Sunday, November 25, 2012

Hillsboro Trail Runners/Team Robert 2013 Schedule

13th - Frozen Caboose 25M
19th - Thank God the Holidays are Over Party
27th - Winter Blahs 25/50k (Bear Brook)

10th - Hillsboro Rail Trail E2E2E
24th - Hammy Slammy in Hill-a-bamy IV - aka Birthday Run (32 on 32)

2nd - Peak Snowshoe Marathon
16-17th - 10th Annual St Patties Day Bash
24th -Foxley Book Hunt

20th - Hyner 50k
28th - Muddy Moose 14 Miler

5th - Cinco de Mile

11th - Wapack 'n' Back
28-30th - Pineland Farms Running/Camping Weekend

1st - Peak 54
8th - 5 & dime 10k 
23rd - Pats Peak FA V1 - 50k

19-21st - Vermont100
27th - Bear Brook Trail Marathon (Crew)


3rd - Moosalamoo Ultra

18th - Hampshire 100
TBD - Section Hike

1st - Jay Peak 50k

15th - Pisgah 50k
29th - Vermont 50

6th - Pinnacle Ultra Challege  50k
12th - Oktoberfest in Hillsboro (Details to Follow)
13th - Oktoberfest in Windsor


Monday, November 12, 2012

2012 - 19th Annual Vermont 50M Recap

Sunday September 30, 2012

Again...for the long time readers, if you want a more complete recap of the course filled with photos please refer to (2005, 2008, 20092010  & 2011)  For this years highlights, read on.

(nom nom i love ice cream)

After enjoying an evening eating and drinking at Harpoon the three of us quickly get our gear together.  We've all been here before. Nothing new.  Just standard pre-race jitters and shuffling.  Many unfamiliar faces this year.  The rain seems to be holding off but the air is thick with fog and humidity.  It feels like it's only a matter of time.

The miles fly by quickly as Grant and I run with Roy and "Roy's Friend" from GAC.  At the same time I chat up a young woman from New York and another VT50 'virgin' named Chris.  We talk about the trail ahead, what to expect, how to eat, what we've done for training, and why we are here.  It's a mixed bag of, "i don't know"  "because it seemed like a good idea at the time."   I always get a real kick out of running with fresh blood.  One of these years i might train and be ahead of them (but don't count on it).

The rain started somewhere around mile 8 and we were half soaked thru by the time we saw our faithful crew (Leah) at Schoolhouse

Grant and I get out of the aid station a measly 5 minutes ahead of Loni, Steve, Joe and Andy.  Which is either a testimate to how slow we were taking the first part of the course, or really how fast THEY were going.  I had promised Chris that at our current pace we'd finish somewhere around 11:30 no problem.  He seemed a bit baffled that i could predict that with no watch. 

With the long middle stretch ahead of us Leah realized she had a few hours to burn.  Just down the road from the School house aid station were these ghoulish little monsters.  I really wish she had warned me that she took these photos.  Quite a shock when unloading the photos the next day, i think they took some of my soul.

I'm a little bummed that Grant and Chris aren't able to enjoy the view from the top of Garvin in the blowing wind and rain.   I found a way to amuse myself by saying,  "more cheese Gromit" in front of the aid station staff while piling extra cheese on my sandwich.  A volunteer responded, "wensleydale?"  We share a laugh and take off.
(Before the rain came)

(same view after/during the rain)

The three of us 'run' (run in quotes because the photos don't lie) into the new aid station (Formally Dugdale's) in high spirits.  It's at the finish line of the VT100, Grants goal for 2013.  I tell him when he's at this spot again, he'll be finishing his first 100 miler.  The long stretches of walking in this middle section had done a number on Grant's feet so he took the time to change out his shoes and socks, i made friends with the aid station crew and ate and drank my weight in soup and turkey sandwiches.

