Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Traprock 50K 2012 Race Report

Traprock 50K Race Site
Less than a week after the Northern Nipmuck Trail Race I was on the road again to CT.  This time for my first visit to run in the Traprock 50K Race held at the Penwood State Park in Bloomfield, CT.  It was a quick week in VT but I still had training miles to get in.  This was key training time for the MMT 100 so again no time to taper except that I did manage to only do a short easy run on Friday before the trip down to CT.  For this race I decided to spend the night before at mom's being that she was less than an hour away and I hadn't discovered any great place to car camp the night before the race without being interrupted by the local authorities.  The five hour trip down was uneventful and I had my dinner on the fly as I drove non-stop.  The main course was a rice pesto/pasta with assorted veggies mixed in along with some garlic bread and a tossed salad.  Dessert was my home made apple crisp.  When I finally arrived at moms, I was hungry again.  It was getting close to 10 PM.  I saw a freshly baked cake with frosting.  That looked good!!  So for a bedtime/pre-race snack it was chocolate cake with a bit of tequila to simmer my brain down after the ride and it was just what the doctor ordered :)

I woke up not too early and had a waffle breakfast to get me going and then on the road for the 8:30 AM race start.  I had organized a drop bag to put at the start finish area of this 3 loop course.  I'm not wild about loop courses but it does make it easier when you are self supporting.  I had my GU Brew drinks all ready to go and my GU gels and electrolytes all pre-calculated for each loop.  I also had an extra pair of Drymax socks and a spare pair of Pearl Izumi shoes, just in case.  For the race I was wearing the Pearl Izumi Peak II trail shoes.  I managed to get in a quick pre-race run up the first hill to get the heart pumping.  Then it was to the start line.
Pre-race briefing

The Traprock 50K Start
I was lined up with Ben Nephew, Ryan Welts and Nate Sanel, all raring to go.  But first the pre-race briefing and then some.  It was very nice and informative but did take a bit longer than I thought.  Long enough for the body to seize up and stiffen up.  Finally the start which was about 100 yards along a paved park road then on trail and up and up.  Ben quickly took the lead with Nate and Ryan not far behind.  I was following trying to catch my breath.  The heart was pounding and trying to regroup.  Typically I need a bit of time to either warm up or to allow my body to ease into the run.  There was no time for it here so I struggled to get up the first mile waiting to feel my heart slow down a bit.  Finally the trail plateaued and I regrouped and got into my own groove.  I stayed behind Ben, Nate and Ryan letting them set the pace.   By the time we got to the Stairway to Heaven, Ben had gained some distance but was still visible.  Nate and Ryan and myself were still fairly tight.  After getting to "heaven" the trail mellowed out a bit and rolled up and down.  I discovered what "traprock"was as I stubbed my toe.  Traprock is a smaller, sharp rock.  For the most part it's stable but you feel in under foot and occasionally if you drag your feet, you nail it with your toe.

Traprock Rocky Trails

For the most part, the trails were in great shape.  No mud, just nice New England trail running with a combination of rocks and roots.  There was definitely some climbing, I think they mentioned there was 2300 feet of climbing each lap which would add up to nearly 7000 of ascending for this 50K race.

Traprock 50K Profile

At the far end of lap 1 there was the lollipop loop.  This was a quick out and back where you could see where other runners were.  Ben was clearly ahead while the three of us, Nate, Ryan and myself where rather close knit.  On the return lollipop we had a chance to see quite a few other runners not too far back and Kristina Folcik being the first woman was looking strong.  Fellow Vermonter Nick Yardley was right there too.

The return trip back was not as hilly and more runnable.  At this point, Ben was ahead with Ryan leading our pack and Nate following.  Not long into this section I passed Nate and caught up to Ryan.  We ran together for a while until the next aid station.  From here the trail was along an old broken up paved camp road.  At this point I went into marathon mode and just ran at a good steady pace.  Ryan mentioned this was not one of his strong points and I quickly lost him.  After about a mile it was back up and climbing until the final descent to the start/finish turnaround.  On the descent I saw Ben cruising up looking strong heading back out on lap 2.  At the turnaround I quickly replenished my GU Brew, grabbed some more Gu gels and a new supply of electrolyte pills.  It was starting to warm and it would be crucial to have the right nutrition/hydration to get through the rest of the race.

