trailstasher

adventures…


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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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Explore Your Limits 10k February 2015

Pre Race information:

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This race is at Explore Park, Roanoke, Va
My history with this race:
2014-52:42 time, 8th place in 5 year age group, and 62nd place overall
2013-54:38 time, 8th place in 5 year age group, and 87th place overall
2012-1:00:12 time, 8th place in 5 year age group, and 113rd place overall
2011-1:04:08 time, 8th place in 5 year age group, and 115th place overall

2011 was my first running race ever and I wasn’t trained up for a 10k, much less a hilly trail 10k. Happy 4 year anniversary to me!

I will set my goal at 51:59 (sub 52) time.

I have had Achilles tendinitis the past 2 weeks, so I am not sure how this will affect me.  It is not painful, but I am scared to push too hard.  I will know more by race day, as I plan to do a run today.  I have been doing so much tapering, racking , resting and recovering since early January, that my training is all out of whack.  I don’t have a good feel for where I am at, performance wise.  Going between a 50k race pace and a 10k race pace is kind of tough.

We have had a lot of snow the past couple of weeks.   Explore Park hasn’t been used much at all, so there is up to 10 inches of snow there.  This should be interesting!  The trail will be beat down, since I am not a lead runner, so maybe it won’t be good bad.  The temperature is supposed to be around 7 degrees.  This may be the coldest race I have done so far.  I think the snow will slow everyone down, so that may affect my goal.   There has been a lot of talk about putting sheet metal screws in your shoes to give you more traction.  I did this yesterday..hope it helps!

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This is the shirt and bib I picked up before the race.  Somehow a mistake was made by me or the race director.  I thought I signed up for the 10k, but got a yellow bib (5K) instead of a white bib(10K).  I switched just before the race.   Here is a picture of the shirt and bib with the correct 10k bib.

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I chose to wear shorts, which is very normal for me.  Several people made a big deal out of me wearing shorts on this cold day, in the snow.  The camera guy took a picture of me (pre race) and said “Do they have a drug policy at your work?”.  There were at least a couple of others that wore shorts for the race, but not pre race.

Here is a picture of the beginning of the race.

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Post Race information:

I drove Dru Sexton and Jack Bugo to the race, as a four wheel drive was needed to get in the park. It is always fun to ride to races and back, with friends. We had no trouble getting up the hill, at the entrance.

This was a VERY hard race!  Arguably the toughest that 10k that I have done.  The now was around 5 to 6 inches deep the whole way.  The snow as crusty on top, but soft underneath.  I thought that the leaders would pack down a trail, but I was wrong.  I was crunching through the snow, the whole time.  It really wore me out.  I could not decide whether running in the soft snow was better, or the crunchy untouched snow.

I was behind Doug Falls for the first part of the race, but passed him around 2 miles in.  He was right behind me most of the rest of the way.  I also noticed that Mack McGhee was right behind Doug.  I spent most of the race trying to keep Mack behind me.  Mack is in my age group and is registered for the RNUTS series, so he is a direct competitor.  The cold and snow never bothered me at all.  I didn’t feel strong at all, but kept trudging a long.  The last mile came.  It was hard for me to know what was going on behind me, but I was pretty sure that Mack passed Doug.  Then I knew Mack was right behind me.  He had more than I did on the last quarter of a mile, going up hill to the finish.  He passed me near the end and so did Doug.  I was disappointed that I let Mack pass me.  Other than that, I was glad the race was over.  I was beat.  It was a very tough event.  My ending time ended up being 1hr 10mn, which shows you how slow the course was, with the snow and conditions.  Everyone was much slower.  That is 17 minutes slower than my time last year, on this course. I ended up 7th place in my age group, so at least I did better than 8th!(see top) I fell WAY short of my goal, but I had a great excuse, with the snow! My goal was based on perfect conditions. I don’t think the screws helped much, as most of the snow was so soft. There was some ice on the road portion, that I think it helped on.
The achilles soreness was not a factor at all. The 2 ultras I did the past 5 weeks were probably a factor today, but no excuses for that poor performance the last half mile today.

I was glad for Doug, as he got 2nd AG for the 50-54 ag.  Same for Tabitha Walker, getting third overall in the 10K and Karen Dillon for getting masters for the 5K. Robert Drinkwater and Dru Sexton placed, which is an every race deal for them.  Lastly, Eddie Mann placed 2nd in the 5K. Kudos!

Some bad news, was that my friend Eian (who already had a recently diagnosed hip stress fracture), was at the race as a spectator.  He slipped and broke his femur at the stress fracture..Ugh, that was/is terrible.  He is in the hospital now and has had surgery.

Another great adventure.

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Frozen Toe trail race 10K January 10, 2015

http://www.mountainjunkies.net/Frozen_Toe.htm

PRE race thoughts and information:
This is my first race of the year and it is the first race of the Mountain Junkies “RNUTS” Roanoke non ultra race series.
This is a 10K trail race in Roanoke, VA. It is on the Chestnut Ridge Loop Trail, which is on Federal land. http://www.roanokeoutside.com/chestnut-ridge-trail I run this trail more than any other, as it is a nice loop of 5.6 or so, is challenging and is very convenient to where I live.

My time for this race last year (2014) was 53:22, 8:41 pace and 9th in my AG (age group).  2013 was a 55:13 time and 17th AG placng.  2012 was a 57:35 time with a 14th AG placing.  I have had roughly a 2 minute increase every year, but I don’t see that happening this year.  Another kink in all of this, is that they might run it reverse this year (clockwise), which seems to be harder and slower.

I feel like I am getting more and more comfortable with just running at a comfortable distance pace, vrs running painfully wide open.  I may be slower this year due to that.  I do think my endurance has gotten better, due to running trails more this year vrs the Mill Mountain/Blue Ridge Marathon road course.

Due to them reversing Frozen Toes this year and the fact that I think I may have already plateaued, my goal is sub 53 minutes.  I do not expect to hit the goal, but it is something to aim for.  I would not be surprised at all if I was in the 54 or 55 minute range.

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No shirt for this race! You get a choice of socks or a buff.  I will do a post race report soon.

POST race report:

It was around 15 degrees this morning for the race.  The trails were frozen hard, so no worries about sliding in the mud, like we have been.  I enjoy running in the cold, so that was helpful.  I decided to run a good pace at the beginning, but not as fast as I have in years past.  The fast start in years past, had me breathing way too hard after a mile or two.  I think the slower start paid off.  Doug Falls, Eian Cork and I ran together most of the way.  This made the race more fun.  I checked my watch around halfway and was surprised that it read around 25 minutes.  I walked a little on the mile four to five hill, but I felt that was necessary.  I felt strong the whole way and finished at 52:40!  Well below my goal.  I really exceeded my expectations.  I was 7th in my age group and 61st overall, out of 250, in the most competitive Mountain Junkie race of the year.

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Here is my Garmin report: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/670208458

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