Wednesday, June 19, 2013

TARC 100 Race Report - 2013

June 14th, 2013
Weston, MA
7:00 PM Start
4 25 mile loops

TARC 100 aka "The Swamp 100" - It's my pity party and I can cry if I want to.

Eric Ahern battling the swamp en route to his
100 mile finish. Photo credits: Jesse Veinotte
This report will not necessarily be a play-by-play of my 54 mile DNF. It will entail some details and encounters, but mostly about how I am becoming mentally SOFT. I want to thank Josh and Bob, the volunteers and everyone that pulled the chair out from under me (I know who you are!!!)

At the start line, Mike McDuffie commented on how relaxed I looked. I felt relaxed, maybe a few ever present pre-race butterflies, but a lot less than usual. I had no time goals, no aspirations for a sub-18 hour finish like I initially expected. A poor training cycle led me to believe I was training for a 10k or maybe a half-marathon, not a 100 miler.

This is not a pity party report (OK maybe it is...), as life does get in the way sometimes, but as mentioned, it will deal heavily with my lack of mental toughness.

The first 4.5 miles went by quick. Maybe too quick. Anthony Parillo, a 50 mile racer and the Old Dominion champion of two weeks prior set a blistering pace. Us 100 milers, the aforementioned McDuffie, Gray Weaver, Glen Redpath, Eric Ahern, Padgraig Mullins, Patrick McGlade, Jack Pilla and myself thought nothing of it and pushed on. During this initial section, the trail was fast and had relatively no mud except for one minor stream crossing.

The next 20 miles would challenge my toughness. Darkness set in and my usual bed time of 9:00pm had passed. The pack had now thinned and I was running solo in the night. Around mile 20, I hit a low patch. I was mentally drained and just wanted to stop. And sleep. I had a GU with some caffeine in hopes that it would spike my moral. No such luck. I had already done the math. If I arrived at the start/finish by 11:30am, I would be home, showered and in bed by 12:30am.

All I wanted to do was sleep.

Of course I was not the only one who was tired. I was not the only one with a busy life. I was just the one that was mentally weak. I had already quit some 20 miles into the race.

I will get you some day!! Taken from
TARC 100 on
Sir Josh Katzman, however, would not have any of it. The RD extraordinaire and friend, simply kicked me out of the aid station. Promptly showing me the buckle that I coveted, while enticing me with hot soup and drink. I simply didn't want to leave the chair.

Prior to hitting the start/finish, I hooked up with Eric Ahern, who has just about won every ultra marathon he's completed this year. He had added a few extra miles and wound up behind my wallowing arse. We spent some time catching up as he was going thru some early mile stomach issues. Misery loves company! We hit the next 4.5 mile section with little gusto. Walking the initial stretch up the parking lot and small incline to the fields. I thought to myself, just get through this and you got a 50k under your belt. You can still get home in time for a few hours of sleep and breakfast with the family.

Upon returning to the start finish, it was back to the chair. Normally, I don't sit in ultras. I'm in and out of aid stations in less than a minute. Get what I need and get out. This race, was the complete opposite. I spent at least 5-10 minutes at every aid station. Sitting and chatting it up. Drinking soup and eating whatever I felt like.

Ian Parlin of the Maine Trail Monster Running Club saw me getting comfortable in my chair. He graciously asked me to join him on the second 20 mile loop. I concurred. Not sure why. Just got up and went. Five minutes earlier I was done. Now I'll be running for at least 4 more hours. Eric was making a pit stop and eventually caught us before the aid 2.2 miles away. There was no turning back. Make it through this loop or get lost trying to find my way back.

Exhaustion set in. I was tired and really wanted to sleep. I simply wasn't having fun at this point. My apologies to all I encountered and if I came off as non-communicative. Arriving at aid stations just meant I was one more step closer to the end. Each aid station was filled with awesome volunteers and I truly thank you guys for pushing me through. Dima Feinhaus gave me a great pep talk at Ripley and I even got a back massage from Alyssa Adreani at the Gun Club!!

