Tuesday, September 28, 2010

2010 - Vermont 50 Race Report

Vermont 50 Mile
September 26, 2010

(The Gang post our Pre-Race tradition of lunch at Long Trail)

(Poor Pre-Race photo, but it'll have to suffice)

"I'm going to run with this guy!" John exclaims to someone talking about me. I laugh and tell him if he's going to get me to run with him he's going to be setting a PS, a Personal Slow. We laugh, the buzz of the crowd. And for once in many a year, we started on time.

We trot down the road at a respectable pace i felt. Gilly asked, "are we going too slow?" Boy i hoped not, Leah was starting to pant and i was already saying things like "man the start of this race has too much running." The banter bounces around to Leah's awesome comment the day before of, "Vermont is kinda bumpy," to talk about Kermit the Frog watching 2 girls one cup on YouTube. John's bright idea of Two Girls, One Tent, but nothing sexual, just two Gilly and her sister playing chess. "It'd go viral in an instant!" It was around here that John proclaimed he was going to ride the moose and i was able to snap a quick photo that he said would be as classic as his pizza slice photo

(John molesting the Moose)

John disappears up the trail but I trot between Gilly and Leah for the next mile and pull them out of the Coon Club and up the trail. They both chat as i ran ahead with a couple of younger fellas. One guy had biked here last year and the other guy was a road runner that had the great proclamation of "a 50k? Why would you do that? If you are going to do a 50k you might as well just do a 50 miler." I laughed and simply said, "We'll talk again after Dugdales." I wished them well and stepped off the trail and snapped a photo of the ladies who were chatting along together just behind us.

(Leah and Gilly chatting away on the climb)

Somewhere in here Gilly gets a burst of speed and leaves Leah and I in the dust. We fall in line next to 2 other guys. The dude on the end looks at us and goes "are we off to see the wizard?" One of the guys was named Paul, he had military background, not sure of which field now and he told us a game he and the other copter pilots play when flying across the country. If you can spot a school bus, a trampoline, and a swimming pool in one yard, the other guys have to buy you a case of beer. I can only imagine how many cases of beer are dished out on that trip.

Leah and I roll into Skunk Hollow well ahead of her goal time. She's more than happy. Peter (her father and 2nd on their relay) snaps a photo and then takes off. I refill my gear, grab massive handfuls of food and kiss Leah goodbye. I look around the station. Where's Gilly? huh, she must have gone in and out. So i leave in haste in hopes to catch her on the next climb. For those of you familiar with the course, you KNOW this climb. It's a 1-2 mile dirt road climb that Vermont Post Card Photographers dream of.

(Vermont Countryside)

I catch up again to Paul, this time with a woman who paced her husband here last year, and Clayton, a fella from Jaffrey who came in 5th place earlier this year at the Morefun Wapack race here in New Hampshire. She looks at me and goes, "based on what you're eating, i have to assume you've done this before." I look down, I've got 3/4 of an orange, two quarters of a turkey sandwich, and 3 potatoes dipped in salt still. Mind you this is 1/2 a mile out of the aid station. "Yeah, a couple of times," I'm able to get out between gulps.

(Running the climb?)

While they were all virgins to THIS race, they had one thing i didn't. Urgency and the ability and desire to run UP this slight slope. So needless to say, i let them go and snapped a bunch of photos. You can't beat this stretch, it's just too awesome to rush through. Also, if you've run this race before, had you ever taken the time to see the MASSIVE cow sculptures on the hill to the left? I bet you haven't.

(Cattle Sculptures)

At the top of the climb you turn left down what you'd have to assume is someone's super long driveway. Normally the course leaves the driveway and goes into what i've dubbed "fern gully" for the last few years. This year that side trail was covered with wrong way signs and the course continued down the steeply sloped, hard packed drive. I was bummed. Not just because one of my favorite segments of the course was gone, that the short relief from road that always provided me before the LONG road stretch to Garvin hill. Which if you ask me, is the worst, most monotonous stretch of the course.

(on the climb up Garvin)

I start up the hill with a guy from Bellows Falls, a woman, and a Death Race finisher. He talks about how tough the course was. About how they made them memorize Greek this year. I overhear it and remind him, "didn't you have to carry pennies and eat onions too?" To which he shakes his head and goes "yeah, 30 pounds of pennies!"

(Views from the top of Garvin)

As much as the views are nice, i know i'm burning time. Add in the fact that i know the long road stretch is done and my mood was already improving. Armed yet again with a handful of oranges, pretzels and watermelon i head into the woods. Popping out a few miles later to seeing a woman walking her three dogs and a horse. I could only laugh. In the city they make you keep your dogs on a leash, here in Vermont, only your horse.

