Sunday, October 16, 2011

September Recap

Week - 1
As per every Labor Day i'm off to Vermont to catch up with Ramon.  This year my old friend Amy is back in town from California visiting family with her son.  We haven't seen one another in years so i extended the invite to a Lake Monsters game figuring her little guy would have a blast.  The Monsters dominated the game from the start and a good time was had by all.  Upon return to Ramon's place another marathon of NHL11 was in order.  In the morning my phone beeped at me with an unfamiliar number. It was my boss.  My boss NEVER texts me.  Well, obviously Hurricane Irene had done some serious damage to VT and VTrans had put out the requests for help and my company said we'd send out people ASAP.  So i had to cut my time in Vermont short and scoot back home that night, to get my house set up and pack to return BACK to Vermont all in a 12 hour period.
(Labor Day Lake Monsters Game)

Week - 1-2
After driving the better part of 500 miles in 12 hours we were sent out to start checking routes and verifying road closures around the southeastern part of the state.  I knew that the damage was bad, but i guess photos online didn't really do it justice.  Over the course of the next week and a half i would put in 100 hours and drive 2200 miles.  In that amount of time it was impressive at the work that was accomplished and it was equally as amazing to how small of a dent they had put in the damage.

(Cavendish Wash out)

(Before/After's of Route 107)

Finally after getting back to NH it was time to relax and catch up with normal life.  The long days, the hours and hours in my truck. It was great and all, but i had ZERO time to run, ZERO time to just unwind, and mostly, ZERO time to enjoy my favorite fall beer.  

Week - 3
Finally being back home for a weekend meant i could swing into town and hit the last weekend of the Hillsboro Farmers Market and take advantage of the last of their fresh corn on the cob and summer squash.  Can't go wrong with BBQ Veggies on a night before a big race.  The Pisgah 50k!  Race Recap here

(Team Robert)

Week 4
Vermont 50 Number 11.  It's one of my favorite weekends of the year.  The buzz around packet pick up.  The Ice cold Long Trail Beer and blackened chicken wrap on the deck overlooking the Ottauqueechee.  Followed by a night sleeping on the ground and a day of pain and suffering.  Race Recap Here

(50Milers at the Start)

By The Numbers(2010 Numbers in Quotes):
Miles Run: 89.9 (123.9)
# of Runs: 5 (12)
Average Miles:  18.0 (10.3)

Month Starting Weight:  172 (169) Lbs
Month Ending Weight: 174 (171)Lbs
Weight Change:  +2lbs

Race Results:
18th - Pisgah 50k - 7:22:23
25th - Vermont 50M - 11:44:43

Motivational video of the month:
Song of the month:

Book of the month:
n/a  been struggling finishing anything of late

Upcoming October Events:
Harpoon Oktoberfest Road Race
Nate's RANH 2011
ARL 5k

Friday, October 14, 2011

We're Live!!!

So today (10-14-11) Leah and I ventured up to Laconia to be part of the FreeBeerandHotWings at the Pitmans frieght room.  The 3:30 am alarm was rough, but being part of the show was awesome.  I've been a listener/fan of the show for the better part of the 6 years they've been on the air on The Hawk.  Leah was hooked after crewing for me one year at the VT50 and the only thing i had was a podcast on my stereo.  So when the email came out for the live show, off we went.  The event was BYOB and after a few hours a live woman's forum was announced, and with little coaxing Leah took the microphone.  

The beat up wasn't over when later in the show during the "What have i learned today" segment, we came up again.  We were a call back, our 15 minutes of fame wasn't over :)

All in all it was an awesome show.  I can't wait for them to return to the area, even though they killed the hell out of my stupid facial hair and my lack of commitment ability.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

2011 Vermont 50 Race Report

September 24-25, 2011

My 11th start, and second without Rik.  I'm a little saddened that Rik doesn't make it out to this event anymore, but our group has expanded and more and more friends have come out.  It's makes the weekend and event something I continue to love year after year.  As per every year, we started out by spending a good chunk of Saturday on the patio at the Long Trail Brewery.  Beers are flowing, people are having a grand old time, but the afternoon is wearing on and we're getting antsy to move a little.  Peter, Leah's dad is up again from Pennsylvania to run the relay, says, "Well, we can always go to Harpoon, they're open until 9."   Well that was all the convincing we needed and within an hour we were at a second brewery having several more rounds of frosty brew.   Grant was the Vermont 50 virgin this year, so to give him the true Vermont50 experience my father gave me all of those years ago we slept on the ground, no tent, under a tarp.  Why you ask?  The theory is, if you put in enough time suffering the night before, the running gods will show you pity and spare your soul during the race itself.  

