Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My 2008 Race Series Rankings

ENETRS - 14th Overall (2228 total runners)

ENETRS - 6th Male 50-59 (246 total in age group)

WMAC GT - 64th Overall (463 total runners w/ 2 races or more)

2008 Race Results

The most complete listing of 2008 trail race results in New England. Ok, how do I know it's the MOST complete? I don't, but you get the idea. There's a lot here and it's all in one place.
Mt Hood 3.5M X Country 12.13.08
Andover Country Club 3.5M X Country- 11.30.08
Fells Trail Race 40M/32M/24M - 11.29.08
WCRC Turkey Trot 5K X-Country - 11.27.08
Stone Cat Race Photos - Courtesy of Emily Trespas
Stone Cat 50 Mile and Marathon - 11.08.08
Busa's Bushwack 15K - GT Race #24, ENE Race #20 -11.02.08 , Race Photos
Busa's Bushwack 15K - GT Race #24, ENE Race #20 -11.02.08 , 5.3M results
Busa's Bushwack 15K - GT Race #24, ENE Race #20 -11.02.08 , 9.3M results
Stone Tower Trail Run 15K/5K - 10.26.08
Groton Town Forest - GT Race #22, ENE Race #17 - 10.19.08
Ravenswood 4.1M - ENE Race #18 - 10.19.08
Bay State Marathon - 10.19.08
Monroe Dunbar 10.5M - GT Race #21 - 10.12.08
Diamond Hill 23K Trail - GT Race #20, ENE Race #15 - 10.11.08
Breakneck 20K Trail - GT Race #19 - 10.05.08
Houghton's Pond Trail Race 6M - ENE Race #13 - 10.05.08
Vermont 50 - 09.28.08
Pisgah Mountain 50K & 23K - GT Race #18 - 09.14.08
Bradbury Bruiser 12M Trail - 09.14.08
Nahant 30K Road Race - 09.14.08
North Medford Club Overlook 7M Trail - ENE Race #12 - 09.07.08
Curly's Trail Marathon - GT Race #17 - 09.07.08
Cape Ann 25K Road Race - 09.01.08
Wapack 17.5M - GT Race #16, ENE Race #10 - 08.31.08
Lynn Woods Handicap 5.75M - 08.27.08
Mt. Toby 14M - GT Race #15 - 08.24.08
Moose on the Loose 10M 8.24.08
Lynn Woods 10M Relay - 8.20.08
Savoy Mountain 20M Trail - GT Race #14 - 08.17.08
Lynn Woods Undercliff Trail - 8.13.08
Bradbury Mountain Breaker - 9M Trail - Photos
Bradbury Mountain Breaker - 9M Trail -8.10.08
Oxford Dam Run 10.5 Trail - GT Race #13, ENE Race #7 - 8.09.08
Tour de Lynn Woods 8.06.08
Around The Lake Races 24 Hour, 12 Hour & Road Marathon - 7.25.08
Woodland Trail Series 5M Race #2 - 7.31.08
Lynn Woods 5.5M - 7.30.08
Yankee Homecoming 10M Road - 7.29.08
Lynn Woods Gate to Gate 6M - 7.23.08
Vermont 100 - 7.19.08
Greenbelt Trail Run 5K, 10K - 7.19.08
Tour de Lynn Woods - 7.16.08
Skyline Trail 7.2M GT Race #11 - 7.13.08
Ascutney Mountain Run 3.8M LaSportiva NE Mountain Running Series Race #6 - 7.12.08
Lynn Woods 5.5M 7.9.08
Mine Falls 5M Summer Trail Race Series #4 - 7.07.08
Loon Mountain 5.7M LaSportiva NE Mountian Running Series Race # 5 - 7.06.08
Lynn Woods Gate to Gate 6M - 7.02.08
Mine Falls 5M Summer Trail Race Series #3 - 6.30.08
Mt. Cranmore Hill Climb 10K La Sportiva NE Mountain Running Series Race #4, GT Race #10 - 6.29.08
Six in the Stix - WNH Trail Series Race #1
Lynn Woods Twin Towers - 6.25.08
Mine Falls Summer Trail Series - Race #2 - 6.23.08
Mine Falls Summer Trail Series - Race #1 -6.16.08
Lynn Woods 8M - 6.18.08
Graylock Trail Race 13.5M GT Race #9 - 6.15.08
Lynn Woods 5.5M & Duathon 6.11.08
North Medford Club Overlook Trail 7M ENE Race #4 - 6.08.08
Great Lincoln Steeplechase 6.7M Trail 6.08.08
Northfield Mountain 10.3K La Sportiva NE Mountain Running Series Race #3, GT Race #8 - 6.07.08
Nipmuck Marathon 6.01.08 - GT Race #7
Pack Monadnock 10M 6.01.08 - LaSportiva NE Mountain Running Series Race #2
Pineland Farms Trail Challenge 25K, 50K, 50M 5.25.08
Mt. Wachusett Road Race 4.3M 5.24. 8 - La Sportiva NE Mountain Running Series Race #1
Soapstone Mountain 24K Trail 5.18.08 - GT Race #6
Trav's Trail Run 3M 5.18.08 ENE Race #3
GAC 6 Hour Run 5.11.08
Muddy Moose 14M Trail 5.11.08 GT Race #3
Wapack 50M and 21M 5.10.08 GT Race #5
Seven Sisters 12M 5.04.08 GT Race #4
Breakheart 6K 5.03.08
Mud-Muck-Moose 5M Trail 4.27.08
Blue Hills 10M 4.27.08 ENE Race #2
EXTERRA Merrimack River 10M 4.12.08 GT Race # 2, ENE Race #1
Northern Nipmuck 16M 4.05.08 GT Race #1
Eastern States 20M 3.30.08
Fells Trail Race 3.29.08

