Sunday, July 12, 2015

Bear Brook "Marathon" Race Report

When I signed up for TARC, the training plan called for both a 50k and a 50 miler race as part of the plan. But none of the races remotely in the area fit into our schedule or my training plan. I was mostly cool with that - the three dirt courses at the Brad will fit the bill as a "50k" and the three plus one lap of the BBU will come close enough to 50. But I kept looking around, wondering if I could find something long that would work as a training run/race. The one that kept surfacing was the Bear Brook Marathon. Unfortunately it was the same date at the Scuffle. I hemmed and hawed. I hated to miss the Scuffle. And Ryan would be staying behind so it would mean me going to a race alone, something I don't think I've done since the Breaker back in 2009. But I decided it would be a good way for me to get in a good long run in a race format, so I finally asked Irene and Dana if Sam and I could come stay overnight on Saturday and she could hang out with them on Sunday. I felt badly about missing the Scuffle but if the grandparents were in, it was a go. They were happy to accept - thank you Irene and Dana!! - so I signed up.

I decided going in that I wouldn't taper for the race, so I went in with 30 miles on my legs already this week. I also went in knowing that it was going to hot and humid. What is up with me and hot/humid races?! AIE! But it is what it is, and I was planning on a solid effort not a true race, so I figured it would work out OK. Thankfully I seem to fare OK in nasty weather.

Sam and I drove down yesterday after meeting up with Ryan at Edna & Lucy's for lunch after he marked the Scuffle course and got in his own run. When we arrived, we hung out, had pizza and I tried to go to bed early. Of course, knowing the alarm would go off less than 6 hours later, I didn't sleep well at all, but I dragged myself out of bed at 3:00 am as planned.

The drive over was fairly easy - the roads weren't crowded and the route was straightforward. I got to the start - a HUGE, dusty snowmobile lot outside of Bear Brook State Park right around 5:00 am and got in line to get my bib and then in line to use the porta-potty. Talked a bit with Ann and George, and chatted with Signe and Billy too. I recognized a few other faces but didn't know anyone else enough to talk to. The race was supposed to start at 6:00 but the registration line was taking longer than anticipated, so the start was pushed off until 6:20.

Trail Monster dissenters from the Scuffle :)
(Do I look tired enough?!)

After a brief briefing, we all headed off down the snowmobile trail for a ways before turning onto a trail that headed straight up Catamount Hill, and then down, of course :) A nice way to wake up! It wasn't super hot, but it sure was humid and climbing the hill, we could feel the heat building already. Luckily the course stayed in a shade for a long while, so it was manageable despite the fact that I was drenched in sweat early on.

The course was a fun mix of nice runnable singletrack, some good hill climbing and overgrown and variable snowmobile trails. Bear Brook is a HUGE park, as the course was essentially one big loop, with no real repeat except that we got to go up and over Catamount on the way out and back. Aid stations were nicely placed at 3.5, 8, 12, 16, 20 (ended up being 22.5) and 23.5 (more like 24.5). I didn't stop at the first two aid stations but did at the rest. The first aid station was on a short out and back so I could tell I had two women ahead of me and many close behind. But I didn't panic. This wasn't a "race", it was to be a solid effort run. I just kept up my pace and continued on. For the first 4 miles or so, I had people around me, but except for at the aid stations, I spent long stretches alone in the woods. Typical Danielle racing style ;) I did pass George early on and thought it was odd that he was ahead of me, but didn't think too much of it. Turns out, he missed the out-and-back for the first aid station. Bummer! Anyway, I kept on chugging.

As I was filling my bladder at mile 12, a girl went flying by. Well, so much for third place. It was a four-mile loop back to the aid station through some open areas. The hay-scented ferns smelled heavenly and I even stopped to pick a few raspberries right along the trail in an open field (yum) but it was heating up. There were also blueberries everywhere!

