Sunday, April 25, 2010

Putting in the miles

When did life get so crazy?  I'm sure you know what I mean.  It's tough to find time to squeeze in half the things we want to do each day or on a weekend.  It's funny how I always have a "To Do" list that only gets a fraction complete.  Do any of you have the solution?  I sure would like to know the answer.

Thankfully, the Goat talked me into a couple great runs on Tuesday and Wednesday this week, and then I did a fast 7 mile solo run on Friday night.  The runs with Goat were about 10 miles each and they felt more like much needed therapy.  My job has been getting the better of me lately and running is the one thing that has kept me sane and productive.  I am so grateful for running.

I've gone back towards a more Vegan diet the past 2 weeks.  I've cut back on dairy quite a bit and have been eating more nuts and raw foods.  It seems to be helping the running.  The key will be to maintain my weight and strength.

Yesterday, we ran to the top of Talcott Mountain (twice) and enjoyed some great views.  Goat and I talked about hosting a race there someday.  Then, we picked up the pace rounding reservoir 6, chatted with a friend while refueling, and went back out for another 10.  Goat was dragging a bit as he is still recovering from the Traprock 50K, but we managed to get in 20 miles in just under 3:40.

I took today off from running.  I wasn't intending to take a rest day, but my body requested it.  I babysat for my granddaughter, Maliyah, since her Mommy worked 3rd shift last night.  Chasing Maliyah around is like running a marathon, so I figure we're good for the day.  It was especially traumatizing for Grandpa when her diaper exploded at the supermarket.  Jamie says I need to put the diapers on better.   I needed a nap after they left for the day.  Whew!

Congrats to all the Leatherman Loop runners!  Looks like a good time was had by all.  Perhaps I'll join in the fun one of these years.

Toying with the thought of running Seven Sisters next weekend.  I've run the course in training, but haven't been there for raceday.  Who's going to be there?

So, if you know how to carve out a few more hours each day or have the secret to productivity, let me know.  In the meantime, I'll try to hang on until retirement!

Have a great week everyone!

Mileage for the week:

Tuesday, 9.5
Wedneday, 9.5
Friday, 7
Saturday, 20
Weekly Total - 46 makahoonies

Sunday, April 18, 2010

TRAPROCK 50K: Mission Accomplished!

It's been a fun and crazy weekend!  Everything we expected and some things we didn't expect...but we expected the unexpected :-)  Seriously, Traprock 50 was a huge success!  It was filled with highs and lows, smiles and tears, and was an overall great experience!

The Quick Summary:

52 runners started the race with 20 runners completing the 50K, 10 for the 34K, and 11 completed the 1 loop 17K course.  We had only 1 DNF due to getting lost on the trail.  Three others also got lost, but chose to continue in completing at least 1 lap for the day.  More on that later.

Overall, the weather cooperated (overcast, 40s, and light showers throughout the day) and almost everyone had a great time.  Peter Schoew, a local runner I've never met, took the Men's race in a dogfight with my buddy, Matt Estes.  Matt was closing in on the last lap, but Peter held him off for a 1 minute victory margin.  Deb Livingston captured the women's crown while stopping along the way to breastfeed her 6 month old.   Yes, there were a few things I saw and heard during this day that will stick in my memory for a long time!

Feedback on the course was fantastic and I think we did a reasonably good job with the aid stations.   Many, many thanks to all our volunteers.  They were all personal friends/family with the exception of Bob Buckingham who is now a personal friend!  Bob rocked!

One of the highlights of the day was the pre-race cello solo by Dagmar's son Christopher.  He played the Gigue to Bachs first Cello suite to kick things off.  I dare say we are the first ultramarathon in the world to pull that one off!  The runners loved it and then sent them on their way!

DETAILED REPORT (from new RD's perspective)


As much as we had prepared, things got a bit chaotic on Friday.  I took a vacation day to go mark the course and do last minute preparation.  Goat was coming back from a business trip to Dallas, and was picking up his Dad's truck and items for the post race BBQ.  I wanted to get the trail marked early so headed out to the course at 6:30AM.  I marked about two thirds of the course before running out of the orange surveyors tape.  I had other errands to run, so retreated home for a quick shower with plans to come back later to finish the job.  At that point, I realized that I had forgotten to pick up 4 tables from my friend, Tim, and had to drive all the way to Colchester to pick them up since they would not fit in Tim's car.  Ugh!  With that task completed, I picked up more tape as well as some "Caution" tape and went back out to the course.  After finishing all but 1.5 miles of the course, I noticed that some of my markings from the morning looked like they were missing.  With that, I wandered up the trail a bit and decided I did not want to know the answer at that moment.  Did someone really remove all my hard work?  Panic was beginning to set in.  I decided to finish marking the course and then check the first 1.6 miles from the start area.  I finished marking and saw the first section of trail was intact with markings, so assumed I was just losing it when I thought some markings were missing.  It was 6:00 and there was still a ton of work to do.

