Trail 2 Trail Series: Kettletown State Park Race Recap and a Zombie Pinky

T2T SeriesI’m just FINALLY recovering from my weekend which consisted of a “Wine and WOD” Ladies Only Crossfit Night (Stay Tuned!), a 10K Trail Race (EPIC!) and a kick ass training ride that turned into a time trial after I played cat and mouse with a disgruntled dude on a bike (Winner!). The weekend was fantastic. And left me totally glycogen depleted. Oh. And with a broken pinky finger but I’ll get to that in a few. Nothing an ice pack, a massage and copious amounts of beer couldn’t cure. That’s for sure.

The Start Pre-Monsoon. Photo: https://www.facebook.com/Trail2TrailSeries

The Start Pre-Monsoon. Photo: https://www.facebook.com/Trail2TrailSeries

I (happily) discovered the Trail 2 Trail Series, a competitive racing and endurance trail running series, a few weeks ago. Ever since I fell in love with trail running, I have been on the lookout for local races. The transition from road to trial for this broad has not been, shall we say…Graceful?  Yeah. No. Girlfriend needs practice. And confidence. Enter Kettletown. These races are fortunately right in my backyard. Well, not exactly. The T2T Series is in Connecticut. Which is practically my backyard as nothing is really more than an hour or so away. Their slogan is “We Won’t Do Easy.” And?  They’re not lying. Easy, it wasn’t. Fast, winding trails, very decent climbs, lots of rocks, single track and simply BEAUTIFUL. I suspect it would have been ABSOLUTELY beautiful if Saturday’s race wasn’t in the midst of a monsoon, but there you go. Trail Running is the Original Obstacle Mud Run. Hands down. Thank god I love mud because Saturday’s T2T Series Race in Kettletown State Park, was a greasy, challenging mud fest.  And I loved every slippery second of it. How could you not? Look how pretty it is.

Photo: www.facebook.com/Trail2TrailSeries

I would have snapped my own photos, but I feared my iPhone’s life in that rain. Photo Courtesy of T2T’s Facebook Page. http://www.facebook.com/Trail2TrailSeries

I decided after eyeballing the forecast, that I would run the 10K. They had other options available: 5K/10K/20K/50K all of which consisted of partial or multiple full loops of the 10k route. I was happy with my choice. Kettletown-SP-10kEspecially seeing as how I bit it crossing the one river on a patch of ice rock. After a string of profanities and a potentially broken pinky, I brushed myself off and continued on my merry way. Let’s be honest. It’s not trail racing unless you fall and have some sort of flesh wound. (Trail, 1. Colby, 0.) There were several pretty steep climbs coupled with leaf and rock strewn descents which the rain and humidity had made pretty slick. After my earlier fall, my Pinky and I turned into total Chicken Shits and were a bit more cautious. It is the 1 Year Anniversary of that long run where I fell and wrecked my face, so you can imagine, I was in full yellow-flashing-light mode. Feel free to relieve the horror here.

Along the route there was also really scenic, pretty views of Lake Zoar. The place where as a kid I learned to water ski. Ah. Nostalgia. The best part? I didn’t get lost. The course marking was excellent. Red flags on your left and you were golden. The only time they were on your right was if you were taking a sharp right turn, then then they went back to left. Very simple to follow. The race was sponsored by Energybits and Hammer Nutrtirion, two of my old favorites. I love Hammer Nutrition’s Enduralytes. They have saved my dehydrated ass on many occasions. There was plenty of grub afterwards and a swag bag with a few odds and ends. I think if you pre-reg’d far enough in advance, you could have gotten a race t-shirt. But as a Last Minute Nelly, I was shirtless. (Not topless, shirtless. Silly Fools.)

Such a great course.

Such a great course.

The thing I love most at trail races- even trail races in far less than optimal conditions like this one- is the general vibe. Trail runners are chill. Competitive, but friendly and relaxed. It’s been my experience that there is zero to very little pre-race hysteria more commonly found at road races. You know what I mean, right? The high knees. The sprints. The obsession over Garmins. The occasional attitude. I’ve never experienced that at trail races. And this race was no exception. Everyone here from the race directors to the runners themselves was just plain nice. Gotta love that. In fact, I registered for their next race as I was tending to my wounds from the first. I’m hooked. (And next time I’m getting a t-shirt!) This race very much seemed like it was for trail runners, by trail runners. It was well done and well run. Well, it would have been run well by me if it was drier and I was gutsier, but that didn’t even matter. I loved it. Busted zombie paw and all. See you next time guys!

