Tuesday, April 2, 2013

2013 Terrapin Mt 50k Race Report

Race two in the Beast and LUS (Lynchburg Ultra Series) is the Terrapin Mt 50k located in Sedalia, VA.  My Dad, Jon McGrath, and I met up in Annapolis at my house and carpooled down to VA.  We made a couple pit stops and hit a little traffic before making it to the race start/finish at the Sedalia Center at 7pm.  Once we arrived we met up with my friend Justin, who was running his first half marathon, and his cousin Ben.  We got ourselves a camping spot at the start/finish area, which I highly recommend, and promptly went to the pavilion and got our bib numbers as well as some pizza.  It was cool chatting with them and you could tell they were excited to run and were asking lots of questions about the course.  I also ran into Jeff and it was cool catching up with him and hearing a few stories about his recent Graveyard 100 mile finish.  I also met the GY 100 RD, Brandon, which was cool to hear how he had to move the finish line to the race due to weather conditions.  After chatting, my Dad and I went back to setup our tent, which only took us about fifteen minutes and it started to get cold.  We stayed up and chatted with Justin and Ben for a bit, then the cold forced us to retire to our tents.  It got down to about 25-28F during the night, I am sure glad I had 20F sleeping bags for my Dad and I.  BTW this was my Dad's first camping trip in a long time, I asked him when the last time he went camping and he told me "before you were born".  Not sure he slept well that night, I sure did, but I will give him a lot of respect for trying it out, good job BillyGoat!!!

Our alarms went off at 0515 and it was cold in the morning, but at least there wasn't any wind to make things worse.  I went over to the pavilion to check in, customary for all LUS/Beast Series races, and got a little breakfast together before getting my race gear situated.  My nutrition plan was the same as before, try to get in 200-250 kcal/hr.  I did this with one bottle of Vitargo (800 kcal), two shots of EFS (400 kcal each), two Vespa (one before the race and the other 3.5 hrs into the race), and one XS energy shot.  My goal was to finish in 6:45, which would be much faster then last year but I ran through a hip injury, so I made myself a pace card that had my projected splits as well as elevation gain/loss to each aid station to carry with me during the race.  This turned out to be a huge advantage as I knew how much climbing I had and it helped me know where I could push myself.  
Start line with Terrapin Mt in the background
Before the race began a brief prayer was said and then at 0700 me and the other 50K & half marathon runners took off.  The first half mile was on a paved road then switched to jeep road, shortly after that I began the first climb of the day, up Terrapin Mt.  As I made my way up the jeep road, which paralleled Reed Creek, I was treated to some cool water pictures and the first stream crossing of the day.  There was no tip toeing around, I plunged right through the creek and it felt a good.  The jeep road had a few rocks but nothing terrible and I was able to mix running and hiking as I made my way up the mountain.  The weather was calling for high 40s and partly sunny, but I was beginning to sweat so I took off my Patagonia Houdini and put it inside my UltrAspire Spry race vest.  I was trying to make sure I didn't sweat too much getting up the mountain as I knew it would be cooler up top and I didn't want to cool off too much running down on the other side of the mountain so I was rolling my Moeben sleeves up and down throughout the day to help regulate my temperature.  I saw a few familiar faces (Dave Snipes, Caroline Williams) as I was making my way up to the Camping Gap AS for the first time, which took me 57:18.  I quickly handed my water bottle for a top off, my other bottle was full of Vitargo, and made it out of the aid station in thirty seconds.
mountain road going down to Hunting Creek AS (surprised there wasn't more snow)
Then came a three mile decent on a nice smooth mountain road down to the Hunting Creek AS.  I was a little hesitant to let my legs bomb down the road as I knew I would need my quads for later in the race so I was running a conservative pace, 8:30ish, but people were passing me like I was standing still.  I knew that there was still a lot of race ahead of me so I kept running at a comfortable pace.  I made it down to Hunting Creek AS in 1:23, I made another thirty second stop to fill my water bottle then I was off.  I also made an effort to begin eating forty minutes into the race, something that really helps in 100 milers (get the calories in early and often) to help practice for my 100 milers coming up in the late summer and early fall.

