Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Stone Cat 50 Mile Race Report

I know for many Ultramarathoners that a 50 miler may seem the usual, but for a back of the packer that had really only started running on January 1st of this year, it seemed like a monumental if not overwhelming first year goal. I had researched earlier in the year what was an achievable 50 miler, and the only one that seemed to fit the bill, including being in New England, was Stone Cat. Registration day came and I arrived early to work to sit at my computer, credit card in hand and the open slots would fill in a little over an hour and fifteen minutes, and I was in. I probably put in a few less miles than I should have, and probably a LOT less miles than my co-runners getting ready for it, but the alarm went off at 3:11am Saturday November 3d and off I would go.


Paul and I at the start
I had made plans to ride up with Paul G, as I was unsure how I was going to feel afterwards and Laura was coming up later in the day to see me for a few laps and the end of my journey. Dropped my car off at the Charlie Horse Restaurant at 4:30 and an hour later, Paul and I were setting up our race stuff (ok honestly I was setting up my race stuff, Paul brought a bottle of Gatorade). Prior to race time, we would meet up with Dean, Mike, Eric and a few others I have been lucky enough to meet my inaugural year of trail running.

The race started about 15-20 minutes late, but the weather was great and no one seemed to really mind. But as we started a snake of headlamps would go out for the first of four 12 ½ mile loops. I would go for awhile with Paul, who is much faster, but once I hit the first aid station and realized how far ahead of my preplanned pace that I was, I let him go. I felt really good coming out of the second aid station and then the usual happened and happened quick. Before I knew it I was face down in a pile of leaves. Luckily I didn’t hit any rocks. Unluckily I tweaked my right groin, but not enough to slow me down YET, but it would hinder me the rest of the day. Regardless I came through the first lap 12 minutes ahead of my pace, but albeit sore, still felt really good.

Second lap was like the tail end of the first, feeling really good, but the groin not particularly happy with me. By this time, with the exception of the 4 or 5 runners that we kept passing each other back and forth, I was running alone. The weather was perfect for running and the course was well marked. Somewhere near the end of lap two, the ball of my left foot was starting to get really tender and I could feel every twig and rock. Having two miles to go, I kept my head down a little more than usual to watch my footing, and decided to change over from my Salomon’s to my Hoka’s at the turnaround for the third lap. I finished lap two 16 minutes ahead of pace, but would give back 11 minutes of that, with changing shoes and eating a little more at the aid station than planned.

Third lap was almost a carbon copy of the second lap, feeling good but not pushing overly hard. I know I was only half way thru and was just looking to get thru this lap until Hayley, my pacer, would help to drag me thru my last lap. I would end up giving back those 5 minutes (ahead of pace) that I had worked at, but the Hoka’s were doing their job, and I was pretty happy to be 37.5 miles in, and dead on my pace. I would hit the aid station and Laura was there to welcome me. I was getting cold so I decided to change my shirts. I text’d Hayley and out from the parking lot, she came running ready to get me thru.

Hayley has run a few Ultras, and is one of my Saturday running partners (along with Todd W), but with conflicting schedules, the three of us haven’t run much lately, so it was nice to catch up and lose a few miles in conversation. That is not to say that she was going to have any part of us taking a leisurely walk. She was the perfect pacer, pushing me when needed, encouraging me when it was obvious that I was hurting and getting me thru the aid stations as quick as possible.

I really can’t go any further without giving the aid station volunteers their due. They were absolutely the best! They were so accommodating and friendly, I can’t say enough good things about them. That being said, I regretfully did not catch his name, but at the first aid station on my last lap there was one individual in a clown costume that really made his mark. I was inhaling a grilled cheese and tomato soup when he came over and started talking and asking questions. Hayley mentioned that this was my first ultra. The genuine enthusiasm, pride and support that he showed to me, a perfect stranger, really got me excited to finish. I wish I knew who he was to truly thank him. Besides finishing, it was truly one of the great memories of the day. Well back to lap four….. we left the aid station and continued on. Now don’t get me wrong 50 miles is a long way, but I really hit me how long I was out there when the sun started setting. Thankfully I was somewhere around 48 miles down, so it wasn't too bad.