Ryan and Jack

Lap 2 I was on my own for most of it while passing some of the 17 K runners who started an hour later.  I kept the pace up and at the lollipop loop saw Ben again, with a comfortable lead but not too far ahead.  On the return of the lolliop loop I saw Ryan and Nate not that far back.  The rest of lap 2 I was just in cruise mode, trying to focus on hydration and electrolytes knowing that lap 3 would be the most demanding with the heat increasing.

As I pulled into the end of lap 2 I refueled again and back out for the final lap.  Ben was still comfortably ahead but I was told at the turnaround we were 8 minutes apart.  I kept moving along.  Ryan and Nate were farther back now too.  By the time I got to the lollipop I didn't see Ben which meant he was at least 10 minutes ahead and no sign of Ryan or Nate or anyone else which meant I was at least 10 minutes ahead of them.  With that in mind, I decided to back it down a bit.  No need to push it as I had more miles to do the next day and a big week ahead.  So I maintained, made sure I was hydrated, had sufficient electrolytes and fuel to get me to the finish.  The temps had risen maybe to the low 70's but it was dry so almost no sweating.  But, I could see my body was crusted over with salt.  Still, no cramping or even a hint of cramping which for me, is amazing.  It must be the bikram yoga I'm doing for heat training or maybe it was the cake and tequila snack the night before??

The Rock
Finally I arrived at the finish in a time of 4:23:57, claiming second place overall, 1st master and winner of my 50 age group.

Ben was first with a time of 4:05:56.  Ryan finished shortly after me with a time of 4:41:28.  Nick Yardley came in 5th for the men in a time of 5:04:56.  Kristina captured her second victory in a week after winning for the women at the No. Nipmuck the previous week.  Here she won in a time of 5:14:26.  Another fellow Vermonter running two 50K's that weekend including the "Don't Run Boston 50K" was Paul Sulva finishing Traprock in 7:34:09.  And Alison Aiken finished in a time of 6:39:59.

Full Results are available HERE.

The Gear:  Pearl Izumi Peak II Trail Shoes were awesome!  As were the Drymax light hiker sock for some added cushioning on the sharp rocks.  The Headsweats Super Duty Race Cap with it's Coolmax sweatband helped keep the sweat under control.  And for nutrition, the GU Brew Blueberry/Pomegranate with 2's the sodium did the trick for me again and no cramping!!
And thanks to Scott Livingston for some of the race day photos.

And thanks to Kevin McMahon for providing a special Thursday pre-race meal, cooking lesson and humor.
Tofu Powered Pilla almost Picks Off Punk
Jack just missed taking the gold from a 33 year old on this 50K last weekend.  Boggles the skull to see the split times posted and realize they are 10-mile splits. Shoot me.
Because Jack has quit eating meat, the meal I fed him on Thursday night might have powered him along. 
On my long-standing invite, he finally dropped in after his Thurs Night Running Group in Essex. 

It was with some team-spirited joy that I anticipated feeding one of our own Nat Champ Team, and full-time World Beater. 
So,  as I was about to serve him a first course of delicious lasagne, he pulls the 'meatless stare' on me and mumbles something about past lives, glycemic index, more energy...
So, I pull down the wok and set-up a short course on meatless Chinese cooking. 
I show him the ming-bean sprouts: 'You've had these, right?: I get the Pilla grin and I read:"never".
I show him the tofu: 'You've had tofu, right?: I get the Pilla grin and the raised eye brows: I read: "Never, never".

In a few minutes I've got a mound of never never say 'meatless' Chinese fare in front of him. And he says: "I can't eat all this!"
Here's a guy who looks for food stops on a 5K and he's telling me he might over eat. Hmmmm.
I cut it in half and make up a little side salad to help him rough out the roughage, force another Bass Ale on him and catch up on why we do what we do.
Scratch that: why he does what he does.


On to more training!  See you on the trails,


"The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a person's determination".