(Steve Latour and the Gang again Pre-Race, yes Leah may STILL have been tipsy in this picture)

 (Team Bounding Belanger)

After waiting around for an hour in the dark watching wave after wave of biker disappear up the hill we were finally ready to start.  Julie, Steve, Peter, Grant, Loni and I take to the starting line.  Julie, all nerves still, battling her own demons was chomping at the bit to get going.  Steve, the calm in the storm, always with a smile and a good story to tell.  Peter, excited to be running the other two legs after running the middle leg last year.  Grant and Loni beating themselves up already about how he should have trained more and how ill prepared they were for this.  

It's not 2 minutes into the run when my stomach grumbles.  I roll my eyes at how I opted to NOT eat that bagel this morning after i discovered how hard it was and quickly eat a GU and start slamming down water.  Grant notices this and says "Wow, you're starting already?"   By the time we make the first couple of turns the group is well spread out.  Julie is long gone,  Grant, Peter and I trotting at our usual pace, and Steve at the back of the pack keeping Loni company.    We hit the dirt and a familiar face says to me,  "Hey, where's your pop?"  It's Martin Philip, another trail runner that i had crossed paths with several times now at either a WNHTRS or Pisgah   It took me a second to place him.  I think it had been two years since we'd crossed paths last.   We pass a guy with no water bottle, no food, and no shoes?  Is that guy wearing Vibrams?  boy that poor bastard is in for a long long day.  I learn my first lesson of the day when the trail is re-routed due to the Irene damage.  Had I read all(any) of the 20 emails leading up to the event, or had even thought about it after all of my fieldwork it would have been a no brainer, of course the bridge would be out.  Needless to say we were treated with several more hills in the first stretch of trail than I was used to.  My calves were screaming and I wasn't even at mile 3.  I tried to keep that info to myself.   Commiserating about pain at mile 40 of an ultra, is OK, at mile 3, you're probably out of your league.   

 (If you look closely you'll spot a llama-llama-duck!)

I tell Peter and Grant to load up on food and that there's a long climb out of the first aid station.  I swear i pass 15 people just standing around at the table and catch up with Andy Weinberg and Joe Desena on the climb.  For those who don't know, they are the directors of the now infamous "Death Race" and other Peak Races/Camps just up the road in Pittsfield.   I try to match Andy's pace for awhile to catch up, but have to let him go after 1/2 a mile because there's no way I would have survived.

The guys catch up to me again and we trot along through the pines.  I love this stretch of single track.  It's still early enough in the race where you're fresh, it's a slight downhill and the ground is soft and spongy.  That and I know that there are several miles of hard packed road ahead so I enjoy it while i can.  At the turn there are huge signs telling you to go right down the hill if you are a 50 miler.  Yet, every year, some boneheads miss it. I overheard someone saying that they missed it this year too.  Unbelievable.   Martin has done a lot of training on these stretches of roads which is good.  He's well prepared for his first attempted at a 50.  Grant, on the other hand, after the first aid station really felt the climb and the tiredness from the run the week prior.  I tell him not to sweat it, pop some pain killers and push on.   At a climb he tells me it's time to take some salt, and i do, but while doing it, promptly spill my container all over the ground.  I begrudgingly pick a handful of them up and put them back into my bag.  Little did i know that later i would end up using the extra salt tabs that i would have left there. 

The Mud is pretty epic in spots. I can't imagine trying to ride this stretch on a bike.  I found out later that Martin had actually lost not one, but BOTH shoes in this stretch of trail.  I mention that drink up, we'll be at the aid station in 5 minutes at our current pace.  And perhaps we'll catch up to Leah after all.

