a vegan couple: eating; running; living–minimally.

Tag: Jay Peak Trail Running Festival

supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (or, Two Races in Two Days)

Jay Peak 11 Mile

The past iterations of the Jay Peak Trail Festival consisted of a 25k loop with a 50k option. Learning from many of their past issues and mistakes, the Sub5 crew decided to host an 11 mile loop with 22 and 33 mile options. The weather outlook for this year’s race couldn’t have been more dichotomous: sun and 70s for the 5k’s on Saturday; 50s and rain for the Sunday 11 mile loops. My friend Abe had driven up from Syracuse, and we warmed up under a slate grey sky and that spat and hissed. The 11 mile loop would take us through the lower nordic trails, up the imposing Ulhr’s Dream, across the top of Jay Peak, ascending and descending sections of the Long Trail, rambling up and down various slopes, and weaving back to Ulhr’s Dream and the start via rolling nordic trails bottomed out with ankle-deep puddles and slick with the continuous, soaking rain.


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I learned a few important things this year:

  1. I need to work on climbing—This is what totally undid me. I knew it would be tough, having run the course twice before, but my legs were simply not up to the climbs. I manage on the ski slopes, but the long technical climbs/scrambles on the Long Trail sections were too much for my legs. I know what my Kryptonite is, and it is the uphills.
  2. I need to incorporate more (frequent) long runs—I was only able to get up to a single 10 mile run prior to the race, and that simply wasn’t enough to feel strong enough. If I am to get to the point of feeling confident in these kinds of mountain races I need to fit in more frequent longer runs…somehow?…sometime?
  3. I can maintain my downhill form (for the most part) even when tired—Downhill running, especially technical downhill running, is my forte. My descent on the Long Trail was quick, nimble, and strong (of course that was mile 4). But even at mile 10 I still felt pretty good running down the wider, sloppier, ski slopes. If it had been that highly technical downhill of the Long Trail I might have felt differently—maybe—but despite tired legs my form held up well.
  4. Trekking poles have their place—I have been practicing uphills, especially on ski slopes, with trekking poles as practice for the race. While I did feel confident and comfortable running with them, for the relatively short distance of 11 miles and given the amount of technical ascending & descending involved, I would not use them again. Maybe for the 22. Trying to scramble with trekking poles is awkward at best. Like a flamingo trying to climb stairs. Not pretty.



Cambridge Rotary 5k

Cambridge Rotary Fun Run

Cambridge Rotary Fun Run

I had not decided whether to run this until the morning of the race, which was the morning after Jay Peak. My legs felt…eh. I wasn’t sure how they would hold up for a fast 5k, but I’ve run this race the previous two years and wanted to see how I’d do.

Tired legs were an understatement as the leader jumped off the starting line and I never saw him again. I was able to maintain a decent pace but was easily passed by another runner half way through. As we came to mile 2.5 I was just behind the third place runner and beginning to run on fumes when I decided to see if I could hang on for another half mile—the course takes a quick “S” turn and I was on the inside, so if I could hold the inside I could keep him wide and force him to yield. Surprisingly it worked; I held out and for third for the second year. While I like to say that I don’t love running roads, let alone running 5ks, I do love running this local race on my home turf. It is fun to see familiar faces, and catch a glimpse of some pretty fast kids as well.

Oh, right, so why did I name this post “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”? That was the song that was in my head the entire 11 miles up and round Jay Peak. This was thanks to Hattie’s recent obsession with Marry Poppins—which I don’t mind, but 11 miles of Julie Andrews in my head was almost as exhausting as the running itself.

Crazy Times: Failed House Hunting & Five Races in (About) One Week

It has been a while since posting, but life — in all meanings and manifestations of the word — made this a busy and hectic summer. The most stressful and time consuming thing was trying to look for a house. We twice went through the process of putting in bids on different homes. The first ended with the initial inspection, which revealed substantially more work that was needed on the season ski-house which (I wont lie) was in the amazing place: right on the Brewster River about 1 mile from the Smuggler’s Notch Ski Resort. Location location location. It was gorgeous, but the owners simply half-assed all the necessary home fixes since it wasn’t their residence. So, Fail. The second home was a foreclosure that we knew might need some TLC but which we hoped could be alleviated with the help of a 203k Rehab Loan. It was a really cute house, with the space and (many of) the features we were looking for. But multiple inspections later, with numerous estimates on the total costs, things quickly soured and we had to walk away. In the hole for a few thousand dollars plus hours and hours of effort…it has made for a taxing last couple of months. That said, renters we shall remain.

I haven’t run that many races this year, partly for a lacking of the time and and partly for the lack of the training. As it happens, though, my year was to end with three events happening in the span of just over a week: The North Face Race to the Top of Vermont, The Jay Peak Trail Festival, and the Cambridge Rotary 5k.

The Race to the Top of Vermont begins at the Stowe Resort and climbs the toll road 4.3 miles up Mt Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak. The race climbs over 2,600 ft (the constant grade of the road changing) and then requires you to hike/run/walk back down. So close to 8.5 quad-busting miles. I was not hoping for anything spectacular, nor was I envisioning any grand finishes. All I wanted to do was finish this race with my legs feeling good and warmed for the three 5ks the next weekend. This I did, as my legs were tired but felt great. My run down the mountain happened to be with the second place finisher. It was a really enjoyable time.

This year I decided to try and do all three 5ks at The Jay Peak Trail Festival, so the following weekend I drove the 40 minutes up to Jay Peak to see how I’d do. In descending order of “difficulty” I ran the Black Diamond (1,163 ft.), Green Square (632 ft.), and Blue Circle (510 ft.). In total that was about 2,300 ft of climbing. The Black Diamond course was altered from last year and was SIGNIFICANTLY HARDER. The grade at times was between 10% and 40%!!! Insane. I really wasn’t sure I’d be able to finish all three. I had to hold back on the descents to not run my legs off, but this just left my legs thrashed. With each race I dug deep to finish as strongly as I could not leaving anything behind until the Blue Circle run. This series of races (including the 25k/50k the following day) are always super fun. I was surprised to find out that I finished 7th overall for those running all three races. Not bad. While I don’t know if I’ll do all three again I will be back to run a 5k or try the 25k again.

Two days later I dragged my sore legs out of bed and toed the line of the Cambridge Rotary 5k to see if lightning might strike twice and perhaps I might win for a second year. This is a hilly course, with both long and short climbs, making it fun and challenging. Even with rested legs there was no way I was going to beat winner, who incidentally won while pushing a jogging stroller! That said, I finished third, completely spent, and happy to have a new 5k PR of 19:00. Seriously, I was one second away from breaking 19 minutes.

This whole year, running wise, has been about adjusting to running with limited time, on a minimal number of runs per week, and aiming for quality over quantity. My goal for next year is to try to integrate some long training runs in the hope of doing some longer races.

Here’s to the run.

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