Monday, April 18, 2011

Glissading through the Mud: The inagural Mayland Toxic Trail Races 2011

Sooo...this wasn't really the course, yet imagine rivers of moving water and mud on a single track trail...
Can you say fun??? Muddy? Hilarious? Adventures in shinny mica?

Running the inaugural Mayland Toxic Trail 15k (also offered a 5k) on 4/16/2011 in Spruce Pine, NC was one of the most hideously fun, wet and slippery-SLOPPY courses I have so far experienced!  I spent many minutes laughing so hard to myself that amusement probably got in the way of  performance!

Truth be told,  the Southern Appalachian Mountains received all sorts of rainfall and flooded rivers Friday night into Saturday morning, complete with tornadoes east of the mountains.  What would have been a 1:20 drive  to get to the race, water and road conditions turned the travel into a nerving 1:40 travel. I saw several flooded low water bridges and driving rain so hard that it forced me down to 10mph in spots.

By just before race time of 9am the driving rain came in pockets, wind was raging, yet temperatures climbed to the mid-50’s, making conditions less daunting.

Slightly after 9am, the 100+ intrepid runners were OFF!
We ran and slogged and slipped and belly flopped through mud and streams of MUD and water and powdered mica as we wound up and down the well-marked and dazzling course. There were little loops and out ‘n backs and turn arounds- coming back to meet at a common point…running this I sort of felt like a participant in a pacman game!

For the first hour all views were socked in, yet with the remaining 20 minutes or so when the rain settled and fog started to lift I could the beauty that surrounded the course as it traversed a ridge through a Christmas tree farm.

I won't write play by play details, as it all was done in deep concentration and went  by fast!
I knew I was in 2nd place at the 1st turnaround at around mile 4.5ish. I didn’t know Inov 8 fast girl, yet she was clearly strong and running well and I cheered her on as she passed me opposite direction. Next girl was about 1 minute behind me.  I do have a race companion called Dorsal Fin that makes it’s appearance at fabulous and not so fabulous times! Dorsal Fin did not emerge, but reminded me this was a fun training run and to just love the technical parts and celebrate the downhills! (While sliding on some of the steeper trails, I thought I should have and ice ax digging in the mud for a full-on glissade!)

As of yet, there aren't any course photos to share as I expect  conditions would have destroyed any camera that ventured out there.

 Amber Moran 32, the Inov 8 runner I referenced earlier easily won.  I have heard of Amber for years, yet not yet met her and was very happy to meet her and a companion and her Mom who ran her 1st trail race. Congrats Amber’s Mom-and Amber and friend too! Amber ran 1:18:25.
Fast girl Amber and I post finish!

Showing  off the  mud!
Chad Chillington, 20 won overall with a time of  1:09:55

In this photo Chad is sitting next to Daphne Richardson, 20, she was 4th female. Full results should be soon at:  
I finished in 1:23:45, 2nd place.

Running this event during at the end of a  recovery week, may not be smart on paper, yet this is exactly what my psyche needs to remind me of the varied weather and happiness that can accompany a new trail run!

In 2012, I expect this will be a destination race for regional trail toughies!!! Less mud and rain will make the course faster, yet might loose some of the whimsical magic of the fog, wind and driving rain conditions! Still, adventure will abound on these amazing and perhaps "toxic" trails!
Shoes and Socks: Montrail Rogue Racers and DryMax socks= dirty yet happy feet!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Happiness on the muddy trails: Bull Run 50 MIle 2011

One of the several creek crossings during the early miles
Note: Most photos on this post are from the VHTRC website and used with permission.

On Saturday I ran the 19th running of the BullRun Run 50 Miler put on by the fine folks of VHTRC (Virginia Happy Trails Running Club). This experience really refreshed and reminded me of why I came to love this crazy sport when I first sampled it back in 2003: lots of single track trail, LOTS of mud, water, creeks, flowers and anticipation of adventure!

It rained quite hard for most of Friday during the 6.5 hour drive up from the NC Mountains to the DC area and even more so Friday night. Running weather race day was perfect, and there was more than enough mud and slippery bridges for everyone to get dirty legs. The race is headquartered at HemlockOverlook Regional Park, about 10 miles from Manassas,VA and close enough to either a shooting range or military reinactment park that on  Friday and Saturday we heard gun shots for hours.

I picked up my race number and visited briefly with VHTRC folks I hadn’t seen in years: Quatro Hubbard, RD Angstr Davidson, Frank Probst, Gary Knipling among other amazing humans and runners... Angstr surprised me by leading me into a room and announcing before all present that I won an award some time ago and wasn’t present to pick it up, so it would be presented at this time!  I was a bit scared at what it might be-afterall, on some training runs I have been encouraged to drink a shot of tequila and mooning the gorge during Catawba Run Around??? Who knows what the award would be?

The fine folks at VHTRC held this for me for many years!
A very cool granite award from being the club’s runner of the year in 2007! Wow! It felt nice to be remembered all these years later! Thank you my crazy and kindred spirit peeps at VHTRC!

After a brief, shake-out run in the rain, I headed back to town sipping on lots of Nuun, and checked into Super 8. Again getting lucky with budget lodging-all amenities needed to eat in room and a tub clean enough for a night-before race Epson Salt soak. I yapped on the phone with my Mom and then with George was in bed by 9pm falling asleep with the latest Runner’s World, and up at 4:05 and back at Hemlock.

