Welcome to the October 2018 Upper Valley Running Club newsletter! We’ve got lots of fun reads this month, and we’re excited to hear all your fall racing reports in the next few months. Submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Table of Contents
- Letter from a Board Member: Betsy Gonnerman
- To run a race – from the back end perspective by Martin Dyxenburg
- Lucky’s Coffee Garage by Geoff Dunbar
- Boston or Bust by Travis Peters
- Rail Trail Ramble by Martin Dyxenburg
- Things I See When I am Running by Lori Bliss Hill
- Runner Profile: Amanda Kievet
- Ask the Coaches
- Foliage Five by Tim Smith
- Let Your Mind Run by Mary Peters
- Pisgah Mountain Races 50k or: Of Mountains and McDoubles or: When the second isn’t as good as the first
by Emily Cousens
- Twinsies by Mary Manusco
- Tiger Run
- The Survey Says
Letter from a Board Member
by Betsy Gonnerman
I thought it might be interesting to some of you to know how I started running. It was 1977. I was 32 years old. Mike had just started to get into serious running, and I was curious as to the thrill of it. I put on my tennis shoes, and ran around the block, fell exhausted and panting into a chair, but I was exhilarated. I didn’t know whether I would stick with it, so I did not buy proper running shoes for a year, all the while running in tennis shoes and never going more than a mile.
When I finally ventured out to buy running shoes, they had very little available for women, so I had to buy men’s shoes. I gradually increased my miles over the next year, but never considered a race. When we moved to the Boston area in 1978, the Bonne Bell 10k for women was on Columbus Day (its second year), so I entered. I loved that experience, and ran that race at least 25 times after that.
I continued running, usually 3-5 miles/day 5 times a week, always at the same pace, knowing nothing about training. I entered local races of various distances.
After about 20 years, Mike and I decided to attend a running camp in Maine The first night there, Andy Palmer (coach and founder of the camp) said we were going to run 9 miles the next day. I told him I couldn’t do that as I had never run more than 6. He said just slow down, you can do it. He was right, and that’s when I learned about the proper way to train – i.e. slower pace on most days, with interval and tempo workouts on other days.
So, for the last 20 years, I have been smarter about my training and taken advantage of running clubs and coaching to improve. I continue to race at least once a month, and run about 25 miles/week year-round. I’ve run about 250 races, from 1 mile to marathon, over 40-plus years. Although aging has made me slower and more injury-prone, I still love running and hope to continue as long as I can.
To run a race – from the back end perspective
By Martin Dyxenburg
On Sat 8. September, the “Sprouty” race was held in Sharon, VT. The 10k run is part of the UV Running Series, and hence Lori Stevens and I had planned to participate. And so we did. On the morning of the run, we met early to carpool and to arrive in good time before start, and we were excited to be in a race again. In the car on the way to Sharon, we talked about the scenic course and the beautiful weather we would be running in. Just perfect. Arriving to the parking lot, we were a little surprised to see that it was full already. However, we drove back out on the road and found a place on a field where parking was available. Getting out of the car, we changed shoes, and discussed if we should jog a little, just to warm up. Then, we noticed a policeman waving at us. “Are you guys in the race?” he asked, “then you better hurry up. The other runners started 7 minutes ago” . What??!!! We had totally miscalculated our time. Or actually, to be honest, I had thought the race would start at 10am for some reason. But it did start at 9am. Now, realizing this, we rushed to the registration tents. The organizers had started packing down all their stuff, but when we explained to them about our situation, they quickly found our start numbers, and directed us to the start line. Exactly 9.12am we crossed the start line. What a stressful start. I felt bad that I had spoiled it for Lori, but she was just laughing and in her forgiving mode, luckily. The first 1 mile, we didn’t see any runners. No one at all. I started thinking negative thoughts. What if everybody would be waiting for us to finish? What if the organizers would miss that we were also here, and leave their posts, not being ready to guide us on the course ? or maybe they would pack down all the timing equipment? I suddenly felt privileged that I don’t have these concerns normally during any other run. And felt a lot of respect for those runners who sign up, knowing that they might be the last ones to finish. After 2 miles we passed the first runners, and we agreed to have an ambition to be ahead of 4 runners at the finish line. That would be our target for this race. After 2.5 mile, we suddenly met a lot of runners, coming in the opposite direction, and that totally changed our motivation. Now, we could see how close we were to the others, and with this in mind, we managed to pass by 9 runners before completing. A bad start eventually turned out to be a very fun race.
So, what can you learn from this? That you can adjust your ambitions, no matter how good you are placed in a race, to make it fun. And, not least, that you should always check the start time!!!
