Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Guest Blog: Nate Sanel on Pineland Farms

Hey Everyone...

If you are looking for my Massanutten Mountain Trail Report, you can find it by clicking HERE or simply by scrolling down.

I'm off to go camping and hiking with Sarah for the Memorial Day Weekend up in Crawford Notch, NH. Hope to get some amazing pictures and bag a few more peaks on a list I am working on. In 2005, 06 and 07 I enjoyed running races on Memorial Day Weekend. Unforturnately this year I will be recovering from MMT100 and getting ready for Pittsfield Peaks.

Regardless of what I am doing, I want to wish Paul Kearney well on his running of the Vermont City Marathon (VCM) in Burlington, VT this weekend. I ran the race in 2005 and 2006 and my 2006 time of 3:40 in 90 degree heat stood as my marathon PR for almost 2 years. Paul is hoping to run a sub 3:30 marathon there and we wish him well. Paul was in the top 10 at the Wapack 50 Miler 2 weeks ago, and he paced me 48 Miles at MMT this past weekend. GOOD LUCK PAUL!

The other race in New England that bears watching is the Pineland Farms 50K and new 50 Miler. Good luck all of those folks from who are making the trip! Also, good luck to Jim Konopack from NJ (50M), Adam Wilcox from NH (50K) and his wife Miriam (25K). I wish I could make the trip over but gas is too expensive. I want to especially wish Nathan Sanel well on his continued progress in training for this years VT100. Nate will be at Pineland Farms running the 50K where he hopes to break 5 hours. I asked Nate to be a guest blogger and talk to us all about this weekends race.. so without further adieu.. (I'll see you all after Memorial Day Weekend!)

(Nate Sanel)
Since John is recovering from his MMT adventure and because he won’t be running it this year, he has asked me to write a guest blog entry on the upcoming race at Pinland Farms in Maine. I entered this race last year (50k, there was no 50 mile option) as my first off-road ultra. Four months earlier I had run my first ultra, a Fat-Ass 50k. That race was all roads and had little elevation gain. I finished in 4:56. In training for Pineland I ran lots of hills, but still mostly pavement. I learned a hard lesson (more on this later) regarding the old advice of training on the same type of terrain that your race is on.

I came into the race feeling confident, even cocky, about beating the 5-hour barrier again. I felt that I had trained much harder than I did for the pavement race and that my extra conditioning would more than compensate for the fact that Pineland is off-road. I was wrong. I did a bunch of research on the area, but the inaugural race was the year before and there wasn’t a ton of information or race reports about it. From what I could tell, it wasn’t technical and there were not any really serious hills. How hard could it be? I was cautioned a couple times by the locals that the race was harder that it looked on paper and make sure I was prepared, but I didn’t pay enough attention to it.

My strategy was simple. I was going to spend little or no time at the aid stations. I wore a hydration backpack and it was full of anything that I might need along the way. Looking back at it now, it was ridiculous!! I ran past all the aid stations for the first loop. I didn’t take any breaks at all. At the halfway point I filled up on my fluids and put a blister pad on my foot then took off. It only took about 2 more miles before I realized that I wasn’t in as good of shape as I thought. Pineland farms has almost no place to rest and is described appropriately as a “Roller Coaster”. The surface is slightly soft and sucks the energy out of you, especially on the grassy uphills in the open fields. I ended up blowing apart and walking a lot of the second loop and ultimately finished in 5:19. It was a decent time, but below what I expected from myself.

Last year I had run only 625 miles from January to the race date and only 4 runs were longer than 20 miles. Looking back at it, I’m not surprised that I didn’t go sub-5 hour. This year I have run close to 1000 miles and have 11 runs over 20 miles. Those long runs include 4 that were more than 30 and one 100k. I better break 5 hours this year!!!

For those of you doing it for the first time, don’t underestimate the terrain. It does not appear to be that hard and it is not technical at all. You can expect a beautiful course, evenly mixed in the woods and through open fields with lots of PUDS (pointless up and downs). You can also expect a first class Ultra that is extremely well run. The course is very well marked and there is almost zero possibility that you could get lost. I highly recommend this race and can’t wait to tear it up. See you there.