Goat, Dagmar, and the boys met me and my daughters at the house and we had some pizza before setting into more tasks.  Goat went food shopping for fruit and other last minute items while Dagmar, Alex, and I finished the plaques for top finishers.  Tara set off to make a race banner.  Alex filled the new water jugs...and we realized one of them was leaking.  Argh! ...back to Walmart for a replacement at 10PM.  Time for some sleep.


Paul D. showed up at my place at 6:30AM, and we loaded his truck with tent, water, gatorade, chairs, etc, etc.  I had to pry my daughter, Tara, out of bed so we could get to the start by 7.  When we arrived, some runners were already there, and we hastily set up the tent, tables, and started pre-race check in.  Tara was assigned to check-in and did a great job having never completed such a task.  Meanwhile, I assigned volunteers to aid stations, provided directions, etc.  Once the aid station folks started pulling things together, I started to feel better about things and had a chance to chat with some of the runners.

Dagmar's son, Christopher, had volunteered to play his Cello for the pre-race festivities.  I thought, "OK, this will be a first for a trail race!"  Of course, it became one of the highlights of the day as Christopher did an incredible job with the gigue to Bachs first cello suite.

We gave the pre-race briefing (Goat says I went into too much detail describing the course), and then it was my honor to say "Ready, Set, Go!!!" and the runners were off...

After about 5 minutes, Michelle R. came rushing up ready to start the race.  She had been lost trying to find the park, so we gave her a bib, some basic directions and off she went.  She seemed to be in good spirits and ready for some good running.

Clint was out on the course directing traffic at the 1.6 mile mark and phoned me when the runners all came through, and I told him to watch for Michelle.

We set up the check in area as an aid station, and then I wandered up to the 7 mile aid station to see how they were progressing.  I was there about 5 minutes and a runner came through...he was obviously lost since the lead runners were still on the first 4 miles of the course.  Bummer!  He was 1.5 miles off course.  I pointed him in the right direction to get back on track and he wandered off.  Within minutes, 2 more runners came through the same spot and panic set in.  OMG, where did I go wrong with the markings?  I pointed them back in the right direction and decided to leave before more runners wandered in.  I called the 3 mile aid station and they reported that almost all runners had come through, so I felt a lot better at that point.

We watched the top runners come through the 7 mile aid station and I was surprised to see someone ahead of Matt Estes (by 5 minutes).  I wondered if he was in the 50K.  We went down to the start/finish area to see them come in.  Shortly thereafter the top women's runner came rolling into the start area thinking she was running a great race.  I felt horrible informing her that she was obviously off course since she was back way too soon.  She was heartbroken and I felt absolutely terrible.  Her Mom drove her up from NYC that morning and she had planned to win.  We had no idea where she went off course, and she decided to drop out at that point.  Her Mom had been helping us at the aid station, and I had no way to make it up to them.  I felt terrible...

As other runners came in I asked them about the course and the markings, and the consensus was that it was that everyone loved the course and thought it was very well marked.  I felt a bit better.  We tracked the runners to determine who won the 17K as well as the 34K and started up the post-race BBQ.  We were doing double duty as aid station and post-race party, awards, and T-shirt/beer glass distributors.  Volunteers were starting to head home and replacements were assigned to their posts.

Best story of the day, Chris C. finished the 1st lap in 3rd place, but was the leader for the 34K.  We encouraged him to keep going to win the 34K, and slowly started getting the bug to run another lap.  He borrowed my phone to call his wife who reluctantly agreed to let him keep going.  He hesitated for a minute, took off his over shirt and then took off down the trail.  We all cheered loudly, and 90 minutes later he received the 34K winners plaque.