Lucky’s Coffee Garage
by Geoff Dunbar
We’re starting a brand new UVRC tradition! After the Saturday run, join the group for a coffee and breakfast at Lucky’s Coffee Garage just around the corner from Omer and Bob’s. With delicious popovers and indoor and outdoor seating, it should be a good spot for us through the winter. This fall, the Couch to 5K group has been showing out in force, hanging around long enough for the rest of us to finish our run and join them. Hope to see you next Saturday!
Boston or Bust
by Travis Peters
September 9th, 2018 – [results] [strava] [watch Travis and Mary run the Via Marathon 2018 – Strava Flyby]
It was Boston or Bust… and it was Bust. I was hopeful going into the race, but I was also on the fence as to whether or not I thought it was going to happen. The first 10 or so miles were good, though I could tell that my hip flexors were getting really tired, really fast. (Side Note: I ran with two awesome guys from State College through about mile 10 or 11; they were marathon veterans, and were super nice and encouraging and made jokes about all sorts of stuff that we saw as we were running – shout out to them for making those miles enjoyable!) I decided I had banked some time and that I could back off a little around miles 11-13. My hip flexors were all but gone at that point. (Cramped? Stiff? Hard to say. All I know is that they weren’t helping me pick my legs up anymore.) As a result, I started running more with my hips/butt, but developed sharp pains in my right hip pretty quick. (Some blips in the pace graph on Strava show me stopping to walk a little, trying to massage the muscles but keep moving.) I was able to run with the hip pain for miles 13-23, and I was on pace through about 18 miles (slowing down 17-18, but still on target with the time I had banked up front). I was pretty sure between 18-23 that I was slipping off pace and that a Boston Qualifier (BQ) wasn’t going to happen. With my hip hurting, I began thinking: ‘even if I finish, I’m going to be disappointed with the time, and I’m probably going to hurt my hip more;’ an increase in the sharpness in my hip ultimately led to me stopping at about mile 23.
Looking Forward: I’m disappointed I didn’t hit my goal of getting a BQ. I’m clearly still trying to figure out what I need to do in my training to get my body in a place to handle the distance/pace. Aerobically I felt pretty good, so I suspect that the problem is that I didn’t have enough training/miles at a pace that was close enough to my goal marathon pace. Something to remember for next time… I still got my eye on you BQ. I’ll see you another day…
Even with all of the disappointment, there are so many things to take heart in: God answered so many prayers leading up to this day (e.g., my health, Mary’s health, confidence, low temperatures on race day); I get to spend so much quality time with my best friend; I’ve learned so much in the past 6 months about running and training; I’m healthier (e.g., diet is better, lower blood pressure, lost weight, no injuries); I’m happier when I run; New Hampshire/Vermont is such a beautiful place to train (and PA was such a beautiful place to race!); We are so blessed to have these incredible bodies that can do so much; And volunteers at races are so amazing! They are generous and gracious and so supportive. I’m so grateful that I get to walk (run?) out this journey with so many amazing people and in so many great places.
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison
(^^^) A quote M shared with me the day before the race (from her running notebook). Likewise, I realize that I have not failed (though it is hard in the short term to escape the feeling that I have). I have found (not quite 10,000, but) many ways that won’t work; but I’ve also found many things that I think will work. As long as I’m healthy and have good people around me and continually trying, I (we!) have so much opportunity ahead of us to find more ‘ways that won’t work’ (and hopefully, ways that will work!).
Training Background: It is worth noting that I began doing most of my training in accordance with the Maffetone (MAF) Method in July. Basically, this equated to most of my runs being done with a HR monitor, where my HR was at or below 152 (my “MAF number”). I was really enjoying progress (as gauged by a couple of aerobic tests.) But, it seemed that my aerobic progress stalled in mid or late July — when we went back west for summer vacation — and never really bounced back. Training runs regressed to 8:45/mile and slower for pretty much all of my training runs in August. Not sure why… my best guesses is that it had something to do with a combination of stress from gearing up for my thesis proposal and the anticipation of the race. (It didn’t help that it was unbelievably humid and warm here in the summer, but it was humid in June and July as well when I was making progress.) Overall, I really believe in this methodology though. I feel better and I got through the entirety of my most recent training cycle without any injuries. I think I just need more time and less stressful conditions (though, as a grad student, this is hard to avoid altogether…). I’m looking forward to the coming year where I plan to spend many months training according to the MAF Method.
