Distance. : 50k
Finish Time : 5:34:09
Rank : #16 (overall)
Lap 1 : 1:33:23
Lap 2 : 1:47:19
Lap 3 : 2:13:26
It was early in the morning when I met Joe Delano in the city to get a ride . The ride was probably about 2 hours from Manhattan to the race area. And on the way there, we picked up Paul at Hartford, CT. Paul, who’s originally from Ireland but flew in from Mexico where he lived at that moment. Both of them were fast runners, they were in the mission to qualify Boston marathon 2015. We got there pretty early so we had time to set up our drop bag area. The starting line was a couple of hundreds meters from the park main parking lot. Oh the porta-john location was in that main parking lot.
The race was a 3 loops of 10.3 miles. At 8.30 am sharp, we started our race. This race was supposed to be my training race for Bear Mountain 50 miles in 2 weeks. But it ended up that the Traprock terrain was as hard as Bear Mountain itself. The first 3 miles was pretty brutal for a starting course, there was no warm up, no time to get my running rhythm and also rocks were everywhere that I needed to keep focus. It started with a couple of hundreds meters of a steep technical uphill, it had rocks and roots everywhere like a Picasso drawing a mosaic. I had a shock moment there, I could not get my comfortable pace and breathe rhythm. My body was acting funny, my stomach was grumpy and my legs was acting dumb on the rocky downhill. Usually these kind of terrain was my favorite terrain, where I can entertain myself. So I was not sure what was going on, maybe I was running too fast that I ran just behind the 5 or 6 front-runners. Then I crossed a road, and turned right, where there was a steep stairs of rocks waiting and sneering at me. At that point, I decided that I needed to slow down, this was supposed to be a training after all, I told myself. But still, the terrain was not allowing me to calm down, it was a rolling rocks and swirling trail that kept me on the edge all the time.
Then I ran into a sudden steep downhill with a very tiny single trail. at the bottom of it, there was the first aid station. As always, aid station was the best place on earth.
After the aid station, worry not, the terrain was not getting any easier, it was still really scenic though. This section was an out and back trail with a u-turn at the end. The u-turn was right at the edge of the cliff, so the view was pretty stunning. From there, the run was started to go downhill and I started to get my running rhythm and breathe. After I passed the 1st aid station, the trail started to get civilized where I could run in a good pace. Don’t get me wrong, it was still a rocky rolling hills. Probably a good couple of miles later, I got into the top of the hill, could be the highest peak at this park, it was simply beautiful. Then for a few minutes, I was running at the edge of the hill, and again, the view on my right was amazing. This was my favorite part of the trail, beside the rocky uphill off course (joking). After passing a few small creeks, at the sharp turn to the left, there was a group of people with the warmest smiles in the world. Aid station #2. From here, I was running on a road for a good mile. Then I was turning sharp right to trace back about 2 miles of the trail to the finish the loop. The first part was a long uphill, and on the other direction, there were the 17 k runners, they were giving encouragement to me to keep chewing that long ascent.
The best part of this race was, I kept seeing people on the out and back trail. I could see how the leader pack running fast and gracefully on the technical uphill, I kept seeing Joe and Paul with their smiles, and I could also see what was the meaning of determination word from the end packs. This why I love trail runners, I learn a lot from everyone, what strong mind means, and I could not give enough respect to all the runners, no matter how fast, how old, or what body size, they are always my idol. Also everyone always passing energy to each other, cheering each other, and push each other.
After the long uphill, the trail started to get downhill. I was having a blast with jumping down left and right like a monkey in a zoo’s kindergarten. And suddenly, about a mile before the end of the loop, I twisted my ankle pretty bad, I might hear a click noise. And shit, it s the same ankle injury from Pinhoti 100. I couldn’t move for a good minute probably. But my instinct told me that I needed to go down as soon as possible. I was hobbling down hill with one leg when a runner pass me. He asked me if I needed to have someone to pick me up. That question slapped me on the face. I would be so upset if I did DNF. So I told to myself to keep moving. After a few minutes my ankle started to move slowly but sure.
New emergency plan, get down, engine check, and see how the ankle works on the 2nd loop. And there would be an escape route after the crazy hill after all.
After I got down and make a u-turn at the starting line, it was a miracle that my ankle stopped become grumpy. Maybe the energy from the crowds and volunteers at the base camp energized me. I refilled my water, got a banana with hope it would help my ankle muscle. Paul caught up with me at the aid station, he seemed doing really good. We ran together a little bit on the uphill. It was funny enough that I ran much better on the 2nd loop. I was running more conservative. I paid more attention on my running form, focusing my mind on breathing, ran with my pace as light as I could, and very careful on my footing. And it worked out pretty good, I could enjoy my run again, made stupid jokes at the aid stations. Despite I was adding about 15 mins more on my 2nd loop, but it went by smoothly.
Finishing The Race
Another thing I learned that day, I should set my watch correctly. Somehow my watch was 45 mins off. No wonder I thought I was doing great. But in a way, it kept me upbeat.
Anyway the 3rd loop started pretty nice and smoothly, I kept doing my plan. But (why there is always but) after the u-turn, my ankle started to hurt in every steps. In one point I was running with another runner with a very comfortable pace in one of the fun switch back section. I tried to keep pushing it, and having a runner on my tail was a big help. After a few minutes, I could not bare it anymore and I let him ran before me. At that point, I only have 5 miles to go, so I toned down my pace more and took a short walk once in a while to give it a rest. I finished about an hour an a half behind from the first finisher, but I was really happy that day. It was a challenging technical trail race, and I pulled it off. Everyone was very nice, very supportive, and the race event was flawless. I got a burger and a beer glass. So nothing I could ask more. I was a happy kid that day.