Race Report – Vegan Power 25K

So I said I would write this blog… and I haven’t. Well, I’ve vowed to change that this summer and actually talk about where I’m at and where I’m going.  So my first real post in forever will be about last weekend’s race, the Vegan Power 25K.  I ran this race with my wife Rachel as the first leg of the 3 part BURCS Badass series and had a lot of fun!

raceThe race is run with 2 options, a 25K and 50K. The only difference is the number of loops you do (3 or 6) and the start time (7am for the 50k, 10am for the 25k).  I mention the start time only because it made it easier on Rachel and I to be able to drive up that morning from our home a couple of hours away rather than camp or get a hotel room.  So bravo for that!  This was the first race we ran since Boston in April and the first trail race since I tore up my ankle at StoneCat in 2013.  On the one hand I wasn’t terribly nervous about the distance at 15.5 miles, on the other trails still make me nervous because honestly my ankle is maybe 80% after surgery in 2014.

Another point I should make… I am not Vegan.  Rachel is and has been for 4 years.  I tried it for about a year and decided it wasn’t for me.  I make no judgements of anyone’s choices and I’m sure I was far from the only non-Vegan there.  The money raised all gets donated to worthy causes, and no one was looking to stone me as an outsider 🙂  I was told by my lovely wife I absolutely could not wear my “Give me all your bacon” shirt to the start line, which is fine I wouldn’t be that much of an asshole anyway… normally :).  I did line up with my TAUR orange tech shirt on which I really like the fit of.  No chafing issues at all.

The course itself this year started up the very steep paved road for something like .1 miles.  In other years I guess it has finished down that hill, but truthfully I prefer the immediate ascent.  On the other side once you turned off onto the trail it goes up a bit more then you get into some serious running space.  Well, I’m sure some of the runners were seriously running!  I was flailing like a madman and trying not to kill myself but it was a lot of fun going downhill.  You come out and cross the road at the bottom, then into the woods for what is probably the remaining 3/4 of the loop.

I say probably because I have no accurate measurements.  There are a TON of switchbacks and my Fenix 3 couldn’t remotely keep up.  Plus every time I tripped (more on that later) I kept accidentally pausing it and not noticing.  Midway through lap 2 I gave up and put it away.  I should have at least left it running as a timer but I was feeling kind of pissy about it :).  The one aid station on the loop to me felt like it was maybe 40% of the way in rather than say 50%.  Maybe it was mental but the second “half” beyond the aid station went by a lot slower.  Of course that’s also where I had to spend a fair bit of time walking the hills.

In terms of course marking it was VERY clearly taped on the side trails.  That’s a welcome relief, I run looking down too much and would have been lost without that.  There were also tons and tons of flags on the course.  My problem is that I am red/green color blind, and some of those red flags were invisible to me.  I was never in danger of getting lost it just made for a couple double takes to make sure I wasn’t steering myself the wrong direction.  I was probably the only person there affected by this 🙂

I went into the race knowing I had 5 hours to finish and not wanting to wreck myself.  That said I figured I would come in at 3:30 or so.  What I didn’t figure on were the roots.  Oh lord, the roots.  I fell twice on the first lap and 4 times on the second.  That doesn’t count the number of very close calls.  I lost a shoe at one point when it went flying in the air when I face planted and a nice fellow runner helped me track it down.  Another time I supermanned down a stretch of trail on my stomach and a fellow runner pointed out I had dropped my phone back in the pine needles 🙂  The final lap I managed to avoid actually hitting the ground, mostly because I walked a LOT more.

I was very fortunate in terms of injury… just a nasty bruised arm and some scraped knees. I can see how people could get hurt out there if not careful.  What astounds me is how FAST people ran that course!  The top 50k male ran it in 4:08.  For reference I ran HALF the distance in 3:47.  Holy hell.  Even if I could run that fast on pavement (I can’t… at all) doing that over those rocks and roots must mean you are half mountain goat.  Full respect for people who can do that.

On the third lap I caught up with my wife.  She had been experiencing some knee pain and was walking a lot.  It’s worth noting her walk was still almost as fast as my run.  So I spent the last 2.5 miles or so walking with her to the finish.  Could I have made my 3:30 goal if I had run?  Maybe… but I probably would have fallen more, so who knows.  I didn’t mind at all.  Looking back, the last comparable race I ran was Soapstone in 2013.  It’s 1k shorter and I finished very close to the same time.  Soapstone was an easier course to run (aside from the crazy assault hill up to the tower) so I wasn’t too disappointed.

So let’s talk food… I’ve been terrible on my NSNG diet lately.  My weight has held fairly steady but I have to get back on that horse.  I had a good breakfast before we left the house (bacon and eggs, sorry Vegans) and carried some UCAN and new gels I wanted to try.  Truth is I ended up eating like 8 Oreos, 10 orange slices, and that was it.  I drank a ton of water and did have some S-Caps but I think they upset my stomach.  Seems like it always happens 🙁  I have to figure that out ahead of my 8 hour later this fall.  One note, they did run out of potatoes at the aid station before I made it around the second time.  I suggest more potatoes!!!

After the race there was a ton of good food but I was feeling queasy and truthfully didn’t really partake.  We packed it up and headed home to Connecticut.  My calf muscles are completely thrashed, whether from the walking or tripping or hills or dehydration I’m not sure.  But man are they painful!  Next up is the Sweltering Summer 8 hour where I am looking to finally break 50k, and then the Free to Run Half.  Yes, I am getting a Badass buckle!

Will I do the VP25 again?  That’s really, really hard to say.  Not because I don’t like the people (I did!) or because I didn’t have fun (I mostly did) but because there are SO MANY races in this area and with the kids we have to pick our races carefully.  I hope to go back, and I hope to run the full 50k next time out.  I think I’ll make it.  And maybe next time I’ll eat more!

Gear Used:
Garmin Fenix 3 (useless)
Ultimate Direction SJ3.0 vest (love this vest)
TAUR orange tech shirt
Under Armor compression underwear
Trail toes spread liberally everywhere… and I mean EVERYWHERE to prevent chafing

Normal breakfast
8 Oreos (bad me)
10 orange slices (bad me)