By Martin Dyxenburg
On Labor Day, the Headrest organizers had again set up the annual “Rail Trail Ramble”. Meeting at the trail head in Lebanon, runners, bikers and walkers started out on the course to Enfield (6 miles). Mostly bikers. Actually we were only 6 runners, but it was nice weather, there was drinking stations along the course, and everybody got a nice finisher T-shirt. On my way back from Enfield, near to the memorial pool, there was suddenly a turtle lying on the middle of the trail. A snapping one. I tried to push it from behind with my shoe, but was surprised how fast it actually snaps (compared to how slowly it moves). It didn’t get me, but I had to give up pushing it. Instead I made sure that the bikes would not run over it. Eventually, some lady bikers came by and we managed to push it together, into the grass on the side.
Things I See When I Am Running
By Lori Bliss Hill
by Mary Peters
Name: Amanda Kievet
Town: Norwich, VT
Where are you from originally and what brought you to this area?
I’m originally from a town in central Wisconsin. I first came to the Upper Valley as an escape from New York City where I lived for a few years. I stayed once I met my husband at a pizza restaurant up here.
What do you do professionally?
I’m a web developer and designer and currently I’m getting my outdoor gear making business up and running (https://tillykke.us/).
How long have you been running?
5 years. I got started after college doing a self-guided Couch to 5k program.
How long have you been running competitively?
I wouldn’t say that I run competitively at all, but I’ve been running races for 4 years.
Why do you run?
I’ll borrow fellow club member Kristen Coats’ answer: ‘I run because I’m the best version of myself when I’m running’.
I actually did a big post about why I run. It goes in-depth and has some photos.
Recent memorable moment while running?
When I realized I was in first place (female) at the halfway turn back during the Frigus 15k Snowshoe Race in Killington last February. Having never placed in a race before, it was the biggest rush. I flew down the mountain after that and ended up keeping my position.
Best athletic accomplishment and why?
Completing a 50 miler (the Ice Age 50 in Wisconsin) last May. Finishing well within the cutoff and realizing that I can achieve what I work hard to do.
If you like to race, favorite race distance? Why?
I like the 50k distance because (at the pace I run) it’s long enough to feel like a real adventure, but not so long that the training really takes over my life. Plus, they’re usually on trails through beautiful places.
If you like to race, notable race moment? OR most memorable race?
Coming through the finish line at the Ice Age 50 absolutely sprinting to see all my family cheering me on. Since I never ran growing up in Wisconsin, it was great to show my family what I could do and have them supporting me (making this face: ).
My dog Rye, my husband, Cody, and the UVRC (TNT)
Cross training activities?
Hiking and yoga.
Favorite local running route?
The AT from Norwich to Hartford.
Favorite post run treat?
Chubby Hubby Ben and Jerry’s is the fun answer, but I actually almost always have to have a scoop of the GU Recovery Drink Mix immediately after otherwise my stomach gets really mad (it took me a while to figure this out, and without this trick I certainly couldn’t be running ultras). But a few hours later, I’ll indulge in ice cream 🙂
What made you start running?
I read Scott Jurek’s book “Eat and Run” and that inspired me to try the Couch to 5k program. I certainly didn’t entertain ideas that *I* would be running ultramarathons someday, but it’s cool to look back and acknowledge that’s really where I started thinking running might be a good idea.
Who is your running “idol”?
Mountain running power couple Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg — they’re both my running and lifestyle “idols” since they have this really amazing looking small farm at the base of some mountains in Norway with a couple of “woolpuffs” (sheep). #lifegoals
Are your reasons for running now the same or different than the reason you first started?
I think they’re pretty much the same: to stay fit, to spend time outside, and always to be working toward some non-work-related personal goal.
Why did you join UVRC?
To meet people in the community and to get some motivation to do speed work. I never ran on a track before coming to Track Night Tuesdays!
Ever run in a costume?
I ran the CHaD last year in a wonder woman costume I made out of scraps of wool from my job at Ibex. I called myself the “Wooly Woman”.
The only running shoe for me is Altra Superior (which is a trail shoe. Still looking for my match in road shoes).
Ever been injured? How did it happen?
No! And I’m pretty proud of that. Knock on wood!
Hot or cold weather runner?
Morning or evening runner?
What is your motivation?
Upcoming races, for which I make a training schedule that I stick to the fridge. Though lately I’ve felt a bit burned out by that, so after the Vermont 50 I’ll be slowing down and doing some “fun running” (just running whenever and however long I feel like). I’m curious to see if I’ll keep it up without the pressure of a race.
Also, my dog Rye keeps me on the trail. She just loves to come along on trail runs.
I run therefore I get to eat like a 14 year old boy :).
What is your favorite race?
The Vermont 50
Favorite running book/film?
Book: “Eat and Run” by Scott Jurek. Film: The Barkely Marathon documentary
What does your daily workout consist of?
