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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
7:49:00.
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’.

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

Thanks for running with me,
Astrid

I Don’t Know, Sweeping?

20130820-195540.jpg This is a long overdue post!
It’s been two weeks since my inaugural sweeping gig at the Moosalamoo Ultra. I wasn’t sure if I should throw a last minute 36 miler into the mix, so I emailed the fabulous RD John Eyes. John suggested volunteering, with the bonus of running 22 miles. Done and done.
In its second year, the Moosalamoo is run through Green Mountain National Forest in Goshen, VT. There are 13 and 36 mile options. The start/finish is at Blueberry Hill Inn. The view and grounds offer enough of a view to warrant a visit. Beautiful.
Hubby and I made a weekend of the race. We camped at Blueberry Hill Friday with about ten other groups. If anyone reading has not yet taken part in this aspect of racing, I highly recommend you do. We met some great folks from around New England and Canada. Most were Ultra ‘experienced’. (Big ups to the Long Trailers on Meetup!). I love spending time with folks who want nothing more than to trade running stories. Guaranteed heaven for a running nerd like me. We talked into the evening, past this kid’s bedtime. So worth it.

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With six hours of sleep, and coffee made (I brought about five different kinds of camping coffee, just in case), I was ready for a little sweeping. Since I wasn’t racing, I took it easy and enjoyed my surroundings.

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Sweeping, I learned, is staying at the back of the pack, making sure no one is left out on the course injured or lost. Hubby and I also pulled course markings for about 15ish miles.
Staying at the back was not a problem for me. I felt pretty slow, comparatively. The first loop was up Moosalamoo Mountain. Running was not an option for this girl. I guess I ‘power hiked’. Hahahahahaha. It took me 2:12 to ‘run’ seven miles. My morale was pretty low for a bit on the uphill. I ended up getting 20 minutes behind the last runners. Because someone got lost at last year’s race, John beefed up markings. Hubby and I had every pocket and inch covered with the flagging we tore down. Needless to say, the course was incredibly well marked and our arms were getting sore from pulling on the run. Oh yeah, rockin the full body workout.

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This picture is of a massive field of Stinging Nettle. It’s everywhere on the run. I rather think John is proud of its presence.
After the mountain section, I made better time and caught up with the pack. I was able to settle in and enjoy myself. I hung out at three different aid stations and stuffed my face with Ruffles. Guiltlessly. Yet another perk of running long. Reckless chip eating. So good. Especially now that my stomach can handle semi greasy food while running.

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This is me making use of an abundance of flagging tape.

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We enjoyed an awesome barbecue post race. The weather was perfect. 72 and low humidity at the finish line. John and his family prepared ALL the post race eats, including homemade baked beans and multiple salads. I’m pretty sure both races were capped at a combined 150, making for second and third helpings. See where my priorities lay.
I continue to learn how Astrid runs. Specifically, how to move through difficult patches. Beyond prayer, I found a ‘mantra’ that works for me on long runs. ‘I choose this’ works really well. Especially when I hurt and want to quit. Reminding myself that I have a choice keeps me moving forward. I used it a bit on the mountain section to stay positive.
A HUGE thank you to RD John for the hospitality and for hosting a flawless event. Here’s a link to the race website. Moosalamoo Ultra
This year’s races were both sold out, so get your’s early for 2014 on ultrasignup. Its a weekend worth having, Vermont style.

Thanks for running with me,
Astrid
P.S. Five weeks til the VT50! Woohoo!