The racers thinned out and only the 50K runners remained on the course.  I enjoyed chatting with many of the runners as they finished, and basked in the positive feedback on the race.  The Shenipsit Striders made a great showing with Deb winning, and Scott Turco, Bruce Giguere, and Goat running very respectable races.  Scott was 3rd overall (way to go Scott!) with Bruce and Goat coming in 8th and 9th respectively.   I think Bruce is doing some kind of dance in this shot!

We waited for the last runners who were enjoying getting their money's worth on this day.  I made an observation that the middle and back of the pack runners seemed to have more fun than the front runners.  I never noticed this in a race since I'm usually a participant and pushing as hard as I can for a strong showing.  It made me think about running a race for fun!  I wonder...

50K winners, Peter Schoew and Deb Livingston shown below:

As the last runners came in, we started breaking down the tent and packing up.  It took some work, but we crammed everything in and headed home.  By the time we got settled, the pictures and race reports started showing up on the web.  I felt like a playwright waiting to hear from the critics.  I thought, "They said nice things at the race, but what will they really say to the masses."  Thankfully, we received high praise from all and everyone is excited about coming back next year.


Goat and I drove back to the course this morning to take down the markings.  We realized that I was not crazy and that someone had, indeed, taken down the markings on nearly a 1 mile section of trail.  Luckily, no one made any major mistakes in that section.  Catastrophe avoided!  We returned the tables and his Dad's truck and tied up loose ends with financials and shirts.  We are just about ready to close the books on this year's race and start planning for next year.

Parting Words -

At the beginning of the year, Goat and I talked about this year being the year we start to leave our "legacy".  We wanted to do something special to make others happy and share some of the joy we have felt running on the local trails.  There were no spring trail ultras in CT, and only other one in the Fall.  We had talked about hosting a race for some time, and decided to give it a go.  There were several times we considered giving up, but the running community would not let us.  While we did not have a complete plan when we set out, everything came together in the end.  It truly emphasized some of the principles I have come to love.  If you envision something and take action, it will come to be.  Stay the course!  I am so happy we created the "Traprock 50K".

My daughter, Tara, training to be the future Race Director.

One of the things that really made me feel good was how long people hung around after the race.  Many folks had a great time hanging out with us and chatting.  Even the volunteers were hanging out long beyond expectations.  It was really a nice atmosphere.

Many, many thanks to all the volunteers who came out to help us.  It could not have happened without your support!  Goat and I are forever grateful!  Of course, we'll ask you to do it again next year :-)

Thanks to all the runners who took a chance on us.  We realize you have many options for races and we are honored that you chose Traprock.  We take the responsibility to provide a quality experience seriously and am so happy you enjoyed our race!

Lastly, someone asked me when our next race was planned if we were hosting a series.  I smiled and said, "One year from now!"

Only 364 more days!  See you at Traprock 2011!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

It's all coming together - Traprock 50K!

Check it out!  This is an example of the awards I made for the race this weekend.  I am psyched that they came out so nice!  A couple years ago I was fortunate enough to win my age group at the Pineland Farms 50 miler and I was so impressed with the hand-made awards.  It stuck with me, and I wanted to create something special for our race.  It took most of the weekend, but they are almost finished now.  We will have awards for Top Male and Female for each of the 3 races.  I would be happy to have a "Piece of the Rock" sitting on my mantle!

Tonight, Goat, Batboy, and yours truly went to Walmart and purchased most of the stuff for the Aid Stations.  We have 32 gallons of gatorade and lots of pretzels, fig newtons, candy, and other stuff.  We'll also make some PB sandwiches and get some fruit (of course we need watermelon - my personal aid station favorite).  We'll have lots of water on course as well.

If things work out, we will have a post-race BBQ courtesy of Augie and Ray's.  Goat is working out the details.

I did manage to get 2 good runs in on the course this weekend.  Yesterday, the Goat, Dave D., and I ran the old course.  Goat had a head cold and fell a couple times.  I didn't think much of it because the Goat is usually good for a couple falls every few times out.  On the way back, however, he fell and let out a bloud scream followed by some expletives.  There was something wrong.  Goat had smashed his head on a rock and was bleeding profusely.  I took off one of my shirts and we applied direct pressure to the wound....good old first aid class was finally paying off.  Of course, I elected to give the Goat my t-shirt rather than get blood on my coveted VT100 shirt.  I love the Goat, but sometimes you just have to draw the line.  Just kidding!