3-8 miles of running however fast I feel like on the dirt roads and trails around my house. TNT is the only thing that breaks that up.
What is your diet like?
I eat mostly vegetarian, but I do eat meat. I try to eat healthily for the most part. When I’m really in training mode, there’s usually ice cream every night.
If you could run with anyone, who would be the person? Where would you run?
I’m too intimidated to run with any pro runner types, so my regular team: my husband, Cody and our dog, Rye. It’d be great to be able to run in the Scottish Highlands with both of them.
Ask the Coaches
Got a question for the coaches? Send it to email@example.com and I’ll send it on!
Paul Coats asks: How can a running club be more encouraging to runners in the 9 to 12 minute per mile pace range? Specifically how to encourage them more to participate in group runs, workouts, and other events?
This one stumped the coaches a little bit, as it has been a long-standing issue for our club.
Greg Hagley: Great question!
Mary Peters: I’m trying to think of an answer, but I’ve been trying to think of one for a couple of years now… I will keep thinking and get back to you.
Wahoo! Great question. This is a structural/organizational question moreso than a training question. Training plans and workouts can be similar in basic design across paces; the question is how to convince all runners that a club as a whole or a specific workout has something to offer them personally.
The problem in answering this question is that there’s so many different directions to take it. Some of them requiring additions or changes to the way the club functions… But hopefully some tidbit in my brainstorming is useful!
My first thought is to bring a social aspect into it. If runners know other runners of their pace are joining for the workout that will increase motivation overall. A Facebook group with RSVP’s for different workouts could be a good way to incorporate this. Nobody wants to show up and be the only one that can’t keep up, or have to run really hard. But more runners will show up if they know their regular training buddies are going!
Secondly, I’m a fan of a degree of training customization, even for group training plans. I think athletes are more motivated when they feel the workout is designed to specifically aid their goals. I’m not sure if the UVRC’s coaching is designed to accommodate this, but I’m thinking of a model I’ve seen in another running club that seemed to work well: every month runners submitted a survey detailing their pace, goals, and which workouts they attended, as well as changes they’d like to see in upcoming workouts. Then the coach who designed the plan was able to send out the weekly training schedule for the coming month incorporating what the club was directly saying they wanted in a training plan. Pretty sure that was a paid position for the coach though, and I’m not sure if that’s a route you’d like to go.
Third, having multiple coaches present for interval sessions helps a lot. Each coach can work with one particular pace range so everyone gets some personal attention. Alternatively, if only one coach is available, he or she could host the workout twice, maybe on different days or just at different times on the same day. The idea being that runners in one pace range can train at one time and get more personal attention from the coach, and runners in another pace range will also get personal attention during their session. Athletes invest when coaches invest, and vice versa.
Lastly, returning to the social aspect, I think it can be good for any team or club to emphasize the social aspect of racing. Organize events on race day or before/after that include everyone, no matter pace. Post or pre-race potluck, carpools, and even group cool-downs. Runners of all paces can shuffle around together in post-race fatigue, and it’s a good way to increase cohesion within a group with runners of varying paces and goals.
Carly Wynn is a personal coach at EnduranceEfficacy.com, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How about you, club members? Any suggestions for how to make the club as inclusive as possible? Send them on to email@example.com, or corner your local friendly board member and give them your thoughts.
Fall Foliage Five
By Tim Smith
There is a smell of something good in the air! It is the smell of cider and pumpkins and falling leaves. The days are getting cooler and morning mist lingers a little longer. It is the smell of cross-country. I’ve had enough of the hot pavement and am ready for an autumn race out on a winding, rolling dirt road.
It is time for the Fall Foliage Five!
To me, this race epitomizes what a fall race is all about. It is cooler then those saunas of July. The dirt road is much kinder on you feet then the asphalt in Concord. Campbell Flats is far more beautiful then anything we saw in Nashua. And we even have more covered bridges then the Covered Bridges Half Marathon! Okay – it is the same bridge twice, but that is two crossings in just five miles.
It is also really our club’s race. Not only do we organize it, but club members make up over half the field. Which makes it a bit of a family picnic, a bit of a carnival, as well as being a great race!
In the last few years we have used the proceed from the race to award athletic scholarships to some Upper Valley high school runners. These student aren’t necessarily the fastest local runners (although they all happen to be very quick), rather they are students for whom running is an important part of their life. I think that is a trait which most club members share and we wanted to encourage it in young athletes.
But back to the Foliage Five!
