As always an amusing, but well written report on Ben's come from behind win at the Rhode Island 6 Hour Ultra. Also congrats to Ben for winning the Grand Tree Champion Title, the New England trail running series has races from 7 miles to 50 miles in distance, and counts your 6 best races for the overall title.
Rhode Island 6hr Ultra and Relay 2009
One of the first things you do when writing a scientific paper is to explain your rationale for doing the study. The Rhode Island 6hr Ultra and Relay was definitely an experiment for me, and I’m glad I ran, but I’m still not sure why I did it. My initial reason for running was to get a fast 50 mile time. Unless you travel all over the country to compete at some of the big trail races, it’s hard to know how you compare to other trail ultra runners. However, a fast road course is the ultra version of a track time; the confounds of terrain and topography are at the very least minimized. My other related rationale was to replace the North Face San Francisco race. I was hoping to attend that race, but it doesn’t fit with my work schedule, so this would be my last big race of the fall. I also love running in cooler weather, and try to take advantage of races in the late fall and early spring. I had heard that Martin Tighe was running, and figured we might be able to help each other out, as he had just run a 2:32 marathon at age 51!! I have no idea what kind of road marathon shape I’m in, but my long runs had been going well, similar to when I ran my 50k PR. My plan was to run 6:45 pace for a while, and go from there…
The race consisted of 2.7 mile loops through a park just south of Providence RI. I straight out hate roads, but this paved bike path is about as good as it gets. It was protected from the wind for most of the loop, ran past a scenic ocean bay for about half the loop, and was pretty flat. I’ll present the race loop by loop, with cumulative distance, time, pace, and my position relative to Martin Tighe (aka “The Race Maker”).
1 2.70121 – 16:58 (6:18) ----------- even with MT
After a 6:07 opening mile that felt easy, but was definitely not a 6:45, we slowed, a little. This was my first and last lap with my Inov-8 singlet on.
2 5.4024 – 17:36 (6:31)------34:35 – 1 sec down on MT
I was trying to convince Martin to back off, to the point of exaggerating a few mile spits. Didn’t work.
3 8.104 – 17:37 (6:31)-------52:12 - even with MT
Felt slower. Wasn’t. Oh well, I didn’t feel like running alone, and we weren’t too far from my pre-race pace. Martin gives up on wearing a singlet at this point.
4 10.805 – 18:01 (6:39)------1:10:12 – even with MT
5 13.506 – 17:58 (6:38)--------1:28:40 – even with MT
6 16.207 – 18:14 (6:45)--------1:46:24 – even
We were finally settling into a nice pace. Martin’s family had mastered his bottle handoffs, and I was doing fine with self-service.
7 18.908 – 17:26 (6:30)-------2:03:50 – 51 sec. down (MT ran 16:35 for that loop – 6:08 pace!!)
I went for a new water bottle, and Martin went for the win. I chased him for the first mile, and when I went through one mile 10 seconds behind in 6:18, I immediately backed off. This was my first road 50 mile, and I was pretty confident my legs would not take many miles at that pace. I do about 90% of my miles on trails.
8 21.61 - 17:51 (6:37)--------2:20:41 - 1:00 down
9 24.31 – 18:09 (6:44)--------2:39:57 – 2:48 down
10 27.102 – 18:18 (6:47)--------2:58:09 – 3:19 down
At this point, I was running my own race, hoping to settle back into 6:45 pace. My legs were starting to get tight from all the pavement. The marathon passed in about 2:52:50.
11 29.713 – 18:38 (6:54)--------3:16:48 – 4:07 down
12 32.414 – 18:54 (6:59)-------3:35:42 – 4:56 down
13 35.1157 – 19:26 (7:11)-------3:55:08 – 5:58 down
My legs started to cramp at times over these miles. I was pretty sure I wasn’t low on electrolytes, so I thought seriously about dropping out. If my legs were just not ready for 6 hours of road, I would probably continue to deteriorate, and I wasn’t prepared to risk injury just to finish.
14 37.817 – 20:22 (7:32)--------4:15:30- 7:12 down
15 40.518 – 20:05 (7:26)--------4:35:35 – 7:16 down
After hearing of Martin’s 7 minute lead, I began to wonder if I would be lapped. My legs were able to handle the much slower pace, but I was disappointed with how much time I was losing.
16 43.219 – 20:33 (7:36)--------4:56:08 – 5:27 down
I was somewhat shocked to hear that I was gaining on Martin. I thought that there might be a chance that he was also hurting from the early pace, but was also aware that he is an actual road runner.
17 45.92 – 20:35 (7:36)---------5:16:40 – 1:36 down
Obviously Martin had some issues, and while I just wanted to run it in after 5 hours, I could not let my current pace slow after making up that much time. I gave Paul Kirsch a “Are you kidding me?” look when he informed me of the shrinking lead. After the race, Martin told me he went down to the ground to stretch his hamstrings on this lap. I was amazed that he was able to actually get back up. I would have had to be lifted back up with a crane!
