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2018 Races…TBD!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Party At Pineland

"This isn't a race, it's a running party." ~ Jamie Anderson

Pineland Farms is easily the most well organized, and by far the most beautiful, event I have participated in. I signed up for the 50-miler back in April, just days after completing my first 50 mile race, at McNaughton Park. The main draw: it takes place in Maine :) The next thing: it would be an opportunity to capitalize on my fitness and keep the momentum of my season going. I didn’t ever really think much about how soon after my first 50-miler Pineland was. I just knew somehow I was going to be ready.

Of course, “ready” is all relative.

Maine isn’t somewhere I go now and just hang out, I go with purpose and try to do and see as much as I can while I’m there. Thus, I’ll have to make this a two-part series; my trip up to Acadia will come next. For now, let’s talk race report!

I arrived in Portland and was shacking up at the new Camp Atayne Bed & Breakfast :) Sweet digs in my favorite city in the world! I was very excited to spend the next few days with Jeremy and Rebecca and to catch up. On Saturday, Mike arrived in town from Vermont and we all sat around chatting for a bit before Mike and I headed over to Maine Running Company to get our race shirt and bib numbers, and, of course, to pick up some last minute things for the race (I didn’t bring any race nutrition with me so I needed to grab some Clif Shot Bloks and some Gu). While at MRC, we happened to run into Patty Duffy and Mike Hanes, whom we were meeting up with later on that night for our pre-race dinner. Random!
Craft hour at the Camp Atayne Bed & Breakfast

Ataynes contribution. Who doesn't love a good hug in the thick of a tough day!

"Whoever filled in the yellow is a genius. Yellow is a hard color to do. I'm just sayin'."
Dinner was at Portland Pie Co. in the Old Port district. Awesome food! I carbed up on veggie lasagna and Shipyard’s Summer Ale (my fave!) while we all sat around and talked shop. Somehow I managed to get a really good nights sleep, after Mike and I got our stuff together and our drop bags organized. Air mattresses are seriously underrated! Jeremy and Rebecca would be joining the race festivities later on, representing Atayne and cheering us on. They were also going to be giving away free hugs as runners passed through the start/finish area! The 50-milers were set to start at 6:00 a.m. so Mike and I hit the lights before 10:00 that night. Wow, record early night-before-a-race!
The Dinner Crew: Mike, Jeremy, Rebecca, me, Patty, Mike Hanes
At 4:05 a.m. my alarm went off, which I didn’t hear but Mike did, thank goodness. I was wide awake somehow and got up to make some oatmeal and get dressed. By 4:40 we were out the door and headed to the nearest 24-hour Dunkin’ for coffee and a Box o’ Joe to share with other runners. I actually managed to print out accurate directions and we found Pineland Farms without a hitch. Sweet! I love not getting lost. On the way, we had the music on low in the car, but we were pretty quiet as we approached the Farm. “I don’t really feel like running today!” exclaimed Mike suddenly. We both burst out laughing. Typical pre-race Mike :) It was gloriously light out when we arrived at the Farm around 5:30 a.m. We were gathering our drop bags from the car when Greg walked up to us to say hello. He had recognized Mike’s chili pepper shorts and wanted to say ‘hi’ and that he really enjoyed our blogs recently. Love it! What a nice dude. I thought he was running the 50k (but I'm not sure now...! Was it the 50M?) and towards the end of his final loop, my second loop, he passed me up and gave me some encouraging words, which I really needed at that very moment. So, thank you Greg, you rock!!!
The staging area before the race was inside the YMCA on the Farm campus, so we dropped our drop bags outside the front door with the others then ducked inside to see what was going on inside. We ran into the RD, Ian, and Mike asked him some questions, then we went into the gymnasium where we ran into Kristen and Tim of Massachusetts, and also Mike’s Vermont running buddy, Jeff. What cool peeps! We had our Box o’ Joe and handed out coffee cups to everyone. I think people were pretty psyched about the coffee as the race didn’t have any before hand. Fantastic idea Mike! Jamie Anderson walked in shortly after and introduced himself to me. It was great to finally meet him in person. I’ve been following his blog, Maine Runner, for awhile now and love his stuff, plus he’s a super, super nice guy to boot. The three of us were talking about the race when Jamie chimed in with, “this isn’t a race it’s a running party!” Love it! I didn’t have any of the nervous stomach bubbles that I had before McNutty, and I was feeling pretty darn good about it all. But as the start time approached I started to get that giddy excitement that can lead to a crash-and-burn later on so I was trying to keep a reign on it. Then I noticed I didn’t have my water bottle! I was about to “pull a Mike!” I ran out to the car and grabbed it, then we all headed to the start/finish area for a pre-race briefing from Ian.