The following year there was a washout behind the dam and we shortened the race from 5 miles to 5 kilometers. The next year we were back to 5 miles. But then last years rains washed out part of Buzzell Bridge Road, north of the dam, and we had to completely reroute the race. This year we are again on Campbell Flats, southeast of Union Village.
In one sense it is a different race every year. But in another way it is the same race as always, packed with all your friends and on a beautiful course.
And of course it will smell like autumn!
Date/Time: October 7, 2018 2 pm
Location: Union Village Dam / Army Corp of Engineers, Thetford, VT
Fees: $10 Pre-Registration; $15 after October 1st including Race Day
Let Your Mind Run (Deena Kastor took my title)
by Mary Peters
The beginning of summer promised long days to be filled with miles of uninterrupted marathon training. The middle of summer had other plans. A calf twinge that appeared in May anchored itself in the meaty part of my calf and spread tightness through my shin, the back of my knee and the front of my leg. Despite several days taken off here and there, it kept coming back with a vengeance and I knew to throw in the towel when it began to alter my stride mid-July.
I sought help from physical therapy and massage therapy starting 31 days before race day and returned to running one minute intervals 27 days before. As the starting line loomed closer and I panicked, I started to listen to podcasts and read about mental toughness and the power of mind over (muscle) matter. I have always loved stories of runners being fueled by the pure joy of running and camaraderie, like Emil Zatopek, the Czech distance runner who made friends so easily that he was talked into running the marathon at the 1952 Olympics, his first ever marathon. (Spoiler alert: he won and set a new world record.)
With my body not cooperating, I saw that I could quit the pity party and strengthen my mental game, and maybe pull off a Zatopek-like surprise for myself. As I rode my bike, I listened to several episodes from the podcast “Running for Real”, and when not on my bike I read the book “Let Your Mind Run” by Deena Kastor, who holds the American women’s road records in the 8k, 10 mi, 20k, half marathon, 30k and full marathon. In short, she is doing something right. Some of my takeaways:
- Identify your why. Why are you running? Why do you enjoy this crazy pastime?
- If you look for failure, you’ll find it. And if you look for success, you’ll find it.
- Think of what you can do in the moment, whether that’s in training or in the race. Looking ahead to only the outcome won’t necessarily achieve anything if you haven’t taken the proper steps along the way.
- Take ownership of successes just as with failures. If you do something well, acknowledge that you did that!
- Talk to yourself in the second person; it works better to be talking to someone else than to be talking to ourselves, when we are more likely to be harsh.
- Focusing on negative factors that are not in your control won’t help anything.
- Look at obstacles as opportunities. Biking may not be my preferred activity, but it kept my legs and heart pumping.
With these things buzzing in my mind, Travis and I warmed up for a few minutes before the Lehigh Valley marathon start on September 9th. It was mid 50’s a little drizzly – the perfect weather. The start was anticlimactic and then the negative thoughts started creeping in: “This is crazy.” “You haven’t run much more than 6 miles since July.” “What are you doing out here??” But with Deena Kastor, Emil Zatopek and many others in my head, I told myself to relax and just keep going for as long as possible. The miles went by quickly as I connected with a few runners on and off, and then at mile 12 I felt a quad cramp coming on, something I also experienced during the VT50 last fall. Instead of panicking, I tried to observe it neutrally, noting that it wasn’t getting worse. I reminded myself how much work I have put in to strengthening my glutes and hips and pictured them being strong and stable (no glutes, no glory!). I congratulated myself as the miles ticked away and at 14 had the happily surprised feeling that there were only 12 miles left and I wasn’t even dreading them. I met several marathon newbies and tried to encourage them to just stay consistent and relaxed, which in turn reminded me to stay consistent and relaxed. The course is beautiful and I tried to count all of the bridges we crossed, but lost count around eight. There are seventeen total! At mile 20 I began to sink deeper into the fog of tiredness, and thought of friends and others who have helped me become a better runner; I dedicated a mile to each of them through the last 10K. During the last mile it dawned on me that I was actually going to finish and I said, out loud, “This is f**king incredible!” I apologize to anyone who was around me, although it may have just been a mumble at that point.
The finish line pictures aren’t pretty (think gasping fish out of water) and the time is my slowest so far of three marathons, but I am so immensely thankful for what I learned from it. Patience and humility were the top two lessons, and the investments into my mental toughness bank will hopefully pay off for many races to come.