Have you ever run a trail race? Do you have a local trail racing community? What’s the worst fall you’ve ever taken while running? I think we know mine! 🙂

Zombie Pinky conveniently obscured by awesome Janji singlet.

Zombie Pinky conveniently obscured by awesome Janji singlet.

Birthday Bimbler’s Bash!

A Wheely Good Birthday

Wheely Good Coffee, Presents and the Sun. Happy Birthday to Me!

Big Birthday Weekend for Colby! And what, pray tell did I get for my Birthday, you ask?

A BIG OLD SLICE OF SUNSHINE!

It was glorious! Two magnificent spring days! It was just what I wanted. Awww. Thanks, Mother Nature. And in the nick of time! Just when I thought I would shank you, you send the sun out to warm my Vitamin D deprived heart. You’re a peach.

The weekend started off with sushi and cocktails and segued into a Gorgeous Birthday Trail Run, followed by a bike ride on our old Schwinn Cruisers to breakfast OUTSIDE!, a walk with the pups, more cocktails and dinner at a delicious tapas joint.

And then there were 7…

Oh. And more wine. You’re sensing a theme here, right?

My Other Half and I registered to run a 10k (ish) trail race, The Bimbler’s Bash, on Sunday morning. It seemed like a good decision when we pre-reg’d a week prior. Our pre-race fuel? Octopus leg (see above), skate (aka, The Doormat of the Sea), empanadas and a gallon of Albarino. If you’re wondering how one races on octopus leg and copious amounts of Spanish wine, it’s gingerly. One races gingerly.

Bimbler's Bashe

The good thing about The Bimbler’s Bash is that it’s right smack in my hometown. So when you wake up late with an octopus hangover, it is comforting to know that your 10k(ish) trail race is a mere 2 miles from home. If we had had our shit together, we would have run there. Alas, ’twas not the case. But dammit we made it. (Thank you, Skratch Labs Hydration Mix) And we were smiling!

The Bimbler’s Bash runs through Westwoods Trails in Guilford, Connecticut. Westwoods is beautiful. It’s very well marked and maintained by the Guilford Land Conservation Trust. I run there often. But never often enough to really know my way around. Which is a complete shame, and something I plan on addressing this summer. It’s the perfect place to get lost in. Because when you’re 2 miles away, you’re never THAT far from home. The trail system has about 39 miles of trails with really interesting features: caves, lakes, streams, rivers and all sorts of cool rock formations. We actually scrambled up several of them.

Scramble Colby, Scramble. Photo: C & D Studios

The terrain is technical, with lots of single track, rocks and tons of roots. Throw in a hangover and you’re falling on your face. It’s awesome. And I love running there. But racing there on a beautiful spring day, with your cyclist boyfriend who I swear was an Elite runner in a past life ? PERFECTIONBimbler Forest GumpI guess they weren’t kidding. I say 10k (ish) because its gotta be over 7 miles. Maybe 7.5? I couldn’t tell you. We had zero Garmins between us. All I know is I got to what I thought was the half way point, and still had a ways to go. That’s the great thing about trail races: PEOPLE ARE LAID BACK. That doesn’t mean they’re not competitive, they’re just not anxious. Nice and chill. And? WHAT A GREAT RACE! I can’t believe I haven’t run it before. Nice organizers, friendly people, cute T-Shirts and a truly awesome course. What more can you ask for? And I didn’t get lost. WIN! We both had a blast. It was tough, but man was it fun! My Other Half can really Bimble. Me? I’m more of a Basher.

Doing things you love, with people you love. There is simply nothing better! 

2013 Peak Snowshoe Challenge and a big old steaming cup of CRAZY

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Locked and Loaded!