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Granite State Snowshoe Race Series

I've never been a big fan of winter. Short days, less sunlight, the need for extra layers of clothing and a host of other reasons have put the winter months on my "Most Dreaded" list. I needed something to motivate and help me maintain a positive attitude over the long New England winter. I think I may have found my savior in snowshoeing. Now I admit I've only done two, short snowshoe runs EVER, but it was fun and served as a distraction from my normal disdain of snow. And it was certainly more fun than trying to run though a foot of snow while wearing trail shoes. I was considering doing a few snowshoe races last year but injuries prevented me from giving it a whirl. This year will be different. With a little coaxing from a long-time snowshoe racer and runner I know, I committed to run at least three races in the Granite State Snowshoe Series. More to follow on this later.

Think snow! How's that for a change in attitude?

Week of Contrasts

What a difference a week makes. Last weekend I was snowshoeing through 16 inches of snow bundled up to protect myself from the cold, 13 degree temperature and howling winds. This weekend the temperature hit 60+ degrees and I ran in shorts through water, mud and the remnants of the early winter’s snow. These extremes are what make New England trail runners a hearty bunch.

On Friday I took my friend RunninRob on a tour of some of the trails in Breakheart Reservation. There was still a lot of deep snow on the trails. The top layer was crusty but not hard enough to support our weight. This made the run very tiring as we kept breaking through the surface and post-holing our way on most of the run. When we were thoroughly exhausted we got out of the woods and ran on the paved path where the snow had been compacted by runners, walkers and XC skiers.

On Sunday, Rob and I were back in Breakheart to take on the mud, water and remaining snow. The warmer temps and “improved” trail conditions encouraged us to go a little longer this time. It was nearly impossible to avoid getting your feet wet but Rob and I tried very hard by going around puddles, jumping over puddles and using rocks and roots as stepping stones. As the run progressed, and we got wetter, we no longer felt the need to avoid the water obstacles. On one long incline the water was running down the trail like a raging river. Rob and I ran thought the middle of the running water like children playing on a warm summer’s day. Actually, it was a lot of fun and we continued seeking out water to splash through for the remainder on our run. It was a blast!

Weekly Re-Cap

Total Miles: 16
# Of Runs: 4
Avg. Miles: 4
Trail Miles: 100%

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Snowshoe Running in Breakheart Reservation

I’ve tried to make the best of all the snow that accumulated over the weekend by trading in my Brooks Cascadia 3s for a pair of Tubbs Venture snowshoes. I took the snowshoes for short runs in Breakheart Reservation on Sunday and Monday. As a novice snowshoe runner I found these 3 miles runs very challenging. The Ventures aren’t made for running so I’m sure this made the workout all the more strenuous. I did learn one thing on my second run. A higher than normal knee lift makes the shoeing a little easier. With rain and warmer temperatures forecasted for the remainder of the week, it may be a while before I get to try this again.