Heading to the start/finish area for the briefing

“Everyone always complains about the grassy trails and how hard they are; I don’t wanna hear about it folks. If you want an easy race, go run a marathon!” ~ Ian, pre-race briefing

Mike Hanes (with his race face on) and Patty Duffy before the start
The course was going to be a short 3.5 mile loop that would bring us right back to where we were standing and then send us out on three loops of the 25k course, adding up to 50 glorious miles. Mike Hanes and Patty found us at the start and we wished each other luck before Ian said, “GO!”
And we’re off! Weeeeeeeee, down a slight winding trail of woodchips and packed dirt. The trail is wide and allows for us to run 4-wide for a bit. Mike and Jeff zip ahead a bit, and I began to prepare myself for a long run by myself. Knowing Mike was there, somewhere, throughout the day was a lift, but knowing that I’d be tackling this distance essentially alone was daunting. It was something I had not thought about until we began running. I was so incredibly thankful for Jeremy and Rebecca being there as well. I would get to see them at the end of each 25k loop and even when I didn’t actually spot them, I knew they were there in the crowd and that’s an emotional lift I will never take for granted. I’ve done a couple of races solo, but never of the 50-mile variety. On this day, I was going to learn how invaluable a friendly, familiar face is.

Things were going just fine until about the ½ marathon point when I felt a sting on my right foot. Blister. I stopped at my drop bag and popped a squat to do some work on my feet. Big ugly fat blister on the right ball of my foot. Vaseline, some Tough Strips and I put back on my socks…probably should have put on dry socks, but they were Drymax so I wasn’t worried about that. I know what the problem was: I had my orthotics (which are fitted for my ½ size larger road shoes) in my trail shoes and they curled up a tad near the ball of the foot, causing rubbing. But I was willing to suffer the consequences so I could avoid the shin splints and achy arches. Turned out to be worth it!

Physical Challenge vs. Mental Challenge

The Ultra List talks a lot about how mental an ultra is. Sometimes, the mental demand of a race far exceeds the physical demand. I consider myself to be of pretty sound mind. A tad emotional at times, of course, but when it comes to my running I tend to feel tough as nails. (When you fall as much as I do you learn to build a tough exterior to handle the sting of a nasty fall, and an equally tough inside to keep you going after a spill :)) Sometimes you’re just wrong about yourself!

I ran with Hanes for a couple of miles, maybe more, maybe less. I never looked at my GPS during this time because I was enjoying myself. Patty caught us and stayed for a bit, but then we all spread out and the others went ahead after an aid station. Soon after, I came upon Kristen and Tim, whom I had met in the gymnasium before the race. What an upbeat and enjoyable couple of people! We stuck together for the majority of the first loop, and a bit of the second. I also met Jason the Canadian, from Nova Scotia. He’s hardcore, and he got to witness my first fall. My knees didn’t even hit the ground, but it was still a fall, and he shouted from behind me (I didn’t realize he was there at the time), “Nice fall! You can tell everyone a Canadian caught you in the act!” haha, okay, fine :) The bunch of us were together for a bit longer, then I left Kristen and Tim at an aid station and Jason had long since shot ahead of us. I ran into Jeff Walker from Trail Monsters, and also Stephen Wells somewhere along the way, and that was cool! I haven't seen them since the Maine Marathon last October. But, now, I was alone. The 25k and 50k runners were still out on the course, but they would be finishing up very soon and then I was going to be really alone. I wasn’t too keen on the conduct of some of the shorter distance runners, but I still liked seeing others on the trail, especially the hilly grassy sections where the rolling hills really got to you. I wanted to punch those hills in the face. They were pissing me off half way through the second loop! Then, the mind games really began to heat up. You come into most aid stations twice, and one of them is named Final Mile AS. But, when you come into it the first time you have something like 8k to run before you come back to it, and then a “final mile” before the start/finish area. I came into it during my second loop and saw Mike for the first time since the beginning of the race. Him and Jeff were on their way out of Final Mile. I shouted to Mike, thrilled to see familiar faces and went up to him. He was not happy. I won’t spoil his race report here (you’ll have to read it to find out the details!), but things were not good. I hung around the AS with him for a few minutes as he explained the situation and we discussed a couple things. It was clear what he needed to do and I felt awful. I’m one of those people who internalizes others’ problems, especially when I’m already stressed. This was no exception.
Couple pretty landscape shots...