18 48.623 – 20:22 (7:32)--------5:37:02 - EVEN
I felt like a bad person on this lap. I slowly closed on Martin and a blonde female running companion. He eventually broke away from his pacer as I neared, and she yelled, “RUN DADDY, RUN! HE’S COMING!” I thought she might trip me, so I faked high and went low when making the pass. I finally caught back up with Martin after 30 miles right at the start of the loop.
19 51.323 – 21:39 (8:00)--------5:58:41 (6:59) – 1:00 up
Stupidly, I tried to surge right at the start of the last loop. After both hamstrings tried to tear themselves in half, I slowed to a manageable pace, and hoped that Martin wasn’t going to drop down to 6 minute pace and roll on by. By the last mile, I had a comfortable lead, and tried to preserve what was left of my legs. I went through 50 miles at 5:47. My legs were toast.
Apparently, I ran too fast over the first 20 miles. I knew I was taking a risk, but felt that this was a good opportunity to be a bit overly optimistic. I would have preferred to run a more evenly paced race; the last 15 miles were not pleasant, at all, and winning did not make my legs feel any better. It is possible I would have slowed in the last few miles no matter what pace I started at, but I don’t think I would have faded as badly with a more conservative first marathon. Although I would have liked to run with Martin, he was right on 6:35 pace through 40 miles, which is pretty impressive for anyone, not to mention a 51 yr old! Even with our crawl home, we both managed to run under 5:50 for 50 miles.
It is interesting to note that I last ran an ultra in Rhode Island 2003 at the Nifty 50. My 50k time, a slow 3:14, ended up being the fastest 50k in North America that year. Six years later, and the American 50k Record is at 2:47, there usually is one sub 3 hour 50k a year, and US men and women are some of fastest ultra runners in the world. It is an exciting time to be an ultrarunner in the US.
I have to thank Bob Jackman, Ray Nelson, and the rest of the race staff for putting on a fantastic event. It was very well organized in my opinion, and I’ve been to a race or two over the years. The course is perfect for first time runners, as well as experienced ultra runners looking to set a PR. You can easily crew for yourself, and the aid station staff definitely knew what they were doing. Ray is the absolute master of measuring courses. We had 1 and 2 mile splits on the loop, and 2 different ways to get to fifty miles (there was a 0.9 mile add on loop). The marathon, and 50k points were also clearly marked. The relay race was great, and I especially appreciated the relay runners during the 30 miles while I was running solo. Both the relay runners and my fellow ultra runners were extremely supportive throughout the race. I apologize for my lack of responses over the last three loops; the pain in my legs had me splintering my teeth!
While I feel that I certainly worked hard during my 6 hours, there were a few people that I passed that were definitely working much harder. Some of them were much older than I, while others had to overcome physical challenges. Their efforts were truly impressive, and extremely inspiring. Congratulations to all.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
As always an amusing, but well written report on Ben's come from behind win at the Rhode Island 6 Hour Ultra. Also congrats to Ben for winning the Grand Tree Champion Title, the New England trail running series has races from 7 miles to 50 miles in distance, and counts your 6 best races for the overall title.
Monday, November 23, 2009
DeWayne Satterfield won the Dizzy Fifties 40 mile race in Huntsville, AL this past Saturday (5:46). DeWayne wore the Roclite 295's and said they were perfect for this course which had a rocky loop and a smooth single track loop. Amber Moran set a PR in the mile (5:03) at the Santa Special Human Race yesterday in Kingsport, TN. She was also 2nd OA and first female.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Make it two years in a row for Joe Gray being awarded the top mountain runner by the Mountain/Ultra/Trail Running (MUT) Council of long distance running. See the attached press release for Joe's accolades and other award winners. Congrats Joe!
For Release: November 22, 2009
USATF Mountain Ultra Trail Council Announces Runners of the Year
Indianapolis, IN ---- The Mountain/Ultra/Trail Running (MUT) Council of long distance running has named the 2009 USATF Mountain Runners of the year, Ultra Runners of the Year, and Contributor of the Year. The following individuals will be recognized at the USATF National Convention in Indianapolis, on Saturday, December 5, at an awards breakfast.
Mountain men open: Joseph Gray, 25, Lakewood, WA, wins his second consecutive USATF Mountain Runner of the Year title. He started out the mountain season in Vail, CO, on the weekend of June 6 running an uphill half marathon (Saturday) and a 10km trail race (Sunday) finishing in third and second respectively. Later that month he finished third at Mount Washington Road Race and won the USA Mountain Running Championships at Cranmore earning a spot on his second Teva U.S. Mountain Running Team. He was the second U.S. finisher at the World Mountain Championships in Madesimo-Campodolcino, Italy, finishing in 16th place. Gray spent much of the summer in Europe racing and was fifteenth overall in the WMRA Grand Prix standings with only two WMRA Grand Prix race finishes (out of seven) to his credit.