Some of my sources of inspiration:
“North” by Scott Jurek
“Let Your Mind Run” by Deena Kastor
“Believe” training journal
Tina Muir’s podcast “Running for Real”, especially the episodes with Dr. Nicole Detling and Jared Ward
My husband Travis Peters, who always encourages me and inspires me
Pisgah Mountain Races 50k or: Of Mountains and McDoubles
or: When the second isn’t as good as the first
by Emily Cousens
During my sophomore year of college I ate a lot of McDonald’s. I was injured on and off for the entire year. I would recover from August’s tendonitis and train with a passion until I had a stress fracture in October which I would diligently cross-train away until I could run my bones to the ground again in December. Eventually my enthusiasm to return from injury dwindled. I all but stopped running. I spent more time on other activities. And, as I said, I ate a lot of McDonald’s.
My favorite item on the menu is the McDouble. The McDouble is essentially a Big Mac but you could get it for a dollar. The only difference is that a Big Mac has the second piece of bun in the middle, the McDouble is more just a double-cheeseburger.
(I swear this connects to running.)
One dollar! And it is chemically engineered to taste incredible. I usually stopped at the Mickey D’s near Cooper Union on my walk home and bought two because one always left me wanting a little more and it’s only a dollar more so why not?
The first McDouble is incredible and satisfying. The second McDouble is different. The moments leading in to that first bite of the second McDouble you are excited, smug even, to be treating yourself to another. But after a couple bites you realize: this might have been a bad idea. It stops tasting good. It tastes more like nothing. You feel sad. Is this what a McDouble truly tastes like, when my cravings don’t bond with the chemicals to create that euphoric experience like the first burger? Was the experience of the first burger a singular event that can never be replicated? Is this how all McDouble’s will taste forever? You force bites because “it’s just one burger”, small enough that you can finish it without a problem, but large enough that it would be a waste to throw out.
How I feel about that second McDouble in a row is how I feel about my second 50k this year.
I wrote an article for the newsletter about my first 50k back in June. The race went very well. I had a blast. I swallowed up the miles feeling strong and capable. By the end I felt destroyed but in a way that still felt good. Looking back I don’t even remember any bad parts. My first 50k was the rare, quintessential “good race.”
I was totally spoiled.
My second 50k, not so much.
The Pisgah Mountain Races 50k:
I signed up for the race a few weeks out. I had been riding the high of the Catamount 50k all summer, waiting for my next opportunity to race. My training had been a little spotty. I took a full week off in August. I started an exhausting new job in September. I did one long run of 20 miles but most of my runs were five-milers squeezed between work and Netflix. But I signed up for the race fully and unreasonably expecting to be just as strong, if not stronger than I was back in June.
The Pisgah Mountain Races are a 50k and 23k that loop-de-doop through Pisgah State Park in Chesterfield, New Hampshire. The trails are gorgeous. The total elevation gain is less than 4,000ft (but that might just be because our watches lose GPS and don’t count the constant little ups & downs). The aid stations are stocked with coke, water, Gatorade, hammer gels, pretzels, fig newtons, M&Ms, and run by super friendly people from southwest NH. The course was one loop, which is rare for a 50k. The entrance fee was only $50, also rare. The trail was mostly that dark, soft, peat-y dirt that you find on windy conifer tree single-track. Constant roots and rocks but always runnable. I urge everyone to sign up next year; it is really the perfect New England trail race.
I started out the race insanely excited. I had never been to Pisgah State Park before, what a treat to run around it for four hours (Lol, I thought it would only take four hours). The only other 50k I had done had been a “good race”, what should I expect but that glittery, floaty magic?
My boyfriend Tom was racing too and we ran together for the first few miles. We caught up with Jeremy and James and were running at a solid pace. didn’t want to say anything, but I already felt like I was pushing, a bad sign when there are 25 miles left to run. But I was in a groove, and if I stayed in that groove for as long as possible, I could gut my way to the finish once the groove was used up.
At mile 6.5 the groove was broken when Tom tripped on a rock, bruised his abdomen and split open his knee. We stepped to the side of the trial and let runners go by. His knee was bleeding hard and the cut was deep. The next aid station was 1.5miles away, where he could get first aid and possibly a ride back to the start/finish. He told me he could walk there and I should keep running. I jogged on feeling uncertain about a few things: will he be okay? Will I regain the time? Should I drop out with him, should we go to a diner, get pancakes and milkshakes, have a full day to do whatever we like and not this stupid trail race?
When I got to the aid station I ate pretzels and waited for Tom so I could tell him my brilliant plan of our joint drop-out. Minutes later he came jogging through the woods saying, “Don’t’ wait for me! Keep going!” My brain was already mush and would do anything it was told, so I did.
