Saturday, March 19, 2011

2011 Hammy Slammy Race Report

February 26, 2011

(Looking excited to be 30)

After having a meltdown and throwing my Nathan bladder around the house like a psycho clown and then hurling it into the yard like a water balloon I managed to get myself under control. 30 years and i still throw an occasional temper tantrum. Grant and I shooting the breeze. Laughing at the house that i was trying to purchase last year and how piss poor it was in comparison to the awesome place i finally got into. Suck it bad Realtor's!

We climb the hill up to Loni's place where she greats us with a smile. It's funny how just seeing one person raises the spirits. I turn to Grant and say, "well, bud, only 30 miles or so to go."

Bog road was busy as usual this time of day so we took turns running single file in the road side slush from the Friday storm that dumped a foot of snow in the area. We trot past Morse sporting goods. Grant introduces me to chocolate covered almonds (which were really good). As he pushes towards the VT50 this fall he's doing the smart thing and working out the nutrition aspect ahead of time. A novel idea, as a 11 year veteran of these things you'd think i'd have started doing something similar, naahhhh.

The sun is shining brightly and we go between being bundled up due to the tree cover and wind howling off of the Contoocook and sweating profusely in the blazing sun. Around mile 5 Grant says "huh, i forgot to lube." to which my brain clicked and i went "oh nuts, neither did I. Whelp, this is going ot end poorly."

Leah was waiting for us at the detour bridge over the Contoocook to snap a few photos. We're making pretty good time thus far, or at least it feels that way. We pass a big kid, a small kid, a dog and a pellet gun? We laugh about what we would have done if the dude actually had shot at us. Then we suspected the little tirants were probably shooting their dog. As we turn up 114 in downtown Henniker we're met with another oddity. A dude, urmmm lady? Holding an American flag with a masking tape peace symbol on it. No sign, no speech, just holding a flag. I found it odd that if you are motivated enough to stand on a corner that you'd say hello to two people running by.

As we run next to Blueberry Hill the sentiment between the two of us is "..this pavement is wearing on me." with a variety of expletive lead ups. I'm really feeling the 10 days of cold as between chatting, eating, and drinking water i go through fits of coughing and almost barfing. The lack of training really has got my Achilles tendon irritated. It's been half injured since hiking for 18 miles in my Columbia non hiking, non-active winter duck (shit-kicker) boots in Bear Brook.

We do a ton of walking/climbing as we get back into Emerald lake. The slight down grade next to the river you don't really notice until you go back on the other side and are confronted with a couple of ball breaker hills. I ask for the time, gasp and then start crunch numbers in my head based on how late it already was. My phone beeps as the rest of the gang trys to figure out where we are and how bloody far behind we already are.

(Sporting the 2011 Team Robert Shirts between Laps)

Onto Lap 2 where Leah joins into the mix. Her fresh legs, upbeat spirit, and converstation make the next couple of miles pass quickly. At one point I got ahead of the two only to discover that i had an "antiqued butt." I complain a bit about how my joints are really aching as we turn onto Bacon Street. Leah yells out that, "aww baby, your achin' on bacon!" Hardy har har. At the next climb a car slows and puts her windows down. It's Paula my old landlord from in town. She chats with us for a few minutes before she takes off down the road. I hadn't seen her in four years.

It's at this point where Leah and Grant run ahead. They both need to use the restroom something fierce, and my chafe is killing me so i've slowed quite a bit. I say i'll catch them at the Mobil station and I did. As I walked into the lot Leah's coming out of the store as pale as a ghost and looking like she might throw up. Apparently there was an incident in the bathroom. And that the snowmobiler that used the room before Leah got there essentially "destroyed" it. By smell and physical debris. I could hardly contain my laughter. Last year a number 2 incident cost Sherpa his gloves. This year, it was the Mobil incident. It's good to see that the Hammy Slammy now has a running tradition. My chafe was now almost unbearable, but the downgrade through Henniker couldn't be wasted and i trotted ahead down the hill as Grant and Leah snack up.

We pause briefly at the infamous pizza sign and I pose "sherpa style" while Leah uses their restroom instead.

