Saturday, May 7, 2011

5/7/11: CAT 100 and Potomac Heritage Pics

I'm a bit overdue for an update on the last couple weeks of running.

Right after getting back from Seattle, I went for a 28 mile run on Sunday. Much of the run was on the Potomac Heritage trail, and it was a beautiful day. Below are a couple of pictures.

There were these crazy flowers that were hanging off the trees everywhere.

The Potomac was really flooded due to lots of recent rain.

This shows the Potomac Heritage trail on the right and the creek through the trees on the left.

The trail went right across this stream, which was a bit tricky.

It was past peak bluebell season, but there were still some left on the side of the trail.

I narrowly avoided stepping on this snake that was sunning itself on the trail.

Another stream crossing (well, maybe more rock crossing than stream crossing)

Parts of the trail were just covered with these bright green ferns.

Now on the CAT 100. This is a low key 100 mile race up on the Catoctin Trail and the Appalachian Trail. The course starts with 26 miles covering the entire length of the Catoctin trail up in Maryland. Then you cross over to the AT, run up into Pennsylvania, and come back down the AT through Maryland to Harper's Ferry.

Greg Zaruba had signed up for the race and talked me into joining him. I signed up about a week ahead of time, and it certainly seemed crazy to sign up for a 100 mile race just a week in advance. But I figured I'd take it easy and see how far I could go.

Greg unfortunately injured his knee and had to modify his plans. He decided to jump into the run at mile 26 to pace me for a while, jump out around mile 59, and then crew me if I was able to keep on going from there.

The short of it was that it was an awesome day, and I bailed after about 60 miles due primarily to stomach trouble.

The longer version is that the race started at 5am in the dark on the southern end of the Catoctin trail. I went off at a super easy pace with a group fo 5 or 6 people. It was fun having some company out there and watching to sun rise to reveal a perfect day out in the mountains. The high temperature was 70 degrees, and there was no humidity and few clouds.

I ran with a group up to the mile 15 aid station,, where we had to cross a knee deep, fast flowing stream. From 15 to 26 I was mostly on my own and started the push the pace a bit more. Unfortunately, I also got lost and went about a half mile off course, which basically negated all the benefit of pushing the pace.

I came off the Catoctin trail at mile 26 feeling strong and having a good time. It was great to see Greg waiting for me there, and better still, he brought his dog Ziggy! Ziggy is a trail runner extraordinaire and an excellent distraction when you are out there running for a long time.

We ran for a few miles on a road to cross over and pick up the Appalachian Trail. Once we hit the AT, there was a pretty long and rocky climb up. I started to get into a bit of a funk here. I've come to realize this happens a lot when I do really long races and have to start significantly increasing the food, water, and electroloytes I'm taking in.

When I was getting in trouble in the early miles of ultras, it was usually because I was forcing down too much fluids and food early on. Now I run pretty light for a while, but there does come a time (often around mile 25 - 30) where I have to kick it into gear.

At any rate, I ended up taking 2 S-caps, a gel, and a bunch of water. I immediately started to feel much better. From then on I was much more careful about the S-caps and food.

Greg and I cruised for a while on the AT on some pretty rocky sections, and I came into the mile 33 aid station feeling great. I really had no issues and was running strong all the way until I circled back to the same aid station at mile 52.

The only point of note was that I had taken the lead coming out of mile 33 and got to the mile 40.5 aid station before it was set up. Can't really say I've ever been in a situation of beating the aid stations! The major problem here was that the turnaround at mile 42.5 wasn't marked yet. We basically were supposed to run 2 miles up a mountain to the turnaround, but there wasn't a distinct point that would be recognizable as the turnaround.

The guys at the aid station wanted to run up ahead of me to put up the turnaround, but I was moving fast at this point and apparently not that easy to keep up with. Luckily Greg came to the rescue here. He knew the course well and was able to tell me where the turnaround was and put up the turnaround marker as well. Thanks, Greg!

My stomach started to feel shaky going into the mile 52 aid station. I loaded up on a bunch of food and headed off from there. The next aid station was at mile 61, but I was fading fast. My stomach was revolting, and I threw up around mile 57. Luckily Greg's car was a few miles away. Given the bad stomach, a work event I had to be at the next day, Jen being trapped without a car and not able to come up for the race, it was time to call it.

I didn't really have the preparation to be able to hang in for 100 miles, but it was awesome to feel good for so long. My legs also felt fantastic all throughout, so it's good to know I'm in good shape. This run was also a big confidence booster for the North Face 50.

All in all, it was a great day in the mountains with beautiful weather and good company with friends. Can't ask for more than that!

Very typical trail for the day. Lots of bright green early spring foliage upu in the mountains.

Nice view from around mile 12 or so. I went off course a little ways to get a picture from this lookout.

This was the incredibly scenic location for one of the aid stations. You hit it at mile 33 on the way north on the Appalachian Trail and then again at mile 52 after turning around at mile 44. This aid station was right by the Pennsylvania / Maryland border.

There was tons of water out on the course. The streams were running really high, and much of the trail was flooded or washed out in places.

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