Weather at 6:30am was overcast and misty with a forecast to remain that way and get to 60 degrees. I wore gloves, shorts, tank top, arm sleeves, calf compression sleeves and carried a Quickdraw Plus and tiny Nathan waist pack containing only TP, and 3 Clif Shots. It wouldn’t be hot, so anticipated being able to eat out of the aid stations instead of carrying all my fuel.

Over the years I have either grown more confident in my clothing and gear choices, or just lazier and don’t want to carry much. Below are photos from Saturday and  2005. David Horton used to call me “the gypsy”.
Looking like a trail gypsy on the same trail in 2005...(I had on a big ole fuel fanny pack)
Same running form, yet traveling a bit lighter in 2011!
A note about the other time I ran this: when I ran in 2005, it seemed pretty muddy to me and I would up making a new Course Record of 7:40:32 In the past 5 years, that CR has been dropped 3x and was re-made last year to 7:23:06 by 29 year old Aliza Lapierre.

On April 9, 20ll, I was certainly not chasing a CR! Due to the past 7 months of injury, time off and slowly getting strong again, this would be the longest distance run since Burning River 100 Mile last summer.There would be some excellent competition: Ragan Petrie, Justine Morrison and Anna Piskorska who led Team USA in the World 24-Hour Championship in 2011, to name a few, yet I was determined not to “race” until at least 35 miles in.

We started at 6:30am. Anna and I chatted some as we ran the “spread out” loop around the parking areas-I pulled ahead to get a good position as we entered the mostly downhill single track. The course had mud, much water and some rocks, yet very runnable through the bluebells and blossoming trees (and mud)... 9ish miles going North on the trail, we turned around to retrace our steps to begin the journey South, this allowed for nodding and sharing encouragement with other runners. I noticed Anna and Ragan were about 2 minutes behind me and several other girls just a minute or so behind them. Too early to even think about it, I reminded myself, “just run, eat, drink and enjoy the freedom of the trail!”
A sampling of the famous bluebells

One of the several creek crossing early on.
Typical mountains to climbs...lots of little steeps between the flats.
We had access to drop bags at AS #2 and I left the arm sleeves behind and yet kept the gloves. Over the next miles and through several aid stations Darrel Voll  and I shared the same general pace, passing and repassing each other. He had an attentive crew, great attitude and killer-strong calves. I admired them out loud to him and hoped he didn’t take it as me being sexist or rude. He didn’t, he assured me!
Darrel and I trying not to fall into the waist-deep water.
After several hours of running, I finally removed my gloves and stuck them in my sports bra-any photos from the 2nd part of the race will show fingers sticking up through the tank top! During my time out there I fueled on package of Clif Shot blocks, 4 Succeed caps, water, Gatorade, 3 PB &J squares, 3 mini Snickers, an oreo cookie, part of a brownie bite and 8 peanut m&ms.

Part way through the Do-Loop (a loop turnaround at the Southern end of the course) I inquired about the position(s) of the other girls. I was told I had a “few minutes” on them. Ok. Now with 11 miles left to go, it was time to say hi to Dorsal Fin.

Dorsal Fin reminded me that I was strong, well trained, fueled and had been looking forward to unleashing all day. (This is very true, yet after 40 miles of running, unleashing might feel dramatic, yet wouldn’t look that way!) So we were off: bounding the downs, scampering or power stepping the short steeps and with 7 miles or so to go, we had sightings of 2 prey! The first guy seemed in pain and I passed with a word of encouragement. Don’t misunderstand, I don’t experience glee as I pass folks during the end of a race, yet am a grateful for the incentive and motivation their presence often offers to Dorsal Fin and I.

I was very happy to see Coach Howard Nippert out there too! What a great surprise as he made jokes and shared encouragement whilst standing to the side of the trail.

Eventually I caught up to Jack Kurisky, one of my teammates from No Bull. (For more on teaming, visit this part of the website.) Jack and I entered the last aid station together as I went through as fast as possible,hopeing to get to the portapotties  set up beside a soccor complex a mile or so ahead. Whew! Had a needed and fast pit stop-and heard Jack pass by while I was inside.

Dorsal Fin and I joined him a little later on the trail and we ran together for most of the remaining miles. With a half mile left to go, Jack and I caught up to Aaron Schwartzbard and one of his WUS buddies entering the final hill. Teammate Jack and I encouraged each other, yet I eventually took off to the tunes of Aaron singing “Maneater”…as I’d just looked at my watch and understood it I really boogied, I would better my time from 2005. Dorsal Fin and I gasped across the line at 7:39:14, 1st female, 16th overall. Regan finished in 7:52:10, followed by Gaby Gorman in 8:06:42
Racing towards the finish shoot for a PR
Showing effort at the very end...
This year Bull Run Run 50 Mile had 344 starters and 320 official finishers. Full results are here.

Speedy Matt Woods, 31 ran away with and won the race and set a new course record of 6:08:14! He was followed by Neal Gorman, 34, 6:44:53 and David Frazier, 25, also 6:44:53.

It was a fine weekend-yet I was excited to get back home...I was gone for a little over 50 hours and was shocked to find the phollax that wasn't blooming when I left Friday morning in full rage when arriving home yesterday. Spring is great!
Spring happens fast!
Cleaning up the mud is part of being back home! 
Clothing and Gear:
Montrail Mountain Masochist shoes
Dry Max trail socks (No Blisters-REALLY!)
Zensah calf compression sleeves
Mountain Hardwear Pacer Advance Short, Wicked LiteTank Top, power stretchgloves, arm sleeves
Patagonia Overhead Sports Bra
Nathan Quickdraw Plus water bottle
Nathan gel pack