Here are a few photos taken along the way.

Pine tops trail

Ridge trail start

Snow covered pine

Now need to worry about that happening now!

Canopy of snow

Snow Pyramid

Water Crossing

More water on trail

Happy Snowman

Have a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah or whatever else you wish to celebrate.


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Snow and ice, yet I managed to stay upright!

About 12 inches of snow fell here between Friday night and Saturday morning. It was our first measureable snow and time to break out the snow shovels. Thankfully, it was the light, fluffy type and not the heavy, wet stuff. I had a difficult time gripping the handle of the shovel with my splinted, dislocated finger as it was. Trying to lift a heavy load would have been a real chore.

After two hours shoveling and cleaning off the cars I when for a short run around the neighborhood. It was 13 degrees and the wind was howling but I’ve run so little in the past three weeks that I didn’t want to miss another day because of the weather. I dressed for the conditions and laced up my screw shoes. This would be my first run in the screw shoes and I was anxious to see how then worked. It wouldn’t take long to see if these things had any grip as I live on hill. I can only hope so!

Heading from my front door I heard the clicking sound of the screw heads on the porch stairs and the freshly cleared sidewalk. I stepped onto the street, covered with a hard-packed snow and began my run. The shoes gripped well descending the hill so I felt confident about doing the rest of the run. When I hit some patches of loose snow along the run the shoes did not work as well as I hoped. There was a lot of slipping during toe-off. I will modify the screw pattern up front to see if that improves the grip.

During my run I was approached by a woman walking a dog. When we were close she said to me, “And I thought I was crazy for walking my dog! Enjoy your run.” Hey, this is New England. If I only ran in good weather I would be skipping a lot of days for sure. I went happily along my way enjoying the frigid air and the crunching of snow under my feet.

When I got to one of the main streets that runs though town all I could see was blacktop. The side streets were covered with a nice layer of hard-packed snow but this street was cleared down to the pavement. I haven’t been able to do any street running without suffering with PF symptoms. I thought the snow would provide enough cushioning to prevent my PF from acting up (again) but this pavement was a little unexpected. There was no way to avoid it but I cut off to another side street as soon I could.

This street brought me to the middle school where I sometimes run on the synthetic track. I considered running a couple of miles here but when I saw the depth of the snow, and felt the ferocity of the wind whipping across the open field, I changed my mind. Instead, I ran a few laps around the middle school parking lot. It was covered with snow and ice and was a good test for my shoes. The shoes really excelled on the ice as the screw head held my shoe firmly in place all the way though toe-off.

After three laps around the school I headed for home. I had an event to attend and didn’t have much time to spare for a shower and a change of clothing. I managed to squeeze in three miles in 30:36. It seems a little foolish to spend so much time dressing for sub-freezing temperatures for a run on snow and ice covered roads, only to run for 30 minutes, but this is what we runners do. Yes, we are a crazy lot indeed!

Be safe….

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Water, Ice and another trip to the ER

I haven’t been doing much running the past few weeks. I injured my ankle at the Fells Trail Race in November and had to take some time off. After taking one week of complete rest I did a few short runs the following week for a total of 15 miles. This down time will probably keep me from attempting a 50K in January. I’ll have to wait a bit for my next Ultra.

I went for a short run in Breakheart Reservation on Sunday morning. I was a cold, windy morning but the sun was shining so it wasn’t all bad. We had a very heavy rainstorm all day Friday and the effects were seen on the trails. There was a lot of water in the low areas and the many small brooks and streams were overflowing. The water was running high so I avoided the trails that run along the banks of the river.

About 20 minutes into my run I came upon the first major obstacle on the Saugus River trail. Usually I can make this small water crossing without getting my feet wet. There are many boulders that make good stepping stones across the brook. On Sunday’s run the water level was much higher due to the storm and most of the rocks were submerged.

There were a few rocks barely above the surface of the swift running water. Although they appeared to be wet from spray, at least I could keep my feet dry by using them to leap-frog my way across. I didn’t realize the wet appearance was actually a very thin coat of ice. I jumped onto one and my foot slipped causing me to lose my balance. I reached out to break my fall and my finger got jammed between two rocks.

