TARC Summer Classic 50K Race Report

The TARC Summer Classic holds a special place in my heart as this was my first official 50k finish! I never recap it because I got busy with work and it just went into the abyss so I will have to do the justice this year.

I believe this was the third year the race was held and it’s always held around mid to end August. This year it was on Saturday August 16.  Registration is only around $25 with all fees and while you don’t get a medal, or a useless Tshirt that will end up in Goodwill, you do get a rocking, running good time!

The TARC Summer Classic consists of two races, a 50 miler and a 50k. Each year, I originally sign up for the 50 miler but as always since my summer running had been minimal, so I dropped down to the 50k.  It was a distance I knew I could handle in 13 hours even if I had to walk the course. I couldn’t make the same assumption for the 50 miler, so a week before race day I did my annual please Race Director drop my distance plea.

So the night before the race, I was actually really nervous. My longest run in two months was a road 13 miler. Since my TARC 50 DNF, I have focused all my energy into my half ironman training or at least complaining. Tony and I were originally going to get Ethiopian food but switched to Italian last second because I wanted some pasta in my tummy. Close enough?

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I packed a lot of things for the day because I wasn’t sure if my body would remember that it can run for more than two hours. I packed my trail shoes, my cushy road shoes, camelpak, water bottle handheld, change of outfit and everything in between. Luckily, I only ended up using my handheld waterbottle for the whole race.

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The race starts at 7AM with a short trail briefing at 6:45. It consists of about 3 10 mile loops and a little extra small loop for the 50K runners to get to 31 milers. I have originally planned on getting to the race start around 6:30 to have enough time to get some food in my belly but we got pulled over around a stretch of a speed trap, you know the kind that drops down randomly to 30MPH on a rural road. They let us go with a warning, but the time it took the officer to look us up and everything ended up eating away any eating cushion I had.

Anyway, the race is technically 15 miles or so outside of Boston or at least its southern point. For me it ends up being almost hour drive. Its a 10 mile look with a variety of terrain, including some great trails along the Charles River and the surrounding wetlands and views from the top of Noon Hill. Covers several sections of the Bay Circuit Trail system

My first loop, went great. I couldn’t quite remember what the course was like so I just slowly kept taking in the easy mile to bank up on some time for the climbs and this one section with turny,  dead trees that I despise. So according to official splits, my first loop was 2:06 and I felt great. I knew since I didn’t eat anything for breakfast I had to stop after my first loop and get some real food in me.

I was happy to report to myself that the course is about 80% runnable with about 10% slightly annoying and 10% really annoying rocky climbs/descends.

My second loop around mile 12-13 I took an easy dive. Yup, same spot I felt last year. I dusted myself off and moved forward. Around then, the news spread that there’s an angry nest of wasps that’s been awoken on the trail. Suddenly, I realized that on my first loop, the buzzing I heard wasn’t a giant fly, and felt freaked out all over again because I wasn’t sure where on the trail they were, just that at some point, I would have to figure out how to get around them.

Well, even with a bees ahead warning, I still ended up not seeing them until, I was smack in the middle of hearing them on my second loop. I just ran as fast as I could, almost falling on my face, but still running until the buzzing stopped.

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I finished my second loop in about 2:20, so 15 minutes slower than my first loop. Unfortunately not the plan, but I stopped to eat a PBJ sandwich, plus my wipe out and the looking out for bees but me on a slower, steadier root that was more familiar to my pace last year.

The third loop turn around was faster, I only grabbed a small piece of PBJ and just ran/walked as I ate. I knew I had to keep moving, because if I stopped, there was not getting back up. I heard that the nest of angry wasps was finally eliminated letting my head rest easy. I’m not sure if I’m allergic but I don’t want to find out. My final loop clocked in at 2:29, more steady with the time of my second loop. Also, I’m 90% sure I got lost. My Garmin clocked in around 32.5 miles versus the 31 miles. TARC races use a lot of twists and turns, and two way roots to make up the mileage so it’s easy to get turned around a bit and bank up some more miles. That being said, the course is really well marked. Whenever, I run a nonTARC race, I’m always freaking out that I’m lost because there’s always less trail markings.

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My official time is 6:54:47, giving me a lovely 3-4 minute PR with a whole lot less training. I may not be a full time trail runner, but it’s nice to remind myself that I’m stronger than I think.  9/25 Gender place and 32/73 overall place. Out of the 73 that started, I saw there was 12 DNFs and who knows how many DNSs. Since the races are so reasonable priced many people just don’t always show up if they’re under-trained.  Would I have loved another 6 hour 50K, of course, but I’ll take what I got on that day, and I’ll accept it with pride and gratitude of what my body can do.

