trailstasher

adventures…


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Uwharrie Mountain Run Feb 2016

Pre race comments:  I have been interested in this race for at least a couple of years, after hearing a few people talk about how great of a race it is.  It has always been hard to get into, before this year, due to prior years being a lottery.  I had entered the lottery at least once, but didn’t get in. This year, the registration was first come first serve.  I had seen a Facebook post the morning that registration was going to open and knew it would sell out in minutes.  I got my phone and credit card ready for 9 am opening, and successfully got in!

They have a 40, 20 and 8 mile option.  I decided to do the 20.  I could finish the 40 and probably do ok, but I am not trained for that…plus it was too close to the ultra I did in January.

I have had a very successful training year since Fall, so I am more than ready for this race.  I did just do an Ultra marathon 3 weeks prior to this race date, a tough 10k the week before that, plus a tough deep snow hike two weeks prior to the race date..so I hope my legs aren’t tired.

Goal: It’s hard to set a goal on a course that you have never done before.  I’ll set my aggressive goal for a 10:30 pace, which puts me at a time of 3:30.  I’ll be happy with an 11 min pace, as a less aggressive goal.  The race starts at 8am, so I should finish between 11:30 and 12 noon

This will be a great experience, since its a new race to me, I have heard a lot of great things about the race and my mom will be there to see me finish.  That’s a first and she is excited.  It is near Asheboro, NC and near where I grew up…around 3 hours from Roanoke, Va, where I live now. I was always fascinated by the Uwharrie National Forest area.

 

Here is the race website: http://www.uwharriemountainrun.com

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http://www.uwharriemountainrun.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/UMR-event_map1.pdf

Post race comments:

This was the best race that I have ever done.  I don’t mean my performance…I am talking about the race itself.  Everything from the way it is was put on, the pre race dinner, the trails, where it is it, etc.  The local Mountain Junkie races in Roanoke, Va area are the best as well, but this race was a destination type race.

Where do I start?  The pre race dinner was held at The Exchange Friday evening http://theexchangenc.com/?page_id=10, a nice banquet place in downtown Asheboro.  The early packet pick up was there, as well.  I got there at 5pm and was immediately impressed with everything.  I got my bib, which said Uwharrie Mountain Run and 20 mile on it.  The shirt was very nice as well.  It is a green long sleeve technical shirt.

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Altra was one of the sponsors of the race.  They brought a ton of shoes, a flag, and small giveaways to the pre race dinner.  It was pretty impressive.

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The big banquet room was done very nice.  They had several round tables with tablecloths and past pottery medals on the table for viewing.  The food was the best layout I have seen for a dinner.  The food/drinks available was spaghetti, lasagna, salad, bread, steamed vegetables, cheesecake, craft beer from kegs, and wine.

On to race day..The parking is separate from the start, due to limited space.  We all parked across the street from the El Dorado Outpost.  Here is the sunrise from that morning.

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It was crazy cold!  I don’t know the temp, but I was surprised how cold it was..and I usually love the cold.  We were shuttled to the start of race/trailhead on a bus.  The 20 mile race started at 8am.  They gave us plastic drop bags that would be left at the end of the 20 mile (and turnaround for the 40 mile racers).  This race is an out and back for the 40 milers and a point to point for the 20 mile racers.  I did the 20 mile, as you know.  The race starts at a small trailhead area.  They had a campfire going on this cold day!  I had shorts, 3 layers of shirts, a beanie and gloves on.  I knew the 3 layers of shirts was too much, but the start was so cold, that I would not pass up the warmth for awhile.

The race started on a road at the trailhead, but we were only on the road for a few yards, before it went straight into single track.  This was THE SLOWEST race start I have ever experienced.  The single track went straight up  rutty technical trail, at the beginning.  All of the runners were jammed up big time…so, I was walking immediately.  We slowly started running a tenth of a mile in, so I started passing people after that.  I really should have started close to the front of the pack.  That first mile was well over a 13 minute pace, which I wasn’t counting on having any miles over 13 minutes..ugh!