I got to the other side, wet and feeling some pain in my 4th finger. I continued to run but the pain in my finger wasn’t subsiding. I stopped and took off my glove to get a look at it. The finger was bent inward from the 2nd knuckle and upward from the 1st knuckle. I didn’t think it was broken but I definitely though it was dislocated. I tried to pop the tip segment back into the joint but could budge it. I decided I better turn back and have it checked out by a medical professional.

I drove to the Emergency Department at the Melrose-Wakefield Hospital. My second trip in two weeks. Believe me, it’s not a place I like to spend my weekends! Three x-rays and three hours later it was confirmed to be a dislocation, nothing broken. The ER doc injected my finger with a local anesthesia, pushed and twisted my knuckle a few times and I was good to go. I have to wear a split on my finger for three weeks but at least it isn’t anything that will keep me from running. Now if I can only stay out of here for the rest of the year!

It looked much worse in person.

I would worry this could effect my typing and hence my blog postings but I can't really type any slower than I already do. Can I?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Eastern New England 2008 Trail Race Series - Final Standings

The first season of the Eastern New England Trail Race Series has concluded with the running of the Middlesex Fells 8 mile race on November 29th. The series was a complete success as trail racing’s popularity seems to increase exponentially every year. Over 2,200 dirt dancers entered at least one of the 23 races in the series.

I’d like to send out personal congratulations to some of my trail running friends on their successful 2008 seasons.

To Paul and Emily, male and female ENE Trail Race Champions! I’ve enjoyed running with and chasing after both you in many races this year. I hope we get to do some (easy) training runs together over the winter.

To Kevin, 7th place male. Great effort in only your first year of trail running. We suffered thought Wapack and the Fells but still kept moving. I know we’ll complete our first ultra together in 2009. Have fun on the slopes!

To Ana, 7th place female. Another Wapack warrior that challenged me to stay strong. We seemed to just keep missing one another most of the year. I hope our paths cross again in the near future.

To Carlene, 17th place female. Why do we only meet on the toughest courses? I still think Wapack is the most difficult race I’ve run. What about you?

I am happy with my 11th place finish and already looking forward to the 2009 season.

Complete rankings: Here

Let it snow…NOT!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Olympic Spirit

Ok, this has nothing to do with running but it's pretty amazing anyway.

My hampsters never did anything like this.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Winter Running

The fall of the season’s first snow this past weekend made me realize how unprepared I am for winter running. I don’t mean it in terms of the clothing I will need to stay warm and dry or that I am lacking the motivation needed to train through a long, cold New England winter. I mean, where the heck I will run when there is snow and ice on the ground?

Trail running has kept my plantar fasciitis at bay for most of the year. I have had a few minor flare-ups but nothing that has stopped me from putting in the miles I wanted to do. I've done a few short road runs this summer and fall but each time I run the roads I have plantar pain for at least a week. I’ve tried different shoes, three in fact, but it doesn’t make a difference. I think my best option for now is to stay on the trails as long as possible.

Of course, I could wish for a snow-free winter but what is the chance that will happen?Another option is to get prepared for running on snow covered trails. To this end, I made a trip to Home Depot to purchase some sheet metal screws. I screwed (no comments please) an older pair of Brooks Cascadia 3s to use for running in snow and ice. I am thinking the screw heads will provide enough traction even on packed snow and ice. I’ve never tried this before but it will be an interesting experiment. If it doesn’t work out I'll switch to snowshoes. The more I stay off pavement this winter, the better chance I have of making a road-running comeback this spring.

Hmm, loose screw or screw loose?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Ankle Injury

I injured my ankle badly enough at the Fells Trail Ultra last weekend that I couldn’t put any weight on my right foot. The pain and swelling I was experiencing had me concerned about the possibility of a fracture. I went to the local Emergency Department and had an x-ray taken of the right foot. I’ve had plantar fasciitis for the past year and a half so it was no surprise to me when the x-ray reveled I had heal spurs. Thankfully, nothing was broken, just a bad sprain. I had to get around with the use of crutches this past week but constant ice and heat treatments have reduced the swelling and the pain. I’m off the crutches and pretty much pain free today. I’m going to take a cautious approach and refrain from running for a least one more week. If I’m pain free at the end of the week I’ll take a short run to see if the pain returns. If all goes well I may try to run the GAC 50K in January but it’s too early to commit to it right now.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

November Training Update

November was a very successful month for me. It was highlighted by running my first trail marathon in 4:26:59 at the Stone Cat Ale Marathon in Ipswich, MA. Another accomplishment was running 25 miles on the rugged Skyline trail in the Middlesex Reservation just 3 weeks after Stone Cat. I also ran a 15K trail race earlier in the month. On the down side, I injured my ankle on a training run only to re-injure it (more severely) 2 weeks later. I’ll be taking 2-3 weeks off to see if I can shake the ankle problem for good.

