I took a risk this weekend and raced knowing that my IT band was still in healing mode. I had to because Terrapin Mountain 50k is the 2nd race in the Beast Series and, aside from finishing MMT, finishing the Beast Series is one of my goals for this year. With plenty of visits to the PT and equal amounts of time spent stretching and foam-rolling at home, healing has steadily moved along and two days prior to the race I was able to get in an 8-miler with little to no pain.
This was the inaugural 50k at Terrapin. Last year they ran a marathon, but in actuality the mileage was a bit higher than 26.2, so instead of shortening it to be legit, Clark Zealand (the RD) did what any decent ultrarunner would do and he added an extra mile or three to make a nice challenging 50k.
Rain was forecasted for all of Saturday. As I slept in my tent the night before the race, I was constantly awoken by loud surges in the rain’s intensity – never a good sign. By some amazing turn of events, mother nature called it quits just before daybreak and we were graced with a dry start. I snuck in to the middle of the pack, hoping it would trick me into running a conservative race, but as we made our way out of the lodge and into the mountains I slowly found myself passing a good number of people. I was somewhat expecting to be passing folks though. Coach Mike had formulated an ITB-friendly gameplan for me: run the uphills and walk the downs. So I did, passing everyone who sticks to the normal ultra routine of walking the uphills. It was actually quite entertaining because going up I would pass the same 10 or so people and then on the downs they would all pass me. We yo-yo’d back and forth all day long, and eventually, to qualm the “this idiot doesn’t know how to run an ultra” thoughts that were most definitely running through their heads, I would explain that I in fact had a method to my madness.
The course itself was challenging yet fun. Plenty of climbing, roughly 8k feet of it, and despite all the rain from the night before, there wasn’t nearly as much mud as anyone had thought. Contrary to what the attached pictures show, most of the day had us running through jeep roads or single track. There was even a section towards the end that was MMT-esque with jagged rocks that made for impossible fotting. The final ascent up Terrapin Mountain was steep and gnarly as well, and to prove we were there we had to punch our bibs with two different orienteering punches that awaited us at the top.
The course was well marked and, being a first-timer on these trails, it took me onto portions of the Promise Land 50k and Hellgate 100k courses, both races in the Beast Series that I will be running this year. I don’t remember much of the specifics from the course, probably because I was concentrating so hard all day on my ITB to make sure it wasn’t hurting, but it definitely felt great to be out there running in the mountains, and it especially felt good to be running pain free. On some of the downhill sections, the gradient was so steep that I couldn’t help but move at a not-quite-walking, aka running, pace. When I would do this, my ITB would quickly chime in with a hint of pain as if to say “No no, remember what Coach Mike told you!” I quickly got the picture and went back to shuffling downhill, repeating to myself my mantra for the day: “It feels good. Don’t f@#k it up.”
Speaking of f@#cking it up, I somehow managed to drain my GPS battery before the race and I also forgot my camera battery sitting on the charger at home, so if you were wondering where my usual array of pictures, maps, and elevation profiles are at… sorry boss, not this time. (By the way, all pics courtesy of eco-X Sports).
I finished in 5:41:43, 27th place out of 148 starters. Not too shabby for just trying to complete the dang thing under the cutoffs to stay in the Series. All in all, I’d have to say that Clark and the rest of the eco-X crew put on an extremely well organized race with great schwag and cool logos (who doesn’t love cool logos?!). I am definitely looking forward to running more out on these trails and running more eco-X events in the coming future.
And now that I’ve got my legs back, it’s time to make up for that month of lost training!