(Woman walking her "pets")

Somewhere in the next stretch i met up with another GAC member named Roy. We chat awhile about other races we've done. He was at Pisgah with me a week prior, but an hour back so we never had spoken. He's a much faster runner, but i keep catching him on the climbs. He put it so well after we leapfrogged for awhile. "You're just geared differently." It was brilliant. Simply put, yet almost exactly the term I'd always felt for myself on these things. Or well, the gear i put on myself due to lack of training. I tell him that I'm rewarding myself at the fire place with the chairs to a good 2 minute sit.
(views toward Blood hill and Askutney from said chairs)

I catch up to Roy again breifly before getting into Margaritaville. We chat about how we've run together countless times up to this point, but had never really ran any miles together. He says this is why he loves running these things. You meet so many different people. One woman that he had run with at a 100 a month ago out west, had won the race a few years prior. The last thing he said to me before we parted ways at the aid station was. "A woman told me once at an Ultra, 'Nice work!' to which i said, 'lady, work is what i do on Monday, i do this for fun!'"

(Coming into Smoke Rise (Margarittaville))

I leave the aid station with a full cup of soup, a turkey sandwich, and more watermelon. I wolf down food as i walk past the long driveway up to the mile 76 aid station of the Vermont 100. A woman catches up to me and we chat a bit before her and the fella she's been running with blast down the trail ahead of me. I feel like i'm turned around. They've added new singletrack here. I suspect to make up for the trail lost back at "fern gully." I start playing leap frog with some bikers. They huff and puff on the climbs and i pass them, then they come screaming past me on the next down. I state on one long down,"aid at the bottom of the hill!" To which, three turns later, crap, nope, two more monster climbs loom ahead.

Finally the last decent into what appears to be an empty Dugdales? Huh? Where is everyone? Quickly i see that the new location in the Silver Hill Field up and out of the road. Leah and her dad give me a hug and a high five respectively. I ask how everyone else is doing. Ed was long gone, Sherpa shortly after him, and they hadn't seen Gilly or Loni yet. I grab a bunch more food and take off down the trail groaning "Ungh, i just wanna be done with this!"

(The old pick-up truck as you approach the singletrack on blood hill)

I LOVE this stretch of the course. Knowing that John was only 30 minutes +/- helped. I had someone to chase, and if there was anywhere on this course where i would make up the time. It was here. I saw people i hadn't seen in hours. Laughing and making comments like "if you think this sucks for us, imagine the poor souls on that tandem bike!"

(Watch out, Bikers Endo-ing, get your camera's ready!)

At Falloon's the crew was pretty sad. I was greeted to a "help yourself to what little we have left." It was mildly disturbing to know that i was so far ahead of where i was last year, but there was hardly any food left. I didn't grab quite as much as i would have normally figuring the people behind me would like some. I look at the guy next to me and say, "off to the love shack!" He looked at me like i had gone quite mad.

(The Love Shack)
Shortly afterward the shack, while i was eating my last slice of watermelon i spotted a "Sherpa 'Shroom" note and quickly snapped a photo.

After Falloon's normally you just shoot out next to the top of Silver Hill, this time the trail turned and more "new" single track was ahead. It was great, i was having a ball. As Goodman's was getting closer, either i was getting slower or the runners behind me were getting faster. At the long road approach i turned around to see what at one point was no one, to see about 8 runners. I grabbed 2 quarters of grilled cheese, 2 quarters of turkey, pounded down two cokes and blasted down the trail. I managed to stay ahead of the crowd for another two miles before they passed me. Roy and this other guy passed me like i was standing still. It was a tad un-nerving, i couldn't tell if i was going really slow or they were just really fast.

(The view that all VT50ers want to see)

As i close into Johnson's my stomach gurgles, I'm amazed that somehow I'm hungry. So i pound down my last fruit cup and two Gu's hoping that it'll give me that last bit of boost i need to roll into the aid station where Leah awaits. As i cross the bridge i see Leah running toward me.

"Yay! John is just ahead of you" - Leah
"John... Sherpa John?" *puzzled look* - Josh
"YEAH!" -L
"What time is it?" - J
"4:40" - L
"OH F ME! I've got 34 minutes to run 2.8 mile to catch Sherpa and set a PR!" - J

And that was it, the race was on, no more whining, no more nothing. I put as much food in my hands as possible, pounded 3 cups of coke, and left the aid station. "Jesus baby, you're 48 miles in and you're still kicking my ass!!" Leah panted behind me as i marched up the climb. I catch John "Not Sherpa" Larcroix at the 2 mile mark. I tell him if he see's Rik before i do to give him hell that he's not here and I'm off. Leah mentioning time every couple of minutes, and I'd curse and pick up the pace. As we cross the ski slope i see someone finally.

