Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Mudfest 2013 - Pineland Farms

I'll admit it - I was hoping that Pineland Farms would be a really good day for me.  I don't often run a 'runnable' 50 mile course, so this was my most likely shot at getting a new 50 mile PR - and I wanted to go for it!  I was primed and ready to go - and then showed up at Pineland on Saturday morning to find the start/finish area over ankle deep with standing water.  Ok then, the race plan had to be shifted, because I'd be running 50 miles through this:
(Condition of much of the 50 mile course)
Here's a few more pictures that tell the tale:

(The photographers had so much fun capturing the adventure!)
So, the new race plan was to have fun and just enjoy the adventure that Mother Nature had planned for me.  It would be slow, and it would be challenging, but as the RD said before the race - this will be the story that's told about Pineland for years.  I was partly determined to race at Pineland because I've been doing the 50 miler there since its first year, so if I could finish this year, I would have completed 300 miles at Pineland - a feat that I don't know if anyone else can boast about.

(Fellow 413 Trail Runner, Wayne, enjoying the mud!)
As soon as the race started, I was fortunate to fall into step with Aliza Lapierre, who is an incredible athlete and a role model for me.  She was really enjoying the day, and giggling every time we got to a knee-deep puddle.  We easily passed the miles, chatting about life, running adventures, pets, friends, whatever. 

(Despite the mud, I had an enjoyable run)
After sliding around in the mud for hours, at around 25 miles, my hamstring started to give me a twinge again.  It was the same pain in the same location as my earlier spring-time hamstring injury, and I began to get really worried.  I babied the downhills, chopped my stride down, and evaluated.  Aliza noted that I was starting to visably limp, and told me to evaluate what was best for my entire season as I debated if it was wise to drop or to keep running.  Around mile 32, my hamstring was slowing me down enough that I told Aliza to go ahead as I figured out what I was doing. 

(Cruising through the trails at Pineland)
I got to mile 35, and my pacer Carolyn was there waiting to keep me company through the last 15 miles.  I apologized that my hamstring was in tough shape - so I would see what I could do.  But, having her enthusiasm inspired me to try to run through the pain a bit and finish the race.  Carolyn, who is a phenominal runner herself, is still in college but says that she 'wants to be an ultrarunner when she grows up' - so this was the perfect time to see how we often have to readjust our goals and run through some less-than-ideal conditions to finish these crazy races.  At least it was fun to have someone who hadn't seen the course yet with me - and I got quite a laugh out of her shock and struggle through the mudpit that the course had become.

(Running with my pacer, Carolyn - we had so much fun in the mud!)
Carolyn was amazing as a pacer - she has so many great tales to share, was always upbeat, and just had so much fun out there.  I was so glad to have her with me to enjoy the last few hours of racing.  Before I knew it, we were closing in on the finish.  It wasn't the prettiest race I've ever run, and I knew I would be rough shape for a while afterwards...but I had a great time, and the miles passed easily and quickly throughout the day. 

(Finishing my 6th Pineland Farms 50 miler)
Somehow, I finished in 7:54, pretty good considering the conditions out there.  If only it had been a dry day - I know I could have gotten a new PR there.  Brian seemed complete unaffected by the mud, as he cruised through the race in 6:30.  

(Brian, cruising as if on dry ground)

The typical Pineland Farms post-race party (which is legendary) was pretty subdued with the drizzle in the air and ankle-deep mud/water in the field.  However, I did have a beer and catch up with many of my fellow 413 Trail Running friends, and even saw my Western Mass Distance Project teammates finish their 50k races.  It was awesome to see so many western Massachusetts runners competing strong and having great days in these crazy conditions. 

- Had LunaBar (1 hour) and banana (1/2 hour) before race start
- Consumed 9 gus (before start, 0.75 hours, 1.5 hours, 2.25 hours, 3 hours, 3.5 hours, 4.5 hours, 6 hours, 6.75 hours) [vanilla bean, just plain, and espresso love gus] - 900 calories
- Consumed approximately 4 salt tabs (it was wet and cool)
- Consumed 4 water bottles of energy drink [raspberry gu brew and roctane grape] - 450 calories
- Consumed approximately 10 cups of energy drink/coke at aid stations - 250 calories
Net total - 1,600 calories and 150 oz fluid

A nod from Running Times:

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