For a while I ran with the third place woman, or tried to. She flew by me on all the downhills, then I passed her again on the uphills. Around mile 13 I dug in and put a gap on her and found another running partner. A man from Colorado who allegedly “has been having trouble finding any trails out East that are as technical as trails out West.” I was surprised (and offended, tbh) by this. Turns out he had been looking in the wrong places and no, dirt roads and rail trails don’t count as trails. We ran together until mile 20 when the aid station volunteers said “there’s a great spot to swim up ahead!” and I made a decision that would shape the fate of the remaining ten miles. The guy from Colorado continued ahead and I stopped, removed my shoes and shirt, and went swimming.
Swimming felt amazing. Feeling the cool water on my overheated body, I was fully certain it was the best idea ever. But as soon as I put my shoes back on and resumed my death march I realized it was a terrible idea. Unlike the Catamount Ultra in June, where there were always people around me. The Pisgah race field was spread out. The next runners were at least five minutes ahead of and behind me. Once I let him get ahead, I was alone on the trails with dead legs, slightly disorientated, and only a pocket full of soggy pretzels and a hammer gel to keep me going until the next aid station.
I talked to myself. I cried. I walked. I stopped. I felt completely defeated and unprepared. Though I tried I couldn’t muster any of the energy I felt during the Catamount 50k back in June. I was sure that energy was gone forever. This feeling of complete weakness, this was how all 50ks would be for now on.
Of course that’s not the way it will always be forever. And the first one was not a fluke. But that’s how it feels sometimes, when you finish a race floating on clouds and try to extend the high beyond its capacity. The hangover doesn’t come until the middle of the second race, when the timing couldn’t be worse. Your exhausted brain, starving for Gus and pretzels, latches onto any irrationality that pops up until you find yourself sitting on a rock in the middle of the woods crying because it’s “never going to end”. And the race feels like actual hell. And those hell feelings hit harder and linger in the memory more prevalently than any good feelings of races in the past. The good ones you don’t even notice. They start and end and we’re you ever even suffering? But the bad ones you can feel every minute and every hill and every mile.
I started hearing noises behind me and was sure I was hallucinating. I started jogging again.
I was caught by Jason, a runner I hadn’t seen since early in the race.
As he passed me he cheered, “You are totally crushing it!”
I was pretty trapped in my glass-empty mindset, but I mumbled “thanks.”
He asked how things were going. I told him I wasn’t feeling too great.
He then told me personal story about the last time he ran this race a few years ago, and why the Pisgah race is so significant to him. I won’t share it here, but it is an incredible story that made me realize “I am crying about nothing and I ain’t shit.”
I buckled down and grinded through the last five miles. I have never felt happier to finish a race in my life. Tom was at the finish with his leg nice and bandaged.
It totally sucks having a bad race. It especially sucks having a bad race when it’s your second of that distance the first of that distance was a classic good race. It can make you feel like the first one didn’t count. Like it was a freebie and the terribleness of the second race is when it gets real. But if you don’t let yourself chill and regroup after that awesome first race, if you’re wolfing down one McDouble after another without even pausing to breathe, then of course the second race is going to leave you feeling nauseous.
Maybe I could finish this way-longer-than-it-needs-to-be article saying “I learned my lesson. I will now chill and set aside a proper training block before my next ultra.” That is certainly where this is headed, right?
But it’s going a different direction:
When I ate the stupid McDoubles, I always went with my best friend Elliott. Elliott is a vegetarian. He only got French fries and mostly just joined me because I asked him too. Our trips to McDonald’s weren’t about the McDoubles at all. It was about going for a walk together and sitting outside Cooper Union and people watching.
After the race Tom and I ate hot dogs and laid in the grass by the finish line for the entire afternoon chatting with Jeremy and some of the finishers. Everyone had a different story of how the race went for them. I talked to Jason after he finished and thanked him for helping me out when I was in the pit of despair.
It would be so awesome to do everything perfectly and crank out only good races. But that’s not what it’s about and seriously, who cares? Ultras are stupid and disgusting and it’s a bunch of people suffering together and that’s the only point there is in the entire pointless sport.
If I learned anything from that miserable day it’s that a 50k isn’t about making sure everything goes perfectly, it’s about dealing with the things that don’t and then talking about it afterwards with friends.
by Mary Manusco
It’s great having a lot of running buddies, doing all the same races and being on a relay team together. But it gets a little weird and embarrassing when two or more of you show up to run with the same shirt on. Like, what do strangers think of this? Or people driving by while we’re running? Last month it happened so often we were taking photos to document it. One time I even switched my shirt to inside out so it wouldn’t be so obvious. My solution? To stop wearing shirts I know my friends own. Someone had to take the initiative or who knows where it would have lead?
The Tiger Run is a 12k and 5k road race. This is a certified 12k course around Mascoma Lake.
