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.
I learned a few important things this year:
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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
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.