G.A.C. Mother’s Day 6 Hour
May 12th, 2013
Bradley Palmer State Park
Coming out of the Zion 100, I had no idea what to expect in terms of recovery. 100 milers can be brutal on one’s body, and after Vermont last year I was forced to take almost an entire month off running due to an Achilles injury sustained during the race. Although I felt surprisingly good this time around, I was absolutely not willing to take chances and made a point to ease back into running as gradually as I could. Of course, that’s far easier said than done for a girl like me… but miraculously, the stars were seemingly aligned in my favor, as I was able to resume training much faster than anticipated.
Spring in the New Hampshire mountains is always a difficult time of year – weather is unstable, water crossings run high, and one must prance (flounder) along a “monorail” of rotten snow as the trails at higher elevation slowly melt out.
Therefore, I typically use this season of transition as a way to build up my base mileage on moderate terrain. Feeling positively sprightly after a beautiful (albeit humid) training run on a western NH stretch of the Appalachian Trail, I mentioned to Rob that it might be fun to enter the G.A.C. Mother’s Day 6 Hour. Benefiting the Breast Health Center at Beverly Hospital in Danvers, MA, I’d heard nothing but wonderful things about the event and was eager to give it a shot.
Of course, “timed” ultras are quite a bit different from the races I usually choose to enter. The prospect of running the same 3 mile loop over and over again for 6 hours straight was a tough thought to bear! Nonetheless, something about the mental challenge really appealed to me. I figured it would be a perfect way to test my perseverance, while at the same time supporting a wonderful cause.
The morning of the event, I prepared a small drop bag consisting of gel, PocketFuel, NUUN, and a few salt tabs. I had hoped to run the event with a race vest (as I like to limit my breaks at aid stations when at all possible), but after having some work done on my ribs I decided it would be prudent to use a handheld water bottle instead. Going into the race, my only goal was to keep myself running for the entire 6 hours.
Rob and I arrived at Bradley Palmer State Park with a good 20 minutes to spare. After some strategic pinning of my heart rate monitor, we ventured over to the start line and spent some time catching up with friends. Even though it was rainy and humid, I was excited to see so many people out to run the race.
The first loop was fast and smooth. Scenic, rolling, and pleasant underfoot, the course had just enough variation in terrain to keep things interesting. My very speedy friends Anthony and Amy were kind enough to let me join them, and we had a blast chit chatting about upcoming races and mountain adventures. Passing through the primary aid station at around the 23 minute mark, I stopped briefly to take in some gel and assess my water. I seemed to have enough to get me through the next 3 miles, so I didn’t linger.
About a mile into the second loop something felt amiss. I don’t often suffer from stomach issues during races of 50 miles or less, but for some reason my belly was in a bit of a funk. I slowed down a little to see if it would help, but it seemed to make things even worse. Chalking it up to the humidity (okay, and perhaps and the fact that I’d been excessively indulgent the night prior), I trudged along and tried to keep my mind on other things. Other than that evil stomach of mine, my legs felt solid and I was running decently enough. As tough as it was, I made sure to keep taking small sips of gel each time I reached my drop bag to keep myself from burning out entirely.
Nonetheless, after 2.5 hours or so I was in rough shape. I was pretty adamant about keeping at it for the full 6 hours, even if it meant walking things out. Gel was becoming somewhat nauseating, so I opted to switch over to PocketFuel for the tail end of the race. I figured that by consuming a higher calorie food source, I could reduce the frequency of my fueling and save my stomach some despair.
Amazingly, it seemed to help.
My stomach settled down quickly, and I was able to fall into a zone as the loops ticked on by. The clouds and rain soon gave way to brilliant sunny skies, which helped keep me positive and pushing forward. I had no idea how many people were ahead of me in the race, but I knew I had not yet been lapped by anyone which must have been a good sign?
Heading back from my 10th loop, I bumped into Amy who was venturing out for her 11th, and she informed me that I was in third! I crossed paths with her again during my 12th loop, which I wrapped up with about 33 minutes until the 6 hour cut off. 39 miles had a nice ring to it, so I opted to head out for one final lap. With a little less than a mile to go, I saw Amy one more time and was amazed to hear that I was in second. She and I were going to take the two top places!
I arrived back at the finish in 5:55:33, and stayed to cheer Rob on as he wrapped up 36 miles with less than 30 seconds to spare. Other than a pair of stiff glutes (which always seem to act up on me when I’m running on moderate terrain), my body felt fantastic. All in all, it had been a tremendous day – and nothing beats going into a business trip with a good solid weekend of running under your belt. A huge thanks to all of the volunteers for putting on such a top notch event.
Some fun facts…
- Gels consumed – 3-4ish? (Honey Stinger / Vega Sport blend)
- PocketFuel consumed – 1 packet
- Water consumed – lots and lots (NUUN)
- Protein consumed post-race – 2 packets SFH Recovery
- Calories burned – 3,097
- Average HR – 146
- Max HR – 165
- Amphipod 20oz Hydraform Handheld Pocket
- Polar FT4 heart rate monitor
- Flag nor Fail “Hold Strong” top
- Pearl Izumi Infinity Run skirt
- Hoka Bondi Bs
- Darn Tough socks
- Dirty Girl gaiters (fabulous pink camo)
- Headsweats race hat
- Ryders Nitrous sunglasses
A Note on Gel
- In retrospect, I think my stomach issues were caused by consuming bad gel. I typically open up individual gel packets and mix them in 8oz flasks, and the ones that I brought with me to G.A.C. had been baking in the Utah sun without refrigeration during the Zion 100. Lesson learned.
With every day that passes I find myself increasingly excited for the mountain running season to begin. I feel so very lucky to have my health, my strength, and the best set of friends a girl could ask for. Here’s to a summer filled with adventures, races, and hopefully a bit of travel!