Sunday, September 20, 2009

Tails for Trails Ultramarathon 40 miler: Race Report

Gilligan at the start meeting a fellow dog. That dog (a Husky) did actually run one lap for an 8 mile run (as part of a relay team). Gilligan on the other hand did not.
Gilligan trying to be a part of the race by running just a few meters. Gilligan bailed after about 10 seconds after this picture was taken. I am shocked he did not try to get in my finishers picture although he was at that time tied up with a table, thus unable to act like he ran the full 40 miles.

At the beginning of the race a bunch of runners along the shoreline. This was within the first mile of the race start and was a very pretty section of the race.

Here I am at the lake during my second lap. This run along the shoreline was my favorite section because it was very picturesque and it was a pretty easy trail running surface. Sadly during the second portion of each lap of the race, the trail was more rustic.

Tristan and Gilligan met me at the second lake which we ran around in the second part of the loop. You can see here that the trail is a bit challenging with rocks, roots and in various sections was pretty steep. Although ahead of me for this picture, Gilligan quickly fell behind even though during this picture I was at mile ~30. And then he took a refreshing dip in the water taunting me with his lack of focus on running the race but rather on having a good time!
It was nice to see Tristan and Gilligan on the course and I like that because there were 5 loops I did get to see them several times.

Yesterday I ran the Tails for Trails 40 miler. I had a GREAT time! I signed up for this race in late April/early May when it opened. As per the race directors Kev and Fay (Fay who I ran with at the Bob Potts Marathon), I was the first person to sign up this year. Unfortunately my ability to sign up fast is not at all correlated with my ability to run as I came in last place in a time of 11 hours and a few minutes.

However, I am very proud of the fact that I placed in the top 3 women out of 7 women starters, so relatively speaking I was not exactly last place.

The race was super well run, lots of fun and had lots of energy. It was obvious that it was a race directed and organized by seasoned ultra runners with well stocked aid stations, lots of supportive volunteers and a pretty cute course. Sadly the course (as advertised) was predominantly on trails, thus it was a trail race. I am not good at trail running at all hence my abysmal performance. I would like to state the first I lap I got lost (with others) 3 times and the second lap I decided to blaze my own trail a few times (some repeat mistakes some new).

While the terrain for this race was a bit challenging (harder than Rocky Raccoon 50 but easier then the JFK50 miler Appalachian Trail section), it is definitely manageable. I just truly am a trail running sissy!!

The course 5 laps of 8 miles. It was shaped kind of like a figure 8 with a bit on a road that was an out and back connecting the two loops. The second loop around a lake I was really looking forward to. Sadly things on paper are not always reflective of what to expect. The second lake was a doozy with several steep sections, rickety bridges, one guardrail you had to climb over and several downed trees to climb over. The piece de resistance in my mind was the hill ending with a cemetary!!!! Although on one of my laps that is not where I suggested they should start looking for me, but they should in fact look for me at the massive down tree which on several occasions I considered lying in front of and refusing to go (a move I learned from the best: Gilligan). Alas I kept going knowing I had a top 5 place within the first 3 laps (because of race attrition not because I am any good). The top 3 placement was icing on the cake (still caused by attrition).

Tristan & Gilligan came with me to the race and for 2 laps Tristan paced me (sort of--it took him about 1 mile to catch up to me out of the main aid station start/finish because he too got lost). In the mid-afternoon, Gilligan and Tristan also met up with me at "Hideous Lake" as I started calling it (that and "the cursed lake"--I alternated between the two comments because over the 5 laps it became the bane of my existance). The weather was perfect for them to enjoy the race, the state park it was held in the and really nice late summer/early fall day.

Overall, I had a GREAT time at this race and do look forward to coming back again next year to run it. I think the fact that the race is raising money and awareness for a Pennsylvania no kill shelter is just an added bonus.


Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

Congrats on placing third among skirts, sister! And also just for finishing!

I ran a race in Princeton last December, the course for which included an old-timey cemetery with about 15 graves; all of the headstones were really old. It was only a 5 k race (on grass), but I had to pass that damn thing like twice and each time I wanted to lie down and join the dead.

Nothing like a cemetery to suck the running ambition right out of you.

Jamie Donaldson said...

Congrats Tammy, Tristan,and Gilligan! Looked like a fun time!

Runner Tammy said...


Thanks! My cemetery (like yours) was the old time variety. There was one clearly new grave marker for a whole family, but there were also the old etched stones on the ground (fallen due to gravity, kids or ghosts was a question I pondered for several scary miles).


This race was great fun. And the course was so beautiful. Maybe next year you should consider it and run it with Morrison. I know he could definitely make a full lap!


joyRuN said...

A tri AND an ultra in the past week - NICE! Congrats on both :)

Trail runs are tough enough as it is, to do a FORTY mile trail run is hard-core. Great job!!

Runner Tammy said...


Thanks! On a postive note, my tri was a sprint distance so it should have been relatively easy. Alas because I am so bad at swimming and biking it was pretty hard :-(

Maybe next year I should train a bit harder (or else I hear a wetsuit would make the swimming alot easier, which sounds good to me:-)

And this tri/40 miler combo should help in my preparation for the Richmond Marathon(and all the events leading up to it).


Doug said...

Hi Tammy, I saw your dog on the course at T4T (and your husband) but didn't know it at the time. Thats nice to have your family out there while you are running. Nice race. Here is my blog on it See you out on the trails, Doug