TARC Spring Classic 2014

I’m sitting in the car, shivering and staring out at the still falling rain. I’m spent. J finished hours ago and has the car warm. I’m so grateful to be sitting. And dry. I’m tired. And smiling.
I finished.
I crossed the finish line.
I didn’t want to. I wanted to quit after four of five laps.

The TARC Spring Classic wasn’t a tough race. It’s a fairly straight forward course, with little elevation change. I think the entire course has 1200′ of elevation change. The 50k option is five 10k loops. There’s the single aid station at the start finish area. The trails aren’t technical. They’re mostly double track with some wider sections. There was lots of mud, mostly from a day of runners and rain. Otherwise, a smooth runnable trail. It was so cushy. I felt spoiled.

Last fall I read Steve Latour’s A Clydesdale’s Tale and Twelve Ultras in Twelve Months and have been excited about a TARC race since. TARC is Trail Animals Running Club out of the Boston, Mass area. Pineland is at the end of May…making the end of April date for the Spring Classic perfect. The Classic is a fat ass style race, meaning no swag, no finishers medal, no pampering. You bring a dish to share. Perfect. 22 dollars perfect.

J and I travelled to Weston, MA the day before and meet up with some TARCers. Co RD Josh Katzman (nicest RD you’ll ever meet) was there to wrangle us volunteers. This guy just had surgery, has a knee the size of a grapefruit and he’s out marking the course. I get a cold and I’m a puddle in bed for days. Wow. Tough as nails.
I loved seeing the course prior to the race.

The first two loops I felt amazing. I was running steadily. I chatted with a few folks. But I mostly ran alone. I was at mile 12 by 2:24.
The third loop started to be a little repetitive. Getting passed over and over and over again is frustrating. There are multiple races simultaneously. There’s a 10k, a half and full marathons. I knew I was cranky when the 100th person said ‘good job’ as they passed me and I wanted to tell them to get bent. So glad runners aren’t telepathic.
I changed my muddy Hoka Kailua to my Stinson for lap four, along with a dry jacket. The dry gear helped improve my mood. I ran most of the lap, but planned my DNF towards the end of it. I was getting close to six hours on course. My brain said good enough.
I’m learning to run through hip pain, especially after mile 25 when my legs crap out. I don’t think I’ve had enough time under my belt (a mere year) running long. It’s around that time that my hips flexors tighten up. I can walk. So that’s what I’ve done late in the day two of the three I’ve run.
When my psoas whined the tiniest bit, I felt relieved to have a legitimate excuse for dropping. The pain disappeared. Now what? A little help here God…and God gave me Jenn.
Jenn and I crossed paths at the end of the fourth. She’d fallen earlier in the race and had acute knee pain. We decided to start on the last lap and walk it together. Walk, I can do. So, we walked. We talked, and it kept my mind off my stinkin achin hips. And the constant rain and 40° degrees, now settling into my finger tips. We hopped over mud bogs. We counted down the miles.
And we finished.
Hubby was 6:13:ish.
Most of everyone was gone at this point. I was NOT DFL. Pretty close. But not last. It would have been okay to finish last. Both race directors, Bob Crowley and Josh (on friggin crutches) were there til the last person crossed the finish line. Who does that? I guess that’s what makes a TARC race so fantastic. Thank you, both for being there. It meant a lot. Truly. Thank you to the volunteers who shivered in the rain and kept us fed.

What worked:
I’m almost exclusively using Tailwind Nutrition as my running fuel. If you have not had the pleasure of using it, please order some. These are the nicest people making an amazing product. It’s dextrose mixed with electrolytes for use in liquids. Just like their slogan says, it’s all you need all day. I drank a bottle’s worth each lap. I had found I’d been over eating on long runs, causing nausea and GI distress. With Tailwind, I’m getting 100 calories per serving, leaving me only 100 more calories to get from other sources. The only solid food I had was a couple of bananas and a few slices of watermelon.
I love my fancy schmancy Salomon hydration pack. I ran the entire winter in it, soft bottles up front, and loving it. I have to figure out how to put the Tailwind powder in it quickly without dumping it everywhere.