Peer pressure. That’s how I got wrapped up in a crazy ass snowshoe race in Pittsfield, Vermont yesterday- The Peak Snowshoe Challenge. I have this amazing little sprite of a badass friend who posted a link and a “Ok. Who else of you crazies is in?!” on Facebook. (I should also add she’s an Ultra Runner and blogger. She’s also fabulous. But I digress…) You know how that goes. Race Peer Pressure. Thats all it takes. The mighty power of suggestion. Who’s in!? Suddenly I’m all “Dude! I’m in!!!” Suddenly, I’ve registered for a half-marathon on snowshoes in Vermont. Suddenly, I have a knot in my stomach with “Who the hell do I think I am?” written all over it.

How many times have I raced in snowshoes? 0.00.
How many times have I actually been on snowshoes? 1.0.
Insane, yet ambitious.

The dust settles and I realize that the 10k “Fun Run” is more “appropriate” pre-Big Sur Marathon. Nothing like a novel adventure to blow out a knee or twist an ankle. (Be smart Colby. It doesn’t mean you’re a wuss.) I come to my senses, and downgrade. I still haven’t read a lick about the course, but, I’m in! And that’s all that matters.

I learn on the drive up that I am running 1 loop (whatever that means). Ok. Cool. How bad can that be? No sweat. The 1 loop is 6.5 miles in the Green Mountains of Vermont. On snowshoes. And has 1200′ vertical. That’s the “Fun Run.” There’s also a Half- Marathon (2 loops), a Full Marathon (4 loops) and an Ultra (Fruit Loops) which had a 36 hour cut off. (Yes. They started the day before.) I learn Peak Races sponsors a “Death Race”. I want to turn around. (Nope. No. Way. I’m in!!!)

Off we go to the start. Me, My Fabulous Ultra Running Friend and her my new friend Another Ultra Runner. (Christ. This joint is crawling with Crazies.) Coffee, power bar, register, strap in. It’s snowing. It’s beautiful. It’s a big stinking mountain. I declare that I have zero expectations. I just don’t want to finish last. Or get hurt. And then I hear it.

Girls giggling.
In costumes.

While I have no aversion to giggling girls or tutus (I am/have both), I’m not a fan of them this particular morning. I lock eyes with my friend. She reads my mind: You are beating the Giggling Girls. It went from “Fun Run” to “Bitch, Game On!” with a single giggle. Now I’m really ready. My friends are off-and taking no prisoners- on their half-marathon adventure! (Double checking prior that they weren’t registered for the full marathon. See? Peer Pressure will getcha.) I’m off next. There’s a slew of people. Giggling Girls are within earshot. 3-2-1. Go!

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And away I go!

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This is what 1200′ vertical looks like. (Gulp!)

Holy. Shit.

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Such great fun. Excellent race. Stellar time.

In all of my life I have never done anything as difficult as this. I wonder if my Ultra Friends think the same. (Answer: They do. Phew!) Climb? A Sherpa would have cringed. Almost all-fours steep. For miles. Single track. Switchbacks. Wicked technical. And up, up, I go. Running as much as I possibly can. I was The Telltale Heart. TILT! Redlining. I will not stop moving. Finally it “levels” rolling along through the “Labyrinth”, an absolutely beautiful section through the pines, winding back and forth. It’s shady, like a place you would play hide and seek in when you were little. Quiet and peaceful, I feel alive. I am having fun. I am running. Huge, huge smile.

What goes up must come down. Yeah, you got it Newton. Steep. Downhill. Trees. Off-camber. I am at times completely out of control. Borderline avalanche material. Running downhill, navigating trees and switchbacks on snowshoes. I let out a Whoop! Laughing at how ridiculously exhilarating this is. My quads don’t think so. They’re giving me the finger. Neither do my bloody ankles which have been shredded from the narrow single track. Ouch. Tears in my eyes. It’s just a flesh wound. I’m almost done! So what I’ve run into a tree? I didn’t fall. Or stop. Mission almost accomplished. I listen for The Giggling Girls…

Nothin’.

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Mission Accomplished!

I finish 3rd in my age group (!!!) Proud. Happy. Exhilarated. Thrilled that I succumbed to Race Peer Pressure and tried something completely ridiculous new. This year is all about getting uncomfortable- pushing myself out of my comfort zone. Only then can you change. Evolve even. Oh I’m uncomfortable all right. And am lovin’ every damn minute of it.

Next year I’ll have another Big Old Cup of Crazy please. With a side of Half-Marathon.

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Peer Pressure: Carly, Colby and Gary. Thanks Guys!!!