Loni messages that she's backtracking from the park n ride. After drinking 4 liters of water i finally pee for the first time. Which is a welcome relief. I'm starting to feel better aside from the nagging tendon and the super painful chafe. Things are looking up and i knew there was beer stashed in the snow in a couple of miles.

(Trail Magic!!)

With 4 Miles to go and back on Bog Road Grant and Leah start tossing massive snowballs at one another. Grant's still got TONS of energy. Leah's doing a great job keeping up. Me, well the empty calories from the beers have worn off and I'm hardly shuffling anymore. I down 2 more GUs and the rest of my trail mix and manage to work a trot up the hill to Loni's where Mandiee and Greg await.

A couple of cookies and a half a beer later the pack that started out 29 miles before of Grant and I had grown to 6. Grant and I running with beers in hand. With Keith's maybe an 1/8th of a mile away we break into a full sprint. Why or how you ask? No idea, perhaps the sugar rush from the GUs and cookies or maybe the beers were finally taking effect.

Keith welcomed us into his toasty home with a birthday shot and beer. Knowing that this motivated feeling i had wasn't going to last I tried to get the group to get out of the door for the last 3/4 of a mile before sunset. Again, with a couple of us with beers in hand we were down the snow covered roads.

At the final turn i see Grant unloading the tires he had ordered for me and rolling them down the road toward me. I tell Loni to hold my beer and pick up the tire and run the last 300' with the tire on my head. Then, in an exhausted celebration. I climbed up onto my deck railing. Pounded the rest of my beer and did a celebratory flip into the 3+ feet of powder in the backyard.

Thanks everyone for coming out. It certainly was a birthday i won't forget.
Total Miles: 31.4 Miles - 8:05

Thursday, March 17, 2011

2010 Peak Ultra Race Report

So this seems to be a running tradition now. Run the Peak 54 in June, write the outline, and then look at it for 6 months. I finally got around to posting my 2009 Report in February of 2010. And at this rate the 2010 Report will go up in March 2011. I figure, if i keep this up I'll be a full calendar year back by 2013.

Saturday June 5th, 2010

(Wet Registration)

Leah, Loni and myself arrive in a thunderstorm filled Pittsfield VT before the crowd, excited to participate in the day's events. Before long everyone else starts to fill up the parking lot. It's amazing how well timed people are. In a 10 minute gap the parking lot went from 2 cars, to 30. Andy gave the pre-race meeting to the group as we huddle under the overhang on the east side of Amiee Farm.

(Team Robert and Sherpa John)

Rik, who arrived under prepared without any gear needed to borrow my water belt. Luckily for him I tend to over pack for these things. While he stuffed as much fuel as he could into my double bottle belt and i threw on my Nathan pack, grabbed my trekking poles and we headed to the start. It was crazy, the rain wasn't letting up at all and the early morning Vermont fog had set in. It was almost surreal knowing we'd be out here in potentially these conditions for the next 16 hours.

(The Start)

It didn't take long for Rik and I to fall into our old rhythm and we took the first few miles to catch up on the latest happenings in our lives. The rain seemed to be letting up by the time we got around the Liberty Hill loop but as you can see i was already soaked from the first couple of miles.

From Liberty Hill we head down the road towards Colton's. We start running with John "Not Sherpa" Larcoix. He's actually a friend of Rik's and lives in the same town as him up in the Champlain Valley. I chuckled as he had to specify that he wasn't Sherpa when he introduced himself.
(John, Rik and I heading to Colton)

I quickly was re-introduced to the ball busting climb up on a 4wd trail behind Colton's Camp. I extended my trekking poles, changed my stride and let my hiking muscles take over. As we approached the top, there was no bear, and they had changed course a bit to an extra steep bushwack section. Sherpa yells, "it wasn't my idea!" as he screams past already heading down the trail. I catch Julie almost at the top and she mutters, "dang...should have brought my poles."

I ended up putting quite a bit of space between myself and Rik getting out of Colton. Which was good, because my stomach was bubbling up a storm and i knew he'd catch me soon enough. The sun was trying to poke threw the now thinning clouds and a day that was once going to be a dreadful muddy mess was shaping into a beautiful Vermont day. When we get to Upper Michigan our crew awaited us. Which consisted of Leah, bright eyed and excited, and Steve, a.k.a. Lurch who groaned from the back seat when we woke him up.