Anyway, Goat was not a happy camper and I was concerned about him being able to get back to the car which was 2.5 miles away.  I was glad Dave was with us in case Goat passed out or something.  Luckily, Goat seemed OK, and actually decided to run a bit.  We put a hat on his head, so he could run without holding the shirt on the wound and we shuffled back to the car.  Goat seemed fine and the bleeding had stopped.  Later on, however, it started bleeding again and he went to the ER where they stapled up his head.  This had happened to me years ago, so I know how it feels to have someone put staples in your head.  It's kinda weird!

Goat was down for the count this morning as you might guess, but I was fortunate to get an email from my ultra-buddy, Matt Estes.  Matt was the fastest ultrarunner in CT a few years back, but hasn't run a lot over the past couple years due to work and school.  Fortunate for us, he is running Traprock this weekend.  It turns out that he started running again in January and has been logging a solid 10 miles per day.  I always enjoy running with Matt and today was no exception.  Matt has lungs of steel whereas I just have the ability to run for a long time.  Matt has both actually.  He has won both the HURT 100 and Massanutten 100 and held the course record for both.  He also holds the course record for the Vermont 50 despite the fact that the website still shows it otherwise.  Basically, he's an ultra stud.

So, today we start out up the first hill and Matt is chatting away while I am redlining it.  Damn, this is going to be a long run!  I elected not to carry water while Matt thought better, and I was getting worried already.  Matt is cool though and actually runs at my pace when we are together.  I push harder than I normally would when I'm with him, so I can make a reasonable showing.  I enjoyed catching up with Matt and hearing some good stories.  He was in Hawaii this past year and paced a runner at HURT100.  The runner was hallucinating and Matt was barely able to get him to an aid station before things got really bad.

We finished up our run on what I believe will be the race day course.  It came out at about 10.75 miles, so I need to shorten it up a bit this week.  On the last 1.5 miles, there is a big hill that I told Matt I always walk up.  He said, "Let's run up this thing, so we can go eat some food!"  I had to smile.  It was a good push to the finish.  It was great to run with Matt again, and he said he would be there on race day.  The loop took us about 1:45 with some detours, so we are thinking sub-5 hours is possible on race day.  My money is on him to take home the top award for the 50K.

Everything is falling into place.  We have 45-50 runners signed up.  I think we actually have 50 shirts, so we'll have to see about ordering more.  I hope you all pre-registered!

There's always more to do to make it better, but I think we will make a good showing for our first year.

I managed to log about 35 miles this week despite all the race prep and a monster week at work.  I'd like to do a few more races this year, and hope to get in some mileage once we get through race day.

A big advanced thank you to everyone who has offered assistance for the race.  We couldn't do it without you!

Have a great week everyone!  Can't wait to see many of you on Saturday!


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Traprock update

OK, I am officially near "freak out" mode!  We have a ton of stuff to get ready for the race, I have to orchestrate an all day meeting with our new GM on Friday, need to teach class Thursday night, and I haven't done my taxes yet!  To top things off, I strained my back after Northern Nipmuck on Saturday and have been hobbling around like an old man since then.  Help!

The good news is that we are nearly up to 40 runners for our inaugural Traprock Trail Races, and I expect we will break the 50 runner mark shortly.  Gulp!  Are we ready for this?

We may be in a bit over our heads at this point, but there is no turning back.  We have runners coming from as far away as Maine and Maryland!  The Goat and I are so psyched, and will do our very best to make this a great experience for everyone.  I'm sure we will have some growing pains though, so please try to be a bit patient with us.  We don't know what we don't know...

All these years I thought putting on a race was easy.  Sure, you just mark the course, order some shirts, put out some water and gatorade, and you have a race.  Wow!  Was I ever wrong!

Kids, don't try this at home!  Seriously, I wish we had another 3 months to prepare for the race, but it is what it is.  Thankfully, we have been lucky enough to coerce some volunteers into volunteering, and hope we can pull this thing off.

Many thanks to all of you who plan to run the race and many, many thanks to all who are supporting the race through volunteering your time, offering advice, helping with requirements, etc.  You are all amazing people and we can't wait to see you all on race day!  By the way, does directing a race on April 17 qualify for a filing extension on income taxes?



