October 28, 2009

Groton Forest Trail Race 2009

The Groton Forest Trail Race this past weekend was a test of my fortitude, which was supported by my active imagination, sense of humor, and skill to see Star Wars figures when my trail running mates do not.

I arrived early, registered and set out to snap photos of the course. Walking along the pebbled path freckled with light, I enjoyed the fall air and rain-free day when something called my attention to the right. In bright and open field waited a single bail of hay. I hopped the fence and —for no particular reason other than a curious urge to see it more closely— I headed towards it.

Then the Yoda appeared and said,

"Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose."

I knew what he meant.
When I began to ask him about what fears and which losses? He'd vanished. With that advice, I walked back through the woods to my car and prepared for the race. Still I felt unsettled in mind and body.

I was delighted to see some friends showing up and who were also willing to get the blood flowing with a warm-up. Dan and KZ finished up their long pre-race run as Bill and I headed out for an easy two miles. About 25 minutes later we all gathered for the start as RD Paul Funch, described the "relatively straight-forward" course marked with white trail blazes, confidence ribbons and ground arrows. No sooner were we off! I saw Michelle, Bill, Thom and Bob for all of 30 seconds as they pulled ahead along the single-track.

Planning for this to be my last harder-than-usual effort (for me) before Stone Cat, I aimed for a 10:oo to 10:30 minute per mile pace. While I managed to average that in the end (10:18), yet the pace of my various miles revealed dramatic unevenness—like the terrain—and my stomach.

This race was tough for me mainly due to my nausea throughout the 9+ miles. Several times in the woods, I prepared to toss my cookies. Fortunately I did not. After retracing the possibilities this week, I suspected some past expiration-date Nuun hydration tablets. (Bad Jedi. I forgot to check!?)

"Much to learn you still have."

I hadn't used Nuun for months since switching over to another running nutrition system but at Groton I decided to use them up for the shorter distance race. Combined with two weeks of poor sleep, inadequate hydration and faster-than-usual tempo running, I completed the Groton test with a bonus ankle twist! YOW!

"Try not. Do or do not, there is no try."
Basically The Force wasn't flowing at Groton. My sense of humor and smiles were! Thank goodness for friends and post-race gathering, too!

Note: On a group run in Willowdale, Dan joked that I "saw" the Yoda. I thought I would let him know that little Jedi cheered us on at the Groton finish line!

"Size matters not. Look at me.
Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm?"

Fear is the path to the darkside. Fear leads to anger.
Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.--Yoda

October 18, 2009

Recipe for a Long Run

Saturday I met up with folks for a long run, which began at Willowdale State Forest (along the Stone Cat 12.5 mile loop) and completed at Bradley Palmer. Three weeks out from the Stone Cat Trail Races (marathon & 50 miler), this was THE weekend to run loooong—rain or shine—before the kitty. So thankfully, the weather on Saturday was purrrfect for 4+ hours in the woods.

I drove my best “Daisy Dukes of Hazzard” along Old Right Road to meet GAC's trail-tour group but missed them; as I was tying my sneakers, they disappeared into the woods. Thankfully the usual trail suspects waited for me. (Sorry to make you wait! I hope I made up for it with some entertaining animal imitations and calls of the wild (not the "W.C." kind-of-call).)

Recipe for Saturday’s long run:
Add six trail runners, three maps, a bag of Chips Ahoy, two Feelmax Pankas, four Garmin Forerunners (with four different distances), and 6 ¼ cups of pit stop into two State Forests. Slowly mix in a Stone Cat loop (plus a little extra for dusting), and a Fat-Ass & 6-Hour lap with some mud. Stir with an upside-down map and beaver tails. Chill. Let the clock run for 4+ hours. Flip over 22 miles for a half-delirious group. Optional: add mountain bikers for texture. (Missing Ingredient: Michelle!)

POP Quiz: 6 runners and 4 maps.
(no cheating)
  1. Who laminated a map?
  2. Who left the map in the car?
  3. Who printed a map onto waterproof paper?
  4. Who yields to the trail?
  5. Who laughs in the map's general direction?
  6. Who Zip-Lock Baggied a map?

Nicknames, etc.:
(Note: sometimes a nickname readily appears while another warrants deeper distillation. All are very subject to change.)
  • Dan: The Cartographer;
  • Streph: Dr. Feeling-Quite-Himself;
  • KZ: The Vim in Vigor;
  • Steve: Cookie Monster. Leading: Capt. Chips Ahoy;
  • Paul L.: Slingshot or maybe *Speedy Gonzales (the fastest mouse in Mexico). *This might not fit/sit well??—need more information and runs.

