Tuesday, October 21, 2014

TARC Fall Classic 50km 2014 - Race Report

Pre-race sun through the clouds

Even with my inconsistent training in the past few months, I ended up (barely) running to a third place finish at this years race. Going into the race I wanted to do well and possibly run a faster time than last years 4:27:04, but work commitments and general laziness have not allowed me to get as much volume of training in this fall/late summer as I had for the 2013 race. I have had some good weeks, but also some weeks that I didn't do much running at all. Without having a stretch of consistent training and workouts, I really didn't know what would happen at this year's version of the race and decided to just give it what I had.

I hitched a ride with a friend and local running partner, Jay, who was running the half marathon distance at the race as my wife and kids were planning on coming out to spectate for the second half of the race. Race morning started off pretty easy and I chatted with a few people before the race about lap times. I had discussed a plan to run somewhere between 45 minutes to 48 minutes per 10km lap. The race consists of five 10km loops on fire roads and singletrack hiking trails through fields and pine forests at Great Brook Farms in Carlisle, MA. The 50km distance is the longest of the distances as there are also 10km, half marathon, and marathon distances that run concurrently (although the 10km race starts at 8am and we started at 8:15). The terrain is slightly technical in spots along the Stone Row trail towards the end of each lap, but mostly consisted of pine needle covered and dry singletrack with a few rocks here and there. I typically train in central MA along the Midstate trail or up in the White Mountains, so my definition of technical trail may vary from other people's.

A decision was made to go out with Eric Ahern and his fast friend Anthony Lee and just see how long I could hang on, which turned out to be about 3.5 miles as they took it out at a faster pace than I felt comfortable sustaining for 50km (around 6:30/min. miles). It was at that point that I pulled back and ran at a pace that I thought was more reasonable for me at around 7:20 to 7:30 avg. pace. The first lap I ran in 46 minutes and definitely slowed down more and more each lap as you can see below in the statistics. As you can also see from the comparison of 2014 to 2013 statistics, my 2013 race was more consistent and the pace didn't increase too much each lap.

2014 Statistics:
Lap 1(10km): 46 minutes, 7:24/mile avg. pace
Lap 2: 1:35 elapsed, 49 minutes, 7:53/mile
Lap 3: 2:27 elapsed, 52 minutes, 8:22/mile
Lap 4: 3:26 elapsed, 59 minutes, 9:29/mile
Lap 5: 4:27:58 elapsed, 61 minutes, 9:49/mile

Overall: 31 miles at 4:27:58, 8:37/mile avg. pace
GPS data here

2013 Statistics:
Lap 1: 49:30, 7:57/mile
Lap 2: 1:39 elapsed, 49:30 minutes, 7:57/mile
Lap 3: 2:31 elapsed, 52 minutes, 8:22/mile
Lap 4: 3:29 elapsed, 58 minutes, 9:20/mile
Lap 5: 4:27:04 elapsed, 58 minutes, 9:20/mile

GPS data here

The race actually felt more consistent than it looks for the first three laps, then my legs started to feel a little fatigue on the hills and the warmth of the day started to take its toll on me. Although, I did have a better race than I've had in the past, fueling and hydration-wise. I felt consistent energy throughout the entire race due probably to drinking the right amount of water, about one 24 oz. bottle per lap and taking the right amount of calories in. I just recently became an ambassador for Carb Boom gels and have been using those as my gel of choice in all my long runs and races lately. They seem to give me a consistent energy level and have a good taste unlike other gels I have tried in the past. They also don't have a lot of additives and are a fructose based product, getting most of the nutrients from fruit and maltodextrin.

Matthew cheering me on at the finish of the third lap.
Playing with Papa in the barn

As the laps progressed, it helped to have so many people out there running the different distance races because their encouragement aided in fueling my way to the finish. After I finished my third lap, my wife, two children, and father were there to cheer me on which in turn helped to keep my pace up as much as I could to get back to them in a decent time. The last two laps felt like they went by slowly as they lasted about an hour as opposed to the slightly quicker first three laps. I had to force myself to not walk any of the hills although I really wanted to and slowly counted down the time that it would take me to get to the finish line and be able to rest.

Finishing up
Finally I arrived at the finish line about 1 minute ahead of the fourth place person, Dan Hrobak. It felt good to be able to somehow hold onto my third place throughout the entire race and end up finishing two places in the standings better than last year. This was an accomplishment for me this year, because I really wasn't sure going into the race how I would do. I also have figured out fueling a little better in the last year and have moved towards a more "gel-based approach" cutting out some of the food that I used to eat in the past. I believe this allowed me to keep a better pace and stay a little more even with the energy level. Full race results here.

I wore my Inov8 Roclite 295s (old style) which I reserve for races or long mountain runs since they changed the style a couple years ago and the old style is no longer made. These are a light shoe that usually do well on technical or wet trails and ended up handling the terrain at Great Brook Farms well. I also wore my new Darn Tough Light Cushion socks that were sent to me when I became part of the Darn Tough team. I always ran in Darn Tough socks anyways, but it feels great to get some pairs for free and try out some different styles.

The TARC Fall Classic is a well-organized race, as all TARC races are, and has the best volunteers and friendly runners around. It's a fun race to run each year and try to test myself against last year's effort and I'm already looking forward to going back next year.

Next on my radar is the TARC Fells Trail Ultra Winter 40 miler on December 6th to get a little redemption from last years (my only) DNF. I did a writeup here. I'm hoping to run a little smarter here and actually finish the race instead of dropping out for no real reason after lap 3 of 5. I was hoping to take another shot at the Midstate Trail Through-Run, something Justin Contois and I attempted in April, but I will wait until I feel I am trained and ready to put in a good effort at the run. Read about our failed attempt here.


  1. I made the report! Great race Jesse!

    1. Thanks for driving me and motivating me to get out on the morning runs. Great job out there as well!