2014 TARC Spring Classic 50K Race Recap

In 2012 I DNFed (Side note, I laugh when I read my race recaps from 2 years ago, so young so arrogant I was)

In 2013 I DNSed, granted I was a few states away running a road marathon instead

In 2014 I rose from the ashes as a muddy phoenix

See me and the TARC Spring Classic have a long history. It’s always 6 days after the Boston marathon that destroys my quads. I’d like to think that I’ve gotten pretty good at recovering quickly. It helps when you don’t race too hard, but no matter what pace I run Boston, I’m always limping for a week or so. Don’t disrespect those downhill courses I guess.

The TARC Spring Classic course is also the site of my 2013 failed 50 miler attempt that turned into 26 miles of swimming.

Needless to say that between my complicated history with the Weston trails, my slow Boston Marathon recovery and the fact that I’ve avoided trails since October 2013 like the black plague, I was a bundle of nerves. My expectations were so low that a large part of me hoped I would oversleep my alarm and not show-up.

Luckily I didn’t, and while a little behind schedule, I got to the starting area just in time. Suddenly I was surrounded by familiar smiling faces that would accept me whether I ran 10K that day or 50K, whether I ran a 7 minutes mile or a 30 minute mile. And I began to calm down.

And then I realized my Garmin wouldn’t turn on. I was ready to turn around, get into my car and go take a nap instead. I quickly told myself to woman up and stop being a wimp. Animals that hide in a car because their running watch isn’t working, will be the first road kill. Before I had time to figure out something else, the race started and off I went, naked as the day I started running.

It’s weird trying to recap a race without any idea of what pace I ran or which mile or even my 10K splits. All I have are guesses. In a good way it was nice because I didn’t feel the normal anxiety that I do on trails because I always feel like my pace is too slow. I only had other runners to judge my pace on and since for the most part, I didn’t get passed too many times, I can only assume whatever pace I was on, was good enough.

It also helps that Weston trails are 98% most runnable trails you will find in New England.

TARC 50K 4

What else am I forgetting? O yea, this little thing called mother nature and her wrath for me whenever I am running. About 20 minutes into the race, it started to rain like crazy. The trees provided some coverage, but I was starting to get soaked.

TARC 50K

After my first 10K, I stopped for water and at my gear to trade my wet long sleeve for my rain jacket. On my second 10K, I stopped by for some water at the aid station and a PBJ. Since I had no watch or anything, I asked a volunteer what time it was who told me it was 10:20 so at the pace I was going at about 65 minutes per 10K, My third loop felt a lot harder than the first two as I recalled DNFing on this loop two years ago. I knew there was only one way for me to not, I had to make the decision to skip the aid stations between loop 3 and 4. I grabbed some potatoes, picked up my cell phone from my gear since I wanted to take photos on my fourth loop and back out I went.

TARC 50K 3

Although I spent most of the 31 miles alone without my watch or cell phone, it really was a beautiful run.

TARC 50K 5

I even began to appreciate the mud with each new loop… JK, no I didn’t, I was having minor flashbacks.

TARC 50K 2

We did have some minor bumps on the trail that seemed to feel like mountains when you’re on your 25th mile, but for the most part, the course was really runnable and fast had I been in racing shape, versus recovery shape.

I felt really tired on my fourth loop and did a good amount of walking. While my first two loops were about 65 minutes and my second loop 70 minutes, I think my fourth loop was about 85 minutes. That’s a huge variance in a 6.2 mile loop.

But here’s the funny thing about ultrarunning (even at my minor level), you go through so many high and lows between glee and tears and this was no exception. On my 5th loop, I don’t know what exactly happened, but i felt like I was running my first. I brought an extra pair of shoes and rocks, but my Mizuno waveriders worked well enough that I felt no need to change. However, my jacket was starting to soak through, so my 5th loop, I wanted to start out fresh and dry. I switched tops and off I went like a gazelle.

Except this part

TARC 50K 6

This part still sucked… There were three muddy hell crossings, this is the 2nd worse one. Unfortunately, I was too focused on not getting my shoes sucked off to take photos at the other two spots.

And I don’t know for certain, but I’m pretty sure my 5th loop was my fastest because according to official results I ran 5:44:35, a 45 minute PR for me.

I knew this week was going to be a PR worthy week, I just didn’t expect it to come from a 50K.

As for medals and tech shirts? For a $22 race? These are the trail race medals:

Trails Races Medals

Liana – An Ultra Runner or a DNF?

I’m going to insert some parts of my email regarding my trail race in 10 days. I’m super excited. I might finish with a DNF but we’ll see. I signed up for the 50K and depending on the trail, I might not be ready (I’ve never done a trail race before). B I’m just going out there to have fun and maybe make new friends! B Tony is doing the half so we’ll stick together for the first 13 miles since I’m not really racing. B Registration was under $20 so can’t complain for that either.

