Indian Ladder 15k and 3.5m Trail Race Report
No really, that could be all I put and it would be accurate. We arrived at Thatcher Park 30 minutes before the 15k race. The day before we drove from Northern VT to Ithaca, NY to attend a wedding and then to Albany, NY that night to get ready for the race. I was already tired from so much travel. I knew it was going to be warm, but at 8 am it was about 85 and very, very humid. I love this race, it is my favorite trail race. Relatively flat and a fantastic distance! There is a BBQ afterward that always has veggie burgers, and Albany Massage is always there giving free 10 minute massages, on tables!!! So, I had high hopes and a goal of beating my course time of 1:4. At the start, I quickly knew it was going to be hard to accomplish my goal. It was just too dang humid, I passed Jon taking my photo around mile 3 and told him that if I didn’t finish by quarter of 11, to forget taping me at the finish and to get ready for the 3.5m (Jon is recovering from a calf injury, decided to try the 3.5m… that was a mistake, but I will let him tell his tale). About 6 miles in, I was walking one of the few hills with a nice gentleman who, as I approached walking said “ain’t no shame in our game, you can cut this humidity with a knife.” And you could, and so I walked… far more than I usually do. When all was said and done, I came in 4 minutes over my record. It was miserable, I was miserable and I really wanted to bail when the heat tipped to 92ish plus insane humidity. But I finished for the love of the course.
If you love to trail run and are in the area, this is the best course to run. It is in beautiful Thatcher Park, which is home to the Helderberg Escarpment, one of the richest fossil-bearing formations in the world. It has two major climbs and great descents. It is a mixed bag of technicality, which I love. You can open up at times, and tip toe through gnarly roots at times. It has serious single track that usually bottle necks at the start, but opens to pass, then returns to single track. It is like everything in the cosmos of trail running is in this race (with exception of a water crossing or scrambling, which I love equally). I love it, will run it every year I can. On one last note, I hate to say this about my new home state, which I love, but I really love the Albany running clubs and community. I miss it and the VT clubs and community have not filled the void… after all, I have only ever been spit on in VT by a careless runner in front of me.
Now, I will let JP tell his tale…
The description Katie gave at the beginning of this post couldn’t be more accurate: holy humid Batman. Stepping outside the door of our friends house around 8 was like hitting a wall, which did not bode well for the day. In addition I have had a lingering calf strain since we went to Boston to watch the Liverpool match (for over a month now). I was going to run the 3.5m instead of the 15k which, if I am being honest, absolutely killed me. I love the 15k. It’s a lot of fun: the course, the people, the picnic, the distance—all of it makes for a great race. But since I knew my leg could not hold up for 9 miles I thought that 3.5 would probably be ok.
I have been icing, stretching, rolling, and using Tiger Balm since the strain occurred, so prior to the race I slathered on the Tiger Balm and my warmup felt really good. No pain or tightness. Things were looking up. I started strong, trying to keep towards the front of the pack since I knew that most of the first half of the run was narrow single-track and there would be bottle-necking. I was tired and a bit winded (not running in almost 2 weeks? the humidity?) but I keep a strong pace…
…until about mile 2. Then I felt a pop in my calf–never felt a pop in a muscle before–and I was forced to stop. I tried to stretch it and massage it, but the tightness and pain was back. A guy passing me told me to keep at it, that we were almost done, which helped to push me. So I gutted out the last mile or so, slowing up a bit at the end seeing as how I wasn’t going to pass anyone. A decent finish even with a bum leg: 24:56; 14th overall, 2nd in my age group. The humidity really made for a miserable run, so I am hoping that we can return next year and (1) run both races like we planned, and (2) try to beat my previous 15k time.
But was it worth it? Now I am taking 2 solid weeks off: no running at all. I am writing this while on vacation in Ocean Isle, North Carolina, so I will try to ensure that I do some “water excercises” (i.e., drinking a beer)…ok, pool exercises. I really want to be ready for the 25k at the beginning of September and the 50k at the end of September–though if I could choose I would take more time off to ensure that I can run the 50k. We will see how things progress; for now I am in rehab mode and I will continue to try and stay injury free.