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The course was fantastic!  100% perfect single track through woods, with tons of big creek crossings, lots of downed trees, a little mucky mud, some rocky spots and some technical parts.  I assume that they were not allowed to put signs or tape up to make sure we went the right way.  There were a couple of tricky parts, in which it was easy to go the wrong way..but you quickly figured out that you missed a turn and had to go back.  At one point, it looked like you should cross a creek, which another guy and I did, but we didn’t see a trail or white blazes (which the trail is all white blazes)..so we turned around and found the right way.

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I had heard someone say, before the race, that mile 16 was tough.  That turned out to be very true.  Mile 16 to 18 was pretty darn tough.  It had the biggest climbs and most technical, small, twisty trail.  You could not get any speed going at all.

I felt great the whole way.  I realized quickly that this course was much tougher than I had expected it to be.  I also realized that I would not even make my non aggressive goal of an 11 min overall pace.  I was totally fine with that, since the course was tougher than I thought.  Now I know!

My original aggressive goal finish time was 3:30.  I ended up finishing at 3:50, which I am happy with.  My pace was around an 11:17 or so min per mile.

When I got to the finish, my mom and her husband were waiting for me.  They had been waiting around 1.5 hours.  That was the first time she had seen me race.  She was pretty excited.

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They give you a piece of pottery as a finishers award.  This is really nice.  On the bottom, it is engraved with the name of the race and 25th anniversary.

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I love this race!  I hope to be able to do it every year.  Everything about it was just awesome.

My Strava readout: https://www.strava.com/activities/487300285

 

I finished 42nd place out of 195 runners on the 20 mile run…Top 22%!  See link: http://www.uwharriemountainrun.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/UWHARRIE-2016-20-RESULTS.pdf

photos of me in the race

Thanks to the friends and family that cheered and supported me during this race.

 

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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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Pilot Mountain Payback half marathon trail race March 28 2015

Some friends and myself raced this last week for the first time.
This race is run at Pilot Mountain, which is around 2 hours south of Roanoke. It is near Mount Airy, NC and just off I-77.
Pilot mountain has a very unique looking mountain top. The mountain itself makes the race very appealing.

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This is the website of the group that runs it: http://ultimateracemanagement.com, but the registration this year was on this website: http://www.itsyourrace.com/event.aspx?id=273.
The race has 2 options. The full is 24 miles. The “heavy half” is 15 miles.

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The organization of the race was pretty poor in general. The website and the registration site had 2 different starting times listed. One said an 8am start time, the other said a 9am start time. The race director is horrible about answering emails or phone calls. I had registered for this race last year, but it was moved to a different date, due to snow. They had said that I could transfer my registration to either the rescheduled race or the race this year. I chose to move it to this year. I kept emailing and calling the race director to verify that I was in and to put my name on the list, but he was not replying. I worded the title of the next email in a way that demanded an answer. He finally answered.
The exact address of where the race started was not posted until 1 or 2 days before the race. Before that the address very vaguely.
The mileage was not listed on the website. It just said marathon and heavy half.
We got to the race on race day and we were not on the participant list. The so called race director was not there, but the people were very nice and put us in the race.

Now that I have told you the bad parts, the rest of it was great. I liked the course. It was well marked. Most of the aid stations were not manned. Most were just a cooler with cups for self service. I was ok with this. There were a couple manned aid stations with food. The volunteers were doing a great job.

The race started at Horne Creek Farm, which is near Pilot Mountain State Park in Pinnacle, NC. With that being said, I think the beginning and ending may change some, based on the weather and what the state park has going on. The race is an out and back. The course goes around 8 miles on rolling small hilly trail, then up the mountain, to the top, then back on the same trail. The first and last mile or so was road. The bridle trail was the the next 6 miles, after the road. It was similar to Chestnut Ridge Trail or Four Gorge at Carvins Cove, except it was a “tamer” version of those. Not as much climbing, the trail was smoother, and it was a much wider trail. I thought it was a great trail. It was easier to pass people, if you need to.

There are a few creek crossings and at least one of them was fairly wide and deep.

The half marathon goes 7.5 miles on the bridle trail. You turn around at a gravel parking lot and go back the way you came. The marathoners head on toward Pilot Mountain.

I could see Pilot Mountain from the half marathon trail.  It was beautiful.  It made me wish I had done the full.