Hayley and I started down the final fire road heading towards the school. I thankfully had grabbed my headlamp for the finish. Just as we were taking the last left to go, we saw two glowing eyes looking back at us. A few steps later and this good size doe ran off into the woods. We turned the corner and started across the field. Hayley ran ahead and called out for Laura so she knew I was coming. That last 100 yards or so was almost surreal. It was like time slowed down as I passed the last family and friends waiting for my fellow back of the pack finishers, and heard Hayley and Laura cheering for me. I crossed the line in 11 hours and 46 minutes and 34 seconds, stopping a few feet afterwards to put my hands on my knees and to revel in this overwhelming feeling of accomplishment. I had finished my first 50, I had gotten my finishers jacket, I had done it!

I am so appreciative of all the people that put the race together. The course was perfect and the volunteers were awesome. I also want to thank Laura and the people I know and love for all their support and for dealing with moving around their schedules and lives so I could get my runs in.   I couldn't have done it without you, and I thought of each and every one of you at some point(s) during the day. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Well it's time..........

Well it's finally here.  I've been eyeballing Stone Cat since December of last year, when I figured I would attempt a 50 miler.  I've put in some decent mileage, although probably not as much as I should or could have, but there is nothing I can do about it now, so I look forward to Saturday. 

I ran the course a month ago or so, with a couple runners I had met at different races, or via Facebook or Dailymile.  It's a 12.5 mile loop that we will run 4 times.  It has a few uphill sections, but absolutely nothing like Bear Brook or Nipmuck.  And although the water crossing area was dry during my practice run, I guess we wont know until Saturday how Hurricane Sandy has left her mark on that part. 

Yesterday I sat down and came up with a pacing plan that I think will keep me on track to finish with plenty of time prior to the cutoff.  I just have to remember to start a little slower than I have been training lately (well actually a fair amount slower), to stop and drink at the aid stations, and finally to eat. 

I'm taking Friday (and Monday) off from work to sleep, relax and pack up my stuff to go.  I'm going to leave a bin at the turnaround with some extra clothes, GU's, My two bottles of premixed and flattened Coke and Mountain Dew, my Solomon's (or Hoka's depending on which I start with), S-Caps, and anything else that jumps out at me as I'm leaving.  I think I am going to go with my handheld water bottle, as there are 3 aid stations (approx 4 miles apart) for each lap. 

I am 99.9% confident that I can do the first 3 laps (37.5 miles) and I have my Saturday morning/Gilbert State Forest running partner. Hayley coming up to pace me the last lap (or perhaps 2 if she gets there in time).  Hayley assures me that come hell or high water (hopefully not to high) that she will get me across the line and to that Bad Ass Stone Cat 50 mile finishers jacket.

Well all, I will do as detailed as possible a race recap either Sunday or Monday.   Until then, Be Well and wish me luck