November Re-cap:

Total Miles: 133
Long Run: 26.2
# of Runs: 14
Avg Miles: 9.5
Trail Miles: 80% - highest this year.

Running is more fun than resting........

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Middlesex Fells Trail Ultra - Race Report

I made my first attempt at the 50K distance (actually 32 miles) at the Fells Trail Race this past weekend. The race was held in the Middlesex Fells Reservation just north of Boston. The race course is an 8 mile loop that circumnavigates the park along the Skyline trail and includes lots of single track, many hills and running along rocky outcroppings. Runners had the option of completing 3 to 5 loops for a total of 24 to 40 miles. I was confident I could finish 4 loops but I had no illusions about running it fast.

Packing for race day was almost as challenging as training for it. The unpredictability of the weather this time of year can cause a lot of variables. I didn't want to need something and not have it so I ended up packing a wide variety of items. I packed two long and short sleeve shirts, two pairs of running shorts and socks, arm warmers, an extra pair of shoes, two hats, two pairs of gloves, numerous gels, bars and on and on it went. After spending so much time with packing I decided to skip taping up my injured ankle. It had been feeling pretty good the past week anyway so I didn't feel it would be necessary.

I arrived at the starting area around 7 AM for the eight o'clock race. A few other runners were already there but were still waiting in their cars. It was a cold and clear morning and no one seemed to be in a hurry to stand around the parking lot in the cold air. After 15 minutes or so a steady stream of cars began to pull into the parking lot. Once Bogie (the Race Director) arrived people began to leave their cars and mill around his Honda Element. Bogie posted the names of the 28 runners entered in the ultra race and we picked up our race numbers from the back of his Honda.

Ultra Runners Roster
(Courtesy of RD Bogie)

My race number.
(Courtesy of RD Bogie)
Kevin’s race number.
(Courtesy of RD Bogie)

He explained that we could run the 8 mile loop in any direction. Furthermore, we could change directions during the race running one loop clockwise and then the next counterclockwise and vice versa. Runners were instructed to record their finishing time when completing a loop before heading out for their next loop. This is seemed to generate a lot of confusion among runners. Some recorded their split times; others recorded their accumulated time while still a third group recorded the time of day. This made it difficult if not impossible to determine what place you were in during the race. To complicate matters even further some runners decided to start early leaving between 7:30 AM and 7:50 AM. I, along with most runners left at the eight o'clock start time.

Loop One Running Time: 1 hour 38 minutes

We all started together from the parking lot on a double track trail. Kevin and I decided to run together for as long as possible but we got split up right from the start. I'm not sure if it was his youthful enthusiasm or pre-race jitters that caused him to start out so quickly but I soon dropped well off his pace. After a 1/2 mile there were markers on the trail indicating right and left hand turns. This is where the group split up, some going left up a steep climb and others turning right onto flatter terrain. I could see Kevin waiting for me at the split in the trail. I knew from previous training runs here that starting in a counterclockwise direction would give us easier running in the first 3 miles. Kevin and I decided to go in this direction since it would give us a little time to warm up from the early morning chill before we hit the bigger hills later on.

The pack heads out for 1st loop.
(Courtesy of RD Bogie)

With so few runners in the race, and seemingly half running in opposite directions, it wasn't long before there was plenty of running room on the trails. There was a woman running behind me talking to another runner. She was telling him how she lives in Arlington and trains on the Skyline trail often. She also wondered how the elevation gain during this race would relate to that of the Wapack trail race that she ran this summer. I immediately made the connection that this was Carlene who I met during the Wapack race this year. We talked for a while and both agreed that today's run SHOULD be a little easier than Wapack.

Skyline Trail Elevation Profile
Elevation gain = 4,291 feet

10 miles up, 10 miles down and 5 miles of flat running.

