutally slow (for me) and just flat out tough.  Words cannot really describe how hard that Apple Orchard Falls portion is.  People and myself were moaning and groaning in this section near Apple Orchard Falls.  There was more water coming over the falls than I have ever seen.

We went through Cornelius Gap aid station twice in the middle of the race.  It was great to see Helen MacDermott there volunteering and smiling.

These 2 videos give you a small taste of the Apple Orchard Falls section.

I FINALLY made it to mile 30..I had a couple small climbs left, then all down hill on a gravel road to the finish.  My sub 8 hour time was long out of reach, but I finished before the 8:30 time that I figured I would be around.

Gina was waiting for me at end of the road..see below picture.  I don’t look too tired and miserable :).

Sara, Robert and Dru were waiting for me at the finish line…always nice to have a reception.

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My garmin report: https://connect.garmin.com/activity/757860206

Patagonia finisher shorts! (anyone that finished under 10 hours)

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Sara and Robert did outstanding.  Sara was right at the 7 hour mark and Robert was a little behind her.  I was extremely happy for Sara and Robert.

Josh was the fastest I think at well under 6 hours.  David Landes had a great race at a little over 6. Everyone did well.  I am by far the “caboose” of our Mountain Junkie group.  I think I was 45 minutes behind the second to last person in our group.  I hate that they have to wait on me…and do not expect it.  I do appreciate it though.  It is a little humbling to finish 2 plus hours behind a few of my friends (not all of them by any means), but that is how good they are and how average I am.

I always feel like it is a success just to finish this race.  There is so much that can happen.

Another great (pure) adventure and one for the books.

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Terrapin Mountain 50K March 21 2015

 

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Terrapin Mountain 50K is the second trail ultra of 4 that have to be completed for the Lynchburg Ultra Series.  It is billed as a tough race with lots of climbing and it was definitely that.  I had set my goal at under 8 hours, due to the fact that it took me 6.5 hours to do Holiday Lake…and I figured it would take me at least an hour more with all the climbing on this race.  It also was a mile or so longer.

I went by the Aid Station store 2 days before the race and picked up my packet.  They give out mugs for the race.  I have always wanted one, so I was excited to get it.  I was not disappointed!  It is a great looking mug.  Love it!

image                        terrbib

We left Roanoke that morning at 4:45, so that we could make the hour drive and get there well before 6:30.  We had to check in before 6:30.  Terrapin also offers a half marathon.  Eddie Mann (did the half marathon) and Caleb Johnson rode to the race with me.  Other friends there were as follows: Gina Gilbert (there for support, as she is injured), Josh Gilbert, David Landes, Dru Sexton, James Decker, Matt Prescott, John Robinson, and Jeff Jennings (half).

Huge shout out to Gina Gilbert.  She was there before 6:30 also.  She waited over 7.5 hours for all of our friends to cross the finish line and she got pictures of everyone crossing.

The race started at 7.  The weather was supposed to be nice, so I only had 2 shirt layers on and shorts.  The beginning is road and gravel, but it was pretty scenic.  There was a rocky creek and several rustic log cabins on farms.

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The following picture is of Terrapin Mountain.  It is pretty intimidating to see that at the beginning of a 31.5 mile race, knowing that you will have to go over it!

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We soon hit single track that was a pretty steep climb for roughly 3 miles.  The first aid station was at the top, which was mile 4.  From there we were on another gravel road, going down hill for around 5 miles.  Those 5 miles were the only easy part of the race.  The rest of the race was very hard.

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It seemed like it was climbing ALL DAY LONG..I got to a part in which the lead runners were running opposite me, as they had already done a loop to the top.  They were running pretty fast downhill, while I was running slow up hill!. It took forever, but I finally made my way around the loop and by the summit. I finally got to run down that fireroad!  At the end of that fire road was an aid station that I had went through earlier.  This was mile 22.

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See mile 22 on the elevation profile below?  The last sharp top on the right…that was it.  Toughest section of the race.

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Once I went past the aid station, the course was single track again.  Now it was a grueling, very steep climb.  I was extremely slow on that part.  I got to the top and there were some nice views up there.

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There were 3 parts of the race that you had to do an out and back or loop, so when you got to a certain point, you had to punch your bib.  The top was one of the punch points.  From there we went on towards “fat mans squeeze”.  Fat mans squeeze is something I had always heard about and was excited to see. All of the following pictures are different views of the same rock formation.

FMS1    fms3    fms4    fms7    fms6

I got through the squeeze and soon came up on a short but rough section of rocks.  It was football size rocks on top of rocks   It was really hard to walk safely over them.  The rest of the way was nice single track trail.

Waterfall within the last 1o miles

terrfall    terrwfall

Water crossing within last few miles.  It felt great on tired feet!

