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

A catch up of running

I didn’t write a recap of week three of training because I have to admit I didn’t get very far after Thursday’s run. B I did reach 33 miles but it was only because I went hard Tuesday and Thursday. B Friday came, no run, Saturday no run, and Sunday still no run. B I did cool things like hike and bike; but I really didn’t have a good excuse for not running Sunday. B Truth was I was scared and lazy. B It was too hot, I was “busy” visiting my family and I really didn’t want to run on a breakdown lane of a highway since upstate NY does not have anywhere for pedestrians.

Yes call me pansy but this city runner is not into it. B I did do some big time gambling. B I won $9 of a penny machine just to lose most of it on scratch lotto tickets afterwards!

I guess I’m not as skilled at Penny Gambling as my parents.

Luckily week 4 of training towards something or other is going better! B At least as far as total miles go! B 47 and I still have a possible “long” run tomorrow. B I have to admit, going past 13 miles hasn’t been achieved yet since the heat started and the skating ring where I get my water has closed down for the season.

Monday 6.1 miles on the treadmill and 7 miles after work. B I wanted to go for 10 after work since I didn’t run for 3 miles but as soon as I hit the pavement in the heat my legs felt dead as I struggled after 3 miles and called it a day after stopping by the house for more water.

Tuesday 6.35 miles on the treadmill, tried to doB speed-workB but I am not at the speed I was in March when things were cooler and breathing was easier. B Since I was going to skip my regular strength class due to plans I decided it was time to dust off my Jillian Michaels No More Trouble Zone video.

My trainer on the other hand gave me the stink eye each time I only did half the reps Jillian did and watched Glee Project instead. B I guess he did not approve.

Wednesday was America’s birthday and my anniversary with the Tony. B We celebrated in true Run to Munch fashion by running and munching. B 8.5 miles we slaved away together. B After I went off and did 4.6 more to end at 13.1. B It took two litters of water, lots of rest breaks and an average pace when all was said and done at 10 minute miles. B Not my goal speed but humidity hits me like that and I was still glad to be doing double-digits.

Thursday – 6.1 miles during lunch which felt exceptionally easy & pleasant after running in the hot humid day of Wednesday

Friday – 3.35 quickie before a very special date =)

Saturday – Quick 4.5 miles at the Y followed by a slow walk in the humidity back home..

Now I should probably sleep so I can run long tomorrow and be a productive homeowner and work on fixing the broken windows in the attic.

My life is full of glamour!

Sunday Runday – Week 1 of Maybe 50K Training

First of all, Happy Father’s day to the man who made me who I am today and to all great fathers in the world. B I’m very fortunate to have grown up and been surrounded by some very wonderful men in my life. B Sadly, I do not get to see either of the two father figures in my life on this day or often. B My grandfather passed away a few years ago and I miss him dearly. B Because I just moved and have been unpacking for a week I didn’t get a chance to go to NY to visit my parents but I hope to go down soon and visit them in the next few weekends.

If you’re on DailyMile, you’d notice I’m back on the running juice! B I am doing more cross training and more stretching, some ART therapy but for the most part I notice very little difference between running and not running for my tightB piriformisB muscle. B That does not mean that the 10 days off were a waste. B It gave my legs a nd knees some much-needed time off. B It also allowed me to reset my training cycle. B I have a few marathons coming up in the fall but I think ultimately I’m going to train for a 50K. B Not sure which one yet, but I’ve noticed I’m much better training for distance instead of speed so I always seem to get injured when I try to go fast. B Although I’m a forefoot runner, I’m still a very clumsy runner who always bouncing from side to side and yet somehow manages to not fall. B If I had to make a bet on the first runner to trip over her own feet, I would bet its me. B In fact there have been plenty of times on training runs where I somehow managed to kick myself while running on windy days. B The ART doc told me my hips are misaligned and maybe that’s part of it. B Hopefully as I work some more on strength, I can become a more balanced individual (no pun intended).

Its Sunday and this concludes what I’ll consider my first week back in training. B Just because it’s a regular Runday, doesn’t mean you can’t dress up.

My next race is RnR half in Providence and I wanted to test out my racing outfit I got this week. B Best (or maybe worst?) part, it cost me around $50. B Let’s face it, running trends like all others can add up pretty fast and I confess I’m a tool like all others to cute pinks objects. B Running accessories are no exceptions. B I tried to hold back but I finally caved it.

Target Tech Shirt $7 on sale

Marshalls Running Skirt with a zipper pocket in the back $14B I got this on Friday as I hunt down all running skirts except FILA that come in size XS so if you’re interested in one go and get one fast as I never see the same things there twice. B Only exception is FILA skirts because they suck! B I haven’t run in one but I tried on 3 and they already felt uncomfortable before I even started running. B At least in my humble opinion.