The smooth mountain road continued downhill for another mile before turning into a paved road for a mile which lead to the Geoff Mt Road AS.  Again, I was content with running a smooth and comfortable pace while resisting the urge to go with the other few runners who passed me.  I cruised into the Geoff Mt Road AS in 1:43 and quickly filled my water bottle and grabbed a banana all in under thirty seconds.

I walked up the gravel road and made sure to relax as I was taking in my Vitargo and banana.  Once I finished my banana I was feeling so good I decided to put my climbing training to work and began to run up the gravel road.  This was a nice and gradual 1150' climb which I ran eighty percent and walked the other twenty.  It was a reoccurring theme of the day, run how you feel.  I then started to pass people for the first time in the race and I noticed many of these runners where the same who passed me coming down Terrapin Mt.  The gravel road finally led to some nice single track trail and little bit of downhill as I made it back to Hunting Creek Road AS in 2:33.

The weather was still overcast at this point in the race and I was still taking my ear warmers on and off, as well as my Moeben sleeves when I began to sweat a lot.  The next section was the one I vividly remember because it kick my butt last year, so this year I was determined to run/walk up this 1300' climb faster then last year.  I would run for five minutes then walk two minutes, I continued this strategy all the way back up to Camping Gap AS (for the second time).  Along the way I chatted with a few runners and we each gave encouraging words as I passed.  That was one thing of pride for me on this section and the previous, no one passed me during either section.  All that vertical training with Preston was really starting to pay off, the other thing I noticed was that running the hills wasn't easy but it wasn't difficult either, it just felt good.  It was nice to see that my new training is beginning to show some results, but there was still many miles to go and many more climbs ahead.  I entered Camping Gap AS, for the second time, in 3:16.
jeep road climbing up White Oak Ridge
As I was leaving the AS Dr. Horton gave me some encouraging words as I made my way onto what I believe is the toughest section of the race, the White Oak Ridge Loop.  This five and a half mile second of the course climbs and descends nearly 1500' in each direction.  Plus this comes at a point in the race where everything starts to hurt.  I had made sure I had plenty of legs left for both the climbing and descent.  As I was beginning to climb I had a chance to see other, much faster runners, coming towards me as they were finishing up the loop and on their way back to Camping Gap AS.  This section is probably where I passed the most runners, again I was running seventy five percent of the hills while walking the other twenty five percent.  This section starts off on smooth dirt mountain road before going through a few gates and getting on a nice jeep road that lead over the White Oak Ridge.  This is where I finally started to feel my effort and my legs started to slow.  As I came up to the first bib punch there was a runner who wasn't looking so hot so I decided to chat with him for a minute to make sure everything was OK.  He had run out of water so I gave him almost the rest of my water and gave him an S!Cap to help prevent any cramping he might encounter.  I then passed a few more people on the descent and turned back onto jeep road where I saw other runners as they were beginning there ascent up White Oak Ridge.  A runner missed a turn and began ascending up the wrong section so I go him pointed in the right direction.  As I was making my way down the trail I saw Jeff again, I always see that dude with a smile on his face, we gave each other a high five as we passed one another.  I was really feeling strong at this point and it felt good to run the gradual downhill back to Camping Gap AS for the last in final time.  I arrived in 4:27, but decided to take my time at the AS (probably minute and a half) and make sure my bottle was filled up and I grabbed my XS energy shot out of my race vest.

climb up Terrapin Mt to the overlook and Fat Man's Misery
Now this next section was a short but steep climb up to the top of Terrapin Mt, I remember I loathed this section last year.  I didn't run this climb, but I did power hike up it like a mad man and even passed a few people that were struggling.  I offered words of encouragement that the view would be worth the pain they were feeling.  Once I got to the top I let out a shout and made my way towards the second bib punch at the overlook.  As I was making my way over there I saw Siobhan and we high fived each other was we passed.  After the overlook I made my way down to Fat Man's Misery, which is a great boulder section of the course that involves squeezing in between and under some rocks.
overlook view
Fat Man's Misery (FMM)
As I made my way through FMM I slipped and scrapped my elbow up pretty good, I was thinking that I might be in the running for best blood.  After getting through FMM the single track trail steeply descends Terrapin Mt and it even crosses a few rock gardens in route to the final aid station.  This section is super steep and I was grabbing tree trunks to help slow me down because the slick mud was not giving me much traction.  Then the trail becomes a bit technical with some loose rocks right as you come into Terrapin Mt Lane AS.  I arrived at the AS in 5:22.  As long as I didn't blow up during this last section I could beat my goal of 6:45 and maybe even sneak in under 6:30.  I took about a minute at the AS to down a few Mountain Dews and ate a few bananas, while a volunteer filled my water bottle.