Sank

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Bears and Beavers

Can't believe it's been almost 2 weeks since I posted, but it is and I have survived two races since then. 
Bear Brook Marathon and Ultra - well lets just put it this way, a complete bitch of a course but I finished (albeit slower than I wanted) but for the first time in a very very long time, I finished a race with a great sense of accomplishment. 
Elevation Map
And I guess since it was a half mile longer than a marathon technically that makes me an Ultrarunner (but I'm going to save that moniker for after I run 50k or Stone Cat).  Anyway back to Bear Brook;  the day started with temps in the low 60's which was a nice break from the 90's that had been plagueing our area for weeks.  Very grass roots in that it started in a dirt parking lot when the race director, Ryan Welts, pretty much yelled GO!  First 9 miles or so where pretty flat with some rolling ups and downs.  That didn't stop me from falling at about 2 1/2 miles, and having my right hip meet a pine root.  That chance encounter would rear it's ugly head off and on the rest of the day, as my lower back started spasming off and on throughout.  But I found a nice rhythm til I ran into the first uphill, around mile 9.  It wasn't too bad for a while, but God it just kept going.  Came down the backside and would run into the second uphill, this one was a bitch.  A few more inclines and then a nice long downhill.  I tried to attack that fairly hard as it wasn't very technical and it helped to stretch out my back a bit.  That would lead into a pretty tight single track, where it came into an opening and body would hit trail one more time.  This time I caught myself from a full face plant, but my left knee came down fairly hard.  But hey, what's a trail run/race without a little blood, right?  Shortly after that you come back around to the 3rd aid station, which is actually the same as the 2nd just on the back side of a loop.  That would lead to a fairly easy fire road, run which went for about a mile I guess.  From here I would meet up with a fellow Dailymiler Mindy R.  We would run the last 12 miles or so together, which would end up saving me twice.  A little after mile 19,  I was walking up this heavily wooded section, which had these rock formations that acted as steps.  It was at this point, that my mind and body just completely crashed.  I had left Mindy about a half mile back for a break, and she came up behind me.  Out of her vest, she pulled out some sugared gumdrops and handed me a handful.  I kept walking and she would go ahead.  About 5 minutes later, the sugar would hit my system, and I felt like a completely different runner.  I caught up to her, and we would run together up the 4th aid station (about mile 22).  Which was being volunteered by Adam Wilcox, fresh off his 7th place finish at Hardrock.  Talked to him briefly as he refilled by vest, and Mindy and I were off.  At about mile 23 the back spasm would act up, and I told Mindy to go.  Stretched it out the best I could and started off.  I then hit a nice downhill area of switchbacks and I took off, catching Mindy and passing about 3 other runners.  Not knowing the course, I then hit the last two uphills.  Simply: they sucked.  Mindy caught me at the last one, Catamount, and I wouldn't see her again til the end.  My hope was to finish in 6 hours, but not knowing the course I ended up running at 6:44.  Loved the race, loved the company, proud of run for the day.
Running with the Beavers:  I took a couple extra days off the following week, as my quads were tender and the left knee that I hit during Bear Brook was pretty sore.  Friday came around and I reached out to Todd, who I run with on Saturday's to ask him if he wanted to do this 10 mile race, instead of doing Gilbert.  Since it was about a 45 minute ride for both we went for it.  It was a double 5 mile loop course.  Todd and I went out for a quick 2 mile warmup, heard the pre-race talk and off we went.  He's a much faster runner than I, although he nevercomplains about my pace during our training trail runs, so about a half mile in, I told him to go.  It was a decent loop, some wood-chipped fire roads, some fairly technical with one "you better walk this" downhill, and some runs along the water.  About the 8 mile mark, my left knee started barking, but not enough to not finish.  I was hoping to do this one in 2 hours, so about a half mile left I checked the Garmin and realized I better take off or that wasn't happening.  So I came up the last incline and took off.  For the most part is was downhill, which helped.  Finishing the last half mile in 3min44 seconds.  Ended up finishing in 1:58:05 for 10.2 miles (I missed a turn in the first loop that I had to backtrack - what a dumbass as the course was more than adequately marked).
To Summarize: 2 back to back Saturday races covering 26.8 and 10.2 miles respectively.  One slower than I wanted, one a bit faster; but in the end I'm very happy with the end result on both.  Kind of babying the knee since Saturday as I haven't run yet, but I'm planning on going out tonight for 6, as I am less than 100 days til Stone Cat 50 miler (Nov 3rd).  Todd and I are looking into some trail marathons and up to use as training runs, as you can only do so many loops at Gilbert. 
Until next time, Be Well ~ Sank

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Optimistically Nervous

Ok, I’m going to be complete honest in that I’m not nervous at all, I am 100% Optimistically Scared Shit. I have Bear Brook Mountain coming up this Saturday. It will single handedly be the longest race, hell for that matter, the longest single run I have ever done at 26.7 miles. So I guess if the definition of an Ultra-Marathon is anything over the standard 26.2 miles of a marathon is true, then I guess this is my first ultra! I know that in the world of Ultra’s this is no big deal, and after looking at the amazing finishes as Western States, Badwater and Hardrock, that I should just deal with it. But hey we’re all human right?


I am fairly confident that I can do this race, if I stay on top of my hydration (unlike my Pineland 25k issues) in which I have started to implement S-Caps with good success; and run a smart and conservative pace. From what the news says, it seems like the Weather Gods are shining down on me, as they have (or supposed to anyway) dump the Hell, Fire & Brimstone weather, for low humidity and temps in the high 70’s. Which is huge for me, as I perspire pretty good in the winter. 