At mile 16, I had a cup of coke and went by Billy, but he passed me back when I pulled over to pee. Somewhere around mile 19, we came to a wide open expanse with big tall pine trees and a huge field of blueberry bushes. I couldn't help it - I did stop to pick a few handfuls. They were plentiful and huge and oh so sweet! Then I passed the third place woman. And then George came running at us. Confused, I asked him what was up; he explained the aid station snafu and that he'd pulled the plug on the race and was just getting in a run. He told the woman and I that we had about 2+ miles to the aid station. Huh. But my watch was nearing 20 miles. Weird. The heat was palpable through this stretch. I was bearing down on us. Hot hot hot. I did get a handful of blueberries from a sweet girl out picking with her family though :)

When I finally reached the aid station, the first thing I did was ask for ice. Not much left, but enough to put a handful in my hat. Ah. I had some coke and put more water in my bladder. Billy was there, and I asked the aid station how much further, confused by the mileage here. The woman said 3.5 to the next aid and then 6 into the finish. Aie. I felt a bit deflated. Billy and I took off together and he said he thought it was more like 7 to the finish; he had run the race last year. I pulled ahead but he caught back up when I stopped for one more handful of blueberries :) Then I pulled ahead again but he caught up when I took a HUGE digger on the gravel/dirt snowmobile trail. Yup, snagged a root and fell hard. I sat stunned for 30 seconds or so before getting back up; I was covered in dirt and gravel. And I mean covered. It was everywhere and there was nothing I could do. I ran on. Luckily, the last aid station was only about 2 miles away and I was able to wash off my hands and my arms a bit. I took off before Billy, thinking I'd see him down the way, but apparently he got off track somewhere. Not sure how, but oh well. I thought the course was fairly well marked myself, but I did hear of quite a few people who got lost out there.

Despite the mileage and time and the fact that I was really pretty hot at that point, I still felt strong, and passed a few people walking or moving slowly as we wound on the singletrack up on the hillside along the stream. I did have to walk once we got back to the ascent of Catamount, though, and even moreso when I realized I was out of water. Darn! Hope the finish line is soon! There was a woman dancing at the top of the hill in a banana suit (!!)  and I asked her how much longer, not remembering the mileage from the way out. Less than 2 miles. OK, downhill, here we come. I was slow but no cramping, and when I hit that wide snowmobile trail, I had enough in my legs to run "fast." HA! But I did have enough energy for a bit of a kick at least :)

Finished up with my Garmin reading 29.2 and 5:50. Carolyn was timing at the finish line and she told me I did indeed get 3rd female. Nice. I admit to being much more excited about a cold cup of water and a cold can of Coke, though ;) But I sure won't knock my placing. Very happy with how I held up out there today in the heat and humidity. I ate and drank, didn't completely fade out there and had no real issues. A positive, for sure!

I am currently nursing a nice bruise the size of a golf ball on my left knee, some gravel rash on my shoulder, cuts on my hands and a pinkie finger that hurts from the fall, but no real harm done :)

I don't know that I would make this a yearly tradition, mostly due to distance from home and high potential for deerflies (not many this year, thankfully) and heat and humidity, but I thought the course was well-laid out and good running, and it was fun to run someplace new. Kristina also put together some nice prizes and I came home with some yummy jam, a new hat and a certificate for a pair of Solomon shoes! Plus my "Dancing Star" third place ribbon, of course ;) Many thanks to her, her husband Ryan and all the volunteers for putting on a good race and keeping us all fed and watered :)

Top three females (me all sweaty and gross right after finishing :) )

A cold Coke never tasted so good!!

Many thanks to Irene and Dana for hanging with Sam today. I'd say she had a great time!! :)

All dressed up to go play mini golf :)

Ice cream!

Fun on the "boat"!

Cool fish pond!

Also thanks to Ryan for putting up with all my running and encouraging me to head over for the race today. And a big congrats to him for a race well run in the heat and humidity at the Scuffle too!


Michael said...

Great job Danielle! I love hate that race. Ran it the first three years, but needed a break this year. BTW, the dancing banana is my friend Jessica Goldman. Very funny and very awesome! See you soon.

Anonymous said...

Nice Race Report Danielle! Congrats on your great race. Seems like you were able to function very well on little sleep. Great training for TARC!


unstrung said...

Awesome work out there!! Must have been hard to run by the blueberries...