Many mentioned that with the sunrise occurring within the next few hours, I would have a burst of energy. No such luck. I felt like sleeping, in a soft comfortable bed.

Knowing I had someone waiting to pace me at 50 miles weighed heavily on my decision. I wanted to quit at 50, but I couldn't do that to my friend and running bud, Jesse Veinotte. He came out super early and had been ready to run for quite some time. I couldn't just tell him I was done. I needed to go out for a bit longer.

Early morning trail with Eric Ahern and Jesse Veinotte.
Photo credits: Jesse Veinotte
Eric, Jesse and myself headed back out for the 4.5 mile loop in the early morning sunlight. We could now see what we had run in the darkness. The course looked so different, as the only time I had run it previously was in the darkness (Sir Katzman's December birthday run). The ferns took on a vibrant green hue and the fields had a mystical feel as we passed through.

I battled back and forth on what to do. Drop or continue. I really didn't want to press on and drag this run out any longer. My mind was made up. I told Jesse and Eric I would be the winner of the 54.5 mile race and end my day. My legs felt fine but it was my mind that wanted out.

As I look back at the whole experience, I want there to be a take away message. My message is that you cannot run a 100 mile race when life pulls you in so many directions. Races of this distance demand focus and proper training. I gave neither. I hoped for the best, thinking my prior races and completions would take me through, but I was wrong. Being mentally tough is by far a greater asset to have than mileage on your feet or "hay in the barn" so to speak.

Photo credit: Jesse Veinotte
In the end, the race played second fiddle to all the other experiences that I encountered. I was able to share some miles with Eric Ahern and his first 100 mile success. I was able to run with Gray Weaver, whom I met down in Virginia at Bull Run Run, and whom I hope to share some miles with when I move down in August. I was able to see Mike McDuffie charge by me in the darkness, looking great (shirtless might I add) on the way to his 100 mile finish. And catching up with Anthony Parillo, Ian Parlin, Padraig Mullins (although I couldn't understand half of what you said Padraig! Sorry I kept asking you to repeat yourself!!), Scott Jamieson, Greg Esbitt, Brian Oestrike, Scott Patnode, Emily Trespas and her unbelievable soup!, Michelle and Bob, Julie from Wachusett and Steve Latour of Ghost Train fame.

I could go on and on and talk about all the relationships that I have acquired from this little sport we call ultra running. They mean so much to me. Maybe I didn't complete this race or obtain my goal, but what I did do, was spend a great weekend with some of the coolest people on this dang planet. Thanks everyone.

Full results here.

Map of TARC 100 Course


  1. If you had quoted Clubber Lang (You WEAK Creed!) all would have been forgiven. This all said, you're a heck of a lot mentally tougher than you're giving yourself credit for. The buckles will be back and so will you (once the other aspects of the life have settled down a bit!).

    1. Thanks for the kind words Josh, and yes I will be back!! Can't thank you enough for all you have done with TARC, our on-going email chains and trips to warm snowy places. Ha! See you out there soon.

  2. 54.5 miles in that mud and darkness was still mentally strong enough! Great job and great report!

  3. Amazing report... after all you were the winner of the 54.5 race. I could not stopped laughing at this: 'Padraig Mullins (although I couldn't understand half of what you said Padraig! Sorry I kept asking you to repeat yourself!!)'

  4. I think we can all agree that even ONE loop on that course with the conditions dear Mother Nature left us with was mentally and physically challenging. I *quit* at mile 10! Add to that any extra *life stuff* weakness...just recognizing your HUMANness :) There will be other races to run, and TARC 100 next year (with NO mud...I have already submitted the request)

    1. I second the "no mud" request. And congrats to you for toughing out 75 miles!!

  5. Great job pushing through those last 30 miles once you didn't want to be there. There's always Grindstone, I'm sure the summer will be a little easier to get the training in.

    1. Thanks man! Grindstone will be my redemption for sure. Looking forward to this summer's expeditions up north and south for that matter!