Zensah Calf Sleeves $34 as they were 20% off this week at City Sports. B I know I shouldn’t have but I just could not resist. B Perfect for those slightly cool days like today.

So a backwards recap of week 1 of training:

Sunday Run

Total Mile Ran today 10.52 – Outside – 2 podcasts (Running with the Pack & Jillian Michaels) worth!

Total Time 1:28:50 Average Pace 8:27

I stayed on the usual paved road that runs along the fells and did two loops. B It was hot and part of me wanted to stop after my first one and call it a day. B I was running with a full bottle of water to hydrate (Nunn tab for taste and electrolytes). B With the exception of slower start and ending miles, my middle miles were at aB consistentB 8 minute pace. B I’m using the runkeeper couch that I have set to 7:30 my goal race time. B I don’t expect to be running at that speed and to be honest when I first went running I was only targeting a 9 minute mile but wasB pleasantlyB surprisedB that with no stronger effort I was down to 8:30. B I think hearing how far I am off pace from my ultimate goal is just a good reminder to me of my long-term plan.

Saturday Run

Total Miles Ran 10:55 Outside through hills, roads, some trails in the Fells and 7 miles of it were with Tony.

Total Time 1:43 Average Pace 9:46B

I was only going to do 8 miles but Tony and I ran at a fairly easy pace that I just felt like I wanted to stay out a bit longer in the amazing weather we had. B Good thing I did because after I got back, mother nature turned cold and cloudy! B I also caved in and brought a pair of compression shorts and yes they’re totally worth it if you have misaligned hips where you flutter side to side. B This kept me all up and centered. B Maybe it’s just my jiggly butt that makes me run silly.

Friday Run

No Run had an ART appointment instead.

Thursday

7 miles on the Elliptical, 1.5 miles to the Y & back jog. B I felt sore from Wednesday’s run. B I did the hour-long senior citizens sculpt class at the Y. B I think I’m the only young person there but it’s better than nothing. B Otherwise the only lifting I get is picking up some heavy bricks ofB chocolateB pounders from Trader Joe’s. B Either war I enjoy the more relaxed easy-going environment and am adding the Tue/Thurs class to my training cross training schedule.

Wednesday Run

I didn’t know what to expect from this run. B This was my first longish run on the treadmill in a while. B I had a plan B to quit at 8 miles but I roughed it out for 10! I did the first 8 on incline 3 and the last 2 in a super slow walk/run routine on incline 2. B I still believe that running on incline helps me be faster on pavement. B It did feel good to be rebounding with the old treadmill I saw so much of during March.ues

Totals Miles 10.03

Total Time 1:33 Average Pace 9:11B

Tuesday

Total Miles 4.5 I don’t have the total time or pace as I felt so angry about just being too exhausted to run. B I just moved and was running on 5 hours of sleep. B Lack of sleep = dead legs. B I debated for a while about skipping the Y class but I really had no excuse so I sucked it up, went and felt much better and stronger. B I can almost do 2 big girl push ups.

Monday Run

First day of the week… First day with lack of sleep. B Living on a street with more trees is nice. B Living on a street with birds waking you up at 4AM is a lot less pleasant. B I’m adjusting but Monday was rough.

Totals Miles 6.1

Total Time 55 minutes Average Pace 9? I don’t remember the incline, might have been 2 or 3. B I didn’t run last weekend due to moving so i felt happy for the run.

In summary, 42 miles for my first week back… Not bad. B I feel okay and pretty good since before I took a small break I was running 60-70 a week. B Since my intermission hasn’t been too long I’m following the approach of 20%B mileageB increase until I’m at 55-60 and then possibly 10%. B I need to have a strong base by September 15 as that’s when I’ll be working weekends and running will have to be drastically cut back on the weekdays. B I’ll resume mileage after October 15th to wrap up final training for Philly Marathon before a one week taper of the Weekend of November 18th. B Rough draft of the plan so far. B It’s in my head, now I just need to get it down on paper.

I think for week 2 I’llB targetB 48 miles.

TARC Spring Classic Review

I ran the TARC Spring Classic race on April 28th 2012.

The race had several options 10K, Half Marathon (which Tony did), Marathon & 50K. I got very ambitious and signed up for the 50K. Due to recent knee pain and being completely unprepared I DNFed the race. I’ll go more into the reason why later. However, this won’t stop me from reviewing and mentioning how awesome the race was!

