Thursday, September 6, 2012

Jay Peak 50K

I'm not sure why I signed up for this race. First, it's 6 hours away, it's on a ski mountain, and it was the inaugural year. BUT, I was convinced to sign up regardless. And I'm glad I did. I absolutely despise anything uphill so I was using this as a great training run for Mountain Masochist to prove to myself that I can do lots of hills over 30 miles of running. And I absolutely LOVE downhills so I figured I would at least like half the course! The course was two loops of the 25k course. The first loop with all the other 25k runners. I really didn't know what to expect when I got there, I have now done 2 Tough Mudders that are on a ski mountain, so I was thinking this would be similar just without all the obstacles (which was basically just running up and down ski slopes).

We started off the weekend with a relaxing day before the race at a lake near Groton, VT (Stillwater State Park). It was probably the best state park Thomas and I have ever been to- green grassy area, perfect sandy beach, ladder golf games, kayak rentals, and CLEAN bathrooms! After relaxing and reading our books, we left mid afternoon for the rest of the drive up to Jay Peak Resort by the Canadian border.

Stillwater State Park

We picked up our packets at the resort and grabbed a couple beers to sit out and look UP the mountain. We met up with Jay and his son, Spruce, and grabbed some pizza for our pre-race meal. The closer the race got, the more nervous I got! I saw quite a few intimidating young ladies and was even more intimidated by the mountain itself

Race day! We arrived at the start and I was more and more nervous about going up and down all day. The first few miles were great- gradual slopes, shaded by trees, and mostly flat! And then BAM! We went straight up the mountain about 200 yards, turned around and went back down. We were about 400 yards past the top of the hill and I heard people shouting "STOP!". Everyone around me stopped and waited for a second. The RD came running up the mountain telling people to turn around keep going up the mountain. The one good time to be slow! The fast group had gone about a half mile past and down the mountain and had to turn around to go back up. SO that little "oops" definitely leveled the playing field for a little bit.

Then we continued to climb, and climb, and climb! And boy was it steep!!! The whole time I was thinking that I had to do this all over again! The climb continued for about a mile-(??) part straight up a black diamond ski slope and part on the Long Trail (single track), bouldering our way up the mountain. And then finally we were to the very top!

Looking back at runners climbing 

Beautiful views!!

Steep downhills!! We also went up and down the far trail as well.

Now, I say I like downhill, but going down this mountain was not  normal downhill running- it was basically a controlled fall on a super, super steep black diamond ski slope. I don't like skiing because I feel like I am going to constantly fall- I didn't like this either because you were constantly trying to slow yourself from falling off the side of the mountain. But, the views were to die for.

Then it felt like the rest of the course was constant up and downs, up and downs, and up and downs. There were short, 200 yard climbs, and then there were long half mile climbs, some grassy, some gravely, some switchbacks and some straight up. They continued until we finally made it back to the Start/Finish.

As I came through the Start/Finish for the 25k (half point) I heard my name announced by the RD and he also said I was the second female for the 50k... wait, what?!?! No way, that can't be right, can it?! So, I quickly refilled my hydration pack, grabbed some food and was off again. After that, I just kept thinking I had to hurry if I was going to actually come in 2nd place for female finishers- I mean I wouldn't get another chance like this one again!!

Looking back up to the top of the mountain we ended up climbing twice. We went up on the far side of the mountain and down the trail you can see coming down. 

More grassy uphills

The rest of the day went basically the same as the first loop, only MUCH more painful and a little slower. A few of the aid stations were dry by the time I got to them. Not much food to choose from either- I had to carry a cup of chips and M&Ms with me for a couple hours because I was worried I would run out of fuel for the rest of the day.

The uphills were HARD! The downhills fun, easy, but boy were they painful!!! Finishing was such a relief! And I ended up keeping my 2nd place female finish!!!! Thomas finished 2nd overall (we're such a good match aren't we ;)) Jay finished about 40 minutes(?) before me. Great day overall, beautiful views, hard climbs and even a fuel belt for my award :)