Thursday, November 24, 2011

Busa Bushwhack Race (not really) Report

I drove to Framingham MA with every intention of racing this 10 mile classic honoring Richard Busa but "stuff" happened and the race turned into a training run/photo shoot instead.  Not racing was a good decision.  Even though I ran easy and stopped often to take photos, the many ups and downs on the course caused my IT band to tighten up.  I ran the last mile with severe pain and a noticeable limp.

Me with the legend, Mr. Busa 

Me and Trooper Dave checking out the course map.  He kicked ass. I got mine handed to me. (photo credit: Wendy C-A)

I'm taking you down happy man. (photo credit: Wendy C-A)

It's a good thing KZ wasn't running. At 6'5", I don't think he would have made it under.

Busa said the course was dry. He fibbed.  Notice the wimps who went around to the left.  They all must have been wearing clean, new shoes.

80 year old John Parker passing by.  Justin (in the green jacket) is a follower of my blog.  Obviously, he is a discerning reader of all things trail.

Some flat running early in the race.  A thick layer of oak leaves concealed many rocks and roots.

I brought my personal photographer and cheerleader to the race. Actually, they were there for another guy but I jumped in front of him and stole his glory.

The climb up Pineline trail.

Pipeline pain.

My new trail pal Martha poses her Peace Out gaiters. I don't know how she stayed so clean.

I spent some time running with Hans.  He's very happy running trails.  

Off goes Hans.

I liked this old dude's shirt so much I clubbed him with and oak branch and removed it from his limp body. 

Notice how all the other runners step to the side when I approach.  The one in the gray tee is holding her nose.  Do I smell that bad?  (photo credit: Wendy C-A)

No more racing for me this year.  Time to rehab.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Product Review - Inov8 Roclite 319

The Roclite 319 is one the newer creations from UK manufacturer Inov8 replacing the discontinued 305 and 320 models.  I've put about 100 miles on my 319s and my first impression is very favorable.   Inov8 markets this shoe as a great choice for road runners switching to trail running for the first time who are used to overly cushioned trainers.  I think it's also good for experienced trail runners looking for a long distance training shoe.  Here's my take on the 319s from the ground up.

Outersole:  The sole design is the same as other Roclite models with deep lugs that provide good traction on a wide variety of surfaces and good gripping power on muddy trails.  The hard endurance rubber will last for several hundred miles but the trade off is less traction on wet rocks and roots when compared to Inov8's sticky rubber sole utilized on some of it's other shoes.

Midsole: The single density sole is rated 4 arrows which means it is the most cushioned shoe in Inov8' stable (They use a one to four arrow scale to measure cushioning).  The single density sole (305s had single density midsoles) is softer than the dual density sole of my 320s but still protects the foot from hard, sharp objects. It may break down sooner than a duel density sole but I don't have enough miles on them at this time to make that call.

Uppers:  The uppers are more roomy than the 320s with a higher, wider toe box that is much appreciated by this runner. There is a heavy duty rubber-like material that wraps around the shoe. This helps make the shoe very supportive but also prevents water from draining quickly.  This can become an issue on long training runs/races with many water crossings.  I really like the design of the thin laces.  One pull is all you need to tighten up the shoe and the laces stay tied.  Not something I can say about the laces on my Cascadias.

The 319s are a best suited for long-distance training or racing on techincal trails.  They are not suited for short, fast runs due to their weight and structure.  I like to wear my 295s for the short stuff! Overall, another great shoe from Inov8.

Happy Trails!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Stone Cat Marathon Race Report - Season Salvaged (Sort Of)

My 2011 race season started off much like it did in 2010 with a 50K race in April.  And just like last April, I ran this year's spring 50K with a good deal of IT band related knee pain.   I thought a winter of stretching and strengthening had put the issue to rest but I was wrong.  Under trained and hurting, I finished the 50K "Dead F'ing Last" with my running bud Steve L, the original Deal Last Ultrarunner. So went the rest of the 2011 ultra racing season. Poor performances, a few DNSs (Did Not Start), an couple DNFs (Did Not Finish) and bouts of off and on again knee pain. It has been a pretty disappointing year to say the least.

It wasn't all bad though.  In April, I embarked on my journey to run the entire Bay Circuit Trail beginning on Plum Island in Newbury and ending on the shores of Duxbury/Kingston.  The full distance is 200 miles and includes a mix of roads and trails.  I made it half way before my ITB problem forced me to abandon the quest, as least for now.  In July I ran the Wakely Dam Ultra, covering 33 unassisted miles in one of the most remote locations in the Adirondacks.  The stream crossings were a blessing on that 90+ degree day.  And the fresh blueberries!  My friend KZ saved my ass in the final miles. I just wanted to walk. He made me RUN! 

Now on to the Stone Cat.

