Saturday, January 30, 2010

Trarock 50K: If you build it, they will come...

Clint and Scott were supposed to meet us at 8AM for a preview of the Traprock course this morning. I got up and checked It said, "7 deg F, feels like -12 deg F". Woof! OK, I better wear an extra layer...sure wish I could find that balaclava. The plan for the Goat and me was to do 2 loops on the course for a total of 22 miles. Folks could join for 1 or 2 laps as they wished. We arrived at 8. I did not see Scott, but did see a group of runners huddled together. They looked awefully cold. My car said it was 5 degrees and begged me to stay on the warm seat (with heater!). Goat and I sat in our cars waiting for a sign...I suppose. No sign. Car implored, but I had to get out. Once out of the car, one of the group members asked if we were there for the 11 mile run. I answered, yes, and we were all immediately friends. John, Todd, and Dave were ready to roll. They indicated that Clint and Scott were not coming, so we should get moving. As we started to leave the parking lot, a truck came rumbling up with our 6th member for the tour, Dave2. Dave2, reportedly, never runs with long pants, but he had long pants today. Someone questioned him on it, and he said, "It's cold!". I liked him immediately.

The only member of the group that I had previously encountered was Todd who is a long time member of the Hartford Track Club. He's a legendary CT runner. I was psyched that he was along with us for the trek. John mentioned that he had run with my friend, Scott Livingston, so I figured he was a strong runner as well.

We all started off together and the pace was conversational. John and Goat pulled out ahead on the single track and the rest of us fell in behind. At the top of the first hill, we re-grouped and then looped down and around the reservoir. I remembered that Todd had won the Colchester half marathon (former course record holder at 1:13 for a very hilly course), and asked him about it. He then proceeded to tell us a great story. Several years ago, his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend paid a Kenyan to come break Todd's Colchester half marathon record. Can you believe it? He said something to the effect of "Never tell your girlfriend you most coveted possession in case you break up!". We all laughed! That tale alone made the run in the cold worth it.

Halfway up the next hill, we turned left and I noticed that we had lost one of the Daves, ...Dave2. I let the crew go on ahead while I waited for Dave2. Dave and I ran the next few miles together, and I learned that he is a Middle School Science Teacher at a magnet school. Right on! He's done some trail races including Seven Sisters, and was plugging right along. We caught up with Todd who was looking for some company. Todd is still recovering from a hole in his spinal cord, and decided to stick with Dave2 and me for the balance of the lap. Todd told me of a run that one guy did annually from Castle Crag to Heublein Tower, and I immediately wanted to do it. He called it the "Tower to Tower". What a great idea! Put it on the list.

So, we wrapped up the first lap and took some photos with the crew. Todd's wife was kind enough to bear the cold to take our pictures. Everyone headed for warmth and the Goat asked if I was ready for lap 2. I was so cold I was in no mood for lap 2, and then I thought and said, "This could be epic!" I drank some fluids in my car, and then we headed out for more. I wore mitts this time and felt really comfortable after the first half mile. At the top of the first hill, Goat was hurting. His hands were frozen. He was wearing thin gloves, so I gave him my mitten shells. This did the trick and we enjoyed the rest of the loop. The sun was out and we coasted home.

What a day! It was an easy run considering it was 20.5 miles (we cut the second lap short) in the snow. My ankles were a bit sore, but otherwise no issues. It was great to have some other runners join us, and hope they come out for the Traprock 50K. I learned that Northern Nipmuck is scheduled for April 3rd, so we will probably be moving our race date. We will keep you all posted.

Have a great week!


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Traprock 50K, Winter training, and random thoughts

So, I finally cracked 45 miles for a week this year. The crazy thing is that it was only 3 runs - 11, 23.5, and 10.5-11. I'm pacing the Goat at the Vermont 100 this summer, and am trying to help him get ready for the big show. Goat actually put in 50+ this week by getting in a 7 miler on Thursday. Nice. I'm feeling pretty decent despite feeling stretched to my limits with work, teaching at night, and trying to pull together details for the Traprock 50K. Oh yeah, I have 2 daughters and a granddaughter who also need my attention from time to time. Try babysitting an 11 month old after running 23 miles. It's not a pretty sight...until you both get to take a nap!

So, the Traprock 50K is coming together. We have a great logo, a great course outlined, and ideas for some cool awards. We just need to get the MDC folks to respond to our request to hold the event. We have to get it done this week, so we can get stuff done before our ski trip to B.C. Yes, that's right...the Goat, EuroMan, and Grover ride again! We'll be at a backcountry hut for a week skinning and skiing the Pow-Pow. I can't wait! I will be so happy to be out of cell phone and blackberry range for a whole week!

I've been giving some thought to workout quality. When I ran Vermont 2 years ago, I concentrated on mileage and the long run, and it worked well. I had incredible endurance and was light as a feather. Unfortunately, I lost a lot of muscle and felt weak. I also wondered if I could have done better if I had done more speedwork. I had done some great tempo runs in the 17-19 mile range. In fact, I'm amazed at how fast they were given the terrain. It will be interesting to see how the training progresses for the Goat. I'd like to get more strength training and speedwork into my routine. Yoga would be nice too.

It's been great to hear from so many people who are interested in the Traprock 50K! We're trying to get the plans under wraps and get moving on it.

