“Running through the Forrest
Ruining through the woods
Running like I should
Running for survive
A Craziness inside me.” Matisyshu
I love everything about trail and ultra running. It is the simple life. Two feet, one trail and just pure sport. The scene/community is chill and welcoming. Full of that certain type of freak that prefers running around woods over all other things. No WTC faceless greedy global corporations, just people who love sport. I dig this. I have wanted to do an ultra for years. But finding the time with a busy tri schedule make it wicked hard but I found time to squeeze one in because it’s held at the worst time of year to race when nothing else is going on. Now. I also was motivated to do it as a fund raiser for Team Continuum and all told we raised 7000 dollars for kids with cancer.
With my bigger goal being Israeliman on 1/30/25 in Israel I used this as base work: after all a 50k takes about as long as a half iron. Perfect! Or stupid. Whatever. Me and Christine did longer long runs but besides that my training was all tri focused. But I think you can get 90% there on tri training as the cross training (cycling, swimming and strength training I am doing) gets you really fit. The one thing I had to compromise to make this ultra dream happen was a meaningful taper. 5 days prior I was still finishing up a monster training block (see prior post). I also didn’t skip New Years Eve which was a lot of travel to Burlington for a reunion of dear friends and not a lot of sleep and a 5 hour snowy hike to summit the second tallest peak in VT. I think over all I am better for all of it but I felt a bit less than tapered heading in, though I felt really fit.
Pre race was a blur and I went with two Caveman (maple) bars for breakfast. The race went off and unlike last year there was a lot of people. The race has a 10/20/30/40/50k all at the same time and knowing who you are racing is impossible. This has two advantages. 1) you can run with people doing shorter races so you have company. 2) you can forget about head to head racing early on and just focus on yourself. Of course it’s also a trap. If you are competitive from the gun you have no shortage of people to run with that will make you go out way too hard and blow you up.
I settled into a pace that felt good and fast. I was with a good friend Dave and we spent the first two laps chatting. With 4-5 hours of racing ahead of me I was thankful for the distraction, the course is 5 x 10k and I was surprised by my first splits, as they seemed faster than was smart. The course is slow and hard. Tons of tricky ups and downs and turns and footing is always in question . It’s legit northeastern trails. But I love that. Hopping and jumping is just so fun compared to road running.
Lap 3 I felt like it was getting hard but ran faster than the first two laps. Lap 4 I took my third spill and it knocked the wind out of me. I was digging deeper at this point but that lap was slower but only by a few minutes so I wasn’t too despaired filled.
I started the final lap with a Red Bull a Carboom gel with 50mg of caffeine and also a shot of fear. I spotted a guy right behind me. The combo had me launch down the trails as I didn’t want to lose a spot. I felt great too, which was a total shock. I think in the past I hadn’t had enough calories and this time thanks to Carboom Gels I had been way ahead of my fueling. I went two two per hour even if I didn’t feel I needed it. Ultras are an eating contest on some level. Sadly the snow was really coming down at this point and the rocks, roots, ice and leaves now all snow covered made each foot step a roll of the dice which turned into a roll of the ankle and I went down for a fourth time and could feel my ankle swelling. I tightened my shoe laces on my Brooks Launch to kept the swelling in check and got back up and kept running.
The extra effort proved fruitful because I dropped the chaser and caught a guy with 4k to go. As I caught him he picked up the pace and I was really hurting. I know the course well so I decided to use my strength of downhill running which triathletes get because of all the cycling that develops our quads and let loose on the next long down hill. This late into the race I was hoping he would crack. If he didn’t I was out of ideas. By the bottom of the hill I had 20 seconds on him and we kept that exact gap for the next 2k until the bottom of the final climb; 1k to the finish. I hammered the final climb and when I looked back half way up he wasn’t there deciding this one was over. I crossed the line in 4:33, 4th: good enough to win this race on some years but not this year.
I was nicely cooked and with the snow still coming down grabbed a Caveman bar for recovery (they are all natural and have a great blend and ratio of carbs and protein) and waited for Christine…who has having an even more awesome day.
(My aid station)