“WHAT TO BRING:

Adhering to “FatAss” ultra running traditions, we provide H2O, GU Brew, PB&J, boiled potatoes and turkey sandwiches and you guys provide the rest – so we ask that everyone bring something with them for the aid station bkind of like a pot-luck feast! Just bring one item b no need to go to Costco! All leftovers go to needy folks at local food banks (and chubby RDs 😉. Please follow the table below for what to bring:

Last Name
Begins With: Item to Bring
A b J Sweet (cookies, brownies, candy, trail mix, granola bars, etc.)
K b L Fruit (bananas, oranges, watermelon (pre-cubed), etc.
M b S Salty (pretzels, Cheez-its, Doritos, potato chips, saltines, etc.)
T b Z 2 Liter bottle of soda – NO CANS PLEASE (Coke or Mountain Dew)

THE COURSE:
The course is 70% single track trail and 30% fire road and runs through beautiful thick woods. The terrain is mostly smooth with some btoe catchersb -roots and rocks b and a couple of small streams to hop/cross. There are a few modest hills but this is a fast course as trail runs go. The course layout is a10K loop which starts and finishes in the same place.

TIMING and RESULTS: In order to keep the registration fees low we do not use a chip timing system. Therefore, we will be manually recording your finish times only and will do our best to get the results posted on Ultrasignup.com as quickly as possible. Thus, if you are running multiple loops and want to keep track of your split times, plan on wearing one of those fancy watches with a split counterb&..we know you all have them! )I don’t =( B hope there’s cell signal. )
AFTERWARDS
Since we are holding four races at different distances on a 10k loop course, it affords the opportunity for those runners that finish early to see and cheer on the rest of the pack as they pass through the start/finish aid station. Trail runners are a close knit community and one of our endearing characteristics is we believe in supporting each other b regardless of our stature or speed bbecause itbs all about the personal challenge. So plan bringing a change of cloth and a folding chair and come hang out at the finish afterwards to cheer on the runners and meet some of your fellow Trail Animals b donbt worry,only our mascot bites 😉

SOME FUN:
In Trail Animal tradition, we start every race TARC hoot/holler/howl, so donbt ignore this aspect of your training! Our beloved mascot may even make an appearance.

I’m so excited I can squeal (or start howling now)! B This is the part about running & nature that I love!

I took Tuesday & Wednesday as rest days. B The heat played a number on my body and I’ve been feeling sluggish all week. B Ran a slow 7 milers on the treadmill on Thursday in 65 minutes at 3 incline. B It was sweaty, it was hot and I wanted to quit. B I stayed because next time I’m running a race and its 90 degrees, I will be ready.

Frogs Legs and Trail Racing

A couple of days ago, I asked Tony how’d he feel about driving me 2 hours south to Rhode Island so I can do another marathon two days before Boston. B He responded absolutely not. B Puppy dog teary eye didn’t work on him so I gave up. B Luckily, that didn’t deter me too much. B Instead I looked up other events in the area. B I signed up for a half May 12th that we’ll run together. B However, something loomed in the back of my mind.

Eureka! B I suddenly remembered that a dailymiler friend of mine was doing a marathon at the end of April. B I initially looked at it and decided not to do it because I wasn’t sure how long it would take me to recover from Boston (before I became the crazy addict I currently am just a few weeks later). B This race is the TARC Spring Classic.

Much to my disappointment the race was sold out (with only a $20 registration fee who can blame them); however, there was a waitlist. B Its also only 20 minutes out of Boston! B I signed up for that, and somehow signed up for the 50K instead of the marathon. B Whats a few more miles right? B I can crawl them! B Besides it was just a waitlist, I didn’t really expect space to open up.

Today, I got an email saying I’m off the waitlist and to confirm that I’m still interested. B Of course! B Who doesn’t view a 50K as the best way you can spend a Saturday morning.

So now, a month after running my first marathon, I’m doing my first Ultra as well as my first trail race. B My Daily Mile friend said the course is fairly flat and not that trail intense. B I’m putting my trust in her and hoping I don’t lose a limb on this excursion.

My work cafeteria gets creative sometimes and decided to serve something new:

Yup, frog butts in cream sauce. B It was french cuisine and that was what was in the hot station. B I guess they ran out of chicken?

Some more running motivation borrowed from Runner’s World. B I’m slowly catching up on my long list of magazines to read.

If this guy can do it at 81, me and my 25 year old bag of bones have no excuse!

I’m still amazed that until 1972 females were not allowed to run the Boston Marathon. B Nina and other runners like her are an inspiration to us all!

Have you ever ran a trail race? B Whats the biggest difference? B How should I prepare? B I know I’ll have to carry my own fuel belt and I might get some less slipper sneakers. B Any tips?