We run into Skunk Hollow about 30 seconds after Peter, and catch a glimpse of Leah darting off down the trail.  And  about 30 seconds AFTER us, Steve L has caught up.  Grant loads up on food while i fill both of our bladders.  This next stretch of trail is one of the longest un-aided stretch of the day and it's mostly long painful climbs on hard packed roads.  As per usual i load up on a ton of food and take off knowing that i'd have 15 minutes to eat it on the next climb, i just had to get there without dropping it all first.
(Town Farm Hill stretch)

Steve and Grant pair up while i try to stay just ahead of them.  I'm going through a rough spot and am not feeling too chatty so I keep an eye on them over my shoulder.  They eventually catch me at the next running section and we all fall in line again.  Steve talks a bit about how he's the race director of a couple of events and how diverse their running club (TARC) is.  In the next long climb I notice a familiar piece of clothing ahead.  I think that's Leah, hot dog, it IS Leah AND Julie!  The starting group, sans Loni (sorry Loni) is all back together for the climb up Garvin Hill.  One of my favorite spots on the course.  I love the climb and the views are fantastic from the top.  Martin and Steve take off ahead while Grant, Leah and I take advantage of the photo op.

(Top of Garvin)
(Top of Garvin)

Leah zips ahead on her fresh (only 7 miles in) legs and Martin, Grant and I try to keep an eye on her from several switchbacks behind.  It was fun to keep her in sight and not know exactly how far behind we were.  Before too long you could hear the cooling sounds of Cady Brook.  Which was a relief as the cloud cover that we had on Garvin was breaking up and the temperature was rising.  

I get in and out of Cady quickly and tell Grant to grab a TON of food, he hadn't been eating much and we were about to climb for the next 30 minutes.  No matter how many years i have run the race, this stretch is always a bear and is a surprise on how much time is lost on this climb.  Martin tells me about how he'd run this stretch of trail a few times while training and how washed out it had been just a few weeks prior due to Irene.  Grant, was slowly falling behind.  At a nice water spot I told Martin to go ahead and I would wait for Grant. 
(A nice spot to dunk your head)

The trail starts to level out, and you think you're done when you get to the gate.  Or at least that's what Grant was hoping for as he caught up to me sitting there.  Only to be crushed when i told him that we'd be turning and going up this other hill.  The look of f me, are you serious washed over his face.  "I dunno Josh, you might want to run your own race from here."  I tell him he's doing fine still. And i'd been exactly where he was one year.  One of my DNFs actually happened right at that gate, when it was a location of an aid station back in the early 2000s.    Before too long we were trotting a little again, i had to snap a photo of this home made sign.  It was too perfect.  I wonder how many times someone had knocked on their door and asked if they had a tractor to pull them out. 
(My GPS was wrong?!?)

Shortly after you get to one of my favorite spots on the course.  It's what "Beware the chair" means to me the most.  You could spend hours here given the option.  I've sat here in years past and enjoyed the view over blood hill towards your final destination, a mere 20 miles in the distance.

(Beware the chair, they're the devils work)

From the wonderful spot photo'd above the trail ducks back into the woods and you come out on the start of the VT100 course back down towards Smoke Rise Farm. When you pop out on the road you get a long slow climb up to Margarittaville and the Frozen Fins.  I drop my pack here and grab some food. I know I will have put some distance between Grant and myself in this last stretch of climbing so now it was time to utilize it.  I wait for maybe 5 minutes. Several runners come into the aid station and leave.  I get a little worried but decide that i'll talk this time to use the restroom only to find that i had a pretty good amount of rash on the rise.  Finally Grant slowly walks up the hill.  The lack of training, last weeks race, the heat, and the many many climbs we just came up has beaten him down badly. I tell him he's doing fine, to eat some food, drink some soda and lets keep walking.  We were still ahead of the cut off and he would snap out of it.  Unfortunately he would have nothing to do with it this time.  "Josh, you've gotta go ahead,"  ... I'm pretty sure i'm going to drop at Dugdales.  The second part he didn't actually say, but he said it with his eyes and his body.

