Monday, September 26, 2011

Vermont 50 Trail Run

Yesterday I took on the Vermont 50K trail run, which is part of the Vermont 50 weekend which includes a 50 mile mountain bike and a 50 mile trail run.  Due to Hurrican Irene, the officals had to reroute the course in a few areas. The end result was  about a mile longer than normal.

Amy and I headed up early afternoon on Saturday to check in for the race and then grabbed dinner over at the Harpoon Brewery.  We stayed at a campground named the Running Bear. Our first choice was the state owned campground, but it had a two night minimum.  As we were putting up our tent we realized that the campground was practically on Interstate 91, so needless to say we won't be staying there again.

We got up at 6am on Sunday, packed up and headed back to the base area at Ascutney.  The weather was in the mid 60s, but with a humidity near 100%.  The race started promptly at 8am with the 1st couple miles on paved and dirt roads.

About 1 1/3 miles came the 1st walking break as we ascended up a dirt road, but after the peak I settled back into 8-8:30ish pace.  My goal for the race was to finish somewhere in the 10ish range, but having never taken on a race of this distance or with this much climbing, it really was a survival race from the beginning. 

The 1st 10 miles went pretty well with about 7 1/2 of it on dirt roads.  I walked the steep sections but was able to keep my average pace below 9.  Around mile 3 I stuck my right foot into a huge mound of mud and nearly lost my shoe.  I ran through the first water stop at 4 1/2 miles. I refilled my camel pack at the 7 1/2 mile rest stop and ran  straight through 10 1/2 mile stop.  The increased capacity of the camelpak saved me several minutes of stoppage time at rest stops.

I sent a drop bag to the 12 1/2 mile stop which had some additional shot blocks, a shirt, a hat, and another pair of shoes and socks.  I was pretty well drenched from the humidity when I got there so I switched my shirt and hat, but didn't bother with the shoes as I figured they would be pretty muddy soon.  From here on out we were on the same course as the 50 mile mountain bikes and the 50 mile runners which made it a little more challenging.  We would pass the cyclists on the steep climbs as they walked their bikes and they would come flying by on the downhills.

Around mile 22, I met up with a man named Franco who was doing this race for the 2nd time and we decided to stick together.  We had a pretty good system going as I lead the way and felt motivated to push on as long as he was next to me or just behind me.  We stayed pretty strong through mile 27 with the occasional walk when the trail got really steep.  Weirdly enough even though my legs were killing me, I felt mentally strong as we pushed on.  At this point I confessed that my goal is to do the Leadville 50 mile trail run next July, and Franco was quite impressed that I was pondering it this late in the race (He has hopes to do the VT 50 mile run next year). 

With 4 miles to go the wheels were starting to come off.  We just kept shuffling along with breaks at anything that resembled an uphill grade.  At this point both calves and both hamstrings had been pulsating for a while.  The last few miles were a slow ascent across the ridge line followed by a steep set of downhill switchbacks to the finish.  As a few mountain bikes blew by I blitzed the final hill screaming as my calves locked up.  As I hit the finish Amy recorded my number (she was volunteering at the finish) and took my picture.

5 hours, 25 minutes, 57 seconds - 10:11 / mile
Longest run ever by 1 mile / 1 hour and 9 minutes.
16 / 179 OA, 6 / 23 AG

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