This was the 6th time I’ve run on the Skyline trail this year. Each time I run here I notice something new and different. What caught my eye in the cold clear air this time was how the frost was clinging to the blades of grass and fallen leaves on the sides of the trail. It gave the earth a silver sheen as it reflected the light of the slowing rising sun. The frost reminded me of granules of sugar sprinkled on a freshly baked cookie. And I wasn’t even hungry yet!

Kevin and I soon got into a good groove following on the heels of Carlene and two other female runners. After following them for a couple of miles I introduced myself to the other women. Their names were Kat and Tamela. I learned both of them are seasoned ultra runners, triathletes, adventure racers, and more. You name it, seems like they've done it. Carlene, Kat and Tamela were setting a faster pace than Kevin and I had planned to run but we were both feeling pretty good and decided to see how long we could hang with them. Following someone is a lot easier than trying to pick up trail markers on your own especially with someone that knows the trail as well as Carlene.

Carlene leading the way.
(Courtesy of RD Bogie)

After some easy running we hit the steeper hills and rocky outcrops at the southern end of the Fells. Here on the hills there was some separation in the group of five but we consolidated again at the top of the climbs. None of us took any time to take in the awesome view from Wright’s tower or any of the other high points. We all seemed to have one thing on our minds today. Cover as much distance as we could in as little time as possible. We continued to maintain a good pace throughout the rest of the eight miles despite the more challenging terrain. Back at the parking lot we recorded our times on the race sheet.

Loop One Time Sheet
(Courtesy of RD Bogie)

Loop One Transition Time: 6 minutes 33 seconds - Loop Two Running Time: 1 hour 43 minutes

The transition between loop one and two was spent refilling my Camelbak hydration pack, restocking my gels and downing an S-cap. I also put on a hat with a visor. The sun was very low in the sky on the first loop and it was constantly shining in my eyes. This made it difficult locating obstacles on the trail and I ran much of the first half of the loop using my hand as a visor. Kat and Tamela’s triathalon and ultra experience showed here and they were ready to head out for loop two before Kevin and I were. They were gracious enough to wait for us and we were on the trail again in six minutes. I was hoping to spend no more than 10 minutes in each transition so I was pleased with six. Kat also said six minutes wasn’t bad so then I felt really good about it. Carlene must have just recorded her loop time and ran back out because I never saw her during the transition.

As we ran the ½ mile to the split I asked Kevin, Kat and Tamela if they wanted to try running this loop in a clockwise direction. Then after running a loop in each direction we could decide which way would be best (aka easier) for the 3rd and 4th loops. Everyone agreed to give it a try so we turned left and began to climb. This first hill was fairly steep and there were large rocks forming steps to make the initial ascent a little easier. I was feeling very strong and took the lead here.

I picked up the pace a little as the climb leveled off. I soon heard Kat yelling at me. She said I was running faster than we did on the first loop and needed to slow down. I knew she was right. If I had any chance of running 50K on this rugged trail I would have to run conservatively in the early miles. I relinquished the lead position back to Kat since she and Tamela had been setting a comfortable, steady pace in the first loop.

After climbing and descending a few rocky hills we crossed a narrow gravel trail. I immediately thought we must have gone off trail because I did not remember crossing this gravel trail on the first loop. Kat was sure we had, so we continued going forward. Soon nothing looked familiar and we all realized we were lost. We backtracked until we found the Skyline trail again. Our little detour added another 3 minutes to our lap time.

Somewhere around 2 – 2 ½ hours into the race I began to feel some pain in my right ankle. This is the same ankle I sprained two weeks earlier during a training run on the Skyline trail. The initial pain was very slight but it worsened as I continued running the second loop. I was still able to maintain pace and stay with K, T and K but each step was getting more painful. The early morning laziness that contributed to my decision not to tape the ankle would haunt me for the rest of the race.

The fact that we changed directions on the second loop also helped me to complete it. We got the hard running out of the way early. The last 3 miles were generally flatter and not nearly as rocky. There were even some sections of trail that was covered in a thick layer of pine needles. This helped to cushion my feet and made running a little less painful. Still, I was happy to see the double track trail that lead us back to the parking lot.

Loop Two Transition Time: 14 minutes 37 seconds - Loop Three Running Time: 1 hour 58 minutes

I really started feeling the pain in my ankle once we stopped running. The entire side of my foot was throbbing and I could not put my full weight on it. My heel and arch was also sore possibly from compensating and trying not the land on the outside edge of my foot. I did my best to put it out of my mind and prepared myself for loop number 3.