(Upper Michigan Loop 1)

On our first jaunt out of Upper Michigan we spent most of the lap running with Kevin from Boston. He's training for VT100, ran Pineland Farms the previous weekend, and Wapack a few weeks prior. No wonder he said i looked familiar. We swap trail stories for awhile. He's a bit apprehensive about the tough Blood Root section that lies ahead. Rik and I did our best to keep him on his toes.
(Off to Blood Root)

We wolf down our food and laugh about how we had caught Joe "Millionaire" here last year. And then Joe was talking to Rik about me as i walked ahead without knowing that I was his son. We look at the sky and it looks like the clouds are starting to break and the blue sky was taking over. The aid station was moved from the top of Blood root because they couldn't get the supplies up there so the clearing was the aid station this year. A spot that in the past had been simply a mirage as by the time Rik and i got there, there was nothing but tipped over and empty Gatorade buckets.

Our pace had to be slowing, or we had gone out way to fast. It was 14 miles into the run and Rik and I were ahead of John Izzo & Dave Delbac. A feat that rarely happens. Izzo had brought along a friend from Florida who seemed to be having a grand old time playing in the woods with us Vermonters. At the clearing I ate another PB&J and
topped off my 2l bladder figuring that HAD to be enough to get up and over. I walked ahead with Kevin as Rik started to feel the climb. About 1/4 a mile from the top i stopped and sat on a rock and waited. And waited. and waited. I was starting to get worried and thought that maybe Rik had bigger issues. Just as i was about to start heading back down he turned the corner and we were able to crest the top of blood root together.

The rain and previous runners had pretty much tramped any kind of stinging nettle that we would have seen in the past. But the thick deep mud made running impossible at some points. Meanwhile the sun was breaking through and the humidity and heat were climbing rapidly. I tried to battle it by consuming almost all, and then all of my water. really? i kept saying to myself, i just drank 2l of water in 6 miles? How is that even possible? at every corner i kept hoping to see the next aid station. I was so thirsty i was getting tunnel vision. Then just as all hope seemed to be lost the aid station appeared around the next bend.

After eating 1/4 of a watermelon, 2 cups of coke and probably a half a dozen cookies i was able to leave the aid station. The next road stretch is always a problem for me. I'm tired, I'm in my typical 15-25 mile low, and it's run-able. I'm a great speed hiker, not a runner. So i struggle to keep up with Rik for the next stretch. replaying where we are on the course again and again in hopes that Upper Mich 3 is around the next bend

(Steven enters the mix. a rejuvenated Team Robert presses on.)

The next stretch features the brutal climb up behind Jason Hayden's home. He's responsible for much of the trail work and trail markings at the Peak races. And this year was no disappointment. It was as tough as ever. Steven curses and asks, "Why would someone build a trail here?" followed by a, "What the bo-jangles!" as the trail somehow got steeper at the next turn.


When we come off of Haydens we're dumped out at Riverside Farm where we are greeted by a now larger crew. John finished what sounded like hours ago and was here with Sara and Leah to give us a few words of encouragement. "It's a lot easier this year!" John says. "Yeah yeah, sure it is man." I unconvincingly reply as Rik sips a Labatt Blue and Steve and I share a Red Bull.

The gang walks with us up to Dove where we dip back into the woods. Sherpa knows the people that own the house and runs out with a Corona that Rik takes a long swig out of. While John was right about the section not being as steep. They certainly did a great job adding about 30 switchbacks. Somehow though, for the first time in several hours we started to catch a guy, and then another. One of the guys was Izzo's buddy from Florida who said that their speed had finally caught up with him.

At Tweed we again experienced a heavy dose of the "woo girls" who had obviously been hitting the wine for some time by this point. We made quick time at that aid station. I mean, it's nice to have the people at the aid station be upbeat, but after 14 hours of running/hiking, seeing someone else with that much energy is disgusting.