Saturday, April 3, 2010

Northen Nipmuck and Reflections

I ran Northen Nipmuck today with about 120 other enthusiastic, outdoor loving, crazy runners.  It was a blast!  I managed to finish in the Top 20 despite minimal training, falling about 10 times and going off course a bunch.  I had to wear glasses due to my ulcerated cornea issue, and it was like running blind.  As most of you know, doing a face plant takes a lot of energy out of you during a run, so you can imagine how 10 of them would feel.   I'm a bit ahead of myself again, so let's start from the beginning.

The Goat and I drove out to Bigelow Hollow State Park to run Northen Nipmuck for several reasons:

1. Get the Goat some race experience, so he can learn to pace himself.  He tends to go out a bit fast, and NN makes you pay big time for that mistake.  I figured he would either run smart of learn a valuable lesson.
2. We wanted to scope out all the race details for our pre-race planning for Traprock.  Jimmy C. has been doing a great job with the race for many years now, and I figured Goat would appreciate all the details by seeing it first hand.  We also wanted to recruit for the race, and brought some Traprock flyers.
3. Pay homage to my ultra-mentor Jimmy C.  He taught me how to run ultras on this course, and it holds a special place for me.
4. I haven't raced in 2 years...partially due to some scary GI issues that occurred after VT100 2 years ago.  It happened in every race thereafter, so I stopped racing.  I was hopeful for a fresh start.

So, how did we do?  I would call it a successful day!  Goat ran a very impressive race and finished 24th overall just behind Deb Livingston.  He paced himself well and finished strong.  I was very happy for him.

I ran pretty well despite my overall lack of training.   Mark and I traded places several times during the race.  We were around 16th and 17th at the halfway point and Scott and John Agosto were in front of us.  Scott Livingston and the Legend (Rich Fargo) were in front of them.  I ran a great race a couple years ago and managed to beat Rich by a couple minutes, but I had no business running with those boys today.

 I caught up to Scott at the top of the next hill and then Mark and I caught John just before the last aid station (mile 12ish).  John and Scott are in great shape, but I suspect they went out a bit too fast.  NN is not forgiving in that regard.

I felt my energy level fading and knew Mark would have a strong finish.  I was starting to feel nausea and was concerned with the lack of energy.   Mark passed me as did 2 others and I hung on for what was probably 17th place.   I did a nice face plant on the last downhill and Scott Livingston said something about not seeing it.  I smiled and said, You missed the other 10 as well".  The course was very wet and it was hot, so I was pleased with my time (around 2:34ish?).

My voice was sounding very hoarse after the race and I felt a bit dehydrated.   I was wiped out, but relatively pleased considering all the issues.  I really did not expect to run that well.  I saw Jack Pilla at the finish area and congratulated him on this VT100 win, then hung out with Mr. Livingston for a bit.  I desperately needed a drink, so headed for the post race festivities thinking I would get Goat something to drink and catch him at the finish.  Goat finished a couple minutes after I walked away, so I missed it.  Bummer.

So, it was a successful day.  I'm not sure how many takers we had for our Traprock flyers, but we tried.  I later found out that my GI issue has returned.  I think it explained some of the nausea and fade at the end.  So, not sure what that means in terms of future races.  We'll have to see.

I turn 46 tomorrow, and have been feeling my age this past year.  Aging is not pleasant, but it is what it is...  It doesn't matter though.  It was a beautiful day on my favorite trail course.  I saw my ultra mentor and his good buddy, Jeff, who also mentored me in my first ultra.  I ran the course that I have covered as often as any place I have trained.  It was the course that kept me functioning when my divorce sent my world spinning.  It was the course that I ran my first ultramarathon distance on.  I remember Jim and Jeff saying, "You just ran your first ultra" after we finished a 34 mile training run one day.  I had only intended to do 16 with them, and I knew I was in trouble when they said, "Welcome to Massachusetts!"  It was the course where I completed my longest training run ever...9 hours and 10 minutes in 95 degree heat.  It was the course that delivered me to two Top 10 finishes at Vermont 100.

I am so grateful for being able to run this trail as often as I have these years.  Even though I don't get out there much these days, I have the course pretty well memorized.  It was helpful today since I was running by brail most of the time!  Ha!

Thank you Nipmuck Trail and thank you Jimmy C. for a great race!  Thank you for teaching me how to run ultras.  It's been a great ride!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Traprock 50K Training Run video

Check out the link below for a cool preview and post run commentary on the Traprock 50K.

Please let me know if you like the video as I am experimenting with this new medium.