We had been running for nearly 3 ½ hours so I decided to switch my drink from Succeed Ultra to Succeed Amino. During long periods of exercise the body requires some protein and will cannibalize muscle to get it if you do not supplement with it. This muscle breakdown inhibits performance is will slow you down in the long run. I was still looking at another 3 ½ to 4 hours of running if my ankle held up so this was a good time to make the change. I was thinking about taping my ankle at this point but I knew that was at least a 10 minute task if I wanted to do it right. I really didn’t want to ask the group to wait around for me while I taped so I decided not to do it. Instead, I loaded up with more gels and swallowed another S-cap before leaving my car to meet up with Kat and Tamela again.

K, T and I were waiting at the trailhead for Kevin. He was still behind his Outback going through his gear. The sun was behind a cloud and the wind was picking up so we started getting cold standing around. K and T wanted to leave so I went to check on Kevin. He was just finishing up his soup and needed a few more minutes. Not wanting to hold up K and T any longer I ran back to them and told them to go on without us.

Tamela and Kat finishing 3rd loop.
(Courtesy of Brian Soudant)

I waited for Kevin, getting colder by the minute and trying to ignore the building pain in my foot and ankle. He finished refueling in a few minutes and we began loop three. I was still feeling confident about my chances of finishing four loops even with the ankle problem. We decided to run this loop in the same direction as the last. This way we would get the hard running out of the way first and have an easier 3 miles at the end.

The first 3 miles of loops three went by quickly as Kevin and I maintained a 13 minute mile pace over the steep, rocky hills. I think Kevin was started to tire as he was getting tripped up a lot on the rocks and roots. By the 4th mile he began to fall behind me as I continued to push though the pain. Then we really started slowing down, running over a 16 minute mile pace on miles 4-6. I was taking a lot of walking breaks because the pain had spread though my entire foot.

Kevin and I were talking and we both agreed 32 miles was not going to happen for us today. He was tired and my foot was throbbing. It would be foolish for us to continue on past the 3rd loop. I suggested we finish the 3rd loop and then go back out and run long enough to get 26 miles and at least finish with the marathon distance. Kevin agreed and that became our new goal.

The decision to go 26 miles instead of 32 must have had an uplifting effect on both of us. We picked up the pace once again. That, along with the flatter terrain in the final 3 miles helped us to maintain a 12 minute pace the rest of the way. When we finally made it back to the parking lot for the third time, two of Kevin’s friends Kate and Brian were there to cheer us on. Kevin went over to the RD’s car to record our time and to mark us as “Done”. It was a relief knowing the official part of our race was over.

Kevin finishing 3rd loop.
(Courtesy of Brian Soudant)

Me finishing 3rd loop.
(Courtesy of Brian Soudant)

Kevin thrilled to finish!
(Courtesy of Brian Soudant)

It’s official!
(Courtesy of Brian Soudant)

That’s right Dan, you're DONE!
(Courtesy of Brian Soudant)

We didn’t spend much time in the parking lot before we left to run the 1 mile out-and-back that would give us 26 miles for the day. We didn’t run the race course but chose to stay on the double track that left the parking lot.

Me and Kevin heading out for our last 2 miles.
(Courtesy of Brian Soudant)

We were running, well I was limping, along the double track when we came upon huge puddle, more like a lake. The trail was flooded for at least 50 yards. The right thing to do would be to plow through it but I was not up for any more challenges. Kevin and I said “screw it” and turned around. We ran back to the parking lot where all the fun began nearly six hours earlier! The puddle, and our desire to stay dry, kept us from getting our marathon finished but we still ran 25.2 miles on a difficult course. We would have to be content with that.

The torture is over.
(Courtesy of Brian Soudant)

Real nice Kevin.
(Courtesy of Brian Soudant)

The man likes to eat!
(Courtesy of Brian Soudant)

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little disappointed about dropping out early. I wanted my first ultra to be a successful one. On a positive note, I felt much better during the Fells race than I did 3 weeks prior at the Stone Cat Marathon. My legs were still feeling fresh after finishing 25 miles. This has never happened to me before. Perhaps I’ve stumbled upon (no pun intended) the right combination of pace, hydration and caloric intake for this distance. On the other hand, maybe I just got lucky. See, I just can’t seem to shake the pessimist in me!

Beaten, but not broken…….
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