October 08, 2009

Lost in the Woods: Finding More than a Way Out

Dear Landowner,
I apologize. Yesterday, I accidentally trespassed through your woods and field. I got off trail. While attempting to find the trail proper, I kept returning to your private place set up with two chairs overlooking the view.
Thank you for that special view,
Trail Pixie Trespas

For most of my long run I chose trails that I thought were part of my original and intended route but a few lefts, another right and two more lefts, I was back to that special tree I noted twice before.

What to do?
Pass gently through the woods and head up high to
an opening. Lookout.

The view was breathtaking. Mesmerizing. At that moment, being lost didn't matter. I knew where I was... generally. On the cusp of dusk, a chill in the air and an empty water bottle, nothing mattered but the view. I'd long forgotten about the nutty weather (sun to rain to sun to hail) coupled with "a wind advisory." The mountain blush reminded me of what a gift it can be to get lost.

On my way down through a field and saw a man (whose dog spotted me first) putting his dog back on leash. He waited while holding the dog's collar, and watched as I approached. "Good evening, sir (& a "nice doggy" to your mini horse...oh, I mean dog), Do you know the way out of these woods?" He softly answered, "Yes, of course, I will show you, if you would like."

(Note: childhood lesson "don't talk to strangers" never quite stuck.)

We walked out of the woods, talking about his 170-pound Irish Wolfhound, fiddle playing, and changes to the land and its ownership through which we passed. Then I was invited to meet his ACTUAL thoroughbred horses, one of two barn cats and this trust-worthy land and animal lover. Thank you for being kind and generous of spirit. I discovered so much more than a way out of the woods.

Above photo was borrowed from .

Getting lost can be so rewarding.

October 05, 2009

Breakneck Trail Race 2009

"The muddier you get, the better it tastes."
(my motto for thigh-deep & muddy water-crossings)

The 13th Breakneck 20k Trail Race was Sunday, October 4th, in Bigelow Hollow State Park, Union, Connecticut.

A crowd of 75 familiar faces (and some green trail runners/racers) gathered in the woods for the start as Race Director, Karl Molitoris shared that this would be his final year as RD for Breakneck. Due to more headaches than usual—including state budget cuts, increased fees and other pressures—he's packing it in. Murmurs from the crown mentioned he'd said this before. This time, I believe Karl means business.

He reminded us to be self-sufficient (No aid!). He promised wet feet. He taunted us in good cheer to pay attention. "[None of you dummies should get lost out there this year!]"
"If you're going to lead, you better know the way."

The course was a lollipop: Run the stick to and around the candy-pond. Then return along the stick to the finish. Yum! Sugar-free version: Ridge Trail (4.2 miles) to Breakneck Pond. Run (4 miles) around pond (counter-clockwise or clockwise) on Breakneck Pond View & Nipmuck Trails, respectively, Then back to and along Ridge Trail to finish (4.2 miles).

I watched my footing, tree blazes and commitment to not wiping out nor torquing parts that I shouldn't. Success. Saturday's generous rain slicked up yummy moss-covered rocks and slathered slime on skinned roots. Punctuated with mud-sucking sounds of pretty little "water" crossings.

Demonstrating how to be covered in mud
while still sitting lady-like in a nuu-muu running dress.

Along with the with permanent trail markers, Karl supplemented the course with blue tape strips. As an artist and art teacher, I was pleased with his color choice; it stood out from the beautiful orange and yellow fall colors!
A+, Karl, for color and effort.

Attempting impression of Trailgrrl's grin with KZ

Memorables out there in the Bigelow Hollow:
Overcast skies curtsied to sun. Forgetting quad fatigue from last weekend's effort after 3 miles of running along the Ridge. Observing new trail runner reactions to cute little water crossings. Laughing as I sunk thigh-deep into the muddy water crossing. TWICE. Imagining beavers filming humans for "America's Funniest Lodge Videos." Seeing folks who ran clockwise around the lake (Stass, Amy, Kevin M and Bob W, Carol). Wondering if KZ rand Tom ran against or with time. Laughing with Busa and Barry. Hearing acorns fly through the forest and the laughter of squirrel gangs with pitching mitts. Concurring with Nipmuck Dave on the number of acorn caches and what this means for deer season. Wondering if Stass really does like the taste of mud.

Results on WMAC.
For more details and exciting news check out Scott Livingston's Breakneck Post.

Thanks for the homemade food and great event!