Long Training Weekend

Ever since the pain wore off after my first 50 miler (VT50 in 2012) I have wanted to attempt a 100 miler.  Since then I have had 2 knee surgeries that put that plan on hold.  The knees began to stabilize last fall so I put my name in the hat for MMT100, that’s the Massanutten 100 in Virginia on May 16.  By some stroke of luck I got in.  Now the fear sets in…

This winter had been a tough one for running on trails as I almost exclusively do.  I signed up for Mt. Mitchell in February figuring it would be a good jump start to the spring, it kinda worked.  I did get a good deal of running in for the second half of March and the beginning of April and things were feeling pretty good.

About 3 weeks before the Springletrack I sent an email out to a bunch of people with the details for the day.   My friend Claudia responded quickly telling me it was in conflict with another race at the same time, same place, so I moved Springletrack from Saturday to Sunday.  Not long after that a couple other friends informed me that they had already taken Saturday off from work, or had some other reason that Sunday wouldn’t work.

After a bit of contemplation, I decided I would run it both days so I could see everyone and get them their customary stickers.

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 The stickers are a fat-ass tradition here in the Gunks that I started 5 years ago.  I figured it would be great 100 training to do back to back marathons.  It was also something I had thought about for a couple of years.

So, On Saturday April 11, my wife dropped me off at Spring Farm PA loaded up with my new Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra Set Pack and I started off.  I took it pretty easy, reminding myself that I would be doing it again the next day.  The trails stared out pretty wet after the previous days rain but nothing to crazy, wet toes.  Around 9.5 miles in I ran through the Lower Awosting lot in Minnewaska State Park and turned onto the Mossy Glen trail.  I immediately was greeted by a hard packed snow trail.  After 100 feet it turned to mud and water.  I had wet feet for next 16 miles.

The weather was nice and sunny, cool temps in the 40’s, with a strong wind.  This was not an issue until mile 13 atop Castle Point.  COLD!!  I knew that there was a bunch of runners out ahead of me and I had been following their footsteps.  I passed Sheryl and Jenny along the wolfjaws trail and then the snow no longer had foot prints in it.  Weird.

It stayed windy over the wolfjaws, past mud pond, got extra windy at highpoint, and was even bad on Smiley.  But what made Smiley worse was the water, ice cold water.

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I ended at Berme Road park with a time of 5:21.  This was the fastest I have run this course, mainly because I didn’t talk with anyone!!  A little while later, I found out that my friends ahead of my had made a short wrong turn and I had passed then while they were off route.  Bad timing.

Sunday April 12.  I arrived at Spring Farm at 8:45 and saw about 10 people looking ready to go.  There were new and old faces in the bunch but all looked eager.  A few minutes before 9 we took off. I started out a bit slower but i had chosen Hokas for the day. My legs were pretty happy after a bunch of foam rolling after the previous days run.  I started with my friends Tim and Jen and stayed close to them for the first 9 miles to Minnewaska.  I took a shorter break there than them and left alone from the parking lot.  The rest of the day went well.  The trails were much drier, a lot of the snow had melted, and the sunny skies were supporting temperatures in the high 60’s to 70.  What a day.

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I ended my day hammering miles 25 and 26 around 7:30 – 8:00 mile pace down Smiley which I was very happy with.  I finished a bit slower than Saturday in 5:27.  Looking at my GPS later I realized I had actually run faster, I just took longer breaks, sitting down for food and drink at Castle Point and High Point.

Grand totals for 2 days, 52 miles, 10 hrs 48 min, around 9000 feet of elevation gain.  The biggest accomplishment for me was the confidence I got running well on tired legs.  The 100 was something I had been second guessing since I registered for it, but after this past weekend, I feel like I have a real shot at finishing, maybe even with a respectable time.  I’ll have to wait and see what the unknown brings me.

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