Sunday, April 8, 2012

2012 Terrapin Mt 50k Race Report

Race number two in the LUS is the Terrapin Mountain 50k, this race is nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains down in Virginia.  This was the only race in LUS that I didn't run last season, so I read numerous blogs to try to gain an understanding of the terrain and elevation.  I knew this race was going to have some nice elevation gain throughout the race, but what I under estimated was the amount unrunable terrain there was on the course.

Emily and I arrived at 5:30pm at the Sedalia Center and quickly setup our tent in the grassy field that surrounds the center.  After we set everything up we went to the pavilion and got our race numbers and a few slices of pizza, which was cooked by a mobile Domino's pizza trailer all while a Bluegrass band was playing.  We decided to retire early so we could get a good nights sleep.  It turns out I though I packed everything we needed but I forgot the sleeping bags.  Doh!!  We were lucky that the temperature only fell into the low fifties.  Our alarm went off at 5:45am and we began getting our gear ready for the 7am start.  Emily and I agreed that we would each run our own race as we had separate race goals, I was shooting for 6:50 and Emily was going to run based on how she felt.  We ran Holiday Lake 50k together and truth be told I could have gone a bit quicker as Emily was still in her base training phase and struggled in the later miles.  Right before we went to the starting line we bumped into our bunk mates from Holiday Lake David & Joanna, we traded some race stories and I am sure we will see them again at Promise Land 50k in April.
All smiles before the start
The forecast was calling for temperatures in the low 70's for a high with scattered showers all day long.  When the gong went off to start the race there was a steady rain but the temperature was manageable (somewhere is the mid 50's).  The course started with a nice half mile warm up on a paved road before it turned off onto a jeep road and this is where the climbing began.  This was the first of three major climbs on the course.  Emily and I started the climb together but quickly my right hip began to hurt, I couldn't push off with my right leg and it was causing me to lip.  I couldn't believe this, not two miles into the race and I was in serious trouble, people were passing me left and right.  Emily went ahead of me and I ascended the first climb which was approximately 3.5  miles long and had approximately 1800' of clime.  I finally reached the Camping Gap aid station (first of three stops through this aid station) in 1:06.

steam crossing before Camping Gap AS
After blowing through the Camping Gap aid station I knew there was some nice down hill running for the next few miles and I was hoping my hip was now loosened up and I could make up for some lost ground, but it was not to be.  I had to stop five to eight times along the side of the jeep road and stretched my hip, but it wasn't getting any better.  I made decent time coming into the Hunting Creek aid station in 1:24.  I filled up my hydration backpack and was off.

My nutrition game plan was to take in 200 per hour, in which I would switch between EFS shots & Vitargo every thirty minutes and taking one S!Cap every hour.  I have recently been experimenting during my training runs with Vitargo and found that this product, which moves through your GI track very quickly and reduces bloating, helps me increase my caloric intake without having to eat fifteen to twenty GUs throughout a race.  I mixed six scoops of Vitargo into a twenty ounce bottle, which came out to 840 calories, and carried my two EFS shots (each have 400 calories). 

More downhill running ensued until I came into the Goff Mt Road aid station, there a volunteer came up to me and asked if I was alright as I was limping into the aid station.  After Goff Mt Road aid station I started the second climb of the day, probably the easiest, making my way up to the Hunting Creek aid station (for the second time).  During this section I started to feel better and my legs were getting stronger as the miles passed, but it was short lived as I left the aid station and began to hardest climb of the day, my hip pain became worse.  I knew then that I would just have to grind out this race.

The climb up to Camping Gap aid station (for the second time) was not particularly difficult, it was a nice jeep road and I could get great traction, but I still couldn't push off very well with my right leg.  In this section I implemented a run/walk strategy but I wasn't making very quick progress and I came into the Camping Gap aid station in 3:55.

Next I made my way through the WOR (White Orchard Ridge) loop which was this cool jeep road that turned into a nice double track trail that lead to the top of the ridge, this is where I punched my first orienteering punch (to make sure everyone made the trek all the way to the top).  Then it was back down to the Camping Gap aid station for the third and final time.
Climb up to Terrapin Mt
After exiting Camping Gap aid station was a nice climb up to Terrapin Mt, which was by far the toughest section of the course, where many people's race falls apart.  This was a 590' climb in .8 of a mile, it was brutal but well worth it when I punched two orienteering punches at the peak and Fat Man's Misery and was treated to some spectacular views!  After I made my way through Fat Man's Misery I was plunged down the Terrapin Mt into the "rock garden" section of the race.  It was difficult to make good time on this section as the descents were steep and the trail was especially muddy.
Terrapin Mt.
Fat Man's Misery
As I came to the final aid station, Terrapin Mt Road aid station, the clouds started to clear out and the sun made it's first presence of the day.  I took my time at the aid station and filled my Nathan hydration backpack and drank a few Mountain Dews.  My spirits weren't too high at this point, because of my poor performance, but the volunteers were joking with me and made me realize that I should be counting the things I do have instead of harping about what I didn't have.  As I made my way through this last section I began to reflect on the race and also the looming post race razzing I would get from Emily.  I guess I was just disappointed that I didn't do better, but ultras will keep you humble.  My day finally came to an end as I crossed the finish line in 7:57.   Congrats to Emily for "wifing" (instead of chicking) me at the race, but she better watch her back because I am going to go all out at Promise Land.

Thanks to Clark Zealand and all the wonderful volunteers that makes this race a must do!!!


My Gear: 
Shoes:  Montrail Sabino
Socks: DryMax 
Hydration: Nathan 1.5 Liter Backpack and Amphipod handheld 
Nutrition: S!Caps, EFS shot, Vitargo
Shorts: Zensah compressions shorts 
Shirt:  Tech T-shirt, UA Heat Gear long sleeve shirt, and light rain jacket 
Gaiters: Dirty Girl Gaiters  
Watch:  Garmin GPS 310xt 

Extra Pictures from the race

See ya on the trails,


  1. Glad I found this! The elevation profile was helpful. Looking forward to running with you on Saturday!

  2. Good to hear it was helpful. This race is going to be fun for sure, we can talk about the course and all the fun details over some prerace beers on Friday night. Cheers!!