Sunday, July 28, 2013

Wakely Dam Ultra Race Report

The Wakely Dam Ultra is a beautiful beast. It runs along the Northville Placid Trail in the southern Adirondacks from Wakely Dam to the Piseco Airport 33 miles later. It is hilly, but not crazily so, it is more the severely gnarly nature of the trail that makes it tough, along with the fact it is entirely self supported. 

I felt a little too great the first two hours and went out way too hard, digging myself into a hole from which I never fully recovered. I'm disappointed in myself for ignoring what my heart rate monitor (which I wore specifically to avoid this!!) was clearly telling me, and wasting the opportunity to run well on such a great trail in perfect weather conditions. Past the half way point it got incredibly difficult as I tried to recover by walking a lot and taking care of myself. I was not in a good place mentally at all. The last several hours dragged on and on and on, and the trailhead just never seemed to appear. I was downright miserable and negative, which feels bad in my head today.

Structurally this race was a big breakthrough though, with absolutely no hip pain. This is shocking to me, no Advil required. I can hardly believe it after years of it getting worse and then trying to get rid of it but it never getting all the way healed. My f
eet were really good with no blisters, and my quads got a bit tight by the end but not too bad. So...just a total execution error, which also feels bad (and stupid) in my head today. 

Still, it was great training on an extremely difficult course which I seriously underestimated. I think it was harder this direction than the original South-North Damn Wakely Dam version of the race (because it is now rockier the last third), plus longer by 2.5 km of road at the end. I lost count of blowdowns to negotiate but there must have been over 50 bad ones not counting the hurdleable ones. I fell hard going over a slick one, and the fallen tree almost seemed to catch me as I lay nuzzled among its branches like a hammock. Rocks, roots, mud, overgrowth, hills...a very tough journey, but it's so special to have a race on this kind of trail. It makes Hali seem almost buffed.

My gear was good, the UltrAspire Alpha pack with 2L felt like nothing, and I enjoyed having the handheld too. I wore my La Sportiva C-Lite 2.0s, DryMax socks and La Sportiva singlet and shorts. My fuel was Vitargo, dates, and Lara bars. After 3-4 hours I realized I wasn't drinking enough so I had to unfortunately risk taking untreated water. This seems dumb I know, but we had an equipment failure and had to improvise a bit which affected us both in different ways. I did what I could to pick clean spots and am hoping I got away with it.

There were only eight women in the field so unbelievably I managed 2nd and got a super cool plaque on a varnished slice of tree trunk. The first woman, Christine Tokarz, was over an hour ahead of me yet she was there at the finish still and very gracious. It felt good to congratulate her excellent run.

As I approached the finish I was getting very concerned that I didn't see Derrick, but then right as I crossed he was there thankfully. It's not really possible to drop out of this race, but through my own misery I was thinking how painful the trail must have been on his troublesome achilles and ankle. 

Congrats to Jan Wellford on the overall win; excellent write up here

Thanks to RD's Kim and Doug and their crew of family and friends for putting on such an awesome event! 

Chilling out at our campsite the night before the race

Approaching the trailhead after a long journey

Remains of map post-race.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Summer is here

June seemed to go by in a flash, and now it is well into July. I'm just finishing up with a week of very relaxing holidays. It was very low key with a good mix of doing stuff around the house, running, and lots of relaxing.

Training is going well, and we're looking at our next race coming up in a few weeks. We have run it before, in 2007, the Wakely Dam self-supported 56k on the Northville-Placid trail in the southern Adirondacks. We actually ran the old version of the race, which went from Piseco Lake in the south to Wakely Dam in the north, but the new version of the race runs in the opposite direction.

Last week I was in Sudbury for a conference, and easily found lots of very pretty trails. The conference was good, but having great trails around made it a lot better.

My feet got soaked crossing this beaver dam!


When I ran by it on the shore the loon took off.