Wet iPods don’t play or take pictures very well. Sorry for the lack of course pics. I know now I can run without music.

Taking a hostage works. Thank you, Jenn, for sticking it out with me.

It’s been 10 days since the race. Me and Aggie have been exploring new trails and logging some serious miles. I had my 1st 50 mile week! Now, my body says rest cause my psoas is talking to me again. I haven’t run for two days, and will more than likely take two more days to RICE. Aggie tried to chew on a porcupine sandwich Sunday. She’s been relegated to leashed walks til the prickly lunch meats go deeper into the woods.
She says ‘harrumph’.


A little less than three weeks til Pineland….and nine til the VT 100…

Thanks for running with me,


14 thoughts on “TARC Spring Classic 2014

  1. Congrats on finishing, in spite of everything. I’m curious about the Tailwind – do you bring the single serving packets with you? Do you drink it at the same rate you would take Gu or other gels (calorie for calorie)? What flavors do you like?

    • Thanks, Jen! Tailwind comes in 4 or 50 serving pouches…there’s a scoop to measure servings. I read somewhere that I could divide up portions into small zip locks pre race, but sadly no single serve packs. I wish. I hope they create a pressed tablet or capsule for ease of use on-the-go. My favorite flavor is the Mandarin Orange. They sent me a sample of their caffeinated Raspberry that was yummy. The flavor is really mild and a bit salty. I hope you check them out!
      Happy Running!!

  2. The lap races are tough I think, it’s too easy to pass the checkpoint and call it a day when you first start feeling pain. Well done for pressing on and finishing 🙂 Not sure I would have!

  3. You ROCK! This was a tough day in terms of weather that will serve you very well at Pineland and VT. And talk about trail karma – who drives down from VT the day before to help mark the course? Can’t wait to see you at another race soon!

  4. Way to stick it out and not quit. Multiple loop races are tough mentally. It’s hard not to think about having to run the loops again and again. Talking with other runners is a great way to get through the rough patches.
    So how long have you been on the Tailwind? A friend recommended that to me the other day. And what Salomon pack do you have? I’ve been using one (the 12 set) now for a few months and it’s been great.

    • Thanks for your kind words!! I’m not sure if I am a fan of loop courses. The jury is still out…
      I started with Tailwind about six weeks ago. I’m their biggest fan. I tell everyone who’ll listen how well it works. It’s the right balance of calories, salt and other electrolytes, with a mild flavor and it NEVER upsets up stomach. When I called them, they took the time to talk about their product and nutrition in general.
      This is the Salomon pack, I think it’s the 5 set, the smaller of the two. It fits like a glove. I was frustrated with straps on other packs creating pressure points under my arms. Soooo glad I spent the extra money on this smooth fitting pack.
      Happy running!

  5. Great review, and great job finishing. I have been wondering about Tailwind, as I have heard a number of rave reviews on it. So while you are getting your 100 calories you are also getting your hydration, but do you drink Tailwind and straight water, or does the former constitute your h2o intake? I’m wondering about this for trying it on some longer races like the Jay Peak 25k later in the year. Regardless, the TARC sounds like one hell of a mentally and physically challenging race. Keep at it!

    • The only water I’ve been drinking (on the run for more than two hours) is mixed w/ Tailwind. So far, Tailwind is the only supplement that didn’t make me nauseous or burpy. I loved the way Nuun tastes but it’s a burp fest. If I drank more of TW’s caffeinated version, I’ll probably mess around with double the h2o. The flavor is so mild I never felt like I was craving straight h2o. We’ll see what the heat does to throw all this info in the trash! Should be interesting…

  6. Pingback: What to do this weekend: 5/9/14

  7. That is one tough run – thanks for blogging it for folks like me to take encouragement away. I am still running with you and feeling good tonight xx

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