2013 TARC Spring Thaw 6 Hour Race

The 2013 TARC Spring Thaw was held on Sunday March 24th.  The race features a 3.5 mile trail loop that you run as often times as you can in 6 hours.  For the second year in a row race director Emily Trespas and all the volunteers put on a fantastic event on trails owned by the Andover Villiage Improvement Society.  The race ran from 9AM-3PM and was capped at 100 people.

Emily also drew this beautiful Yetti stencil we all got. TARC races really are the best!

This was also my first ultra and I was super nervous.  While I know I should be hitting the trails as often as I could to train for my first 50 miler, the winter this year had other things in mind as it kept dumping snow weekend after weekend.  So I’ve been sticking to the roads and happily avoiding the snow-capped jagged rocks and stumps of the trails.

I didn’t know what to expect, I’ve run a TARC race before (last year in Weston) and the trail was much easier than running in the Fells, but I wasn’t sure what was in store in Andover.  Furthermore, mother nature decided to dump 9 inches of snow on Wednesday that barely began to melt until Saturday.  Luckily, by Sunday, only a few inches of snow remained but I was still scared enough avoid absolutely any goals.  I was at a loss of what to expect from myself other than a determination to last 6 hours.

Confession – I have never ran more than 4 hours at a time in my life.  The few times I remember running that long, I remember being exhausted, so I was still at a loss how I was going to last 6 hours running.  However, the goal was clear, keep moving, keep running, keep walking, keep crawling until 6 hours are up!

I woke up at 6:45 excited for the race and eager to test out my new hydration pack!

Yup even before running, my hair looked like a squirrel that was electrocuted. Anyways I got up, got dressed and headed out to meet up with another TARC member who lives near by to drive up to Andover.  She was awesome enough to help me with a ride to getting to the race.  THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!

I skipped breakfast because TARC races always come with food, and my stomach is pretty iron.  When I got to the race, I was greeted with bagels, fruit, gu, pbj sandwiches.  I munched on a sesame seed bagel (big mistake as I was burping sesame seeds for about 7-10 miles), and a few pieces of pbj.

At 8:30 there was a brief meeting and at 9AM we were off.  Unlike Saturday, I positioned myself at the end of the line.  I’m pretty slow and I didn’t want to get in anyone’s way but I also wanted all the runners in front to pack all the snow

(I got this photo from someone on FB but I forgot who, sorry =()

The first 3.5 miles were slow, snowy, crunchy and of course I had my first wipe-out within 30 minutes.  There was a bridge, there was ice and I went down before I even knew what was happening but luckily aside from my pride nothing else was hurt.  The first mile I ran in over 13 minutes as I was getting used to the feel of the snow but by mile 3 I had a nice fast 11:40 minutes per hour pace going.

The beautiful photos I’ll be sharing below were taken by Scott Mason. Amazing how none of the snot dripping off me made it to the photos! In fact, dare I say, I think I’m looking pretty good, maybe not Scott Jurek on the trails good, but you couldn’t even tell that I was terrified of falling with each step.

2013 Spring Thaw Woods

My second lap was stronger and I was dipping into a few 10 minute miles.  I stood strong for about another lap or 2.  I was running, and I wasn’t hitting the adrenaline levels you hit in a road race, but more of a happiness on a different level.  I would say meditative, but I really can’t stand it when people call runs meditative; I’m huffing & puffing so there is nothing meditative about me when I run.  However, I was running the whole time without my headphones and most of the time because I was too slow to be with the wolf pack and too fast to be with the others, I was on my own and I think I liked it.  My main focus was the trail with one step in front of the other and just breathing in the fresh crisp air.  Luckily, all the runners in front of me left footsteps and I followed those without getting lost once.  Had there been no snow, I’m sure I would have gotten turned around at least once per loop.