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Northern Nipmuck Trail Race Report 2012

And the training continues!

I first discovered the Northern Nipmuck Trail Race back in 2007 by accident on a trip to visit Mom over the Easter weekend.  The race was so much fun, I've returned almost every year.  It usually signifies the return to trail running for me as most trails in Vermont aren't runnable until mid April at the earliest.

I looked at the race this year as a fun training run.  Right now I'm into the peak training season for the Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 Mile Run in early May, so again, no time to really taper.   I tried to bulk up on miles earlier in the week to give myself a couple days of "rest" towards the end of the week.  I attempted some speed work on Tuesday prior to Nipmuck to end a 20 mile day, wasn't happening.  It is what it is.  In any event I felt decent by the end of the week.  So Friday afternoon I packed up the truck and was on the road to the Bigelow Hollow State Park in Union, CT by early evening.  It would be about a 4 1/2 hour drive so I figured going down the night before was certainly the better choice than getting up at 3:00 AM Saturday morning.  It was an easy drive down and the almost full moon had come out.  I arrived at the park around 10:30PM.  It was quiet and empty.  I found a nice spot to park, had a snack along with the traditional pre-race Bud and off to bed.  I don't know why but I always have a great sleep in Hotel Ford.  The temp inside the cap was 36 degrees when I woke up but with flannel sheets, blankets and the trusty down comforter, it doesn't get much better than that :)
Hotel Ford ready to go

I got up around 7:00 AM, went for a quick shake out run to wake up the body and then back for a little breakfast.  I got the stove going and quickly was sipping hot tea to go with my wheat bread with peanut butter and Nutella, a favorite pre-race snack and a banana.  I relaxed a bit then saw RD Jim Campiformio had arrived.  I went over and helped him set up some tents and we chatted about races, health and travels.  Jim puts on a great race every year, low key yet totally organized and he listens to concerns.  He knows I get lost almost every year and tries to make sure those areas are marked extra to avoid me getting lost again.  Jim also mentioned a slight change in the start this year and explained the new route.  After the tents were set up I returned to the truck to get ready for the race.  Being only 16 miles didn't require anything to special.  I had GU Brew drink for hydration, GU gels and electrolyte pills that should be sufficient for the race duration.  I went for another short run to warm up and then headed over to the start.  It might have been a record number of starters this year or close to it but still small in comparison to other races.  With the tight single track and an out and back, the race really can't handle many more runners.

The start went off as planned but this year instead of running immediately up a steep hill we ran along a buffed out logging road at a brisk pace, quickly thinning out the pack.  Before long we were gradually going up and up to hook on with the old trail.  Right from the start a number of fast guys took off including Greg Hammett and Ross Krause.  I wasn't too far back but saw no need to burn myself up in the first 2 miles.  I settled in and just did my own thing with the objection, to have a fun run.  Before the top of the hill, a new friend from NH had caught up, Ryan Welts.  Ryan has been running well this year and Nipmuck was his first trail race of the season.  Soon he was ahead of me and I was just in cruise mode behind.  Before long I noticed I was alone and should have hung on to Ryan a bit longer.  As I looked up after a rock garden I was lost.  Not again!  I even recognized the area but just stood there as I didn't want to continue on a wrong path.  Soon
some other runners came along and guided me back on the trail.  I missed a 90 degree turn up through the rocks.  Yes, been there done that before in that same spot.  Anyway, I had some new guys to run with.  We went back and forth a bit and chatted some.  A couple of young-ins from Mass.  We plodded along and finally made it to the half way point turn around.  I thought it took quite a bit longer than usual.  My legs felt a bit tired but was I really that much slower this year?  I didn't realize until much later that the new re-route out was longer than the old version.  After the turnaround you have to climb out of the hollow and head steeply up hill for a while.  I had to chuckle as a couple of woman were there watching the guys run back uphill commenting on the view from the rear of the men.  They seemed to like my legs as I was climbing.  Always nice to hear :)