But back to my nervousness, my training schedule does concern me.  I have kicked up my mileage over the past months; but per usual for me it's always something.  Be in work, life, my recurring respiratory infections, blah blah blah, excuse excuse excuse.  But I've been doing them.  I know it's not technically that long, but I have tried to taper a bit this week, to rest up my legs somewhat.  I skipped last night due to the weather (hot, humid, and some impressive lightning), but will do 5 tonight, and rest Friday.

Although I don’t know anyone personally, there’s a couple people that I “know” from either Facebook or Dailymile that are doing it, but I have never met anyone of them face to face, but obviously there’s a pretty good chance I will after Saturday.

Well that's enough for now.  I wish everyone racing at Bear Brook, Vermont 100, and a handful of others this weekend nothing but their perfect race.  If your not racing and you happen to look at the clock Saturday morning, send me some positive Karma.  Hell I can use all I can get.

Be Well ~ Sank

I put the map down below, as a point of reference.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Catching up

Been a bit since I posted, well except for my Stone Cat registration post, so I figured I would take a minute half way thru 2012 to catch up.  Been an interesting year so far in many ways.  I'll spare you all the personal details, except to say that; after the passing of my dad and my divorce in 2011, there wasn't really any where to go but up. 
Running wise the I've been pretty good about staying out there.  After hitting a short lack of motivation time, I have been more committed to the trails and extending my distance.  With the exception of running two Boston's (albeit as a bandit) in the mid-80's (yup I'm that old) and the numerous triathlon's I have completed, I ran my longest official (trail) race of 25k at Pineland Farms.  And with the exception of some hydration issues, I absolutely loved it. 
Lately I have concentrating on getting my base mileage higher and so far so good.  I calculated today that since the first of the year I have ran 475 miles or a daily average of 2.65 miles per day (including rest days).  And with a couple ultra's signed up for this year, I should be able to still hit my yearly goal of 1000 miles fairly easy. 
Sorry a pretty boring post I know, but wanted to touch base. 
Be well ~ Sank

Friday, June 15, 2012

Stone Cat Registration - COMPLETE!!

Well it looks like I've done it this time.  Actually after the past week or so, I am so excited about the opportunity to do this.  Registration started at 8:10 (a little late) and by 8:28 it was half full. 

My training as been going pretty well, and will continue to put "time on my feet" now that my other obligations (mostly coaching the boys team) is now over and my weekends are free.

Been also looking at some additional races to do, more as organized training runs, but hey if I can share the agony with a few others, who am I to be selfish. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Jurek and McDougall at Harvard

Been dealing with some motivation issues, for as much as I loved the Pineland Farms 25k I ran, the hydration issues were leaving me questioning my running and putting doubts in my head about going longer distances.  I had bought a ticket a few weeks ago for a book 'review' discussion over at the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge (right near Harvard University) where Born to Run author Chris McDougall and 7 time Western States Champion, who also just published a book, Eat & Run, Scott Jurek, were together to discuss their two books.

So I left work to take on the Cambridge traffic taking the 35 minutes to go 4 miles (about right).  Upon entering the theatre they handed us some literature and a free sample bottle of Udo's Oil.  I was in between books, so I put down my $ 26 and bought Scott's book. 

A few minutes after 6 the two guys came on stage and started to talk.  I was fearful that it was going to end up being a "lets turn everyone into Vegan Zombies" talk, but to my relief it wasn't.   The back and forth between Scott and Chris (although at times a bit scripted) was informative and fun.  You weren't going to get the secret of Ultrarunning success but it seemed to be just what I needed to get me back on track.  Chris McDougall is extremely friendly and outgoing.  Scott Jurek told some great stories but didnt seem to be a ease up there.

I ended up sticking around another 35 minutes or so at the end to get Scott to sign my book, and (being the 2nd to last in line) I asked for pic.  He said they had to head out of the theatre as another event was going on but told the few of us left, that he would meet us out front.  I was able to get a pic with both of the guys.  I have to say that in a one on one setting, Scott's personally was engaging and friendly. 


I am so glad that I got the opportunity to go and more importantly to get a chance to talk with the two of them quickly.

Well back to the trails tonight,
Be Well ~ Sank