I hit a wall around mile 19 similar to marathon and questioned about just how far I wanted to go.  Did I really need to run more than 20 miles I asked?  However, after a few pep talks, and snacks from the AID table I ventured back into the woods.  I thought about putting on some music, but resisted and didn’t take out my phone once during the 6 hours.  Probably aside from sleep, this is one of the longest times I’ve been digitally disconnected in a while!  One of the volunteers kindly refueled my camelpak (because I wasn’t sure how to and my brain was dizzy) with Gu Brew which was kinda tasty.  I hate Gatorade and would rather dehydrate and die but the pink Gu Brew was tasty.  Truth is that I didn’t really need my camelpak on this race.  There was an amazing aid table every 3.5 miles, but I love having it.  It was light and I barely noticed it, and any time I wanted a sip of something sweet, it was there to comfort me.

It was also around mile 19 that I also learned to love downhill.  Now the course wasn’t very hilly.  According to my Garmin total elevation gain was 7,627 feet but when you’re running for 6 hours any rise in elevation is a sign for sadness.  On my first lap, every time there was a decline, I would slow down and be terrified of slipping but by my 3rd loop, I was bombing down the hills, well as bombing as you can be at 11 minute miles haha.

Somewhere between loop 6 and 7 I had about 3 more falls on flat muddy surfaces.  You see after a few hours of running, all the snow was stumped into glorious mud.  For at least two of them I have quite the audience behind me.  Most of the trail was turned into a mud bath where both my feet would be taking a swim at least once a loop.  Luckily, no blisters or issues arose.  I guess wearing sock liners worked.

After my 7th loop, I was ready to quit.  It was about 5 hrs 10 Min into the race and I wasn’t sure I could do the last 3.5 miles in 50 minutes. Yet, somehow with the support and more pep talks from fellow TARC members I was talked into going for the 8th loop.  I grabbed a PBJ and was about to enter the woods when I bit my cheek trying to eat my food.  I bit it hard and could taste blood mixed in with jelly!  I was in pain and began to walk wobble back to say I’m not doing another loop.  However, I saw my new friend who I drove up with coming out of the woods and ready for her final loop.  Alright, if she was willing to risk, I figured I have no excuse so in I went, bloody cheek, covered in mud and only perseverance to push me forward and maybe a few thin mint Girl Scouts cookies.

Reji who was volunteering took a photo of the snack table and this showcases probably only 20% of all the food types that were available during the race.  My favorite were PBJs followed by Thin Mints.

Yea picture a short little blonde girl grabbing a bunch of cookies and running into the woods.  That was me!

I finished my last loop at 5:56:52 just barely making the cut.  As soon as I crossed the finish line, my mind couldn’t even gather the strength to form sentences so I just sat down and breathed.

In the end I found out I placed 22 out of 91 so not too shabby for a trail rookie and a girl’s first ultra in a snow filled forest.

WHAT I WORE – Because you know you care

  • Target Tech Short Sleeve
  • Adidas Boston Marathon Long Sleeve – Love that thing and that’s why I was doing laundry on a Saturday night before going out to a bar.
  • Calvin Klein Tights – I really should get another pair, but I keep hoping weather will clear up and I won’t have to worry until next year
  • REI Silk Sock Liners – saved my feet every wet run thus far!
  • Adidas athletic socks
  • Camelbak – Didn’t need but loved having and barely noticed
  • Innov-8 Roclite 315 – shoes that kept my toes from getting broken

Looking back I don’t think I would have changed anything about what I did during the race.  None of my gear/clothes had any issues and I was grateful for everything I had on me.  I paced myself to the point that I was actually running all 6 hours.  Other than walking by the aid table, I was fortunate enough to never have to walk on the trails… something I’ve never been able to accomplish in a road race.  I end up taking a walk break at some point even in half marathons!  I made some amazing new trail friends and just had a great Sunday in the woods!

Do you prefer trails or roads?

50 Miler Training Week 10 – Just another brick in the wall

I started the week looking forward to another race.  No matter the distance, time or date, races always give me butterflies in my stomach.  The weather for Sunday looked perfect, high 40s and sunny.  I wasn’t tapering but was looking forward to a fast MP race.

And then on Friday afternoon, I got an email saying that the race was canceled!  Yup, two days in advance thanks to the city of Quincy wanting an excuse to cancel.  The race organizers are desperately trying to reschedule but I feel like the city will find any reason to cancel.