Mountain men master: Dave Dunham, 45, Bradford, MA, took home the gold in the 45-49 at the US Mountain Championships at Mt Cranmore. He was also the USATF New England champion (45-49) at Northfield Mountain and was the masters USATF NE Mountain running series champion. Mountain results included: 1st 45-49 at Wachusett Mountain, 1st 40-49 at Pack Monadnock, 1st 45-49 at Northfield Mountain (USATF NE championship), 1st 45-49 at Mt Washington, 1st 45-49 at Mt Cranmore (US National championship), 1st 40-49 at Loon Mountain, 1st 40-49 at Mt Ascutney. In addition Dave continued to volunteer at the Association and National level. He was the official scorekeeper for the USATF NE Mountain series, directed multiple trail/mountain races, and served as the manager for the junior runners on the US Mountain team. Dunham was the USATF Mountain Runner of the Year in 2000.
Mountain women open: Brandy Erholtz, 32, Bailey, CO, is a repeat winner in this category having also won in 2008. In June, she finished first at the Native Eyewear Spring Runoff 10k in Vail, first at the Mount Washington Road Race, and finished second at the US Mountain Running Championships and was a member of the gold-medal winning Team USA at the NACAC Mountain Running Championships. She earned an at-large spot on her second Teva U.S. Mountain Running Team and was the top American woman finisher in Italy at the World Mountain Running Championships finishing 10th to lead the U.S. Women to a bronze-medal finish. She finished second at the USA 10km Trail Running Championships. She finished fifth at the Cheyenne Canon Mountain Race, first at the Barr Mountain Trail Race where she set a new women's course record, and won the VAC Vail Mountain Winter Uphill Snowshoe. She was first at the Montrose 10k uphill road race setting a course record and in international competition in Switzerland raced to a third-place finish at Thyon-Dixence, and fifth place at Sierre-Zinal, (top US finisher at both of these events).
Mountain women master: Laura Haefeli, 42, Del Norte, CO, was the 2004 and 2005 open mountain runner of the year and has earned masters’ recognition for the second consecutive year. She finished third overall at the Cheyenne Canon Mountain Race, was second in the Native Eyewear Spring Runoff 10k in Vail, and was the USA National Mountain Running Masters champion and a member of the gold-medal US Team at the NACAC Mountain Running championships.
Ultra men open: Michael Wardian, 35, Arlington, VA, wins his second consecutive Ted Corbitt Memorial USATF Ultra Runner of the Year Award in 2009. Wardian finished ninth at the 2008 (November 2008) IAU World Cup 100km in Tarquina, Italy, and at the 2009 IAU World Cup 100km in, Torhout, Beligum, he finished in sixth position and was the first US finisher. Wardian earned a bronze medal at the IAU 50km World Championships in Gibraltar and was the first US Finisher. He was the US 50km Road National Champion, and the US 50 Mile Trail Champion. Wardian showed his prowess in shorter distance competition with his finish at the US Cross Country National Championships in 46th place overall. At the Marathon Des Sables-Sahara Desert, Morocco, Wardian finished in eighth place overall which was the highest finish ever by a U.S. competitor. He was fifteenth overall at Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run, just eight days after finishing sixth overall in the IAU World Cup 100km. He posted a third place finish at The North Face Endurance Challenge-50 Miler, Washington, DC and ran eight marathons in 2009 and set a PR in the marathon in 2009 of 2:21:09.
Ultra men master: Roy Pirrung, 61, Sheboygan, WI, is a repeat winner in this category having won this award in 2007 and 2008. Pirrung’s results included in November 2008, first 60-64 finisher and a pending 60-64 American record in the open race held concurrently with the IAU World Cup 100km in Italy, and at the 24 Hour Championships in McKinney, TX, a fifth place overall, first 60-64. In 2009 Pirrung won his age group at the following events, the USA 50km Road Championships, the Mad City 50km, the Door County Fall 50-mile, and the Ice Age Trail 50-mile. He finished second in his age group at both the USA 50 Mile Trail Championships and the USA 100km Trail Championships. The Door County 50 was Pirrung’s 150th Ultra race. Pirrung serves as the vice-chairperson of the USATF Mountain Ultra Trail Running Council and is active in his local USATF association.
Ultra women open: Kami Semick, 43, Bend, OR, is the Ruth Anderson USATF Ultra Runner of the Year 2009 having posted an outstanding year on the road and trails. She was the USA 50km Road Champion, and the USA 50 Mile Trail Champion. At the IAU World 50km Road Championships Semick finished first overall. Semick won the individual gold medal at the IAU World Cup 100km to lead Team USA to a gold-medal performance. She also won the American River 50 mile and the Miwok 100k. In addition in 2008 at the IAU World Cup 100km Semick earned a silver medal to lead Team USA to a silver-medal podium appearance.
