Eat to run, Run to eat
Race report for Mountain Madness 50k, Ringwood, NJ 9/28/2013
Short haiku version....
Ran with my brother.
I'm tired of these f-ing rocks.
Now I have blisters.
Long Rambly Version:
This was my second time running this race, and I hoped to break 8 hours and beat my time from last year. Training went well; I got two trial runs on the course in the weeks prior to the race, though one of them followed LAST year’s course; Gas line construction forced a reroute of this year’s race.
I convinced my younger brother Art to run this race with me, since a) my 2nd younger brother Matt lives nearby, and we could stay and shower at his house, b) it’s a bad-ass course, which I knew he’d like.
We got up early, had a bowl of oatmeal and coffee for Breakfast, and listened to appropriate prerace songs on the way there. (“Rooster” by Alice in Chains and “Madness” by Muse) Arrived nice and early, checked in, chatted with folks I knew, and some we didn’t. Got dressed; I had bought some new wool socks, but elected not to use them (since I have not run in wool yet) and instead stuck with my standard polyester, and lots of bodyglide on the usual hot spots. Also bought some blister bandages, which I also chickened out on, and left them in my race bag. I brought along one 20 oz. handheld, and prepped an extra ½ liter bottled water to pick up later for the final 7 miles. The weather was picture perfect, bright and sunny and clear, but with an expected high of 72*F, a bit warm for the end of September. After the usual pre-race talk (including STRICT warnings to yield to construction traffic, even if it affects placing), Rick the RD started us off at 9:00 to the second.
Half a mile of carriage road, and we turn up hill and start the first uphill hike. Reach the top, run along the rocky ridge, run back down the rocky hill side, rock hop through the stream bed, repeat as necessary. I took my only fall early on, on a rare section of dirt track with nothing on it except one rock, which I fell over. Thank God I only trip on dirt, because anywhere else would have been painful and damaging. I did manage to stub my right 2nd toe quite a few times throughout the day.
We ran with a woman named Stephanie for a while, until she passed us. We were also was passed by two young guys, one with a rubber chicken in his pack, who were running their first Ultra with little training, and who had gotten a late start.. Art did a good job of holding the pace back for me, since I had blown up badly in my last race by going out too fast. We hit the main aid station, which was the hub of the race, scarfed down some banana, and an orange slice, and took a PB&J for the road down the Cannonball trail.
The Cannonball trail is probably the most runnable section of the course, so we leaned on the pace a bit here. There were a few spots with rocks hidden in the high grass, and a slithery climb down a crack in the rock, but mostly pretty easy. We reached AS#2 at 11:17, slower than last year’s 11:05, and headed back.
The orange trail was my favorite downhill section this year, and I did my best running of the day there. Unfortunately it was only mile 11 and there was still quite a bit to go. We got a good view of the New York Skyline in the distance at the top of the climb on orange, just before the main AS. (Photo courtesy Alistair Bryan-Jones)
I left the AS before Art, since he was refilling his pack, and ran down the steep paved camp road at a pretty good clip. Runners were already returning from the out and back section, and there was a mix of 25k and 50k runners. I saw all my friends and acquaintances with whom I had trained in weeks previous, grinding back up the hill. Soon I reached the single track section and slowed back down. The orange trail had poor footing and several obstacles, and a constant flux of runners coming my way. I passed Kristina, whom I ran with two weeks before, and tried to cheer her up with a song. Art caught back up with me soon after that, surprised that I had acquired such a lead. We found ourselves running with an older guy named Whayong, who by the looks of his muddy shirt had taken quite a fall earlier. We continued to trade places with him, throughout the race. The orange trail continued steadily downhill, turning into rock strewn fire road, and eventually pavement, which led us down to the bridge across the Ramapo River and AS 4. The AS volunteer gave us a shock- he said that AS1-3-5 was closing down in 50 minutes. Although I knew we were a bit slow, I did not think that the cutoff was that close. AS1-3-5 was about 3.5 miles a way, but was 700 feet up, along the same poor footing. Art and Whayong and I (with Kristina close behind) hightailed it along the flat back to the base of the hill and started hiking. Next to the reservoir, a pedestrian asked “How far is the race?” “31 miles”, Art answered. “Each?!?!” came the astonished reply. ”Yes, Each..it’s not a RELAY race!!” I said as I passed him gaping at us. There were a lot of pedestrians near the Ramapo river, and at Camp Yaw Paw but his was the best reaction of the day. We did pass a few more runners heading downhill, who may have gotten cut off.
About a mile before the AS we passed a slowly moving runner in an orange suit, who was struggling a bit but still moving forward. I had seen him at the beginning of the race, very energetic and rearing to go, so I suspect he had too much enthusiasm and bonked out.