Why did the race get canceled?  Well Thursday/Friday we got another snow storm!  I heard about 15 inches got once again dumped until Boston.  However, with very mild temps through Friday afternoon, Saturday and Sunday, but Sunday morning the snow was melted.  It was frustrated to wake up and see the perfect shining sun with no race, although with daylight savings time, I was more than a little happy to stay in bed a little longer.

Monday – Rest
My favorite day of the week! It was a tough tough day

Tuesday – 10.5 Miles
Started the morning fast with 4 miles around 30 minutes, 7:39 pace.  Ended the day with 6.5 miles on Incline 3, 56 minutes

Wednesday – 10 Miles
Ran 6.5 miles at incline 2 during lunch, 53 minutes.  I ran 3.5 after work while I waited to meet up with friends so some adult beverages.  It’s why I always have an extra pair of gym clothes 😉 However, I was starting to feel tired, and ran some “recovery miles” around incline 1 and 9 minute pace.

Thursday – 6.5 Miles
Thursday was when I really started to feel the slump.  The same 6.5 miles on incline 2 that felt easy yesterday took me 3 extra minutes or about 25 extra seconds per mile.  I kept running because I knew Friday was going to be a no run day.

Friday – Rest
I had to make an emergency visit to NY so no running.  Plus this is what the streets looked like:

NY Snow

Saturday – 21.2 Miles
I packed my Garmin, I packed my charger and completely forgot until I wanted to run.  Needless to say my Garmin was deader than dead.  Not even a low battery warning would keep it alive.  Luckily, my cell phone was charged I used RunKeeper. While I didn’t know my current pace, I had audio couch on to remind me, mock me every half mile.  I had it set for 8:15 pace, but even with a flat path ahead of me, I could barely keep below 8:40 pace from the beginning.  I guess family emergency, plus sleeping on a couch does that makes you weary.

My goal was to run 3 hours and I ran 3:30:27, or about 8:39 MPH.

brooklyn running path

Although my legs felt dead, the path and weather was just too good to pass-up a long run. I ran about 11 of my miles on this flat, laid out bike path that goes through Brooklyn. As you can see, all of the snow that was dumped less than 24 hours ago was fully melted with a beautiful sunny day.  I think the high hit 50s and I got thirsty half way through the run.  It was already 11AM but the streets still seemed sleeping.  I stopped by my parents house for some water and then ran more along the water front, where I usually run when I visit my parents.  I hit a few 8:10 paced miles at mile 9, 10, 11, 12 but I just couldn’t keep it.  There was an 8  minute mile around mile 19, no idea how.  Clearly, it was in me but mentally I just wasn’t there for this run.

Sunday – 17 Miles
We sprung an hour ahead and I felt my day was lost.  With no race to wake up for, I enjoyed the comfort of my bed that I missed for 2 nights.  After my 21.2 mile run on Saturday, I spent 5 hour on a bus from NY back to Boston.  The last thing you should ever do after a long run is spent 5 hours sitting in a cramped up space.  My legs felt awful when I woke up Sunday.  Although I ran a relatively comfortably long run, my legs were stiff as if I ran 8 minute mile race yesterday.

Anyways, stiff and lazy, I finally headed out the door around 5:30 pm (hey, in theory its old time 4:30 and a lazy Sunday).  I ran around 45 minutes before it got dark in about 43 minutes.  I then went on my treadmill and hoofed away 9 miles at about 8:15 min pace.  Afterwards, my legs didn’t want to run anymore but I wanted to end my weekly mileage on a 5 (I’m OCD, I like 50, 55, 60, 65). A friend mentioned that he trains for 100 milers with lots of inclined walks.  So I ramped up my treadmill to incline 10 and power hiked. I jumped around between 6-10 and sweated more in those 3 miles than I did in the other 12.   Total mileage 17!  Not sure for total time, but I think around 2 hrs 30 minutes.  I learned my treadmill resets after 100 minutes so I lost track of time.

Total Mileage – 65.2- I love ending on a .2 now.

Total Feelings – I felt exhausted Thursday-Saturday but somehow I ran through it and felt great Sunday.  I do miss the trails a bit and hoping some snow will leave me a dry trail to run on this weekend.

Jack Licking Good

Don’t you ever wish you had the life of a cat?