So I’m running along, and it’s about mile 32 when I suddenly can’t breath normally, it’s a sensation similar to hyperventilation. So I slow to a walk thinking I’m pushing too hard, when suddenly it just starts happening. I’m friggin’ crying almost uncontrollably. Who does that, during a race and for no reason?! I’ve certainly never done that before, and I could not figure out what was going on. Then it suddenly stopped as quickly as it began. And that was that. I picked it back up and continued on my way. I felt that same sensation a few more times but I fought it back and refused to chick up my run :) When I noticed it had been a few hours since I last saw someone else on the course, I realized how lonely I felt. I just wanted to talk to someone! I never carry my iPod during a trail race, so I didn’t have that to distract me either. I wasn’t prepared for this so I didn’t really know what to do or how to get past this slump, so it stuck with me until I crossed the finish line. That’s quite a weight to carry with you during a long race, oy!

It was tough getting into a rhythm, but I managed to find something to look forward to a couple times each loop…the Valley Farm Road AS!! The group of volunteers manning this station was far-and-away the best I’ve ever witnessed. They had a country western theme and were so attentive and cheery the entire day, even through the rain. Loved them. I got a ton of compliments on my pearls and that made me smile each time someone exclaimed, “It’s Pearls!!” So there were definite rays of sunshine throughout the day :)

So, throughout the day, I managed to avoid looking at my GPS too much so I had no real idea what my pacing was or when I might finish. I felt good physically, actually I felt really good physically. My shins and knees were happy, and I ran with my Zensahs on the entire race. My stomach cooperated the entire time, and I never felt like I wanted to stop for a nap! I took an S!Cap once per hour on the hour, and three Clif Shot Bloks per hour on the half. I also drank 20oz. of water (with a Nuun tab dropped in every couple of hours, otherwise it was plain water) each hour. I ate a gummy bear and a window pane pretzel at each aid station (literally one of each!) and always swigged a cup of water while the volunteers filled my bottle. I had a sugar cookie at the final pass of the Valley Farm AS (it tasted like pure heaven!), a handful of trail mix x2, and a cup of defizzed Mountain Dew at the AS with the dudes in fatigues. Otherwise, I didn’t eat much of anything not in my Nathan vest.

I could feel a new sting on my left foot and knew it was another blister, but I ignored it and it eventually numbed. My right foot was behaving very nicely. Once the rain stopped, I wasn’t getting chilled anymore and the sun felt great on my arms. It was around mile 40/41 when I was heading down a steep descent that I somehow stepped out of the moment. And that’s when I hooked my right foot on a root sticking up on the hill. I flew down so hard and fast on my stomach that my water bottle flew out of my hand and across the wide trail into the brush. I landed on my right arm which kept me from hitting my face, and I had enough momentum to somersault and land on my back. I just laid there stunned, and then began laughing uncontrollably. Now everything hurt! I think I bruised a rib, though, it’s pretty tender right now, but doesn’t bother me when I breathe so I’m not too worried about it. I was covered in dirt, pine needles and grass. I scraped up my right knee and have some nasty bruises on the outside of my right knee. Serious war wounds :) I even got dirt in my mouth somehow. Classy.

Oh wait, a few more pic's :)

Pearls and Atayne :)

It stopped raining!!! The sky really is BLUE!

I love these fences...

The rest of the miles were fairly uneventful. I met a very nice woman towards the end and we chatted a bit, then she shot up ahead of me. After leaving the Final Mile AS for the last time, and making the loop around the field towards the finish line I remembered that Jeremy and Becca were leaving early, and I had no idea where Mike was so I began to worry I was going to be alone and have now way to get anywhere since Mike had my keys, and thus my phone. But when I rounded the corner and headed into the straightaway to the finish line I saw Mike standing there shouting my name. I honestly was swallowing bursting into tears as I crossed the line. Holy crap, I was DONE! Ian congratulated me and a guy was handing me my cowbell and saying something that I couldn’t understand for some reason. My head was foggy and I had that soreness in my throat that you get when you hold back crying really hard. I didn’t want to get all googly moogly at the finish line! Seriously, I have never been so happy to see a familiar face. I didn’t realize how important it was to me to have that on this day. Thanks, Mike J I was so flustered and foggy that I hadn’t noticed my finishing time…10:17:53! Hot damn, a full three hours faster than my first 50-miler a month and a half ago! Of course, it took until the following day for that to sink in. I was just so damn glad to be done, and to have my snazzy cowbell, and that Mike was okay.
Allllll that said, I can't wait to get back to Pineland Farms next year! I learned a lot about myself, and I learned about some footcare. I know I need to get off that crutch of having someone with me for the rough spots. But, like Patty stressed in an e-mail to me afterwards, it was hard and it was challenging and I was mentally exhausted by the end but I made it through and I finished! I got through it, and now I feel like a whole drawer full of pearls, or a million bucks :) The post-race BBQ smelled amazing, but I wasn't hungry quite yet and I just wanted to sit in an ice bath. So after I saw Mike off to Vermont, and Hanes and I made some grub plans for Portland, I jumped in the car, got incredibly lost in the middle of nowhere somehow, then eventually made it back into P-town for that ice bath.
By the way, I heart Maine :)

A fabulous trail review of Acadia National Park is still to come...with TONS of sweet pic's :)

Crash, out.


