>Spring has finally sprung, and I kicked off the first weekend of good weather with a pretty dece race. I headed out to bling bling Silver Spring on Friday afternoon after work to meet Arjun and Melissa, my awesome race companions for the next day. Mel made a super awes pre-race dinner, and after lasting about 45 minutes through Australia I decided to call it a night. We got up in the morn and headed out to the starting line of the race. It was pretty fun to do the pre-race routine with friends and get to see the ultra world through a new set of eyes. Suddenly the people wearing the tutus and all the other wacky characters didn’t seem so normal…usually I wouldn’t have even thought twice about them. That, and the fact that ultrarunners probably have calves twice the size of the normal population were two of the many observations Arjun made that morning. There were some familiar faces in the crowd as Melissa and I started the run, heading down a pretty good hill for the first mile or so. As usual, I tried to keep to the back of the front pack to ensure a good spot on the trail and get my legs warmed up. Unfortunately I also noticed right from the start that I wasn’t feeling up to par – just an overall sense of heaviness and slugishness in the legs. I was hopeful that it would pass though. Melissa helped me keep a pretty good pace for the first section, and we hit mile 7.5 in about 58 minutes…a little fast, but most of that part was downhill or flat so not a huge concern. My legs still didn’t feel great though, and I warned Arjun of that as him and Melissa switch places. I honestly wasn’t sure how the day would end up, and I was wondering if I should even push through if I still felt so shitty at the halfway point. I decided to slow it down a little bit, and really make sure to stick to my nutrition plan. The day was heating up fast, and I knew that if I bonked from dehydration on top of tired legs, the day would be a bust. Around this time I fell into 2nd place…not a huge concern this early in the race, but still had me wondering how many women were at my heels.
A mile or so later Arjun and I came upon a friend of mine, Greg Loomis (you can read his writeup of the race here). