Monday, April 27, 2009
Muddy Moose Race Report
This race report really starts the day before the race with two significant moments. First, I went out for a short run on Saturday afternoon, and it was hot. Really, really HAWT. And, in turn, I felt like absolute dung. I pretty much struggled through 3.5 miles. I think it was the worst run ever. Not good times. The second moment was on Saturday night when D asked me if I was going to bring my Fuel Belt to the race. I said, "No, there are plenty of aid stations. I'll just drink at those."
Why are these moments significant? One, I don't do well in the heat. Especially, if I haven't done any training in it. Secondly, I carry water, Gatorade or HEED on pretty much all my training runs over an hour. So, by not choosing to in the race, only further confirms the fact that I'm an idiot.
Sunday dawned warm, which could mean that it was only going to get HAWT, HAWT, HAWT. D and I picked up Ian in Portland and Carter in Biddeford to complete one half of the Trail Monster crew headed for Wolfeboro, NH. The other carload consisted of Shauna, Jim, Jeff and Erik. After a short "warm up" (as if it was necessary when temps were already in the 70's at 9:00am), we headed to the line for the fun. Supposedly this was a dry year, but the Muddy Moose definitely lived up to it's name.
The race starts benignly enough with a mellow downhill first on pavement then on dirt road, but I think it's only to suck you in. The next 1.5 miles are on snowmobile trails that...well...let's just say they don't drain very well. There are numerous shoe sucking at least ankle deep, often deeper, mud pits. In truth, I felt very comfortable and relaxed through this section. I passed a number of people who just couldn't seem to figure out that the mud was unavoidable.
At two miles, the race splits. Those running the four-mile option go right, and the 14-milers go left. I turned left with the other longer option fools onto a dirt road. The road starts off with a slight downhill, and here's where my race started to take a slight downhill. I got a side stitch, but worked through it. But, I just started to feel not quite right. Hoping it would pass, I maintained my pace, and just tried to stay relaxed. Eventually, the road goes up a small bump, then drops steeply until...BAM! There's a wall. Not literally, but there's a ridiculous hill that is really unrunnable. I a short way up until I realized that I still had a long way to go. Plus, I heard Jim from not far behind me yell, "Ryan, it's not worth it." Good foreshadowing for how I would feel later in the race. Once into my walk, I found myself pulling two other guys to the top, which we reached about a week later. The hill tops out to a cliff with nice views, but I was really not interested in sightseeing. That hill did not make me feel any better. The course drops you down a rocky outcropping, then onto trails that are actually quite runnable. Of course, I was really feeling like crap, so I slowed down a bit and tried to regroup. Jim caught me here, and I don't think I was friendly.
Then comes the ridiculous sand hill. It's straight down, the footing in bad, and it's just a bad idea. Jim got ahead of me here, but I soon wandered into the 5-mile aid station. WATER! So...thirsty... Four ounces of water later, I was off to climb the longest climb of the day. It was basically steady climbing for at least a mile, and I was really practicing my run to walk and walk to run transitions. At least that's what I told myself. In truth, I was baking in the sun.
The course is basically out and back, but at the end of the out is a loop that you can run in either direction you choose. Somehow, I missed the junction at the start of the loop, and, suddenly, Jeff was running towards me. He was running fast, too. A high five, and I figured that I was on the loop. Damn, I was supposed to go left. Oh well, high fives for Ian, Jim and Carter, then I ran through a swamp. Actually, a couple, the loop was pretty nasty. But, you know what? I was starting to feel better. In fact, I knew I was pretty far behind everyone but seeing them gave me a boost, and I ran solidly all the way until the mile 9 aid station.
I had a Hammer Gel as I came into the aid station and stopped to down a couple cups of desperately needed fluids. The good feeling I had coming into the aid station completely melted away after I left. I suddenly felt worse than I had all day. I was really dragging. It was more of a shuffle than a run. Then I got to climb back up the sand hill. Um, ugh. I had no energy at all, and I was trying to run in the shade as much as possible. Which was akin to dodging raindrops.
I pretty much shuffled all the way back to the 12-mile aid station, when I returned to the shoe sucking mud. I remembered my split on the way out: just under 17 minutes. It took me about 24 minutes on the way back in. It was grim. I was trying to run, but I had no energy at all. Sometimes I try to pick up my leg, but I could barely get it out of the mud. Even when they were out of the mud, they were really heavy because they were caked in mud. Eventually, I reached the dirt road, then the pavement, then everyone cheering me home. The cheers were nice, but they would have been nicer if they had been closer to the finish line. I still had a few extra yards to cover, which were painful because it felt like I had already been running for 4 months.
As soon as I finished, I wanted yell, "WATER!" But, I couldn't. Nothing came out. After what was probably 3 seconds, but what felt like 3 hours, I found the post-race water supply and grabbed a large bottle. Ian came up to me and said, "Don't feel bad. We all sucked today." Somehow, I found this really comforting.
Needless to say, it wasn't a great race, and it wasn't particularly fun. But...it wasn't unexpected. The heat always kills me. Not bringing my Fuel Belt was foolish. A huge mistake I won't make again. And, finally, I'm in the middle of my hardest training weeks. I knew this race would be tough for that reason alone. So not a total loss. Not exactly a huge confidence booster, but I think if I had brought some fluids, it would have made a big difference. So, lesson learned. Training continues.
As far as the other Trail Monsters go, not everyone sucked. Quite the opposite, Shauna was second in the 4-mile race. And, Jeff won his age group. I think Jim actually had fun out there, too, but he's a little off. Here are the official results.
Perhaps the worst part of the whole race is my sunburn. I was more tired out from that last night than the race. My upper arms are pretty toasted. That's what I get for running with guns a blazing.
Here are the rest of our pictures.