Date: October 28th . Race day registration starts at 8am Race time 10am
Location: Enfield shaker fields, Enfield NH
To Benefit: Indian River School Cross Country and Track teams
Race Registration: Prices increase on October 1st and on race day
Any questions feel free to contact me at
The Survey Says…
by Paul Gardent, Jared Rhoads, Abigail Barman
Once again we got a great response to our Survey Says survey. For this month’s survey we asked you to tell us your favorite all-time race and the race that is at the top of your “bucket list.” We received so many great responses to both questions that we are going to split our survey report in two. This month it will be “all-time favorite races” and next month we will report on your “bucket list” races.
Our UVRC members sure have a diverse list of favorite races and some very interesting descriptions.
Enjoy the results!
- It’s local, super scenic, and was my first ultra.
- This race is absolutely beautiful, rambling over dozens of different properties. It is at the end of September when the weather is still nice and the foliage is popping! Aid station support is great, as are the other racers. It is very challenging, but definitely worth the challenge.
- Challenge, atmosphere/scenery
- It’s a community event and all my best friends from UVRC are there. The course is scenic ; it’s not just out and back the same way
- Love the community feeling
CHaD Half Marathon
- Super hero’s…Good cause!
- Enjoy the excitement of the CHaD half, even though I don’t love the hills in the second half of the course
Thanksgiving Turkey Trots (Woodstock (2), Reading MA, Westford VT)
- It’s on Thanksgiving morning, at the end of the season. Usually I’m in decent shape by then. And, it makes the sloth and gluttony of the rest of the day feel more justified.
- Fellow runners including family and friends, winter temperatures, lovely village
- Westford race has it all, beginning with wagering a shiny penny on the kids sprint and ending with the most amazing spread of prize donations. The course is challenging on all dirt roads and has local legendary racers (The Westford Sunglasses Guy, The Westford Ponytail Guy and The Westford Starts to Slow Guy (believes that everyone else at Westford starts too fast!)) that have an evolving lore developing throughout the history of the race. It also held at the peak of hunting season, so you have the added thrill of wondering “if you run like a deer if you will get shot?
- The course is beautiful
- It was the biggest goal I had set for myself at the time, and i did a lot better than i was hoping!
Mt. Evans Ascent 14.5 miles up Mt Evans in Colorado
- Stunning views for much of the race. Incredible elevation gain, race starts at 10k and finishes over 14k to be America’s highest road race. And of course the big horn and mountain goats at the top!
Chocorua Mountain Race; Tamworth, NH; About 13 miles
- It goes up and over Mt. Chocorua! There’s a fun scramble at the top, and the race is mostly up and down, with a few gentler rollers. It feels like a real mountain race!
Mattamuskeet Death March, Lake Mattamuskeet NC, 66.6 miles
- It was an adventure; pre-race emails from the Grim Reapper, a small group of runners, a night sky like I’ve never seen, oh and “Runners will be issued a standard .50 cal ammo can which must be carried on their person, in some fashion, at all times while making forward progress. It cannot be altered or damaged in any way. An empty ammo can weighs slightly more than 5 pounds, while not heavy you may find it awkward and annoying to carry for 60 plus miles. Frankly, that’s this point.”
Las Vegas Marathon
- Blue Man Group on the course, hundreds of people running dressed as Elvis, a run-through wedding chapel, and a flat course!
Big Sky Marathon, Ennis Montana
- The course was beautiful and I ran it during a long trip out west. I got engaged less than a week before. It was a downhill race, which is my strong suit. I won, set a new course record, and got a hug from the race director afterward. My fiancée also won the women’s race and set a new course record. Can’t ask for much more than that 🙂
Marine Corps Marathon, Washington, DC
- Course is a tour of Washington; huge, enthusiastic crowds; great organization by the marines; and best part is you end the race by climbing a small hill to the Iwo Jima memorial where a marine salutes you and places the medal around your neck. Inspirational!!!
Other All-time Favorites
New Hampshire Marathon, Bristol NH; Lilac Bloomsday Run, Spokane, WA; Eastern States 20 Miler; Sprouty 10K, Sharon VT; Skidway Island Half Marathon, Savannah GA; Seacoast Half Marathon, Portsmouth NH; Nike Women’s Half Marathon, Washington DC; Doha Dash 10k, Doha Qatar; Boston Marathon
About this Newsletter
This newsletter is put out monthly (more or less) by the Upper Valley Running Club, the premier (and only) running club in the Connecticut River Upper Valley Region. This month, the newsletter was edited by Laura Petto, with article collection by Geoff Dunbar. Any comments, questions, submissions, sub 2 hour marathon tips, etc, send to firstname.lastname@example.org.