So, give us a shout if you are running the Traprock 50K. Check out our Facebook page or the beginnings of our website at Share your thoughts on the race or come join us for a training run on the course!

Have a great week everyone!


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Traprock 50K

Announcing the inaugural Traprock 50K trail race! The race will be the weekend of April 3-4, 2010!

The Goat and I have been wanting to host an ultramarathon in Connecticut for awhile now, and we decided to finally do it this Spring. The idea was to hold it in early April as a tune up for the race season. The problem has been nailing down the exact date. We were focused on April 3 at the West Hartford Reservoir, but I learned today that the Hartford Track Club is hosting a race there on the same day...a quarter marathon. So, we may need to move the date to April 4...stay tuned. The following weekend is likely to be the date for the Northern Nipmuck trail race, so we don't want to conflict with that great race (especially since my ultramentor Jimmy C. is the Race Director).

Our original plan was to use Fatass in no entry fees, no amenities, just show up and run. We recently decided to charge a nominal entry fee to cover any costs and to allow us to provide awards and possibly t-shirts, etc. We will be keeping the price as low as possible.

Our plan is to run 3 loops of approximately 10 miles each through the reservoir. There is one big climb per loop. The rest of the course is rolling terrain with beautiful scenery. It is a combination of double-track and single-track with a portion of the race run on the historic Metacomet Trail along Connecticut's beautiful traprock ridge. There will be some wet spots on the course in early April and possibly some snow and ice which should make for interesting footing. We'd love to do an "out and back course" to cover more of the beautiful terrain in central CT, but road crossings make this somewhat prohibitive. We may decide to tackle that issue in a future version of the race, but decided to start small this first year.

So, put this race on your calendar! Come on out and meet the infamous Goat! It will be great fun! We'll have fully stocked aid stations approximately every 5 miles and may even throw in another aid station along the way.

Check out our Facebook page or go to for more info.
We need feedback from you, the running community. Tell us what you want and we'll try to deliver. Tell us your preferred start time. I'm thinking 9:30AM would be good for folks that are driving from a fair distance and will still allow enough time for everyone to finish in daylight. Tell us if you want t-shirts. Tell us what you consider to be "must-have's" for a race of this nature.

We aim to make this a great event for the ultrarunning community and would like to expand it to include a 50 miler at some point, so your input is important. Please let us know if you are interested in running or volunteering for the Traprock 50K!
See you on the trails.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Frigid and Fun!

Our plan was to run 14 miles including an ascent of Heublein Tower.

This story is primarily about an awesome run in extreme conditions, but that isn't even the best part. Humor me for a few minutes and read on friends...

The morning brought bitter cold conditions. Goat sent me at text message this morning,"What would Shackleton do?" It was 15 degrees F with a windchill of -5 deg F. Ummm..."he would eat his partner" was my reply. For those uninitiated, Shackleton was the leader of the famously "gone wrong" expedition to the South Pole. Their ship was locked in by ice...somehow they survived (most of them) due to a courageous effort. Read the book "Endurance" for all the details.

Anyway, it was that cold! We went running anyway. The only problem was that we didn't have protection for our faces. I almost always wear my blue balaclava for running, climbing, skiing, but I could not find it this morning. Damn, I had to rub my face every half mile or so just to prevent frostbite. The reservoir was (technically) closed due to dangerous conditions. We ran anyway.

After surviving the first mile or so, we started feeling confident. So, feeling better about things, we decided to make a bold attempt at our original plan: 14 miles including the ascent of Heublein Tower. Yeah Baby! Running the trail (from Reservoir 6) up to the Tower in the snow is one of the toughest climbs around and I was psyched to see if we could pull it off without the need to walk.

We found that running under tree cover provided a break from the wind. We came across a few other diehards out there: a lady walking (sorry for scaring the heck out of you), 3 guys on mountain bikes, and 1 other crazy runner. On top of the dike, we came across the runner and I told him he was crazy. He laughed. At least he had face protection.

It was so cold that my water bottle valve started freezing up. We ran onward toward the Tower. I tried to remember to keep sipping on the water to keep the valve from completely freezing. My original assumption was that we would walk most of the trail up to the Tower. It's hard enough to run it in the summer. It's even tougher in the snow.

As we started the ascent, I decided to see how far I could run up the trail. I shortened my stride and kept my legs churning. I kept checking on the Goat and he was hanging in there on my wheel. Nice! We kept cranking away, and were at the top before you could say, "frozen weenie".

We observed the view for a very brief moment and started down the road back. The descent wasn't bad. Goat had put some screws in the sole of his shoes to deal with the ice. It seemed to work well for him. I prefer the traditional approach, but definitely had to deal with the slipping a little more.

So, the run back was fairly uneventful. The run in front of the reservoir was brutal, but we survived nonetheless. All told, it was 15.5 miles in 2.5 hours on dicey terrain and in scary cold conditions. It felt great to be done, but the best part of the run was not even the run itself. The best part of the run was when the Goat formally asked me to be his pacer in the 2010 Vermont 100. Yeah Man! It is going to be an honor for me to repay the favor and pace the Mighty Goat in one of the greatest ultras in the world. It's going to be awesome and I can't wait to be part of it! Go Goat!

Have a great week everybody and Happy New Year!