I reluctantly walk on ahead and before the next two turns i've easily put 1/4 a mile between us looking back through the fields.  I catch up with Martin on the decent down into Dugdales.  He seems glad to see a familiar face again and we chat a bit about how Grant was going through a low and that he might be done.  His knee is bothering him a bit and I ask if he'd been taking any pain killers.  At this point I was 2 deep myself and the drugs were obviously kicking in.  I blasted down the hill leaving Martin behind quickly.  I catch up to a couple who were really nervous about missing the cut off.  I assure her that we were well ahead of the cut off, at least i felt that way, and then I started doing the math myself.  I don't run with a watch, i run this race by feel.  And I had FELT like i was well ahead of the cut off.  That was until i got to the bottom of Dugdale's driveway when a bonehead sitting on the stonewall said i only had 6 minutes to climb the hill before the cutoff.   I look at him like he's got 3 heads.  And once i got to the office time keepers they mentioned i had almost an hour.  I laugh and tell them they should go correct the fella at the bottom of the hill before people give up before even reaching the aid station.  

At the top of the hill i see Leah and give her the scoop on Grant.  "Whatever you do, don't let him just quit.  Give him a few to sit down, have a beer, eat some food first.  And if he still isn't feeling up for it.  Then it just wasn't in the card."   How's Peter doing?  Leah had put almost 15 minutes on me in the last stretch.  She assures me i'll catch him but I doubt it.   As i'm leaving the station i hear Martin tell me that he'd caught me and I was a SOB!  We laugh and walk out of the aid station together.  He's concern about going further than he'd ever gone before.  I told him that this next stretch of trail was the reason i keep coming back to the course.  The tight wound single track, the party house with the cooler with the beers, (of course, by the time I get there, it's full of empties).  The temps at this point are still steaming hot.  I take my shirt off and Martin gives me a cat call.  I respond with a, "oh yeah, all the ladies love my white pastey belly!"  The two woman on the switchbacks around us don't even smirk.    
(The Birch Tree "Claw")

At the party house they had put a hose out for the runner.  I soak myself to the core.  My body temperature felt like it dropped 10 degrees.  I've got new life.  I know Falloon's is at the top of the next climb and after that i should be well ahead of the reaper.   It would be the last time I saw Martin or ran with anyone really.  I screamed in and out of Falloon's and sang my annual line near the "love shack" where Sherpa had left Gilly and I the mushroom note the year prior.

I would hit my last low of the race coming into the relocated Goodman's Aid station.  The woman that owned the property saw how hot i was and said. "I've got a hose right over there on the side of the house."  I thanked her for her generosity and told her that 50 miles was plenty enough, and extra steps weren't in the plan.  She then responded with some military-esk bs quote that really rubbed me the wrong way, essentially saying a strong runner would take her up on it.  I thank her again, through gritted teeth and turned my hatred towards the boneheads running the aid station.  The peanut butter and jelly was smashed, the snickers were melted flat.  I asked if there was any turkey sandwiches while drinking the last pre-poured cup of coke.  "Oh, well this stuff has been out all day, so it's probably not any good."  One idiot tells me holding up at least a pound of cheese and turkey still deli wrapped sitting on the table in the sun.   The other dummy goes, "Well, there's probably some here in the cooler," and proceeds to pull out a whole other pound of turkey and cheese.  SERIOUSLY?  You couldn't be bothered with putting the gross stuff either back in the cooler before it went bad or hell, maybe on a sandwich?  And then you then tell me that 2 feet from you IN a cooler you had cold stuff and there still wasn't anything pre-made?   WTF!! HAVE YOU BEEN DOING?  PLAYING GRAB ASS WITH THE PUSHY PROPERTY OWNER?  I just look at the three of them smiling at me from across the table like over-medicated retards and say forget it.  I leave the aid station and proceed to just eat the reserved GUs i had packed in case i ran into something like this.  Sadly, at the VT50, this is nothing new.