Cape Cod Frozen (Half) FatAss 25k Race Report

Cape Cod Frozen Fat Ass Race Recap

My goal for 2013 is to run more trails.  The unfortunate part about it is that I’m terrible at it.  I grew up in NYC, concrete and roads I get, dirt paths and rocks… might as well be Mars to me.  However when a friend mentioned The Cape Cod Frozen Fat Ass a free casual trail race along the beach with a bunch of ultra marathoners (my fellow running addicts who are able to run further than me), I couldn’t help but get excited.

The race actually consists of two official distances 25K (HalfAss) and 50K (FatAss) and then everything in between! Unfortunately getting to the race involved a 4:30 wake up with a 90-100 minute drive.  Luckily I got to go with a fellow running addicted friend so after some coffee (Thank you!) and rubbing of my eyelids, the drive down was actually fun!

The race is put on annually by the Cape Cod Ultra Running society, and being a free race and all, is very informal.  There was a little mix up in start time (some place posted 7:30AM even though it should have been 7AM) so we didn’t get to start until 7:30.  Waiting in 18 degree weather isn’t pleasant.  Luckily they had a little room where we got to pick up numbers (yup we got numbers!) and a pot luck table.  I made whole wheat pumpkin bread which could have used more sugar (I ran out of sugar haha while making it).  Luckily there were plenty of chocolate, cookies, muffins, pretzels, boiled potatoes, bananas and orange slices and anything else you can dream off.  The race organizers also provided a hot and delicious clam chowder and turkey soup!  You can tell I was too busy stuffing my face when I forget to take food photos.

Anyways at 7:33 after some shaking and debating of wind direction we were off!

Cape Cod Frozen Fat Ass Start

The course is a figure 8 that consists of a 5ish mile loop and a 10ish mile loop.  I saw ish because it’s not precise but in total adds up to 15.5 miles for a 25K.  If you do the 50K you get to do the loop twice!

Cape Cod Fatass 25K 8

The first 2.5 miles are on the beach and it took me a good mile to figure out a style.  Do I run on the rocky part of the sand, the softer dunes of dry sand to the left or the wet packed sand from the low tide to the right.  From the scatter of runners, I could tell that everyone else was trying out different approaches.  After a few struggles, I found a good steady comfortable pace of about 8:30 minute miles to the right on the wet sand.  Sadly that sand also had some rocks to work with every once in a while to keep me alert

Cape Cod Fatass 25K 7Half way through the 5 mile loop we made a turn and got to run on a more packed dirt trail behind the sand dunes.  That was a lot more pleasant.  I was eyeballing another runner in an orange jacket who looked like he knew the trail to make sure I didn’t get lost.  The race was well-marked and easy to follow but I have a great history of getting lost no matter what so the orange jacket was my light.  At this point I was on an average of 8:50 minute miles and I realized I was ahead of most of the pack.  Than again I was only running half the distance.

Cape Cod Fatass 25K 3

The 10 mile second loop was just as beautiful and unique as the first 5 mile loop.  Notice anything weird?  I’m not wearing any headphones!! The trail and the experience was too exciting and fun that I didn’t need to distract myself with music or podcasts.

I lost my guy in the orange jacket as he ran ahead of me and was constantly paranoid that I was lost. Although there really was just one trail there, I would have had to work really hard to get lost.

Cape Cod Fatass 25K 4

Did I mention how beautiful it was?  I kept following the tracks of faster runners way ahead of me to reassure myself I wasn’t lost.
Cape Cod Fatass 25K 6 Running within the sand dunes continued for about 5-6 miles.  Some parts felt like running in molasses as the sand was soft and tried to hold me.  The harder I pushed, the slower I ran.  Eventually I learned to try to run lightly as I can to avoid sinking but mostly I just learned to be patient as those parts took a while

Cape Cod Fatass 25K 5

Other parts had hard frozen sand and I had to avoid some ice patches.  I was feeling pretty good when around 10 miles I had a good 9 minute pace going.

