Monday, May 25, 2009

Pinleland Farms Trail Challenge

Last week I registered for the Pineland Farms Trail Challenge 50 miler in New Gloucester, ME, located about 15 miles north of Portland. Amie made arrangements for our family to stay in Freeport and make it a Memorial Day weekend getaway.

We made the 3 hour trip to Portland on Saturday and stopped by the Maine Running Company where I picked up my race number, race shirt and the kids were given rub on tattoos of the race logo. After lunch on Commercial St in Portland, checking in at our hotel in Freeport and a walk through LL Bean we met up with Clint who arrived from CT to run his first 50 mile ultra race.

We went to a local Italian eatery for dinner to carbo load and discuss the next day's plans. While talking about the race and my upcoming plans for a 100 miler this summer, my daughter Lora asked "Daddy, what if you die?" My response was "It'll cost less for the family to go out for dinner." I assured and promised her that I would not die while running ultra races, and I hope it's a commitment I can keep. Then my daughter Emma had a question for me that she was a little hesitant for other's to hear, but eventually let it out. "Can I run the race with you tomorrow?"

Clint and I checked our drop bags and made final preparations so that we could get out the door quickly in the morning. During this process I recalled that when Scott and I ran an aid station at the Northern Nipmuck trail race earlier this year we recognized that many of the front runners had "ink", and now it was my time. Lora, experienced at the art of press ons, skillfully applied the race logo tattoo on my bicep..perfect, now I was ready!

After a 4:45 wake up, stop at D&D, and short drive we had arrived at Pineland Farms. A quick pre race briefing by the race directors and we were off and running. I felt comfortable and strong heading into the race and focused on using it as training for the VT100 with plans to:

  • make stops at the aid stations as quick as possible
  • try eating a variety of foods from the aid stations to determine what's best for me
  • run a steady pace throughout and not go out too quick
  • complete without compromising my ankle/foot that has given me issues
  • use my Go-Lite double water bottle pack the whole time, even though unnecessary

The first 10 miles or so Clint and I talked with several of the other runners and learned that many were using the race as training for upcoming 100 milers...many for Vermont 100, one for Western States 100, and another for Cascade 100. We ran comfortably and finished the first loop, at 19 miles, and re-loaded with supplies from our drop bags and I grabbed some kisses from my "crew" of Amie, Lora, Katherine and Emma. Clint and I parted about the halfway point as our paces were starting to vary. A couple of miles later I had a pleasant surprise, I ran into Steve Nelson (finished 4th last year) who was there in support of another runner, we ran a bit, chatted, and moved on.


19 down and feeling good

To this point everything was falling in line. I was quick at the aid stations. I tried all foods offered including PB&J, oranges, watermelon, M&Ms, Skittles, boiled potato with salt, Coke, Mountain Dew, pretzels, etc...and didn't have issues with any of them but tended to favor oranges and PB&J. My ankle felt really good and my pace was steady.

As I finished my 2nd of 3 loops and came by the start/finish line my energy levels increased as I was greeted again by my crew who helped me re-load with salt and gels. After another round of kisses and being told that I smell, I moved on. 35 miles down and 15 to go.

At this point I had not seen another 50 miler in 10 miles so I decided to turn on my MP3 player and enjoy some freshly loaded tunes. I inserted the buds, turned on the player, enjoyed about 10 seconds of music, and it went dead. After fussing with it for too long I gave up on it. Oh well...I opened up my pack to take out a package of Accelerade to mix into my water and realized I didn't grab any out of my drop bag on the way through....Oh well, time to adjust, Gatorade and water to drink and PB&J for protein.

As delirium started setting in I heard dogs barking and some one yell "get em". As I turned I saw a couple of dogs back on the path flying towards me. I increased my pace as I thought I was an escapee on a prison break in an action thriller and was being hunted down by guards and their dogs. The dogs were harnessed to their masters almost pulling them along, and they cruised right by me. A second came by, then a third, etc..I learned that this was part of the 4K Canicross race happening the same time. Very interesting..

Now on my third lap through the rolling hills were becoming more of a challenge and my pace started to slow. At this point I still felt fairly good and pushed but my legs didn't seem to be moving as quickly as I had thought they should be. With a couple of miles left the rains stopped, clouds cleared, and it was sunny for the first time in the race. As I neared the area before the finish line my crew cheered for me and Lora, Katherine, and Emma ran with me.

Emma stayed with me right to the end as we held hands and ran to the finish line. She got what she wanted, to run the race with dad, and I couldn't have been happier.

Total time was 8 hours and 39 minutes.

85 runners started, 76 finished, I was 22nd.

Coming through the finisher's chute I (actually Emma) was handed a golden cowbell for finishing, as well as pint glass with the race logo and a very comfortable Innov 8 running hat. We enjoyed the post activities with some grub, live music, and a great time talking with others.

Clint came through at about 9:30 for the completion of his first 50 miler, great job.... We shared our experiences of the day, watched the awards ceremony, showered, and called it a day as Clint headed back to CT and we went out for a seafood dinner and then back to the hotel for some swimming with the kids and time in the hot tub.

Hats off to the race directors as the race was very well organized, the course was well marked, aid stations were well stocked, aid workers were enthusiastic and helpful, post race activities were right on, and the swag was exceptional.

Monday ended up being such a nice day we decided to head to Old Orchard Beach on the way home for a few hours of fun at the shore. All in all, a great weekend.


Fancy Schmancy said...

Great job, good for you. How long do you think the VT100 will take? Love the pictures, especially you and Emma and then Amie and the girls. Will we be seeing you for pizza Saturday night?

Scott said...

Great job Bruce. Now I know the secret: It was the ink! See, we knew it! That's funny the part of getting run down by dogs... :) Looks like you're in good shape heading towards VT. Nice work managing the ankle...

Bruce G said...

A primary goal for a 100 mile race is to complete it in less than 24 hours...I'm planning on finishing under 24 hours..Start at 4am and be done before 4 am the next day. We'll be there Saturday for pizza, perfect training food...