I wouldn't be so pissed about this if the damn race didn't cost so much.  11 years ago i ran this race for 55 bucks, day before race.  There would be plenty of food at the aid stations, and hell there was ACTUALLY FOOD saved for the back of the packers at the end.  Since that time.  The race has grown and the focus has become less and less on the back of packer and more and more on the bikers and the elite runners.  I mean, it's great that the race is growing and more and more people are loving the sport, but the back of the packers are the people that NEED that stuff the MOST!!
*Ahem* Sorry about that.  

The next stretch of course ties back together with some familiar terrain, then some unfamiliar terrain. I'd catch a handful of bikers on the next climb.  They'd blast past me at the end decent.  Much of the trail work done in this last stretch is fantastic.
(New Bridge)

Somewhere around the 5 miles to go sign my stomach twists and then turns.  It hadn't been great all day, and  it never is in the heat.  But with the 3 GUs I'd eaten in the last 5 miles, combined with not eating real food since Falloon's 5 miles before that, it was at an all time low.  I take a few long swigs of water hoping it would sedate it.  No deal, it was beyond the point of no return and I barf just off of the trail.   Gross? Perhaps, but my current record at this race has been, two times I've puked from the heat, and two times i'd finished strong.  

(Who hasn't run a VT50 without stopping and taking this pic?)

I cruse through Johnson's catching up to a nervous biker who's been waiting for a fella he'd started with hours ago.  He was debating on riding on himself or waiting longer for his friend.  He asked me what i would do. I told him i wouldn't wait for him here.  You've still got 3 roller coaster miles and the more time you wait here the less likely you'll be able to finish this thing.  Hell, his friend might not have even made it past a previous cut off.  He reluctantly nods in agreement and is off.   The next several miles i trot along alone.  I stop to take a photo at the waterfall and enjoy the last few miles of the day.  I wonder how close Peter is, or Steve, and i wonder how Martin hasn't caught up to me yet.
(Final Mile Waterfall)

Before i know it the trail cuts out onto the final slope.  The course switchbacks a few extra times giving me plenty of time to hear the crowd roaring for the runners and bikers just ahead of me.  I pause at the bridge to snap a photo of the finish line before blasting down the hill past the rest of our crew and finishers towards my 7th VT50M finish.   Before too long Martin runs over the bridge and is greeted by his wife and kids.  I give him a grand high five as he runs through the shoot.  It's always neat to be there for someones first 50mile finish, especially when you can see them share it with family.  You can read his recap below.  

Loni - DNF - Margaritaville (27.6M) - 6hrs +/-
Julie - DNF - Dugdale's (31.9M) - 7.5hr +/-
Grant - DNF - Dugdale's (31.9M) - 7.5hr +/-
Peter & Leah  - Team Bounding Belanger - 11:14:53
Steve L - 11:33:19
Me - 11:44:43
Martin - 11:57:17

Other Recaps/Links:

Thursday, October 6, 2011

2011 Pisgah 50k RR

September 18, 2011

When Rik and Steve decided to make the trek down the night prior a quiet night of pasta and rest turned into a feast, a fire, beer, a late night, and much talk and laughter regarding a honey badger that didn't give a sh*t.  The somehow managed to show up to the race on time and caught up with Grant and the rest of the Vermont Ultra crowd with plenty of time to spare. 
(A Groggy Team Robert Pre-Race)

We said our goodbyes to the group that would be long gone and home before Grant and I finished and we were off down the hill.  We caught up quickly talking about how little we'd trained for this event.  Me, being off in Vermont doing fieldwork, and Grant, well, taking the ladder part of the summer of to relax and enjoy his in-ground pool.  A combined THREE miles between the two of us over the last 3 weeks was laughable.  We knew then and there that we were in for a long day.  The weather was pretty much perfect, what fog their was on the way to the race lifted quickly and the sun started to poke through the clouds.

The group split into two,  Grant, Steve Latour and I heading on the 50k route,  Steve, Loni and Rik taking the 23k.  Leah's super-hike was canceled in PA due to the previous weeks flooding so she was out to crew and do some hiking and running on her own in the park.  