Again we get out of the aid station just ahead of Steve and Loni who are smiling away and enjoying their muddy day on the trails.   We catch a biker or two, then 4 or 5 runners, then more runners and bikers in the next section of single track.  I tell Grant that he should check that cooler over there.  BEER! He proclaims.  It's been many a year since there's actually been beer left in that cooler by the time I've got here.  The trail is slippery in spots and we laugh as we slide between the trees. 

We get threw Falloon's pretty quickly and return to the single track that overlaps the VT100 course.  They've logged the area on the top side of the VT 100 (Silver Hill) field so the trail seems brand news again.     Then Chris and I share in the horror that was Grant's GU/Port-a-John experience.  And how there was a completely eaten and half eaten GU next to the seat.  We try to make each other gag over the next few miles painting a picture of what kind of monster would eat a GU while sitting on a pot-a-potty toilet. We decide in the end it had to be a mountain biker. 

When we get to Linda's we know we're well under the cut off.  So it's smooth sailing from here.  Somewhere around the "5 miles to go sign" Chris turns and says, "Thanks so much guys, i don't know if i could have done it without you" and zips ahead of us down the trail.  It was clear to see that he had been holding back most of the day in wonders of what exactly would happen once he broke the 30 mile/8 hour mark.  Within two turns he was long out of site.  Grant and I continued our standard walk a bit -jog a bit that had gotten us this far, between the bursts of rain.  

It's pouring buckets when we turn the corner towards Johnson's where Leah happily awaits.  The sky's have opened up and we are now soaked to the bone.  Leah greats us with a jig from beneath her umbrella.  I turn to Grant and tell him that we've done it.  It's 3 miles to go, we're ahead of the cut offs.  We could walk it in and still make it.  So grab whatever you need and lets get this thing over with.

We've managed to not let anyone pass us and proceed to pass another 2-3 bikers and 3-5 runners since Laura's.  But then out of nowhere, a fella we had passed what feels like hours before screams past us.  "Back from the dead I see" i proclaim to him.  "I just want to be done with this" He says in jest over his shoulder as he disappears around the next bend.  Grant and I couldn't agree more.  We keep checking over our shoulders expecting to see Steve or Loni catching us at the very end.  Instead we point ahead to a biker and say, "lets catch that guy and beat him."  The course on the slopes had changed a bit so it wasn't as quite a straight shot as years past and the rain, mud and rocks aided our lead over the poor biker.   I tell Grant to go ahead but he's determined that we finish side by side and we haul towards the finish line in the time of 11:32:47.  Not bad, i was only off two and a half minutes from my promised time without having a clue.

Chris had finished about 15 minutes ahead of us.  He OBVIOUSLY was holding WAY back all day if he had been able to put 15 minutes on us in 5 miles.  See kids, training is key!!  Steve L rolled in just over the 12 hour mark.  I was surprised that we had managed to keep that much of a lead on him after he smoked us last year.  Loni sadly had missed the cut off at Johnson's by 10 minutes, but it still was a personal best for her on the course. And now she's got something to shoot for for next years 20th annual bash.

Another great day on the trails.  Looking forward to seeing what they come up with for their 20th annual next September already.

Friday, November 9, 2012

2012 - Susquehanna Super Hike - Recap

Saturday September 8th, 2012

Leah and I had rolled into town at 1:30 AM and got a dreamy 3 and a half hours of sleep before the 5 AM wake up call.  We were joining Leah's Dad Peter and his girlfriend Lois for the Susquehanna Super Hike.  A 28.4 mile point to point race on the Keystone Trails in Pennsylvania.  Thankfully, Peter and Lois had left a car at the end of the point to point race so we got to sleep an extra 30 minutes.  

The rain had let up before we arrived at the starting campground but we were still treated with a foggy and humid start.  It was equally refreshing as it was odd leaving my New England Ultra running community   It was the first start in a long time that i didn't recognize a single face.
(I snap a photo of hawks circling above...omen?)