Run Home Pam said...

Great report, Paige. Way to hang tough and go it alone! Sounds like you had an ultra-emotional day as well. Thanks for sharing all of the ups and downs. You're a brave chicka!

Michael said...

And the student becomes the master :) Way to run strong Crash - loved the race report and loved watching you finish. A truly deserved and well fought 50 mile finish. Rest up, soak it up, and send my some of your mojo when you find some free time.

See you soon...maybe

Jamie Crosby said...

Great job Paige (and great race report)...dang knocking 3 hours off your PR that's awesome!

Steve Pero said...

Great report.....good job!


David Ray said...

Woo-Hoo!!! Great one, Paige! The pics look super. 3 hours is amazing to drop from your last 50 miler. Congrats on hanging tough through the low spots. Well done.

Paige said...

Thanks dudes, and dudette! Perhaps I should have named this one "Hangin' Tough" :) Hahaha, love it. And I like Student Becomes Master, as well. You all are the best, and thanks for reading!

Anonymous said...

Super run Paige! Slogging thru the mud for 50 miles is an ultra party, running 10:17 is an ultra run. I guess they can both be parties.
See you at the Kettle,
Gene Taylor

Paige said...

GREAT point there, Gene! I look forward to meeting you at Kettle :)

Jamie Anderson said...

Great job, Paige! So nice to meet you! You'll have to come back again next year. I'll see you at the VT100, I'm sure (I'm pacing).

Danni said...

Looks like a gorgeous race and I too love Portland. I need to see much more of Maine. Congrats!

Torey said...

Great job out there, and a smokin' fast time! Some races are definitely more of a mental challenge...sounds like this was a good mix of both for ya. :-) You are one tough chick, even with the few tears that got out. I know how that feels. I justify it by saying we run with so much heart and emotion and sometimes it just comes right on out...especially when we're tired. Anyways, so much respect for you Paige! Congrats on another strong 50-miler.

Paige said...

Awww, thanks Torey, you're the best!

Blaine Moore said...

Great work, Paige!

I remember seeing the Atayne sign during my 2 laps in the 50k.

As for falling and flipping onto your back, nice work! If there's no blood then it didn't happen (scrapes count!)

Seriously, a 3 hour PR is awesome. You should be very proud of yourself!

Kelly Gaines said...

Wow, Paige, aka Crash aka Hill Puncher ;-) aka Tough Chick with Pearls! Congrats on your 50-mile finish in beautiful Maine -- great pics. That is a super fast time in spite of the challenges you went through! Yowsa!

I really enjoyed reading your report. You really gutted it out in spite of mouth-dirt-inducing fall (reminds me of the Orbit gum slogan -- dirty mouth? clean it up with orbit! hehe). It cracked me up when you said you burst out laughing -- I do that, too. I remember laughing uncontrollably while running down a steep hill at the Cross Country Challenge one year. BTW, this 8k run is in Gilberts, IL in December, you should add this one to your list!!! It is super fun, just don't listen to what Ian says. ;-)

Again, congrats on a super awesome race finish, Paige!


mucklechumps said...

I'm sorry I didn't meet you, I ran the 50m too as a TrailMonster (bib#77). My wife and daughter hosted the Valley Farm Aid Station and LOVED your comments! Thanks for a fantastic race report and good luck with the rest of your season.

middle.professor said...

Paige - great to run into you on the Valley Farm loop! And that was a fun race report, I like your style. Congratulations on the Cow Bell and the PR. And I would have loved to cheer you on at the finish but I was at the Yurt helping my volunteers finish up - Jeff W.

Paige said...

Blaine, Kelly, James and Jeff...Thanks for reading you all!!

Anonymous said...

Well...first off, congrats on your PR! 3 hours between 1st and 2nd 50 milers? Must be the pearls. ;)

Secondly, it normal to cry *and* laugh during these things, even when it appears there's no reason. I've cried in the middle of many and it comes on suddenly. 'course you did just have an emotional encounter with Mike on the trail and you did say you internalize others' feelings, so...

During my Badwater crossing in 2007, I began crying quietly to myself after intestinal difficulties abated and I was able to run and feel good again. I was in a zombie state, too, and the crying rejuvenated me - truly a catharsis. Sounds like it was for you, too.

Hope your new inserts work out well and the shin splints resolve.

Best wishes & continued success,

Connie :)

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