For the next 4 miles it was much of the same, cruising along, passing many runners on this out and back section.  I must have been daydreaming at one point and lost focus as I tripped and found myself falling head first into a log across the trail.  This was not looking good.  So as I was going down, I quickly pushed off to get extra lift and distance and cleared the log going into a nice tuck and roll in front of an audience of fellow on coming trail runners.  Not a problem, just another day on the trail.  Going into the last 4 miles I was a bit behind the 2 young bucks from earlier but for me, the last 4 miles are my favorite.  It has some good uphill sections leading up to a fun decent for the last mile.  After the mile 12 aid station I was I could see the other guys up ahead.  They were starting to fade a bit while I was feeling stronger.  Usually it takes me a good 10 miles to settle in.  Soon I was ahead of them and totally enjoying the trails.  The trails this year were in excellent shape and just a joy to run on.  Finally it was downhill, usually a mud bog but this year very little mud.  I was all alone and just in cruise mode.

Photo of me courtesy of Scott Livingston
I arrived at the finish a couple of minutes faster than 2 years ago and with the longer course, I was happy with that, especially with all the miles I've been putting in lately.  I was top master and won my 50's age group and was 8th overall in the middle of all the young 30 and 20 year olds.  I can live with that :)

Some other highlights of the race, for the men, Greg held onto first with Ross coming in second.  My New Hampshire friends had awesome races.  Ryan took forth place and had his best Northern Nipmuck performance narrowly edging out 2 other runners who were within 6 seconds of him!  And Kristina smoked the course and took first for the women breaking her old Northern Nipmuck time by over 20 minutes!!  Deb Livingston came in a strong second for the women.  (Deb has also been training hard for some soon to happen upcoming events).  Good luck Deb!

Full Results

The Gear:
Pearl Izumi Peak II trail shoe
For this somewhat technical but short race I wore the Pearl Izumi Peak II shoes.  They were right on!  The traction was superb especially on some of the sharp downhills and they were lightweight yet supportive enough.  For socks I wore the Drymax light hiker.  With a little extra cushioning they were great over the rocky terrain.  I also wore the Headsweats race cap to help absorb a bit of sweat.  And for nutrition I drank GU Brew Blueberry Pomegranate flavor and had the Vanilla Bean GU Gels except I saved the Expresso Luv Gu gel (2x's the caffeine) for the last 4 miles.

Drymax Light Hiker ready to run


This is NOT me.

This is more like me.
In hopes of finding other ways to cross train now that skiing has melted away and to improve fitness I began bikram yoga a few weeks ago.  I am not flexible by any means and am as graceful as a dancing elephant but I try.  I also figured the intense heat would be good for heat training.  I try to hide in the back row in the corner so I can use the wall if I loose my balance but somehow the instructors seem to find me.  "Hey sports guy" they call out as I can't do any of the poses.  Then they come over and give me "special" treatment making me bend and flex in ways I never thought possible.  I even said to the instructor, "You're here to hurt me aren't you?"  She kicked my butt!  In the first week I bonked bad once.  The heat took it's toll on me.  The next week I took electrolyte pills before and had an electrolyte drink during.  Much better!  This week I tried to do too much and bonked bad again.  I had to lie down on the mat while they were doing standing poses as I was seeing stars.  Once I recover from class I do feel great.  My legs don't feel as tight and the sweating definitely is cleansing.

Bike Season Is On.
With the trails so dry, mountain bike season is on!  I had a great ride at the Pine Hill trails in Rutland last week.  And Catamount opens up this weekend :)  Keep an eye out for the FOTW trails as they are slowly opening up.


On April 1, 2012 at the Fools Run 50K in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, local ultra runners Serena Wilcox and Heather Furman successfully completed the run.  Serena blazed through the course just a couple of minutes off the women's course record taking first for the women and 10th overall.  Congrats to Serena & Heather!!

On April 7, 2012 at the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run in Washington, DC, local runners Norm Larson and Allen Mead were there representing VT.  Norm easily won his age group and came in 45th overall for the men at a blistering time of 55:35.  That's a 5:33 pace for Norm, unbelievable for most and especially at 56 years young!  Allen posted a time of 1:02:57 taking 20th place in his age group of 648 runners.  Way to go guys!!

That's it for now.  See you on the trails!

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”

Happy Running!