Trail Running Challenge Blog (Ethan Banks)

Cabot 30/W48 287/576

Saturday was an out-n-back run up to the summit of Mt. Cabot. The weather seemed like it was going to be single digit cold with ~30mph winds above 4,000 feet, but we went anyway. Cabot is a sheltered summit, and the traditional winter route was mostly sheltered from the wind by the ridgeline itself. So we took a chance.

Turned out to not be that bad at all. The sun was out in full force, and the snow mostly consolidated. So we powered up the hill, dropped packed at the cabin, ran out to the summit, ran back to the cabin, changed into dryer clothes, then ran as much of the way back as we could manage.

~9.8 miles & ~3:30. Best I'd ever done Cabot before was just under 4 hours, so that's a good number for the winter load, plus some additional stops I didn't mention in the paragraph above. If I'm having an excellent day, I'm pretty sure sub 3 hours is in me somewhere, at least with practice.

On this day, I felt decent on the route until the end. I was struggling to maintain pace--just tired over the last few tenths. Bunnell Notch rolls in the last mile, and I was resenting having to go back uphill. A mind over matter thing, and my mind decided it didn't matter enough to push overly hard. There's something about a full winter pack and running in snowshoes--even cute little racing snowshoes--that beat me down. I just wanted to be done.

In hindsight, I blame a lack of calories. I had enjoyed a waffle extravaganza with a little honey before heading out. On the route, I ate 360 calories worth of Picky Bars. So I was carbed up...but not enough, I suspect.

Coach K suggested trying candy or a gel before descending. Candy, sure. I have plenty of experience with that, although I've shied away from lots of refined sugar over the years. I'd have to try it again to understand how it impacts me. I need to learn how it hits, in what way, and for how long. I have never used gels at all. I am aware of them. I know runners use them. I've picked up gel-related microtrash on the trails for years. Just never tried them. But I shall experiment at some point and see what I think. I know some people have stomach issues with them. But hey, I'm all about the tools. I'll try some and see.

Last summer, I'd tried Clif Blocks, which were big square gummies. I liked those, and they come in a pack of I think 8. Pretty compact for the calories they offer (about 300 in the pack I think?), and the price wasn't too bad IIRC.