I didn't remember this section very well from last year, but we had a 900' climb out of the aid station towards the finish line.  The sun finally made it's way out as I was walking up a steep section when I finally caught Siobhan, it was cool chatting with her about what she has been up to and vice versa.  We caught another ten runners during this climb and we were even running half of the climbs which I though was good considering I was still feeling decent.  We made our way back to the first jeep road we hit early in the race and dashed across a stream crossing as me made our final push to the finish.  Siobhan is a tough runner and she was moving well on the downhills so she crept ahead of me, I was still running sub 11mpm, but I couldn't hang.  A few other runners passed me during the last two miles but I didn't want to die so I just kept doing my thing.  Finally I made it to the paved road and knew I had less then a mile to go.  I came across the finish line in 6:27:31.  I asked Clark if my elbow was a candidate for best blood and he looked at it and laughed and said it wasn't even close, hahaha.  I then asked if I embarrassed myself by asking the question and he smiled and said "a little".  Hahaha, thanks for not crushing me too hard Clark.

I was really happy with my performance and posted a huge PR on this course (1.5 hour faster, but again I had a hip injury during last year's race).  Justin, Ben, my Dad, and I hung around the finish line and watched Jon finish before we all got our fill of post race food and got back to the car to break down our campsite.  I am excited about Promise Land coming up at the end of April, I think with a little more effort and training I might be able to get it done in under seven hours.  Now it's time to get back to training.  A huge thanks to Clark Zealand and the volunteers that helped out this past weekend.  This is a must do race if you like a early Spring challenge to see where your fitness is.

Here are some pictures from the race.

My Gear: 
ShoesHoka One One Stinson Evo
Socks: DryMax 
Watch:  Garmin 310xt
Hydration: (2) UltrAspire handheld bottles with UltrAspire Spry Race vest
Shirt:  Under Armour base, Tech running shirt, Moeben Sleeves, Mountain Hardware Momentum gloves, Buff ear warmer, Patagonia Houdini

See ya on the trails,

Monday, January 28, 2013

January Training

My training has been going very well so far in 2013.  I have been slowly building up my base mileage to 35-40 miles per week while continuing my uphill training from last year.  My base mileage goal is to reach 70 mpw, which I plan on reaching by the beginning of April.  I have a long season ahead of me.  I have experienced some new local(ish) training runs with Preston in Shenandoah NP.  If you want a great description about the run and some great pics stop by his blog.  Some of the runs we have done give the right mix of vertical, technical, and beautiful views.  I run PVSP and Rosaryville because they are close to me, but it's always nice to get and explore some new trails. We have hit up Old Rag, Stony Man, and Hawksbill so far this year, now the test is to hit all these in one outing.  Gonna be sick!!!  Here are some pics from our runs. 
Photo by Preston
Photo by Preston
Photo by Preston
Photo by Preston
In addition to getting some nice runs in at Shenandoah NP, I also made a trip down to Montebello VA during MLK weekend.  Emily and I rented a cabin with Tom and Nina at the Montebello Resort right off Rt 56.  I really wanted to get back down to VA and hit the Priest & 3 Ridges and get some miles in on the MMTR course.  Thursday before we drove down to VA, it snowed 8" in the Montebello area.  All that snow couldn't stop us from getting out and enjoying the Blue Ridge Mts.  Lots of people were out on the trails taking advantage of the three day weekend.  Overall I had the chance to run three consecutive days and get in 14+hrs of time on my feet and loads of vertical too.  I had so much fun that I am going to plan on another running camp in late Spring so if you are interested let me know, if we get enough people we could rent out the entire cabin (both parts of the duplex).
Our View outside our cabin at Montebello Resort
Lake at Montebello Resort
View on top of the Priest

Here are some extra pictures from the Montebello Running camp.

See ya on the trails,