The four races are hosted by a group called the Trail Animal Running Club. The races were very low-key with amazing volunteers. There was a total of 300-400 runners. Because there was no chip system in place the registration fee was only $20. No race expo, no selling you crap you don’t need but want, just pure simple running.

The 10K started at 8AM and the other races at 8:15. The race was held in Weston, MA. A place I haven’t visited before but was in awe how pretty all the houses are. Tony and I got there at 7:45AM to get our bib numbers. We then hid in the car trying to stay warm as it was about 45 degrees outside.

The Hobo hat came back from my closet for a visit. You may laugh but it’s so warm!

Neither of us have ever done a trail race before. We haven’t even taken a trail run; even though we’re two miles away from Middlesex Fells Reservation, before. Needless to say we were nervous and excited to start.

We originally planned on staying together. I was running with a gimp leg and figured running with Tony would be a smart pacing strategy vs. me trying to compete with everyone around me. However that did not work out.

The course was a 10K loop. You do 5 loops to complete a 50K. In order for the half marathoner and marathoners to get their exact distance they had a small little mini loop in the beginning of the trail. The full marathon people did this mini loop twice. So within 1 minute Tony and I said our goodbyes and went on our separate ways.

The course was a mix of fire roads (30%) and single track trails (70%).  What I thought was going to be an easy flat trail was anything but flat. While there were no switchbacks and miles upon miles of decent, the single tracks were a constant up and down experience. Lots of rocks, lots of twigs, and a few muddy creeks.

The first loop (10K) went by great! I felt strong, I felt awesome! I felt like a movie star running through the woods of a zombie scene.

All the photography was done by the creek or on the fire roads so needless to say I have real photos for the single track trail part.

I saw the clock said either 50-55 minutes when I finished the first loop. I grabbed two Gu chumps from the fuel table and ran on my way. More on how awesome the fuel/water station was later.

The second loop I think was my fastest. I knew what to expect, I knew where to go and I felt more confident about myself. Well almost. Me and the creeks… Well..

I was running in new shoes and really did not want to get them too muddy!

I hit my second loop/ 20K at about 1:50. I looked around for Tony but he was busy being a beast of his own so I grabbed two more Gu Chumps and made my way.

Somewhere in the middle of my third loop, my gimp leg/knee woke up and decided its time to stop running. I slowed my pace and did a half run half walk type of thing. I finished my 30K somewhere around 3:20 where I found Tony waiting for me.

This guy finished the half in 2:21!

Looking back, I probably should have signed up for just the half. I don’t think my body was ready for the complexity of trail running to that distance. I should not have run in Asics that are half a size too big on me. While it’s okay to wear shoes a little big for road running to prevent some toenail losses, such was not the case with trails. I have the blisters to prove it.

The course had a single aid/fuel station that you passed by each time you completed a loop. The volunteers were super cool and refilled all your water bottles for you and gave you anything you needed. Because it was a 10K trail with no water stops people were strongly encouraged to run with a water bottle. I ran the first loop without mine but grabbed it off the grass on the second loop. I’m used to running 15 miles without water so given the cold weather I wasn’t too concerned for just 6 miles. I mixed water with a nuun hydration tab and mostly relied on that for hydration.

In addition to water & Gu Brew the race provided, everyone was asked to bring one snack from one type as designated by the last letter of your last name. This created an almost trail running pot luck picnic! After I DNFed, I munched on delicious brownies, pretzels, sweet potato chips and s’mores. I wanted to make sure that for every calorie I burned, I took in 3x as much back into my body.

Could I have finished the race? Yes, I think I could have finished in between 5 to 6 hours. Although the pace would have been slow for me, it was a pace that more than half the people finished at. However, poor Tony forgot to bring his school books so I felt bad making him wait for me as I hiked/ran 20K more. I think judging by the blisters I got from my half-size too big shoes, it was a good idea to stop as well or at least to change my socks. As much as it hurt my pride, I walked away and went home. I did end up doing a small hike by my house with a friend so maybe I could mentally add that to my mileage towards the 50K.

Also how could I not forget, I got to meet two of my Daily Mile friends! I think this was one of my favorite parts of the race. Putting faces to people who support and motivate me on a daily basis. I think I seem a little dazed in my internal struggle to want to run, but I really did enjoy meeting people in real life and wish I had time to stick around more.

Aside from a bruised ego I walked away with a new love for trail running. I love the support and spirit of all the runners. Instead of a competition, I felt as I was part of a community. The cool part is that TARC often has small group runs in the Blue Hills (south of Boston) and the Fells (North of Boston by me) on weekends. I intend to try to make as many of those as possible. That way, by the time the Summer TARC classic 50K comes I’ll be ready!