Sunday, May 24, 2009

Pineland Farms Trail Challenge

Well, the summer is officially started for me with the Pineland Farms 50K. This race had been up in the air if I was going to run it or not, but with the plan of stacking races though the spring and summer for Burning River, it ended up being a prefect time to jump to a longer race.

Getting up to Maine was absolutely beautiful. I had not been to Maine in a long time and was pretty happy to mark it off my state list. My third state for the year already!

I had saw on the Ultra list that some folks, Mike and Paige, were going to be heading up there. I actually ran into them in the parking lot before the race. Mike’s colorful chili pepper shorts gave him away. I chatted a bit with them and it was time for me to get ready for the race.

While getting ready, I started talking the guy in the car next to me. His name was Blaine and he was a local runner who ran with the Trail Monsters running club who runs trails in the area. I got some course tips and advice from him. As we talked more, he saw my Vertical Runner shirt and realized he knew my friend and fellow VR runner Lloyd! Small world.

The Course
The Pineland race course is made of a 25K figure eight (or what felt like a figure eight) loop. Basically, about 10 miles on the first loops that weaves in and out of single track pine woods to tall grassy fields. The back 5 miles was mostly trail with some bigger hills.

The hills on the course were constant. You were either going up or down. No flat really. The toughest sections for me were the grass fields. The angle of the trail in those sections had you running almost sideways. But the change of terrain was pretty constant which helped.

The Race
We gathered in the start corral for the pre-race meeting. We got the low down on the course and also instructed not to bitch about the fields. Everyone got a laugh out of that.

Then we were off! I went out a bit fast early on. (Shocking I know.) But after 7 or 8 miles I settled into a good pace. It was about then my stomach started flip-flopping on me. After a bit, another runner started running with me. She recognized my VR shirt and ended up being VR’s Inov rep! This world keeps getting smaller! We talked for a bit while holding a pretty good pace. My stomach was still going nuts so I was quietly looking for a strategic place to puke. The company did me wonders and eventually, I got things under control.

After hitting the back loop, I went through the first lap in 2:08. A bit fast, but I was very happy I was on pace to finally break 5 hours (my goal for the day.) Bad news was I had missed my drop bag somehow. DOH! Oh well.

I kept an even pace and ran all the hills until finally about mile 20 which has a pretty big hill. By now it was nice, the 25kers were out on the course with us and they were awesome to run with and being very encouraging.

As I headed back towards the final back loop I was starting to feel a bit tired. I needed those gels that were in my drop bag. As luck would have it, an aide station appeared! Perfect timing. I grabbed some food and left the aide station while they were playing one of my favorite songs of all time, Whipping Post by the Allman Brothers…

“Oh Lord, I feel like I am dying, yeah…” echoed from the station as I ran out towards the final back loop. Rather appropriate timing for that song.

Feeling better but still feeling a bit low once I got to the back loop, I decided it was time for the old standby. I hit another aide station and it was time for some tunes.

Funny how songs take on a new meaning when hear them in a new light. The first tune started playing and it was The Black Parade by My Chemical Romance. For the most part, I really hate most EMO crap. I mean seriously, how you can put Emo bands on the same playing field as The Sex Pistols, Black Flag, or Bad Religion is a joke. Anywaaaaaay, this song has a lot of meaning to me and got me moving again.

I pushed through the final back loop. It was then I was passed by the 50 mile winner, Leigh Schmidt! He said hi and hung with him for a bit. I was fighting off some quad cramping issues, but was still able to run some hills.

Next, I came up on Paige. She was doing great and running still very strong. I had read on her blog she was very happy to be there in Maine and was really excited. So, it was nice seeing she was having a great day, too. We talked a bit and I pushed on as she stopped to stretch out her legs.

The last few miles I ran with this guy who was hilarious. He was a 25ker. We kept playing leap frog. I would pass him, and he would pass me back. Each time he gave me the rocker sign and put his fist out to give me “knucks.”

I hit the last aid station and by my calculations (or as I call it, Finish Line Algebra), I was hoping I could finish in the 4:30s which would have been sweet. By now my legs were pretty shot so the last mile took a bit longer…ended up 4:41 on the clock. A PR by 31 minutes! Pretty thrilled with that.

The Stats

I am still collecting data about my races and using my heart rate is working very well. I had misjudged a bit in the early stages of this race and went out about 7:20 pace. Once I found a better pace I hung in the 8:30-9:30 pace for most of the race.
As you can see, I spent most of the time in Zone2 (132-147 bpm) and Zone3 (147-162 bpm) which is where I wanted to be. My overall average was 150bmp which is about 73% of my maximum heart rate based on a max of 192 and a resting heartrate of about 40.
For this kind of race, I think this is where I should have been. So, all in all, pretty good results. I am getting on track with where I want to be by August in the heat.

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