Cape Cod Frozen Fat Ass Last Four Miles

And then the last 4-5 miles started.   If you go on the race website, it clearly states This is not a race for wussies. The last 4-5 miles in rocky soft sand with wind against you reminded me when I was happy to only have to do this once.  When my Garmee beeped 13.1 miles, at 1:59 I think i mentally checked out (after patting myself on the back for getting a sub 2 half on the beach).  Last 2.5 miles I was skipping from side to not being about to make up my mind of where/how/why to run this stretch.  My ankles kept rolling over the little pebbles.  I was cursing like a sailor every minute of it!

Photo: 25k complete

And then before I knew it, the misery was over.  I was crossing the finish line of a guy taking my time with a clipboard.  Garmee told me I was at 2:26 in 15.79 miles and 9:17 pace.  I was content with that.  While I was glad to be done with my 25K, I still had 5 more miles to run for my 20 miler this week.  I thought about doing the first loop again but my knees felt shaky and I decided to run around my familiar road territory instead.  That worked for about 3 miles until I got bored bumped into Katharina and did 2 more miles on the 10 mile trail loop with her.    Running on a scenic trail with a friend was a lot more fun than doing circles on the road alone.

Cape Cod Fatass 25K

I had mild regrets about not running the 50K but I got over it pretty fast when I was stuffing my face with soup and inside Katharina’s warm car.  Overall this race was fantastic.  I met a bunch of awesome people, got to run on the beach in the middle of New England winter and just had a fabulous time.  I can’t wait for next year!  I may not be an ultra runner yet but I am fully in love with the community.

Scott Jurek; Eat & Run; Vegetarian dining

On Wednesday (of last week) I got to attend Scott Jurek’s Boston book tour stop at the Brattle Theatre in Harvard Square. B If you readB Born to Run, you may remember him as the hero of the book. The short discussion on Wednesday introduced him a little more while promoting his new bookB Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness. B

Check out the trailer below!

Scott gave all aspiring runners hope as he described his younger self as scrawny and B ” shy kid with high blood pressure.b However, what we know of him is just the opposite! B Over the course of his nearly 20-year career, Jurek hasB won some of the worldbs biggest and toughest ultramarathons, starting withB seven consecutive victoriesB at theB Western StatesB Endurance Run, a 100-mile trail race in northern California he dominated from 1999-2005. Hebs broken the tape in the mountainous Hardrock 100,B twice wonB the 135-mileB Badwater Ultramarathon, andB found victoryB three consecutive yearsB at theB 152-mile Spartathlon. In 2010, he set a new American record forB 24 hours, covering 165.7 milesB in the IAU-IAAF World Championships in France! B Aside from being an amazing endurance athlete, Scott is also Vegan.

The event was sold out as people even with tickets had to stand. B The discussion was fairly interesting as Scott would tell small anecdotes about this life, races, and friends while Christopher McDougall would take lead of the discussion and remind Scott he’s there to also promote his book.

B Watching those two made me wonder if I’m just too short to be running Ultras. B I could sit here and write-up some of the stories Scott told us but Runner’s World has an excerpt from his book that will do much better justice then my poorly written typos. B Basically Scott told us he wanted to write a nutrition book and a running book but could only write one for the timing being so this is the mixed child of book. Go read the excerpt on Runner’s World! B Eat Vegan & Run.

After the discussion there was a quick book signing. B I brought Scott’s book and then waited like a groupie for an autograph. B I added Tony’s name to the autograph because I figured if I include his name in enough running related things he’ll do a marathon with me eventually.

By the time all was done, it was dinner time. B My friend Lynn and I felt so inspired by Scott that we decided we must eat vegetarianB tonight. B Thanks to my trusty Yelp app, I found Veggie Planet right in the heart of Harvard Square.

Unlike other vegetarianB places I’ve been to this place had tons of options! B We scanned the menu and wanted everything. B However, decisions had to be made because we were just too hungry to think. B Luckily there was a combo option; soup or salad with half a dish. B I got the salad of the day and Lynn got the soup of the day.

ScottB JurekB would have been proud of the quinoa in my salad!

BBQ seitan on top &B B roasted butternut squash, caramelized onions, rosemary & sage, goat cheese and AsiagoB cheese on the bottom; both with coconut rice. B Yes, those are their half portions.

I introduced Lynn to my love ofB awkward Iphone food photos.

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?