Ultra women master: Anita Ortiz, 45, Eagle, CO, won the Moab Red Hot 50k, was first at 12 hours of Moab (team race), finished second at the Miwok 100km, turned in an outstanding first place finish (setting a “rookie” record) at Western States 100 Miler. She won the Pikes Peak Marathon and finished first at the San Juan Solstice 50 mile. Ortiz was a two-time USATF Mountain Runner of the Year (2002 and 2003) and two-time USATF Masters Mountian Runner of the Year (2004 and 2007).
Contributor of the Year – Paul Kirsch. Kirsch was the race director for NACAC/USA Mountain Running Champs where one of his duties was to coordinate housing and transportation for elite athletes (more than 30 in total from the U.S., Canada, and Mexico). Kirsch serves as the USATF-NE Mountain Ultra Trail Chairperson. He provides website design and maintenance for the US Mountain Running Team website & blog (usmrt.com). He headed up the USATF-NE Mountain Running Circuit which saw increased participation this year, and he was the Co-Race Director for the Loon Mountain Race. He also coordinated housing and transportation for elite athletes for the Mount Washington Race. He successfully recruited the Rhode Island 6 Hour Ultra to be USATF-NE Ultra Championships and attended as volunteer liaison from the mountain ultra trail council of USATF NE. Kirsch is President of the White Mountain Milers Running Club. He served as race director for the Inov-8 Summer Series in North Conway, NH, and the USSSA Snowshoe Race (National Champs Qualifier). He provided timing/results and course setup for a number of races in New England near his home in Madison, NH.
In order to be considered for the USATF Mountain and Ultra running awards an athlete must show top results in U.S. competitions for 2009 (November 1, 2008 through October 31, 2009) to include mountain races (these may be on paved/gravel surfaces as long as there is significant elevation loss or gain) and trail races of varying lengths, as well as road races for the ultra category (distances beyond the marathon). International results are also considered. The nominee must be an ambassador for the sport. Nominee must be a USATF member for 2009, and to be considered for the masters’ category athlete must be a minimum of 40 years of age. For a list of past winners in the other categories, please visit www.usatf.org.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
I only know of one team member racing again this weekend and that is Gina Lucrezi at the Philadelphia Half Marathon. The road race is this Sunday in downtown Philly.
The big ultra race in Washington County, Maryland should also be a good one this Saturday with lots of fast names toeing the line both men and women.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
Getting way out into the woods has been one of my passions for a long time. When I think back, it certainly stems from my adolescent and teen years playing Dungeons and Dragons and reading every Tolkien book ever written. I dreamed of adventure, fighting Orcs and discovering treasure. As I grew older, the emphasis slowly changed, and I was less concerned with the monsters and treasure, and more taken with the ideas of exploring the unknown wild places.
So here I am, 34 years old, having swapped my trusty (imaginary) horse for a mountain bike; my torches for headlamps; my flat bread rations for Raw Rev bars and electrolyte gummies; my armor for Ibex wool racing clothes and Inov-8 trail shoes; and my sword for my paddle and trekking poles. I still wear that same backpack and helmet from those earlier days, albeit they are certainly made of much lighter materials now, and I am pretty sure my modern helmet wouldn’t save my noggin if it did encounter an orc’s axe.
As adventure races go – the Gold Rush Mother Lode is one of the hardest and most out there in the US. Organized by a group of individuals that are all infamous racers themselves, this race pulls no punches – the idea being to get the racers so far out of their comfort zone that they have to dig down deep and work together to discover a way to keep going. Didn’t Frodo and the Fellowship have to do something similar?
Our merry band of three (myself, Daniel Staudigel, and Chelsey Gribbon) headed out on a grand adventure this past weekend, across a landscape right out of the land of the hobbits - Tuolumne Valley, Clavey Confluence, Hampey Trail, Rogge’s Gap, the village of Twainhart. We paddled up river canyons, trekked up and down high summits, climbed craggy cliffs, and mountain biked on rough fire roads and single-track. At times there were no trails at all, and it was only our map, compass and wits that kept us on track as we fought through the thick brush. As dorky as it is, I can’t stop drawing parallels between the world of my youthful imagination and the one I now inhabit during races.
We traveled doggedly on for 4 days, stopping only to sleep for 3 hours total. Eventually, the line between reality and imagination became blurred. Instead of having goblins or dwarves to battle, something even worse plagued us – the SleepMonsters.
The SleepMonsters are very real and documented phenomena that attacks ultra endurance athletes across the world. Scientifically it amounts to the dream-state patterns of the brain breaking through to the optic cortex. In short, racers begin seeing their dreams while they are still awake. Scary stuff, depending on what is locked up in one’s head.
During the second night, we were ambushed by all manner of SleepMonsters – dragons, witches, giant bunnies, border patrol agents, the mad hatters, undead road kill, our parents (very frightening), and a huge army of dilapidated washing machines.
One of the strangest moments came just toward the end of the third night. We’d emerged from a long, freezing cold wilderness section, and into a small town. The checkpoint we were looking for ended up being inside a giant Casino – at the Player’s Club desk. It was 3:00 AM, and we entered this place of warmth, lights and cacophony. Suddenly our hallucinations seemed more normal than what we were actually seeing. The warmth shocked our systems, and we lost all touch on reality. I felt a bit like the Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, trying to fight of the hypnotic lull of the poppies.