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There no big climbs, but my endurance was low.  I walked the uphills and jogged the downhills.  I finally came out on the road, then on to the finish   I saw that I could make under 7:30 and did.  I crossed at 7:28.  I was the last of my friends to finish, but they are all really good runners.  I just wanted to finish, which I did.

We got a nice Patagonia finishers shirt!

terrshirt

Garmin readout:

https://connect.garmin.com/activity/728975808

 

 


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Holiday Lake 50K Feb 14 2015

First race of LUS..Lynchburg Ultra Series. This one is labeled as a 50K++, as it is around 33.2 miles. It is held at Holiday Lake State Park, near Appomattox, Va.  The race is an out and back, that part of it goes around both sides of the Lake.
http://www.extremeultrarunning.com/2015_HL/runner_packet.pdf
It is light rolling small hills and very run-able for a mountain area trail race.

PRE RACE:  I will set a goal of 7 hours.  It is hard to set a goal, without doing the course before.  I did a recent 30 mile ultra in 6:37.  This one is almost 4 miles longer, so 7 hours may be tough to do.

I picked up my bib and shirt yesterday..was disappointed that the shirt is bright pink! It IS on Valentines day, though!  Darn Horton!  David Horton is the race director.

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POST RACE:  I had been torn all week whether to 1.) stay at the race event, the night before, 2.) get a hotel room close-by, or 3.) get up at 2:30am the morning of (I live 2 hours away in Roanoke).  The race options were to stay in a lodge at the park or camp at the park. The advantages to staying at the event the night before, is to not have to get up early and be able to enjoy the Friday night dinner.  The cons were that there would be several people sleeping in the same room, which means snoring and a good chance of not getting much sleep.  Hotel was too expensive and not close enough.  It was too cold to camp.  My son had a basketball game Friday night and I am the coach…that was a big factor as well.  I finally decided to coach my son’s game and stay at home that night.  I would leave out by 3:30 that morning.  Luckily, Gina Gilbert invited me to ride with her husband Josh, and 2 other friends, James Decker and David Landes.  I gladly accepted the offer.  This was a treat, as it made the whole trip a lot more fun.  Great people.

HLride

I had been a little worried about the weather.  An arctic wind was supposed to come in and make it very cold and windy.  The cold doesn’t usually bother me, but all the talk got in my head.

I got a decent nights rest and was up at 2:30..I was at the Gilbert’s house by 3:30.  We got to the race around 5:30 and had plenty of time to get ready.  The race started at 6:30.  It was dark, so most of us used head lamps until the first aid station at mile 4.

Friends at the race were as follows: Gina Gilbert, Josh Gilbert, James Decker, David Landes, Dru Sexton and Caleb Johnson.  Others that I am acquaintences with are Matt Prescott, John Robinson and James Phillips.

I had a great time and the race went perfect.  While it was cold early..around 18 degrees I think, the weather was perfect overall.  I left my top layer and headlamp at the first Aid Station with Gina.(Gina did not race, as she has been having some heel issues).  I was extremely comfortable the rest of the day with 2 shirt layers and shorts.

It started out on a road.  After less than a mile we entered the trail.  I started in the back..it got really backed up for the first couple of miles, but smooth after that.  One lady had a bad fall in mile 2 and had to go the the hopsital for 19 stiches!  I felt pretty well all day long.  We had a creek crossing pretty early in the race..always nice to get your feet wet in a cold creek, on a cold day!  The early part of the race goes around part of the lake.  That was probably the best part of the trail.  The sunrise through the trees was beautiful.
Sunrise

The whole race, I was judging how I was doing compared to the 7 hour goal.  I hit the halfway turnaround point (16sh miles) at just under 3 hours.  I figured the last half would take close to 4 hours to do, but hoped it would be less than 4 hours.  The farther along I got, the more I realized that I shouldn’t have any problems hitting my goal.

I never felt miserable or ‘ultra’ tired, but I was getting tired those last 7 miles.  I walked more and my running pace was extremely slow.  I was passed by a chunky guy around my age at mile 25 or so.  I wanted to pass him back.  The fact that he was chunky, made me want to pass him back really bad.  I finally did around mile 29.  When I got to the road with less than a mile to go, I ran pretty hard to make sure he didnt catch me.  His small kid and wife were cheering him on at the end, which was a nice moment.  I crossed the finish line at 6:33.  I was happy with that time.

We received a Patagonia long sleeve technical shirt as a finisher award.  Everyone under 8 hours got one.  I was very pleased with the shirt.  It is one of the nicest shirts I have gotten.  It more than made up for the pink registration shirt. 😉

HLF

Here is my garmin readout for the race.  As you can see, my pace faded near the end, but that was expected for me.  https://connect.garmin.com/activity/698240589

This was a fun race and I highly recommend it.  The trails are not the best I have been on, but they are good.  It was a great, well done race

HLFINISH

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