Like all ultras the starting line consisted of a quiet murmur followed by someone yelling out GO!  The laid back feel of this event put me at ease very early.  And since it was an ultra run AND hike the field was littered with what seemed like elite runners, and just regular Joe's like myself that were just going to go for a 30 mile hike on a whim.   Lois, the most trained by far disappeared quickly at the first climb.  I feel in pace a few runners behind Peter who was chatting up with another local runner.  Leah a few strides behind myself.   The trail popped out onto a back country road and we went past a few nice homes, and then this spectacle   The home didn't appear to have any kind of wooden roof, but just tarps.  And yet, somehow there were 3-4 emasculate chimneys.  Another runner suspected that he must be a mason.

(Crazy tarp house in the woods that had amazing chimneys)

Before too long on the road we ducked back into the woods and dropped down along a green winding single track hugged the edge of a stream.  It was amazingly refreshing.  If only it wasn't so dark and misty i might have been able to get a few photos worth a dang.

After we switch backed our way out of the stream bed we were treated to our first overlook of the day. The volunteer here stated that on a clear day you could see all of the way to the bridge that we'd cross 10 miles from here.  Sadly today we were only able to see to the river.

After another steep decent through some really old growth we were back at the starting line having completed our first 5 mile lolly pop loop and would head south on the Mason Dixon Trail.   The damage from Hurricane Irene and the other storms that rolled through Pennsylvania was still noticeable a year later.  It became very obvious why they had to postpone the 2011 running.

The Mason Dixon Trail shares a lot of farm roads similar to the MS Greenway here in NH.  Except rather than abandoned farm and carriage roads, they still are used often here in Soy bean/Corn and Amish country so they were amazing well used and kept up

Peter, Leah, and I fall into a good ultra pace of shuffling the downs, and hiking the climbs.  The clicking of our hiking sticks ticking at a nice rhythm on the hard pack.   We pass a deer farm at the turn and climb towards the first aid station.  Peter laughs and says, "in a state where we have the most deer strikes due to over-population of course we have to farm them too."   The aid station is a bustle.  There are a TON of runners/hikers and volunteers but somehow they all seem to have the chaos in check.  I still have plenty of fluids and food so i help myself to the chomps and a Payday candy bar.  I haven't had a candy bar never mind a Payday in YEARS.  It's a delightful treat.  From the aid station you descend along a wonderful green tunnel back into the woods and down toward the river.

The trail follows the river very closely at times (within 3-4 feet) which is very cool and refreshing.  That is of course until you run right next to a sign that says this.

Thankfully we again are climbing and getting higher along the ridge that borders the river.  The sun even decides to show itself for the next couple of miles so i'm suddenly in very good spirits.  The thought of us having come down to a wonderfully scenic course and being denied the scenery wasn't sitting well with me.

The climb is short and sweet, and after another stream crossing we drop back down towards the river and pass the remains of an old mill.  I stand in it for a bit waiting for the Bouncing Belanger's to catch up to me. 

As we approach the second aid station.  (The unofficial half way point in my brain) we come to Lock 12.  An old restored lock that was once a series of locks to help cargo move along the once un-level Susquehanna River.

(I couldn't resist getting a shot from the inside.  The bridge at the back of this shot is where we cross over)

We restock again at the aid station. The heat is getting to some of the runners/hikers.  I overhear a race volunteer saying that the big storms that are coming in should be here in the next few hours and that people that wanted to avoid them need to get going.   That was all i needed to hear and we took off across the bridge.  The longest, most paved, WORST part of the course.  Thankfully it had a decent sized shoulder, but the trucks and cars going by at 40-50mph didn't really put us that at ease.  The horse a buggy was a nice touch though.

The trails are just starting to get fun Peter says.  He does a race that goes from the Finish line south to the park where we take our next break in a field.  The trails ahead are going to get very rocky and challenging.  Leah groans, I beam with excitement.  