(Steve L. and Loni)
(Steve and Rik)

Grant, Steve L and I shared the first couple of miles.  Chatting about how dry this section of the course was compaired to years past.  Then the subject of blasting through puddles came up, which lead to Grant and I laughing about how mad we made people this year at the Muddy Moose when we went straight through the first puddle.  Steve, not to be outdone, mentioned that he had done that before at a race and someone had said to him,  "Easy there Moses!"  What a line.  It wasn't too much after here where Steve said we were going  way to fast for him.  This should have been an early sign of what was to come. 

(The old junker car about 200' off the trail)

A few miles later we were at the first aid station and had caught up to Kenny Rogers and a young lady running together.  He gave us a friendly hello as always and then was off quickly before we had much time to catch up. It wasn't to much after this where we saw a fella rubbing his back on a tree like a bear.  "What the hell??" I said to Grant.  Dude looks back at us and shouts.  We stop.  "What??!"  He yells again and more urgent this time.  "BEES!!"  Before either of us could yell "where?" I heard an unpleasant buzzing surrounding us.  "OH F ME! RUN GRANT RUN RUN RUN!"  Grant managed to go unscathed but i got stung 3-4 times on my right bicep before I smashed the bee while in a full sprint.  The poor guy ahead of us had a couple go under his shirt and was stung pretty badly.  The one perk I thought was, well at least these bee stings will distract me from the pain i'm going to feel before the end of the day. 

(Grant trotting ahead through one of the more pretty sections of trail)

I ran for awhile with Eric Sherman, the fella i had run many a mile with at Pinelands a few months ago.  It was good to catch up with a familiar face and chat with what races he'd been doing and which ones he's aiming for in the near future.  I pulled ahead of Grant on the next stretch of trail on a long slow climb up out of the 3rd aid station.  This would be in typical fashion for the next couple of races that we'd do. I'm all business in an aid stations.  That and I was running with almost 5L of water.  While Grant was running with his small pack with only 70oz, while my dumb ass was running with a 3L reservoir and 2-32 oz water bottles, never mind the food, clothes and other nonsense i had crammed into my pack in a sleepy haze that morning. He laughed at me, but the time i was able to make up in the aid stations as i'd only need to fill my bladder ONCE all day helped greatly.  Well, as much as one could with no training.  I figured If anything it would simply increase my suffering and the running gods wouldn't come down quite so hard upon me. 

(First View of Monadnock)

We catch up with a woman from just outside of Montreal who had traveled down with a group from her running club to run the race.  In fact, they do a lot of traveling for races and had been here before.  We chatted breifly about Mont Tremblant  which was right in her backyard.  And is put on by the same race director as the old Jay Challenge in Jay VT.    She was obviously well trained, and quickly left us in the dust.  Grant and I were starting to cramp.  Nuts, too early for this nonsense.  We throw down salt tabs and pound some water.  We both know we're in deep trouble at this point.  Neither of us had peed since the first couple of miles and we were now pushing 15 miles.   I had to make a bathroom break and sent Grant on ahead.  This is a bit embarrassing, but it was worth mentioning once i caught up to him on the next climb.  "Hey have you ever tried to pop a squat in the woods when all your legs want to do is lock up and make you fall over?"  We both laughed at the terrible situation that i had just encountered.

(Mile 17 aid station bridge)

I slam down some generic coke, grab a bunch of cookies and head out of the aid station towards the climb up  Pisgah itself.  Grant says he'll catch up and re-fills his bladder to make sure he doesn't run out on this next stretch of trail.  I hear familiar voices as they start to reel me in on the climb.  It was Steve again with a young woman in tow.  He seems amazingly strong and power walks past us just before the summit.  I'm floored at his relentless pace even in the steep sections.  Grant shoots the breeze with the young lady for the next stretch of trail as i managed to stay one corner ahead of the two.   I shoot a message to Leah to let her know that we're almost at the summit.  After doing some hiking/running on her own for the last few hours she'd been napping at the summit and was planning on running the rest of the course with us.
(At the Peak)

