2010 Seven Sisters-A Tale of Two Races

The 2010 7 Sisters Trail Race was cruel punishment. I blew up on the return leg of this 12 mile out and back epic. My performance was nothing like my stellar 2009 result and much more like the previous times that I have run the insanely rugged Metacomet-Monadnock Trail across the Holyoke Range. I’m known for cracking on this course. I didn’t know what to expect when Debbie and I arrived at Mt. Holyoke State Park this morning. I have been training hard in the past several weeks and I rode and swam yesterday. I was also out late at the Connecticut Forum. I was also wearing ankle braces for the first time in a trail race, in an effort to minimize injury. While testing them on an evening trail run earlier in the week, I wiped out and banged up my left knee. My right ankle in particular has really been bothering me since last fall. It is shot anyway, but no reason to make it worse, hence the braces.

It turns out that the temperature played a major role in my race result and it affected all of the other runners too. When the mercury went above 85 degrees Fahrenheit today, Β I was cooked. The heat and humidity were a shock to the system. This was the hottest Seven Sisters that I can recall. The trail was bone dry and very dusty. I had a great six-mile run. The problem is that the race is 12 miles. I cracked hard after climbing back to the Summit House around mile seven and a half. I was hanging tough with Gary Harrington, who I led on the descent to the turnaround aid station, but who had gotten in front of me again and was pushing the climb up from the Connecticut River. Brett Stoeffler and Peter Keeney were on my heels. I know I can run with these guys, having proven it in several races last year, but apparently, today was a different story.

I had hit the turnaround in 1:01:42, which is really good, but I fell apart in the last four miles and my second half split was 1:19:18 for a total of 2:21:00. It seemed like 25 people passed me in the last four miles. I won’t know until the results are published. I ran more than 13 minutes slower than last year and I should be in better shape. I was a bit concerned after the finish because I have a big objective in 28 days. I got a lot of support from Debbie, who had an awesome race. She reminded me that I’ve been training through these events, I haven’t gotten good sleep, and it was really hot. I traditionally don’t do well in warm and humid weather, especially when it is the first time in those conditions in a young season. Still, it was a mental blow to bonk so badly. No excuses-I just suffered today.

At the finish, I sat on a pickup truck tailgate for 15 minutes, downing one bottle of water after another. I was zoned out and overheated. I drank five bottles of cold water while sitting there, and poured two more over my head and body. I was really dehydrated. I must have sweated much more than expected because during the race, I drank a bottle of Vega Sport on the first leg and a bottle of water on the second. Clearly, I didn’t drink enough. Also during the race, I took some salt tablets, ate a Clif Shot, and a Raw Revolution Bar. I thought I was adequately fueled, but I’ll have to work on my strategy.

As I mentioned, Debbie was super. She was the second woman and I think she finished only one spot behind me. Given another mile, especially of downhill, she would have caught me. She was beat by a fit Abby Mahoney, who caught me on the final descent. I barely had the energy to cheer for her as she passed, but I muttered something like, “Nice run.” Debbie looked strong when she finished, which bodes well for her first major objective, the Nipmuck Trail Marathon, in four weeks. I’ll add a link when the results are posted online. The top men also looked strong when I saw them before the turnaround. They were flying. The heat didn’t seem to bother them.

We saw so many friends at today’s race. It was fabulous to chat with the whole gang. What a list: Team Horst Sports mates Art Roti and Thom Reid punished themselves too, with debuts and first ever finishes at Sisters. Ben Moore, Kerri Moore, and Ernie Lawas (who also caught me during my horrible final miles) also had great rookie runs. Fellow teammates Cheryl Jackson and Randall Dutton finished strongly. We saw many other folks from the Grand Tree circuit. It was a great turnout. With the heat, everyone enjoyed lounging after the race. Our son had a blast playing in the dirt with friends. My mother-in-law was a superstar once again, watching our kids so that we could both run. Despite the exhaustion, it was a fine day on the trails.

A local crew captured some good photos and video.

After the race, I didn’t ride my bicycle as far as planned, but I managed to saddle up and ride to Amherst on the road. Between today’s drive and ride, I saw all of the Five Colleges: Mt. Holyoke, Hampshire, Amherst, UMASS, and Smith. After cruising through the Amherst and UMASS campuses, I pedaled the beautiful Norwottuck Rail Trail over to Northampton. It was a good 16 mile spin to loosen the legs and enjoy more of the spring heat. It seemed as if everyone was outside today. Debbie was kind enough to pick me up a large rice/bean/potato burrito at La Veracruzana in NoHo. It was a treat for her to drive home and for me to be in the passenger seat.

I have seven to 10 days more days of hard efforts left, and then I’m tapering for the big one.

7 Sisters Race Results

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@trailrunningmom led another successful #Yoga at #Sunset for the #boltonlandtrust This year's venue was the #BoltonHeritageFarm It's been a tradition to move to a new spot each time. I got my first #cyclocross ride of the year in too! #yogini #yogi #shavasana Sightseeing on my second favorite road in #Connecticut #grassyhill #cycling #bicycle #sevencycles #horstengineering Camp was swell! @thecubscouts @boyscoutsofamerica #cubscouts #boyscouts #junenorcrosswebster I visited the new HQ of the @appalachianmountainclub that is under construction at 10 City Square in #Charlestown I had to ride by the #BunkerHill Monument at the end of the #FreedomTrail #Boston #sevencycles First time at the People's Forest Trail Race since 2011. This first image is the look of a dejected man who lost 25 minutes with a wrong turn on a big descent. That's costly in an 11 kilometer race. Even worse is that @trailrunningmom is the one who led him (and two other runners) off course! They survived. It was a nice day on the #FarmingtonRiver. #trailrunning #teamhorstsports #shenipsitstriders πŸƒπŸ»β›°πŸ† Another great #sunset at #windingtrails Two distant pre-swim thunderclaps turned the race into a #Duathlon which suited me just fine! It's nice to not come into T1 with a two minute deficit. #Triathlon #mountainbiking #trailrunning #teamhorstsports Once again, @trailrunningmom took the cookie prize for winning the special summit competition at the finish line of the #shenipsitstriders #SoapstoneAssault Here is a picture of a picture of myself taking a picture. @cwoodside59 put together a nice piece for the @ctforestandparkassociation quarterly. I'm looking forward to my next #carfreecommute #selfie #bicycle #windingtrails Kid's #Triathlon

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