When we finally emerged, we couldn’t get our bearings and wandered off into the night. The next thing I remember is being woken up by a police officer. The three of us were lying next to our bikes along the side of a road. As luck would have it, we’d only slept for 11 minutes. I dug deep into my pack and pulled out the last of our magic potions –Sambazon Organic Energy Drink.
The rest of the race went by in a tired haze, with hours of paddling, trekking across a high desert plateau, and then sprinting to a heroes welcome at the finish line.
Our hallucinations continued throughout the subsequent feast and knighting ceremony, where we learned we’d finished the quest in 2nd place, just barely behind the knights from a place called Northern California. We were presented with medals and treasure and more food. Then the itching started.
Funny thing – in all my years of exploring in the virtual worlds of imaginative role playing, never once did I have a character get afflicted with Poison Oak. Come to think of it, I don’t remember Gandalf ever warning Bilbo or Frodo to avoid “leaves of three”. Who’d of thought – a tiny little innocuous looking plant that has the power to bring the mightiest adventurer to their knees with a single brush? I wish it were only fantasy….
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Hoping his legs are rested up from this past week's trail marathon victory. Ben Nephew will be at the Rhode Island 6 hour Ultra this Sunday. This race serves as the 2009 USATF New England Ultra Championship. If anybody knows a thing or two about back-to-back weekends of successful racing, it is Ben. The course is a fast, rolling 2.7 mile road loop through scenic wooded sections of Warwick City Park in Warwick, RI.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Team Yogaslackers had a couple of things going on this weekend. The core adventure racing group took second in the four day GoldRush AR in Sonoma County, California, narrowly missing first. Hopefully one of the guys will put on a race report soon. Secondly, I (Andy Magness, Yogaslacker at large), along with Mario Czarnomski set out to do a one day run of the Mantario Trail in Canada. There's a video of our exploit here.
I ran the entire 41 miles in the X-talon 212's and in a single pair of debris socks. i'd brought several changes of socks because i knew my feet would be wet, and they were, but for some reason (ruggedness of the terrain? quick drying socks? superior footwear/biomechanics?) i never needed to change them out and finished with no blisters and just the beginnings of hot spots on the balls of my feet. And of course i didn't get any debris to speak of in the shoes. After 14 hours of foot travel through pretty rugged terrain i was suprised to say the least. Anyway, it was a good adventure!
A great recap by Ben of his CR at the Stonecat Marathon this past Saturday.
STONECAT TRAIL MARATHON 2009
I’ve been trying to get to the Stone Cat races for a few years, but either had work conflicts or the race has closed out. Last year I went up to VT to run the PEAK Funeral Run 50 miler with 13k of climbing, which was very different from Stone Cat. I decided to do the marathon this year, as the 50 miler seemed very similar to the North Face 50 miler down in DC, and I’ve got some other things planned for later this fall. I knew the course was pretty fast (two 12.5 mile loops with a one mile add-on), and that Greg Hammett was running, so I figured I’d have some company.
Instead of warming up or getting ready, I spent my pre-race time talking with some trail locals, the Schmitts, Rich Busa, Greg, Jack Pilla, and Todd Walker. I was a little sad about skipping the 50 miler, as it had a great group of guys in the field, but I was also looking forward to running on fast trails in pretty ideal weather. It was a bit on the chilly side, but the folks at Inov-8 will be happy to hear that the cold forced me to wear a singlet for the first time since France. Everyone was giving me a hard time about me not going shirtless, but it was 28F when we started!
Greg and I settled into a comfortable pace pretty quickly, and basically went for a long run. He admitted that it was probably a little too fast for him, but didn’t seem to be struggling at all. It was a little difficult passing the entire 50 mile field during the first loop, but things spread out pretty quickly. I was trying to focus on staying relaxed, as I tend to overestimate my fitness in my own long runs, where the first few miles are sometimes my fastest. Right as I was starting to get warmed up, the 6am start came back to haunt me. I just never have time to get things done at these early races, and told Greg I needed to make a pit stop. He kept going, and I soon got back on trail and was immediately confused at the first intersection I hit. There were a few other befuddled runners there, and I luckily realized where we all were supposed to go. I pointed them left and I went right, where Greg was taking a pit stop of his own. I slowed to wait for him and we returned to winding through the trails and fire roads of Willowdale State Forest.
It’s definitely a very flat course, but there are a lot of turns that wear you down after a while. Greg and I both thought I could run under 3hrs on the course, and I had an imaginary goal of 1:30 for the first loop (including a 6 minute start loop). He mentioned that last year, he had never caught Leigh, who won the 50 miler in 6:30. When we passed him with miles to go in the first loop, Greg wondered if he might be going too fast. We both noted that the lead men didn’t seem to be in much of a hurry at that point, and weren’t too far ahead of the lead women. At about 1:20, Greg started to fall off the pace a bit. As I focused on trying to keep things under control for first half of the race, I inched away from Greg. Including the 6 minute loop at the start, I hit the start/finish area sometime around 1:31:45, which wasn’t too far off my guess. I grabbed my secret fuel (flat Coke and Nuun tablets, sshhhh!), and headed back onto the 12.5m loop. I was still feeling rested at this point, and was looking forward to seeing how fast I could run the second half of the race.
