Vulcan’s Fury Trail Race
Pawtuckaway State Park, Candia NH
I saw this race…Vulcan’s Fury listed on coolrunning.com a few months ago and thought….gee that sounds like “fun”. That probably gives you a good indication of what my idea of fun is. Well anyways, I waited to sign up until this past Wednesday just because I had no desire to run 11 miles in the rain, and given the weather conditions we’ve had the past month, that could have been a really good possibility. The weather report for the weekend called for some pretty good weather. Cool, cloudy, and no rain at all. That sounds like ideal conditions for trail running.
Erik Paddleford had already signed up and that was extra motivation for me to go. I knew that this race wasn’t going to be easy, the website’s description, my limited knowledge of the Pawtuckaway trails (not easy), and the fact that my longest trail race to date is only 8 miles all seemed to indicate a new found level of pain. I wasn’t disappointed.
Mia agreed to accompany Erik and I out there. I really wanted some one there to drive us home. It’s lucky she came too…more on that later.
So we picked up Erik just past 8AM and headed out to Candia. Weather was brisk and cloudy. I brought both tights and shorts and a long sleeve not positive yet on what would be the best choice for the race.
We knew from the pre-race meeting that there would be water at “approximately miles 4 and 8.5”, at least that is what the race director said, we also knew the race was “about 11 miles” again straight from the webiste and race director’s mouth. I was figuring somewhere in the neighborhood of 9-10 minute miles. This was more a guess on my part using my 5K and 10 mile and previous trail race times and then adding in some “fluff factor”.
The race started out with all 118 of us going off at once, I kept the pace relatively sane for the first mile or so. I was trying to stay between 7:45-8 minute pace which wasn’t too bad. The first trails were what I would call double track. Nice wide and easy to follow. That only lasted for a short time before we hit some true New England singletrack. There was also A LOT of water from the past month of rain storms. Some of the wooden bridges and a few log crossings were kind of dicey.
The first water stop was at mile 4.2 according to my GPS. I stopped briefly for two cups of water and was glad to see I was on about a 9:45 pace. From this point on though, we had some scrambling to do, the area we are in is a popular rock climbing and bouldering area, and the way they designed the course slowed the pace considerably.
However we popped out onto some wide dirt roads and I got the pace back up to around 8:15-8:30 for awhile. I hit the hour mark right around a 9:45 pace, still feeling pretty good and taking my one and only GU of the race (should have carried more).
The nice dirt road section was quickly replaced with more singltrack and then a very steep climb up to the fire tower. There was no possible way to run this. When I could, I jogged, but most of it was fast walking. Coming down from the fire tower was a steep rocky, rooty, and often muddy task. I was hoping for that second water station though, as we were approaching 8.3 miles at this point. Turns out they were a tad bit off. The next water station was at 9.3 miles. I was kind of regretting not carrying anything at this point. I was also starting to blow at this point.
The two guys at the water stop said 2 more miles to go. That helped, but at the same time my legs were starting to burn big time. I slowed down considerably in this last section. I was passed by at least 8 people an was going at best 13-14 minute miles. I guess you can say I hit the wall. However I should have had “only 2 miles” left. WRONG! By the time I got to the final few hundred meters I was reading 11.8 miles. I was toasted too.
Looking at my GPS download you can see how my pace quickly drops in the last 1.5 miles.
Don’t get me wrong, I had a total blast, but I was also totally shot by the time I crossed the finish line. My initial 11 mile estimate had been between 1:39-1:50. My actual time was 2:09. So for next year I have a better idea of what to expect and a new goal.
Now back to Mia coming. I am very glad that Mia drove Erik and I home, I was totally blown and really not feeling so hot. I sat in the passenger seat on the way back, I think I said like 5 words the whole time home.
We pulled into the driveway and I stood up and got really light headed and nauseous. I made it into the house okay, but ended up tossing my cookies and then laying on the bed for about 30 minutes before I felt good enough to shower and then spend the rest of the day on the couch.
That doesn’t happen often. I pushed myself pretty hard in the race, and came out of it a little worse for the wear, but I learned a few things for next time…….
Thanks to Mia for driving and Erik for coming with us. He did awesome finishing 12th overall!
Thanks for reading