"hey, is that john?" - J
"yes" - L
"don't say anything until i catch him" -J
(the plan was hatched)

John looks over his shoulder
"WHAT!? OH NO!!" - SJ
"I've been running you down since Coon Club you M-er F-er!" - J
"wanna run in together?" - SJ
"if you hurry up!, i got like 2 minutes to set a PR!" - J
I speed down the trail and i hear John yelling out "i'll take FIVE, FIVE PIECE NUGGETS!"
I smile and grit my teeth and try to run down Roy who was just ahead.
I sprinted across the finish line just behind Roy, and looked at the time.

I happily take my medal and shake Mike Silverman's hand and thank him for another amazing year. Loni was at the finish, she had been pulled at Dugdale's but was very happy of her performance, as was I. Sherpa and his co-runner came in shortly after I. Gilly scored her redemption from missing the cut off at Johnson's last year and rolled in under an hour later. Dustin and Heather joined Leah, Loni, Peter, Ed, and I for some post race beers.

(Post Card Photo Op)
Just like last year though, this finish has a twist. I had run this race believing that my PR was 10:56. When i came in at 10:53 i was pumped. Sadly on the drive home, i discovered that i had beaten this years time by under a minute two years prior. Oh well, better luck in 2011!

Team Results:

Team Patriot (Leah, Peter, Ed) -9:30:22
Josh -10:53:15

Loni -32 - 8:06 (Missed Cut Off @ Dugdales)

Friday, September 3, 2010

August Recap

"August is going to be a pretty quiet month i think..."

August started out where July left off as i continued to push towards a PR at
Pisgah. Grant and I decided to hit up a stretch of trail on the SRK Greenway. The same section that Sherpa and I were going to run a month ago before we had car issues. The trail was pretty rugged. After getting lost several times in the first few miles, then again climbing Ragged. It was a pretty tough trail to follow and I'm glad i had Barkley under my belt or i feel like we could have easily ran 10 miles out of the way. Overall it was a perfect day for a run and we were both happy to knock out the 19 miles and have planned on doing another section soon.
(From the Ski Lift on top of Ragged Mtn)

So if you read my post a few weeks back you would recall me being mildly disappointed to not have an opportunity to run a 5k pr this year. Well i had forgotten that my company puts together a corporate team for the Cigna 5k held in downtown Manchester every August.
Not being one to turn up a free race, i of course join the team. Feeling fat and sloth like i had no intention of coming close to a PR so just for a laugh i decide to run in my fivefingers. Well apparently that's just what the doctor ordered. I sprinted across the finish line in a post-HS PR of 21:28, beating my previous time by over 30 seconds.
(Suz and I pre-race)

The second weekend marked the first annual Summer BBQ Party. A concept that had been in the works for about 3 years now to fill the summertime party gap and having a total excuse to cook retarded amounts of food and drink retarded amounts of booze. With other parties and obligations that come with anything scheduled in the summertime i expected a small turn out. I'm glad i cooked as much as i did because i think we had 20-30 people show up and it turned out to be a damn good time. Tons of laughs, burnt lots of wood, smoked up 20+lbs of pork and almost filled a 50gal trash big with empties.

The third weekend was going to be awesome. After missing out on the concert earlier in the year in New Hampshire I saw that Great Big Sea was playing at an outside concert in South Pomfret VT. Not only have i wanted to see this band for over a year now, it's playing in a spot in Vermont that's near and dear to me being part of the Vermont 50/100 Courses.
(GBS at Suicide Six)

The show was most excellent and we've already decided that we are going to see them again the next chance we get. After the concert we had to jet home and catch a few hours of shut eye before heading down to Nashua NH where we were to run the Moose on the Loose 10 Miler. Leah, Suz, and Gina were to relay the event. While Grant and I were aiming for a Sub 1:24 (to give me a PR at that distance). The weather was cool and overcast and it couldn't have worked out better. The ladies finished unscathed in a respectable 1:34:30 and Grant whipped me to a 1:20:54 10 Mile PR.

Weekend 4 was supposed to be a relaxed weekend by Lake Merrymeeting at a house that Mop and Kristen had got in a raffle earlier in the year. Unfortunately, my home inspections could only be scheduled on Saturday so we had to dash back from the loon filled spot at day break. Before we left we were able to have a wonderful fire and enjoy some camping under the stars with some great people.

Back in Hillsboro and stuffed to the gills on turkey we made preparations for Sunday's Fat Ass 50k that Loni again was hosting. Between her efforts to cram as many miles in before the VT50, and Grant and I's goal to PR at Pisgah we were ready to go come 6am. Leah was the wild card, she had mentioned that she wanted to run some, but her ongoing ankle battle had taken it's toll on her training regimen. Luckily today she got a boost of confidence running over 12 miles with us. The miles past quickly and we finished in approximately 7:35.

Last month i said it was going to be slow, this month, the complete opposite. Some Travel to Vermont, a wedding, a brew festival, ideally a PR at Pisgah, and if the stars align there will be a Team Robert relay team at VT50!

