This was my 3rd running of Traprock 50k. It is a really great race of 3 (10.5 mile) loops in Pennwood State Park in Bloomfield, CT. The race is directed by two great guys, Steve Nelson and Kevin Hutt, and helped out by many wonderful volunteers. This year I came into the race feeling good but unsure how I would fair as I had not raced an ultra (or a trail race for that matter) since Pinhoti 100 last November. I was hoping to better my best time on the course from 2 years earlier.
For nutrition Coach and I decided to give UCAN a try. I ate about a cup of oatmeal with maple syrup, walnuts and banana almost 3 hours before the race and took in almost 2 scoops of UCAN about 1 hour – ½ hour before the race. It was challenging to ingest the chalky mixture in one gulp, so it took me about a half hour to get it all down.
It wasn’t long before the race began and we were heading up a steep hill on the first section of rocky trail. On the less steep terrain I got into a rhythm and felt pretty good. I carried one UltrAspire Isomeric Pocket handheld water bottle filled with only water. The temperature was on the cool side so I chose Patagonia All Weather Shorts with compression calf socks and a short sleeve PatagoniaCapelene T with Moeben arm warmers and a pair of gloves. I should have worn knickers instead because it never really warmed up and my legs were cold (and red)!
My plan was to run every loop between 1 hour 35 minutes and 1 hour 45 minutes so I could cross the line in about 5 hours. The first loop was uneventful. I felt in control and not overextended. I returned to the start/finish just over 1 hour 38 minutes. I grabbed a GU and continued on. I did not refill my water since I had only drunk half and there were 2 more aid stations out on the course. My pace slowed slightly but it didn’t worry me. A group caught up to me as I ascended the stone stairs and felt my first twinge of struggle. I was able to gap them as the trail began to descend again but about a mile later a slipped on a muddy steep section of trail and smashed my left knee on a rock. It shook me up a bit, but I dusted my self off and tried to run again. My knee hurt and I soon realized I had hit it pretty hard and it was bleeding. I began to feel hungry and decided that it was a good time to ingest my GU. The rest of the loop I struggled to keep a strong pace and was starting to get discouraged as I kept looking at my watch and seeing the time pass but the miles slow. My legs were heavy but I never felt awful. I did find myself tripping a lot more than usual which really frustrated me since I usually feel fluid on rocky terrain. When I came in from the second loop and looked at the official clock, I was mad. It took me about 2 hours to complete that loop. I was obviously not going to hit my goal time of 5 hours but needed to now focus on finishing and staying up front. I ingested a serving of Hammer gel, switched to a fresh bottle of water and pushed back up the hill for the last loop. I ran as much as possibly but I found my banged up knee was hurting me and slowing me down on top of the general fatigue that I had. After a few miles I thought I heard Scott’s voice cheering for me. Yes, it was Scott. He decided to drop out after 24 miles. He had not gotten in enough training and work was very stressful so his mind and body were not in it. He cheering me on to finish this thing and I pushed. After 4 ½ hours I took in another Hammer gel and tried my hardest to move faster. I really began to feel the unrelenting ups and downs late in the race. I finally got to the last aid station where I decided a cup of Mountain Dew would bring me to the finish a little faster. I never, ever drink soda with one exception….late in a race. I learned at Pinhoti last year that it was the only thing I could keep down and it saved my race.
I finished Traprock in 5 hours 33 minutes, well off my best time on the course and even longer than the year I stopped at an aid station to nurse Dahlia! Shep (my 6 year old son) even said to me when I crossed the line, “Mom, what took you so long?” There are a lot of things to analyze as to why I was so slow compared to past years……one being that I had not been on trails as much due to the heavy snow this year, also I had not raced on trails since November, and maybe I did not eat enough prior to the race. Of course, tripping and cutting my knee was also a contributing factor. Not all of our races can be the best and each one we learn from. I did manage to stay ahead of all other woman. That was one bright spot in my race. Ohhhhhh, but they were closing in fast!
Thank you to my husband Scott for his encouragement, thanks to Coach Al and Dr. Kurt for helping me get my glute issue back in order (tell you about that later) and thank you to all my trail and ultra friends that make this sport so fun. When my mind wanders to the negative side and I get caught up in “myself” I have to remember to shift my thoughts back to the people that inspire me and motivate me!