My legs were so tired from doing a 50K the Saturday before this.  I was zapped at mile 8 or so.  I trudged to the finish.

I would do this race again, but I would definitely do the full.

Friends that also raced this were as follows:  Rebecca and Jonathan Adcock, Karen Dillon, Sara Martin, Robert Drinkwater and HT Page.

This was Sara’s first marathon!  I was excited for her.  She ended up winning it!  She passed 2 men near the end.  Phenomenal.  Robert wasn’t far behind her and ended up fourth.  Great job to them.

HT was second overall in the half.  Karen did great in the half as well.  The Adcocks took their time on the full and enjoyed it.

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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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Canary in the Cave 25K trail race November 15, 2014

http://www.wvmtr.org/events/canary-in-the-cave-25k-2/

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I had heard of this race for a year or two through Buddy Johnson. Buddy highly recommended it. He had sent me pictures that he had taken while racing and really talked it up. The WV Mountain Trail Runners group http://www.wvmtr.org puts this race on…one of several that they do. I was familiar with WV Mountain Trail Runners through the Highlands Sky 40 mile trail race http://www.wvmtr.org/events/highlands-sky-40m-trail-run/ that I did last June.
Carla Cross, Sara Martin, Doug Falls and myself did this race, Canary in the Cave 25k. This was Doug and Sara’s longest race ever. Sara had done 2 half marathons and Doug had done a few halves and 25ks, but not one this long. Carla and I have done a few marathons and ultra marathons.
Sara drove up the day before the race and stayed in a hotel room. Carla, Doug and I left Roanoke the morning of. I got out of bed at 4am, picked Doug up around 5:15, then Carla in Blacksburg at 6:00. We were excited and on our way, with a 2.5 hour drive to Fayetteville, WV.
Fayetteville, WV is part of a huge outdoor recreation area. The New River gorge goes through there, which is big time whitewater. The New and Gauley rivers are the best whitewater rafting in the East and one of the top in the world. The area offers all other outdoor activities like hiking, camping, zip lining, rock climbing, kayaking, and so on.
Doug and I had just done a big whitewater rafting trip on the Upper Gauley in September of this year.
We got to the race start and checked in. We were originally supposed to get a nice merino beanie with our registration, but they had a last minute vendor issue. We ended up getting a trucker hat instead! 😳

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The weather was very cold. The start of the race was 17 degrees and snow was on the ground from the evening before.
Here are some pre race pictures we took:

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The race started at 9..and we were off. The trail was great and had an inch or so of snow on it. The first 10 miles was single track rolling hills going through the woods. The first few miles I didn’t feel as strong as I thought I should, but was doing ok. I was enjoying the trail and course immensely…it was beautiful. At mile 10 we hit hit a wider trail then went downhill farther into the gorge. This part of the trail lasted for 5 miles. Along the way there were beautiful views of the gorge, the New River, the New River Gorge bridge, an old mine and several waterfalls. This may be the prettiest course that I have raced on.

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Doug and I were back and forth most of the race. Sara was a good bit ahead of us, which was expected. Carla was a little behind Doug and I as she took her time, took pictures, and enjoyed it. I felt stronger at mile 10 and enjoyed the downhill. We got to one of the waterfalls and mine at around mile 15.5, and had roughly 2 miles to go. This was a long 25k race at around 18 miles. The end, last 2 miles, were pretty brutal…straight up and out of the gorge.

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I had to walk/hike most of the last 2 miles, as it was straight up. Another racer and I pushed each other along to the finish. My finishing time was 3:21. I was originally hoping for a sub 3 hour, but did not think that was realistic, considering the course and conditions. I was happy with my time and how I felt for the majority of the race.

All of us did really well overall, especially with it being Sara and Doug’s longest race ever. Sara ended up placing second overall female! Her award was a pumpkin pie with no crust! How funny.
Here is the link to the finish times http://www.wvmtr.org/events/canary-in-the-cave-25k-2/canary-in-the-cave-25k-results-2014/
Here is my garmin link to the race: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/641779003
I HIGHLY recommend this race. We all enjoyed it very much.

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Credit to Carla and Buddy for all of the pictures except for the one of us running.

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