Monday, February 15, 2010

TARC Run - Take Two

After falling on the ice last Sunday I didn’t do much running during the week. Two short runs during my lunch hour and that was it. I hoped to salvage the week by getting in a long run with the Trail Animals on Sunday. On my way to pick up Kevin he called to tell me he tweaked his back.  Snow and ice covered trails of Blue Hills is not the place to be when you are nursing an aching back. He needed a little convincing to stay home. Kevin made the right call and decided to do a road run in the city instead.

I arrived at the base of Great Blue Hill early and thought about getting in a climb before Bob and Steve showed up. I wisely waited in my truck with the heat running. I would be getting abused by the hill soon enough. Why push my luck. Bob and Steve rolled into the parking lot at the same time and prepared ourselves for the task at hand.

View of Houghton's Pond from Great Blue Hill.

This is a tough hill to run and it’s even tougher without first doing a warm-up. Bob said, “The first one is the warm-up!” so off we went. I noticed right away I wasn’t feeling as good as I did last time I ran this workout. When I mentioned I was hurting to Bob and Steve they both said it was because we were running much faster than last time. That made me feel much better, NOT! On the second repeat I could feel my stomach churning and about ¾th up the hill I had to pull over to the side of the road to hurl. I guess the effort was harder than I thought. Or maybe it was too much lobster and shrimp the night before.

I was happy with two sets but Bob said we had time for a third. Oh, goody! We ran about 1/4th of the hill and power-hiked the rest of the way. It’s a skill you need to hone if you run ultras. Total miles for the repeats were just over five. We jumped in our cars and drove over to the Houghton’s Pond area to meet up with the rest of the group. There was a good sized group waiting in the parking lot. Not as many as my last TARC run but still 11 total animals turned out. The plan was to run another 20 miles on some of the easier trails in Blue Hills. We were staying off the Skyline trail since it would be too dangerous with all the snow and ice on the ground.

Why are we climbing snow and ice covered rocks?  Because we are animals.

Our fearless leader of the pack.

Trail Animals on the hunt for fresh trails.

There was about 1-2 inches of soft snow on the ground but not too much ice. I had my screw shoes and they gave me good traction most of the time. There was still some slipping and sliding around but not enough to make it annoying, and tiring. I was feeling sluggish for the first hour which is normal for me. After the first hour passed I started to get into a rhythm and was feeling pretty good. About seven miles into the run, and after we ran through a frozen swamp, Norm stopped to take a pee. Chris said he would wait up for Norm if Steve and I wanted to continue with the group. We said we would wait too. While we waited for Norm the three of us also decided this would be a good time to take a pee break. While we were taking care of business Norm sprinted past us so he could catch up with the rest of the animals. Thanks for waiting Norm!

The Trail Animals have a saying for these group runs and it goes like this. “No animal with be left behind.” I guess that doesn’t apply to three guys taking a pee because by the time we were finished there wasn’t a trail animal in sight. Chris said he knew the way so I wasn’t worried about getting lost. Unknown to us, Bob decided to change up the route along the way and we never caught up to them again.

Before the pack left me in the dust.

About 8 miles into the run Steve said he was really hurting and wanted to turn back. Steve ran the Frozen Fat Ass last weekend on the Cape. He ran 34 miles in soft beach sand with a 30 mile an hour head winds and wind chills below zero. Then he did a 15 mile trail run on Saturday. On Sunday, he got up at 3am to lift weights before coming out to run the hill repeats with me and Bob. And now he said he’s tired. What a sissy! Maybe Steve is human after all.

Knowing Steve’s uncanny ability for getting lost I decided to head back with him as Chris continued on to chase down the group. Steve had a trail map with him so we managed to work out a short cut back to the cars. That is after I took the map away from Steve. I’m not sure why he carries one with him as he clearly has no idea how to read one. At least he had the good sense to bring it with him. I did not. Our route back was about four miles long so we ended up with 12 miles for the run.

I would have liked to have gotten in the full 20 but looking back it was probably best that I turned back when I did. I ran out of water early on and it would have been a struggle to go the whole way without hydration. I filled up my empty water bottle with snow and stuck it inside my shirt. I thought my body heat would melt the snow and I would have some fresh cold water to drink. It may have worked if I was out there longer but I got nothing but a cold stomach for my effort. Overall it was still a good day. Five miles of hills and 12 miles on snow covered trails.

11 photos from Sunday's TARC run added here.

Rest up Steve….


  1. NOW this is one nasty hill. Only animals would dare run it. :)
    I will stop complaining about my tiny hill now.
    Cool pics.

  2. You nearly made me snarf. I don't know why I carry a map either, although I did print it out nicely on waterproof paper and then highlight all of the trails in a pretty array of colors. After that, it is of no use to me whatever.

  3. Oh, and BTW, after an hour drive with the heat blasting in my car, I arrived home with two water bottle still full of snow. The survivalist who told you that little trick must live in Hawaii or something.

  4. "Why are we climbing snow and ice covered rocks? Because we are animals."

    LOL Dan!!! Sounds like a good run despite your lack of water. Glad your wrist is doing better.

  5. Ewa, it is a nasty hill but it's good for me, or so I'm told.

    Steve, I agree. He probably relies on his camera crew to save his sorry ass when he's out in the wild.

    Kim, it is feeling much better. Thanks!


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