This GAC race is a fall classic and one of my favorites.  I don't think I'm the only one that feels this way.  The 50 mile race and Marathon both reached their limits in about 36 hours!   Snooze, you lose.  Fortunately(?), all my dorky (in a good way) ultra-running friends were posting all over Facebook that registration was open and I manged to get into the 50.  Yes, I said 50.  My original plan was to run the 50 but decided to drop down to the marathon after experiencing a good deal of knee pain on my final 20 mile "Candy Corn" training run two weeks before Stone Cat. 

Dork Convention (photo credit: lil Roy)

Race morning was cold, about 30 degrees. My kind of weather.  Before the start I decided to go out with the Lynn Woods Crew instead of hanging back and doing my usual slow crawl until I warmed up.  The LWC folks are faster than me but I felt like I needed to prove something to myself after having such a crappy year of running.  I figured I would just hang on to them for as long as I could.  If I crashed and burned, so be it.  I didn't.

Dark and cold. Let's get the party started.

Sarge took it out faster than I was expecting but I said to myself, "Stick to the plan."    The first 45 minutes of the race was run in total darkness and even with a headlamp it was a little difficult to see well in the woods.  Once we hit the single-track it was difficult to stay with the group.  Mike D and I got stuck behind a group of timid downhill runners while the rest of the LWC pulled away.   I was getting a little annoyed with my inability to find a good passing opportunity so I just rode it out until we dumped onto a stretch of carriage road. After getting on the road Mike and I were soon back into the fold.

Deb T (aka Sarge) sets a fast early pace.

Much of the pre-race talk was on the topic of THE water crossing.  This year's race didn't disappoint as it was long and deep.....and COLD!   After plowing right down the middle of the trail turned stream, my feet were numb and it felt like I was running on stumps.  It took a while to get the feeling back but it wasn't as bad as the second time around.  For some strange reason It felt even colder when I passed though there on my second loop.  I wonder how bad it was for the 50 milers who had to negotiate the water four times?

River running? (photo credit: Chip Tilden)
Cold swamp water adds to the fun. (video credit: Rob Mac)  

Hitting Al Cat's aid station around 5 miles into the race, I stopped just long enough to top off my water bottle.  I didn't want to stay too long out of concern my IT band would tighten up in the cold.  The Lynn Woods Crew lingered, enjoying the trail side buffet. Who could blame them. Stone Cat has awesome food and amazing volunteers!  I had to keep moving so we parted ways here. 

Bill M in the pre-dawn darkness.

The first loop went by quickly and without incident except for a fall I took when I slowed down to talk with Karen G who was running the 50.  My toe caught a root and I went down, seemingly in slow motion, kicking Karen in the butt on my way down.  How ungentlemanly. As I regained my composure and pulled away, another runner started up a conversation with Karen.  Then I heard a loud thud.  He too, had fallen.  I'm not sure if Karen was sending us marathon wimps some bad mojo or not but I picked up the pace to get of range as quickly as possible. 

Entering the last section of single-track in the loop I could hear a siren and lots of cheering up ahead.  When I got to the junked Chevy I was greeted by the Stone Cat and his side-kick/bartender/bar patron/cheerleader.  Seeing them really raised my spirits (although I declined the real thing) and I let out a loud trail animal howl.  Before long I was crossing the soccer field, completing my first loop in 2:11, not including the 11-12 minutes it took to run the mini-loop around the school.  After dropping my headlamp and towelling off a bit I headed out for the final 12.5 miles.

Don't mess with the cat.

Don't drink and drive. (photo credit: Rob Mac)

Up until now my IT band was behaving and I had very little discomfort, but I knew things could change in a heartbeat.  I was still feeling strong, running all the uphills as I did during the first loop. Yes, I was breaking a golden rule of ultra running but I was only running 26.2 miles so run I must. Then it hit me on a downhill with about 10 miles to go.  A stabbing pain in my right knee so intense it brought me to an abrupt halt.   I walked a few yards and the pain eased so I began running again. 

The rest of the race when pretty much this way for the final 10 miles.  Intense pain followed by a short walking break, follow by more running and more pain.  Even though my pace was slowing I was still passing many runners.  I'm sure many of them were 50 milers but I know some were not.  Focusing on catching anyone ahead of me kept my mind off the pain.  Well, not really.

During the second loop I hadn't checked my watch so when I finally looked at it with a little over a mile to go I realized I had a chance to break 4:40.  Talk about shocked!  With my lack of training I thought I would be lucky to break five hours.  I tried to pick up the pace but my legs were shot.  I was able to increase my speed a little, but not enough to stay close to the woman ahead of me who was now pulling away.  When I reached the soccer field I put it in another gear but it was too late.  I crossed the finish line in 4:40:27.  My second loop was 2:17 so I didn't slow down as much as I thought. Even with all the walking breaks.

I was super happy with my time and very pleased to later discover I was the first male finisher over 50 years old.  Where were all the fast guys?  This finish definitely helped wipe away some of the bad memories I've had since early spring when the wheels starting coming off.  It may sound crazy but even though I completed three 50K and two marathons in 2011 I'm disappointed with the year I've had.   I was expecting bigger things.

Maybe next year.....

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

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