From Tweed aka Cabin 2 it's a climb up threw the Labarinth and over the top of Joe's. Then a fun filled roller coaster ride down Fuster's where they had done quite a bit of work as well. Every time we thought it was the last turn, it'd make another one, and then we'd climb a bit. I have to admit though, it was great not having to run on the snowmobile trail for long. We soon heard the river below, then we saw the bridge. We joked with Steven that he'll be able to tell his friends that he ran 16 miles over the weekend when he has to explain why he's walking like a cowboy. Leah, Loni, and a few scattered runners remaining cheered us on as we climbed up the last knoll at 16:02.

Couldn't have been a better day in the woods with my family. Already looking forward to coming back in 2011!

(Post race exhaustion)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

February Recap

Week - 1
The first weekend of the month started out with the 5 of us playing in the woods of Fox Forest yet again. With the logging going on over by Loni's we rediscovered some of the Ridge trail on the south side of the woods. It was nice to see the other side of the woods again. Greg and I used to bike on that side often when we lived in the apartments. But then they logged and pretty much trashed the dry half of the trails. After some narrow log bridges we were off to my place to finalize the Team Robert Logos

(Log Bridge on Ridge Trail)

Week - 2

Saturday had us driving to Massabesic Lake take part in Sherpa John's Streakers Frozen Caboose 50k. It became obvious early on who the stronger runners were and Leah, Grant and I sat back while Nate, Julie and John trucked off ahead of us down the super flat snowmobile trail. I'd run the first 5 miles before, but never all of the way to the far side of Raymond. There were several road crossings, but the scariest being the super short tunnels (due to the snow) going under the more major roadway. John laughed as I emerged from under 101 with a shutter and said "I'd rather be under the Brushy Mountain Penitentiary!"

(Playing on the Train's in Raymond)

Less than 24 hours later Leah and I tossed on our snowshoe and joined Greg, Mandiee and Loni for a trek around Greenfield State Park. After about 5 minutes into the hike I became painfully obvious that there were no trail markings for winter hiking/snowshoeing. At least from where we went in. So we broke trail for awhile, playing in the campsites and marveling at the piles of snow on the picnic tables. With less than a mile left in our hike we finally discovered the trail we had been looking for for the previous few miles and got to enjoy a semi-broken path for the first time of the day.
(I carved a snow-frame on a down limb)

Week - 3
Weekend three was set to be another bash. At the Luah last year there had to be 30+ people. Or at least it felt that way to me who was delirious from the No Power No Problem 50k earlier in the day. This year, with a change of venue, and the major participants being out of town it was going to take on a new feel. The Luah was Leah's big gathering. My St Patties, or Oktoberfest so to speak, so it comes with high expectations. I certainly think it lived up to the hype. Sure it might not have been as big as last year. But it had good people, good music, and good conversations. On a side note i know know who the Clitinatti are.

(the end of the night a race to the bottom of the blender)

Week - 4
After fighting off a cold for the better part of 10 days and some trials and tribulations leading up thru the week towards my birthday it was time. Much like other runners and Loni two years ago it was time to do a 30-on-30. Last year i hosted the "Hammy Slammy," and this year the two events were to be combined. The day was pretty awesome. With 12" of snow on Friday and 8" of snow coming down on Sunday we hit the window of weather perfectly. Race report to be linked here once posted.

(All of us (Grant taking photo) at mile 29 of the Hammy Slammy)

By The Numbers(2010 Numbers in Quotes):
Miles Run: 85.5
# of Runs: 13 (28)
Average Miles: 6.6 (3.7)

Month Starting Weight: 177(175) Lbs
Month Ending Weight: 175(175)Lbs
Weight Change: -2 lbs

Race Results:

Streakers Frozen Caboose Fat Ass - 13.5 Miles - 2:45
30 on 30 (Hammy Slammy Part Deux) - 31.4 Miles - 8:05

Motivational video of the month:
Versus Motivational Video

Song of the month:
Tim McGraw - My Next 30 Years

Book of the month:
Kind of a good follow up to last month's book. It breaks down the what, where, how to start slowing things down in your life. With checklists that you can fill out and see how other people will potentially see your choices.

Upcoming March Events:
5th - Peak Snowshoe Marathon
19th - 9th Annual St Patties Day Party