We reached the AS at 2:10, somewhat behind the cutoff, but they did not stop us. Seems the worker at AS4 was mistaken, imagine that. At the AS, we found the two chicken boys resting on a rock, and an EMS worker waiting for the orange suit guy. I only filled my handheld at the AS, and headed up the Cannonball trail. 1 hour 50 minutes to run 5.5 miles to the start/AS6. The chicken boys caught up with us, and they and Art ran ahead of me a bit, until they were out of sight. I caught Art waiting for me just before the turnoff to the white trail, which was a well-marked, but unexpectedly sharp left U-turn. Seems the chicken boys had gone straight instead. Art whistled and called for them , but they did not answer. Art would have gone straight also, but I had been here before. This was the hardest climb of the course, 200 feet up in about a quarter mile. We got a good view of the valley and of the NYC skyline again at the top. The terrain here was miserable again, with lots of grass-hidden rocks, other sections with medium rocks too far apart to run on top, but tiring to step over if you ran on the dirt, or if you stepped up on each one. The best section was a newly built mountain bike course, mostly dirt with well banked turns and a few hoop-dee-doos . It seemed though that the run to AS6 took forever though, and I was waiting for it to be over. My feet were starting to hurt, as well as my hips, and my breathing seemed shortened. I hung on, running as best I could whenever the terrain permitted. Whayong caught back up with us. Kristina had fallen behind. We were passed by a few fast runners at this point, since the last mile of the course shares the same trail with the 25th mile.
We hit AS6 with about 20 minutes to spare, and after a handheld refill and a snack, I headed back out while Art refilled. Since my handheld had run dry on the 5 mile section, I knew I’d need more for the 7 mile remainder, and picked up the reserve bottle I had left at the start of the race. The Bike loop section was a bit easier than the rest of it, but was still rough in places. We kept trading places with a mountain biker, who could go fast on smooth downhill, but got bogged down on rocky uphills. He was also in an orange suit that looked just like the bonker we’d seen before. I think Whayong caught us again, and we all caught Stephanie, who we had met at the beginning. It’s fuzzy, since I just wanted it to be over. I was sick and tired of all the rocks, and tired of stubbing my toes, and tired of climbing uphill, and tired of braking downhill and tired of being tired. Suddenly though, trails seemed familiar…I’ve been here before…It must be the last mile! We all pick it up… we can see Shepard lake through the trees, there’s the road.. I give a cry of joy as we pop out onto the road ( at last finally NO. MORE. ROCKS!!) and we push up the handicapped ramp to the finish. Art lets me slip in front of him and we finish in close group Stephanie, Me, Art and Whayong ..with Kristina a few minutes behind. The RD’s young daughter places the medal around my neck. There was a picnic still going on, so after catching my breath hamburgers , and pumpkin pie were had in abundance, with a beer and soda and water and whatever else I ate.
We eventually said good bye to everyone, (including Whayong who had parked right next to us) and headed back to Matt’s house for a shower, and another dinner.
It turns out that my shoes/socks did NOT do a good job that day. I wound up with two jammed 2nd toes (us much from stubbing as from running downhill) large blisters on the outsides of both heels, and smaller ones on the inside of both my big toes. I may have done better with the new wool socks, though the shoes are ready for retirement.
Checked the results the next day. 8:34:24 (DNF at 9:00:00) I was 66/71 finishers. I also found out that Whayong is 70 years old. I hope I will be as spry as he is when I’m that age…wait, I’m only as spry as he is when I’m MY age..
Art had selected "Rooster" by Alice in Chains as his psyche song..
Here come the rooster...You know he ain't gonna die
meaning that even though we are older the young runners can't beat us down. Ironic song choice at the end of the day.
Stone Mill 50m 11/16/13 12:42
Febapple Frozen 50k 2/22/14 9:20:55
DIrty German 50m 5/18/14 12:06:16
Nice job, and congratulations.
"we push up the handicapped ramp to the finish" - This made me smile, and seems very fitting for an Ultra finish.
Congratulations on finishing. Your feet will heal up sooner or later, and if you damaged any toenail roots that just means they grow slower and need trimmed less often.
That was great to run with your brother. Is he ready for another trail race?
That was great to run with your brother. Is he ready for another trail race?
He's got a fatass trail marathon this weekend (Nipmuck)
Great job! I would love to head up to the NJ races someday soon. They sound difficult and fun.
My Blog: trailsandcocktails.com
I Run for Oiselle
Hyner 50k: 4/18/15
Laurel Highlands 70M: 6/13/15
Sounds like a fun day running with your brother, congratulations on a well run race!
Le professeur de trail
Awesome! See you at SM.
The incarnation of peacefulness and patience
Follower of Forrest
3 more years until you get the 5 year medal holder
6/21 - Manitou's Revenge 54mi
A man may never run the same trail twice for it is not the same trail and he is not the same man
Faster Than Your Couch!
Congratulations, this sounds like a tough race. Way to go, even when you were facing the cutoff!
I know this "hate these rocks" feeling, I sometimes get it on longer runs in my area, too. Then I also always enjoy popping out onto the road to the parking lot - you'll never appreciate pavement quite as much!
Run for fun.