By The Numbers:
Miles Run: 108.5

# of Runs: 22
Average Miles: 4.9

Month Starting Weight: 169 Lbs
Month Ending Weight: 169 Lbs
Weight Change: 0 lbs

Race Results:
Cigna 5k - 21:28
Moose on the Loose 10 Miler
- 43:02
Fox Fat Ass 50k - 7:35

Upcoming August Events:
Pisgah 50k
Vermont 50 Miler

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

LT Day 5-6 - Parting ways

Brewery - Inn at Long Trail - Gifford Woods - Inn at Long Trail - Rutland - Inn at Long Trail (0 Hiked Miles)

While some of these events happened on day 5, they weren't really trail related, but just had to be documented because of how things change from on to off the trail. With all of the conveniences and technology you have off the trail, things aren't always as simple as we believe they are.

Wink and Salene, Dustin Heather and I arrive at the very empty Long Trail Brewery. Normally we visit this establishment on the weekends where it's packed. Not a sunny summer Wednesday afternoon where there had to be 6 other people there. We sit in the sun, reminisce about the day and enjoy massive amounts of non dehydrated food.

Heather Calls Gifford State Park to make sure they have sites available. I was concerned because the after the AT diverts from the LT it goes straight through the camp and i figure it might be packed. We are told there are plenty of site available so after finishing our dinner we head back to the Inn to meet up with Jason. After seeing the "No dogs allowed" sign we head down the hill with Wink to leave a note at the trail head. Then we head back up to the to the in for a beer to help with Wink stressing. While sitting at the bar, Trail Magic makes a huge deposit of candy and fruit which Heather quickly grabs some candy bars from. Jason arrives shortly there after and they decide they are going to stay at the inn rather then camp with us.

So the travelers 3 head back down the hill to get some cash/supplies for the campground. nothing is open, not even the campground is open, we leave a deposit for the site and head into the grounds. set up tents and get things laid out. Storms coming in, i figure we better get the fire roaring so Clothespin and I get to work and get a massive fire going. Then the skies open and it pours and blows, we huddle under my 4x8 tarp like weirdos but we're happy to have the warmth of the fire. Inchworm decides to check on his tarp-tent to see how it's fairing the storm. Bad call, the tent had collapsed and was a pool of water.

After making some adjustments and hammering stakes in, it pulled up elsewhere and fell into itself again. "It's all @#$#$ed" said a now enraged Inchworm. Clothespin and I were feeling the beers and looking at the situation, it was just funny. There was nothing else to do but laugh. Everything should have been easy tonight, instead, it was an EPIC fail. With one last burst of rage Inchworm grabbed the tent and gave it a mighty throw. scattering pieces, stakes, and gear. we stuffed as much into the back seat of the truck as possible trying to keep things dry. A phone call and 20 minutes later, we were back at the Inn. Inchworm feeling badly decided to just call it a night after laying gear out on the furniture while Clothespin and I closed down the bar, then after discovering we had a fireplace, and and endless supply of wood in the wood shed, proceeded to make a fire that had to get the room up to 85*

Around 1-2am after looking at my phone i said, we gotta go to bed, i wanna go to breakfast in the morning. At breakfast we meet up with Killington Krew again, this time not stoned (a rareity) and embarrassed because their mom's were there delivering goods, etc. After breakfast we head out and head to Rutland for supplies to see Wink and Salene out in the grass again. It was nice to see them one last time before we all went our own direction.

As we drive into Rutland it was crazy. The pace of the drivers, the pace of the people, the pace of everyone on their cell phones. It was like being on another planet after being in the woods for a week. Even in Bridgewater and Killinton it seemed like things closed down, here in a populated area, consumerism was roaring. As we pulled into the mall parking lot, the kid in me took over and i proceeded to bomb my truck through a puddle. Unknowingly getting Dustin and Heather wet in the passenger seat.

As we walk through the JCPenny i made a b-line for the store directory where Dustin and I disagreed on where the EMS was. Meanwhile Heather asked the old hag that worked at JCP where the EMS was and got the knowledgabe responce of, "EMS? that went out of business."

An hour later, we left EMS with a New Filter, New Drops, New Socks, New Fuel, New Boots.
Back at the Inn i made sure they were set at their "upgraded" room, and with the gear sorted we parted ways with hopes to see one another out on the trail before the journey ends.

One Hell of a journey. I'm still bummed i wasn't able to continue. When/if a hike report is posted by them I will link the rest of the trip here. It was a trip i will never forget and I'm sure they won't either.

Footnote: Wink, Salene, the Yard of Beef guys, and Dustin and Heather all finished together on Sunday August 15th. 273 Miles, 25 Days.

Quote of the Day
"Burn that fucking pillow because this place fucking sucks"