The first couple miles of the last loop were much more enjoyable without anyone to pass, and I hoped I was on my way to running negative splits. I decided to start running hard with about 8 miles to go, which would be the first aid station. My legs felt fine, and my feet were perfectly comfortable in my 230’s. This is the second trail marathon I’ve run in my 230’s, so I knew that they would work well. It was fun passing some of the runners on my second loop, as everyone was very supportive. When I spotted Rich Busa, I noticed that he was wearing the hat we had just given him for his 80th birthday! By the time I hit the last aid station with 5 mile to go, the incessant turns were starting to wear on me. I was still holding a good pace, but I wasn’t accelerating as well out of the turns and following the few short hills. As I started to recognize that the finish was approaching, I cranked up the pace up last time. With a last loop of about 1:23, I ran a 2:54:48 to lower Greg’s CR from last year by 10 minutes. My 230’s did a great job of protecting my feet from roots and rocks, and my legs felt good enough the next day to go for 10 miles. It was an ideal day for running fast, and it was nice to be able take advantage of my current fitness.
Kevin Sullivan looked great coming through halfway in the 50 at 3:05, and it was too bad his calf started to act up. Brian Rusiecki held on best to win in 6:27 with Leigh and Jack Pilla in 2nd and 3rd, and Dave Herr in 4th. The race organizers do a great job, and it’s a spectacular course at this time of year. I think the entire New England trail running community appreciates the work it takes to organize an event like Stone Cat.
Monday, November 9, 2009
Ever since I broke my femur five years ago at the Stone Cat trail race it has been a mentally challenging race for me. Each lap I can spot the exact root that I tripped on. With time I have learned many good lessons and to this day continue to learn from the incident. This year like always the butterflies started early for me, but the four lap course was the perfect place for me to try my completely new fueling strategy.
Teammate Kevin Sullivan and his family were kind enough to put my husband and I up the night before the race. With a full belly and everything laid out for the next day I tried to sleep. Saturday morning race check in went smoothly and before I knew it we were lined up for the start. The marathoners and the fifty milers would start together, but before running the full 12.5 mile loop the marathoners would run an extra mile loop. After the field split I spotted Amy Lane in front of me who was tucked behind the lead male group. I tucked behind her and said hello. At this point I was surprised that the men’s group wasn’t going out harder. I was tempted to pass them to see if they would respond, but figured that instead of the intended response of a smile and a faster pace I may get bad karma for toying with them.
Eventually the pack of lead male runners picked up their pace and disappeard ahead of Amy and I. From here Amy and I took turns setting the pace and at times were joined by a male runner or two. The first lap went smoothly and we pulled into the start/finish around 1:41. I took a look at my first bottle and realized that I hadn’t really hydrated enough the first lap. I quickly dropped my jacket, grabbed a fresh bottle and headed back out on course with Amy.
The second lap was more comfortable as the temperature started to rise and the frost started to disappear. I continued to remind myself to drink and cracked open a gu about 17 miles into the race. Immediately after I opened the package I stubbed my toe and did a superman. Landing on the package it squirted covering me with gu and pine needles. If there is one thing that I cannot stand it is being sticky. I tried to eat what I could of the gu, dust off and continue to keep pace. The rest of the lap played out like the first with Amy and I chatting and taking turns leading the way, we pulled into the lap area around 3:37.
Again at the start/finish I checked my bottle to make sure I was taking enough in and went to grab a new bottle. As I was in the process I saw Kevin walking towards me and I thought he yelled to me “go get her”. Panic set in and I took off thinking Amy was in front of me. I ran a pretty aggressive pace for about two miles before being told by several runners that there were no females in front of me. I settled back into my original pace and tried to focus on the footing. I ran alone but had the chance to chat with other runners as I passed them along the way. I knew there were two male fifty mile runners a few minutes in front of me and I hope to narrow the margin so to have some company. In the attempt catch the runners I missed a turn. My immediate reaction was panic, but then I calmed down, corrected my error and got back on course. Again wanting to make up for lost time I started turning my legs over at a high rate. This paid off as I caught one of the fifty mile male runners in front of me. He was excited to see me because he was starting to slow and needed someone to help him continue to hold the pace. As we got close to the start/finish area at the end of our third lap I spotted my pacer who was waiting patiently, but eagerly.