From the peak it's a quick jaunt down to the dreaded Killborn loop.  I say dreaded because it's at this point every year that i just crack.  Last year i had contemplated dropping here, Mike (a VT ultra bud) actually DID drop here this year.   I grab a banana and head off down the trail, figuring that Grant is still running strong and this next couple of miles is all downhill and run-able.  Even though i wasn't really feeling up to running.  On the loop we catch up with a woman and her brother?  Who we chat with for a little while.  She's driven all of the way from Ohio to run the race.  Part of her running a marathon or further in all 50 states, and has never done such a trek as this.  I tell her that she's a bit crazy for coming so far to run this course, and that the worst of the race is behind her.  She replied with a, "I'm crazy?  You just told me you've done this race 8 times!" in a grand sarcastic tone.   Touche' friend, Touche'

The one really nice part of the Kilborn loop is the log work over some of the more wet sections.  Sadly they've deteriorated quite a bit over the last few years, but they still do the trick. 

When we get back to the Kilborn Aid station the second time i'm all but done.  My stomach is trashed, my cramping is gone, but the damage was done.  I couldn't have eaten another GU if you had put a gun to my head.  I was just ready to be done. The thought of a burger and sitting down was pulling me along.  Shortly after the parking lot and we turned back into the woods we caught up to a fella wearing the shortest shorts i'd ever seen in my life.  This shorts would make old men in a ymca locker room blush.  Then again, he might have fit right in there.  Needless to say, coming up on said person on a climb, from behind, made us speed up and pass as fast as possible.  If that dude is reading this, please, buy newer shorts, or at least wear spandex.  ANYTHING!   Grant was feeling good and decided to take off and meet us at the end.  But with the two climbs he hadn't really put much ground between us after about 10 minutes and said forget it and that he'd rather spend the rest of the day with us if he's only going to be 30 seconds ahead. 

Before we knew it we were at the road, and i zipped ahead as fast as my sore, beat up legs could make it.  Grant, still running strong on the descents caught up quickly.  I joked about how Rik had gotten a beer from these guys that always have a party during the race about a quarter of a mile from the end.  Low and behold, they were outside by the grill cheering late runners in as per usual.  He offers Grant a beer.  I joking yell, hey where's mine??  How many do you want?  Ha, this dude isn't kidding, I'll take 2 more!  He hands Leah one and another fella up the driveway tosses me one over the pickup truck into the road.  I make a terrible attempt at catching it, drop it, but pop the lid and guzzle down the bubbling brew without missing a step anyways.   I yell thank you over my shoulder and that was the turning point.  At the top of the next climb both of us had finished our beers and we were running again.  Grant, much faster than I, but that beer had settled my stomach and helped me forget about the tenderness in my under-trained legs.   We both rolled across the finish line at a respectable 7 hours and 22 minutes.  Obviously not our fastest run, but we weren't going for speed today.  We now had only 6 days now to "taper" to the Vermont 50. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Peak Race Report

Saturday June 4, 2011

So as per usual, in true Team Robert style, we had a late night at Dustin's.  We don't see one another too often but when we do, it tends to lead to good storytelling and many a cold one.  The running gods were smiling upon us and granted us a clear, cool start.  It was looking like an amazing day to be in the woods.  

(Pre-Race with Julie)
We get to chat with Vic, John, and Dave (who's crewing/volunteering due to being sick) and catch up on how things have been going in Vermont. How they've been training for the VT100 and/or the Wakley Dam coming up in July.  It's funny how quickly we just pick up where we left off as if we had seen eachother more often than once every 4-6 months.  Andy gives us the run down on how bad Bloodroot is this year.  He's not doing a good job selling the 54 miler to me today.  I chat with Julie who last year didn't run with trekking poles and looked at me with envy when i passed her with them.  This year she's been training her butt off and has poles in hand.  No messing around.  (Her Recap here)

(Loni and I already doing the ultra shuffle)
The race starts out as it always does, three, two one, go.  But one of my favorite parts of this race is the immediate climb at the start.  So really you don't start running at this thing until at least 1/3 of a mile.  Gives you a chance to catch up with other runners. Joke about the brake neck pace, and lets the elite fast runners pack down all of the pucker-brush you've got to go through.  I decide early on that i would run today's race with Loni even though i'd signed up for the 50 miler.  When Rik decided not to come I knew i'd be alone for most if not all of the second half of the race and i just wasn't feeling it.  