Some of the rocks here are amazing in size.  The trail builders/maintainers have put together a great winding trail between, under, above, and along amazing outcrops and over streams. I snap as many photos as possible in the next stretch driving other runners crazy as i zip past them, and then stop and soak my bandanna in the cool water and snap more photos while they pass me.  

(of course i found a feather and stuck it in my visor)

I ask Peter how much longer do we boulder like this?  I'm having a blast but Leah's feet were all sorts of beat up and she seemed to have stopped having fun a time ago.   He says at least 5 or 6 more miles.  I'm not sure if Leah heard him or saw the dark storm clouds moving in, or maybe even the constant rumble of thunder that seemed to be reaching defining levels.  Either way she made sad face and continued to plod along.  At the next stream crossing I shrug and just splash thru it vs trying to avoid the water.  I figure we're going to get soaked anyways.

(I didn't take this, but it gives you a good idea)

Boy was I under estimating that statement. It got as dark as dusk, and then the skies opened up like nothing i had seen since along the ridge with Rik back at the 2009 MMT.  The wind howled, trying to blow us off the ridge.  The rain coming down sideways and the trail slowly turned from single track trail to flooded stream bed.  I laughed and proclaimed "is that the best you got?!?"  Leah and Peter slowed a bit and cautiously trotted along as to not slip and fall. I splashed ahead like a little kid laughing and jumping in every deep puddle i can find. Sliding down the muddy slopes grabbing onto trees like a lunatic.

The rain lets up a bit as we catch up onto an older runner that's in trouble.  He's staggering all over the place and isn't really with it.  We catch him around the same time as two other runners.  The military build guy grabs the runner before he falls over.  We sit him down on a log and talk to him a bit.  I give him two fruit cups and a GU and he wolfs down the food.  He hadn't eaten anything in some time he said.  Poor guy.  He looked like he weighed all of 80lbs soaking wet.  We try to walk with him and the other two for a bit before Peter heads off ahead to see if he can find a road crossing.  Other runners come roaring past and don't even look up or offer any help.   After what feels like forever Kim? I think her name was, a young runner i had spoke with earlier in the day who was a EMT and Nurse showed up on the scene.  She seamlessly went from racer to EMT and had him answer a slue of questions.  In the meantime a few of the other runners that had stopped had got in contact with the race officials and help was on the way.  There was nothing left that Leah or I could do so we left the remaining runners and headed off to finish our own race.   

After climbing up the "soul crushing climb" the trail followed the contours to a cool cave that we had to half drop into and then walk along.  Thankfully it was short so i didn't freak out too bad.  
(Thru the caves)

Before too long we popped out on a brandy new paved road which appeared to lead to no where.  We followed it for 50 feet or so before ducking back into the woods on a super slippery muddy single track trail that ran along some residences that appeared to be good with woodwork. 
(Amish RV?)

At the last turn the course follows another tributary away from the Susquehanna which has some wonderful homes (and scary ones) built on the hillside.  A local resident has dixie cups and beer out for races.  Well, to be fair, he had Gatorade and water, but was drinking beer and offered.  At 27 miles into a 28 mile race, soaked to the bone, who could turn that down?

( have Yuengling?)

(A brief visit of Pappa Smurf)

(This is what happens when you use too much Miracle Grow)

Leah and I splashed over the finish line a shade under 10 hours.  Peter about 20 minutes ahead of us.  Lois another 10 ahead of him.  It was one hell of a wild ride.  The course was amazing.  The first half so run-able with almost unbearable humidity and scorching sun in the soy bean fields. The second half so rocky and filled with boulders, stream crossings, cold caverns, and thunderstorms.   (Footnote here for reference. These storms ended up being the same band of storms that caused all of the local Tornado-watches/power outages)  The volunteers were great.  The food supplies at the aid stations and the finish line were one of the best I've EVER.  I certainly won't make the drive an annual event, but this is certainly one i'd really like to do again.