After grabbing a fresh bottle, a gu and my Outdoor Research visor I joined Theresa and we were off. We were joined by the male who I ran the tail end of the third lap with and Theresa entertained us with her conversation. About fifteen minutes into the loop on a slight climb I felt my first real significant drop in energy. I quickly grabbed for a gu and chased it with about a quarter of my bottle. Within five minutes I felt back to normal and was ready to get the race done. Throughout the lap Theresa was diligent about watching my speed and form and was energized to push me when the right opportunity presented itself. Time and mileage passed quickly as her stories and us catching up kept my mind occupied. After completing the last technical single track section we picked up the pace and were motoring. Theresa is amazing to watch, especially when she can open up her stride, I enjoyed watching her run. As we made the final turn onto the path that lead to the finishing field I turned to Theresa and said “the finish looks so far away”. Looking back I have no idea why I said that because we then proceeded to sprint it in. I finished with a time of 7:19.
Once I had finished I received my prize of beer (which made my husband extremely happy) I had the chance to talk to several people who were interested in the shoes I was wearing. I had raced in my trusty 320’s which provided ample cushion and plenty of traction for the course. We talked about Inov-8 shoes, socks and packs and of course the race too.
All said and done I couldn’t have prayed for a better day, it was a beautiful New England fall day, a great race and great support.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Some nice results rolling in thus far from the weekend. Aaron Saft ran a stellar race at the National Trail Marathon Championships in Ashland, OR with a 2:48 finishing time capturing 3rd OA. He said the course was awesome and they had some pretty cold temps especially up at the top of the main climb. Jeremy Ramsey got 5th OA with a 7:33 finishing time at the MMTR. Jeremy ran an awesome race in a stacked men's field. I got 3rd OA on a warm but beautiful day on the Shut In Ridge Run. More results and pics to come.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
The Lithia Loop Trail Marathon (USATF Trail Marathon Championship) is this Saturday and Aaron Saft and Scott Dunlap will be representing Team Inov-8. The marathon is in beautiful Ashland, OR and has a nice 3700' of elevation gain and is run primarily on dirt roads. Jeremy Ramsey and Jonathan Basham will be at the Mountain Masochist Trail Run outside of Lynchburg, VA. This point to point ultra of 50+ miles boasts huge climbs (9200' of gain) over many types of soft surface terrain with a little road thrown in at the start before finishing in Montebello, VA. The MMTR is event #5 in the Beast Series. DeWayne Satterfield will be racing in the 2nd annual Pinhoti 100 miler in AL. A point to point race climbing to the highest point in AL (yes AL has mtns), on beautiful single track for 80+ miles and the rest is jeep road with a small amount of pavement.
Aliza Lapierre will be racing at the Stone Cat 50 miler in Willowdale State Forest at Ipswich, Massachusetts. A rolling 12.5 looped course over mixed single and double track which is also an Inov-8 sponsored event. I'll be racing here in Asheville, NC at the Shut In Ridge Run, a tough point to point 18 mile uphill single track trail with 3k of elevation gain. A true mountain runner's paradise finishing near Mt. Pisgah at an elevation of 5k. Speaking of top notch mountain runners, Kevin Tilton will be at the USATF NE Cross Country Championships in Boston, MA this Sunday.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Monday, November 2, 2009
Thanks for Inov-8's continued support during the 2009 triathlon season. I had my best finish yet and fastest time at the XTERRA World Championships October 25 at Makena in Maui, Hawaii. The 11k run is perhaps one of the most difficult in XTERRA racing due to the heat and challenging terrain, nothing that my Inov-8 shoes couldn't handle.
It was my fourth time competing in the XTERRA World Championships and I hoped again for a faster time and maybe a few places closer to the podium than before.
Coming from near freezing temperatures in Park City, I arrived in Maui six days before the race, if not to prepare for the race but to get just a few more days of warm weather before winter really hits.
A shark attack the day we got to Maui’s south coast meant many of the local beaches were closed the day we arrived on the island and had us franticly driving up and down the coast trying to find somewhere we could take that initial first dip in salt water after a long day of traveling—even if it did mean becoming a tasty shark snack.
By the time race day rolled around, I was feeling pretty relaxed, my bike was ready, brand new UST Maxxis Crossmarks with extra Stans on my Blue Ryno, my best shot a preventing a flat on the unforgiving lava course.
I had had plenty of ocean swims, complete with sea turtles, and a slight tan as a result--which would at least make me look better during the race.
AND I had not contracted H1N1—yet. Perhaps the biggest feat of my last round of training.
The race featured more competition than ever—Triathlete all-star Julie Dibens, 3x XTERRA World Champ Melanie McQuaid, and mountain bike stars Shonny Vanlandingham and Marie-Helen Premont were just a few of the women in the race.
The cannon fired just after 9am and some 550 athletes rushed into the pleasantly non-wetsuit water off of Makena Beach.
I was feeling great during the two lap, 1500-meter swim with a grueling soft sand beach run in the middle, must be all that extra oxygen at sea level and salt water buoyancy.
Unaware of where I was in the race and unable to find someone to draft off of, I focused on my stroke and trying to swim in a straightest line possible.
I exited the water where I heard cheers from friends and family and into transition where I got some helpful tips from triathlon coach Jim Vance.
