Sunday, March 29, 2009

Terrapin Mountain 50K

There is nothing I love more than discovering new trails, especially sweet singletrack with gorgeous mountain views. In October I had the pleasure of running on fabulously tough new (for me) trails around the Wild Oak Trail area as part of the Grindstone 100, and yesterday I ran the awesome trail network around Terrapin Mountain, which lies west of Bedford, VA in Sedalia.

RD Clark Zealand resurrected the old Terrapin Half Marathon last year and added a "marathon" which really was more like 50K, so in 2009 he created a new course and made it an official 50K, 31.1 miles with over 7500 feet of climb and descent. The start/finish took place at the Sedalia Center at the base of Terrapin Mountain, and it was a perfect venue with lots of room for camping and the post-race party. Start time was a convenient 7:00am, which meant I could catch my son's lacrosse game Friday night and sleep in my own bed, and drive the 1.5 hours to the start in the morning.

The half-marathon attracted a number of newcomers to trail running and racing---and they sure picked a tough race! The 50K and half-m runners shared the same course, but at mile 5 the 50K ers went on a 17-mile detour away from Terrapin Mountain while the half-m runners headed back to the finish. After climbing up to Camping Gap (AS 3 of the Hellgate 100K), we descended 5 miles straight down before hooking up with the Glenwood Horse Trail and a section of the Hellgate 100K course. I enjoyed seeing this section in the daylight, as I typically run it around 2:00 am in that race! Temps were in the 50s and there was a light fog everywhere---I thought about the runners I know from Oregon and how these conditions were typical for them---perfect for running!

We climbed back up to Camping Gap and continued on the Glenwood Horse Trail before entering a lovely loop section that shares a part of the Promise Land 50K course. This was really fun---runnable climbs and rolling downs in the woods before popping out on the horse trail again and heading back to Camping Gap. In this section we could see other runners and everyone was yelling support to one another--"looking great" and "way to go", etc. Just the positive support we needed before the steep climb up to Terrapin Rocks, an outcropping with incredible views (but not today---too foggy). We punched our number to prove we were there, and then started the descent to Fat Man's Misery, a tight squeeze of rock that rivals those on Old Rag. Another number punch here, and then it was time for the fast, steep, technical downhill to the last AS.

Up to this point in the race, everything had been runnable but now we had a quad busting descent to rocky river bed trail to the AS---yuk! Thankfully this didn't last long, and after the AS we were treated to the best trail of the day: gorgeous singletrack that wound around the side of Terrapin Mountain on the right with beautiful views of farms, lakes and the valley to our left. Since it was all a net downhill, one could really crank up the pace before popping out on the last 2 miles to the finish---and I did! I felt terrific---never a bonk-y moment thanks to regular helpings of Clif Bloks and Nuun. I was very pleased with my time (5:43) given the amount of climb, and feel very ready for Bull Run 50 in three weeks!

Overall, I would give Terrapin 50K an "A" for trail beauty and toughness, great volunteers, nice schwag (Patagucci singlet for the women---a nice change from the ubiquitous T shirt), and post-run fellowship. It was a blast to visit familiar trails from other races and to discover the beauty of Terrapin Mountain in a challenging 50K.

Live webcast results are here.

Race blog is here.


Dan said...

Sounds like a great race. Good luck at Bull Run!

Run Home Pam said...

Sounds divine! You are lucky and smart to live so close to such lovely terrain.

Please forgive my ignorance, but what is Nuun?

Marlin Yoder said...

Enjoyed your report; good job! You're gonna have a great Bull Run Run! See you there.

Tonya said...

sophie! Nice work, as usual! I read your blogs for motivation and am never let down! You really have life figured out-I endeavor to create as much here in lovely Bend.

Rick Gray said...

Sophie, You were one tough lady Saturday. Sorry I did not provide you much company, but you were quick on your feet. I did my best to make up those few minutes, but it did not happen. I can certainly tell that you have been concenrating on your climbing. You left me on the climbs and probably squeezed through a little easier than I through Fat Man's Misery. Great run, Rick

running etc said...

Great job, Soph! You nailed another one! Big congrats.

Kiry said...

Nice report, Sophie. You are certainly rockin'! I'll have to sign up for this one next year.

Sophie Speidel said...

Thanks everyone!

Dan---you would love this race. Come out next spring!

Pam---Nuun is an electrolyte tablet that I use in my water so I don't cramp up---it tastes really good and keeps me drinking. See the Nuun link on the sidebar of my blog for more info. It is awesome.

Marlin, you would enjoy the climbing at Terrapain and the trails are schweet!

Sophie Speidel said...

Kiry---definitely a run you and TC would like---though there is *some* road but the trails make up for it. VHTRC road trip next year if the MMT training run is another weekend. See you at BRR!

Gentry...where is the Shamrock report, dude? Have a BLAST at Umstead. Remember all that you have learned this year re: nutrition and don't get behind!!! :-)

Tonya---Kerry and I were laughing about the memory of you in the Promise Land stream years ago... good times, good times! Hope you are well.

Rick---sorry I was in Ipod land but it really helps me run faster for some reason. I was psyched to see both you and Tammy! Have a great spring. Stay healthy!

farmgirl said...

Soph, you're amazing.

Griffin said...

I saw some unofficial results from Umstead and it looks like Gentry finished in 20 hours and change!!!!!