It was a PERFECT day in the woods.  The climb up Colton was a bear as it always is.  A good wake up call only 7 or 8 miles into the day. This year with an extra long bush-whacking stretch of ribbon to ribbon trail.  I was having a blast in this section of trail so I'd pull ahead for a bit, then relax and chat with volunteers at the aid stations.  They'd give me puzzled looks when i'd sit down and chat while waiting for Loni to come around the previous bend. 
(Bushwack?  AWESOME!)

Somewhere between Colton's and Upper Michigan 1I had found a tennis ball on the trail and proceeded to kick it further ahead and watch it roll in a tire track until we would catch it and I'd repeat the process.  I swear i had it going for at least 1/2 a mile before i bounced off a rock and shot deep into the woods off the trail.  Just before Upper Michigan 1 we caught up to Vic Torrito. Another Vermont Ultra runner that i had shared the miles with years and years ago, and about 3 years ago told me at the Jay Challenge that running with me was "like running with your father 20 years ago."  The three of us would shoot the breeze and walk away the miles between Upper Michigan 1 and Upper Michigan 2.
(Getting the run down from Dave on the rest of the guys)

When the three of us trotted back into Upper Michigan the woman behind the table told me I was off to run Bloodroot next enthusiastically. I smirked and told her, not today.  I had nothing to prove. I'd run bloodroot the last 3 years and i owed that stretch of trail nothing.  I was having a blast with my two buds and that i was going to get off of the trail today before dark.  I knew not only if i did the 50k I would be home earlier, but that i might actually get some of the race BBQ that i pay for every year, but never get to partake in as there are rarely any PEOPLE around, never mind food left by the time i get in.  She tried to pier pressure me into the 50 mile but i wanted nothing to do with it.  I said, "well then DNF me, because i'm going this way," and was off to catch Loni and Vic who had moved on ahead knowing that i'd catch up.   

Leah caught up with us at the bottom of Tweed River and planned on running the last 10 miles in with us.  It was great to have a fresh set of legs and stories to tell.  Before we knew it we were at the top of Joe's at Cabin One.  The course had changed and it was breaking my brain a bit.  I was finally starting to slow down and trying to give words of encouragement to Loni and Vic who had been running into a bit of a wall themselves.  It was hard to do when you'd be on a stretch of what was once familiar terrain and then go right when we had gone left in the past.  
(View from Cabin One)

From Cabin One we took a steep decent down to the road to Cabin Two, which was the last aid station.  A couple of banana and cups of coke later we were off to tackle the last major climb and then the long steady switchback decent of the Fuster's Trail.  
(Easiest?....At Peak? I think not)
The work the Green Mountain Club had done in here even since the Peak Snowshoe race was phenomenal.  The blazes on the trees were second to none.  The amazing slope cuts, the switchbacks, the berms.  It would have been a pretty stellar time to be on a mountain bike.  Instead we plugged ahead.  With a turn or two to go Vic must have smelled the finish line and zipped off.  I had said to Andy to make this course more challenging they should not have runners cross the snowmobile bridge and make you walk through the river. I asked the question, is this cheating? Am i cutting the course?  Then i shrugged it off and splashed in while Leah and Loni took the dry route. 
From 2011-06-05 Peak50k

With one last chance for a photo op Loni and I pose by the Cow Scull before making the last climb up to the finish line at 9:13:55.  Vic had come in maybe 5 minutes ahead of us and was pumped that with our company he was able to knock a large chunk of time off of last years event.  

(Making a deal with the cow head)

(Post race, Both runners taking almost an hour off of their times the previous year)

And as i had predicted. I got to enjoy the post race bbq, i had finished with the sun high in the sky, Dustin had spent a good chunk of the afternoon with his dutch oven preparing an epic dinner.  Julie was out in the woods for another 7 hours.  Nothing wrong with that, but she had hit Bloodroot almost an hour ahead of me. That means i would have been out there another 8+.  Looking back on it, i'm still pleased with my decision.