I headed out on the bike course in hopes I could get through it without too much traffic. No preriding on the course means heading out onto the bike course blind.
Soon the strong mountain bikers started passing, Renata Bucher, Shonny Vanlandingham, Carina Wasle .
I managed to stay with Carina for a while. We passed a bunch of media, which meant I wasn’t doing too badly as the media van only waits for the top competitors.
There’s no shortage of uphills on the 20-mile bike course (some 3000 feet in fact). Not riding the course beforehand, coupled with lots or riders on the course opting to hike meant I was often left with no other choice but to hike-a-bike.
The course was apparently less rocky than usual, but also seemed very dusty making some of the descents sketchy as I could not see my line.
I was starting to see the inevitable flats, mostly guys, until I saw my competitor and friend Renata Bucher on the side of the trail struggling to fix her puncture.
“Do you need anything,” I yelled as I approached.
“No I’m fine,” she responded.
I felt super bad for her, she had come into the race more prepared than ever and after placing 4th last year, was really hoping for a spot on the podium. It would be tough to get that back now.
I still have a hard time remembering the course, hot temperatures, lots of riders all around make it a blur.
I got a second wind as I ascended Ned’s Climb, the last steep climb before the highest point of the course, which always comes sooner than expected. I try to get ahead on this section before the infamous “Plunge.”
Really not that bad or technical, but high speed so crashing would be painful. Perhaps more of a risk than the rocks are the other riders. Picking the best line means often crossing the double track, but it’s hard to tell where the other riders are around you.
I always get a little fooled by the high point of the course, it still takes a lot of work to get down the volcano and perhaps the hardest part of the course, known as ‘The Boneyard’ is next. This is a flatter section of the course but it’s so rough where there never seems to be a good line.
Soon I was heading downhill again and toward T2.
At this point I was able to see what was going on at the front of the women’s race as they headed out on the run course. Julie Dibens, followed by Melanie McQuaid and a quick-paced Lesley Patterson.
I transitioned as quickly as possible in hopes to catch some women on the run—and not get caught by some strong runners behind me.
Rebecca Dussault was not far ahead and I heard a split I was in 11th place.
In the rush, I dropped my much-needed visor for the exposed run and made the split decision not to back track to get it in transition, as the weather had been cloudy—until now.
As I headed out on the run the clouds cleared and I squinted in the direct mid-day sun of to try to see the next water station and where I could cool off.
I was definitely feeling the heat—more so than I’d hoped.
The first two miles of the seven-mile run are mostly uphill followed by a rocky downhill and onto ‘Big Beach.’
After testing several shoes on the varied terrain opted to wear the Inov-8 Roclite 260s because I liked the cushioning for the rough, rocky downhill and the tread worked well on the sand and wet pebbles and lava rock.
Before hitting Big Beach I recieved another split from Jim Vance there was a bunch of other women in striking distance.
Racers have the option of running through the soft deep sand at the top of the beach or running closer to the ocean where the sand is harder but you’ll end up running further. I opted for the harder sand, and a chance to get my feet wet in the ocean.
Skim boarders waited patiently to catch their next wave as sweaty triathletes ran by.
The beach really takes it’s toll on competitors, as we neared the end of the beach a runner in front of me started ‘swerving’ and as I ran by fell on me! My reflexes held up a hand to push him back up.
I was now heading through spooky forest with just over a mile to go. This section has lots of trees to jump over and duck under and can give you a ringer if you miss-judge, trust me I know.
If the first beach wasn’t enough, we now had a second smaller beach to run across followed by a sketchy rock section close to the water.
Just when I felt the huge relief of knowing the race was ‘almost over’ enough for a 3rd wind I caught sight of another racer, Marie, what I thought was 10th place. I wanted speed up but running at speed was treacherous on this section.
I heard a few more cheers and grass under my feet allowed me to pick up the pace. Memories of an almost exact situation from last year when I was unable to close the gap and finished a second behind I did not want to repeat. Plus, passing the racer meant a top 10 finish.
More memories of cross country running races where a strong kick was always necessary.
With about 200 meters to go I dug out that old faithful kick from some five years ago, made the pass and didn’t let up until I crossed the line.
emma-maui-finishWhat I thought put me in the top 10, but unfortunately I was in 12th and moved up to 11th place, so I was slightly disappointed. However, It was a good finish, an improvement in both time and place from 2008.
Both the men’s and women’s races were exciting ones. In the women’s race, Julie Dibens took the lead on the bike and held it well on the run. Lesley Patterson made up moved up to second after the run and Melanie McQuaid placed third.
In the men’s race, Conrad Stoltz came off the bike followed by Josiah Middaugh but could not hold their 1-2 positions on the run. A surprise win and stellar by Enako Llanos to take first followed by Nico LeBrun and Michael Weiss.
Big thanks to my family, friends and sponsors for their support this season. I look forward to some time off before preparing for the 2010 season that will come soon with winter triathlon.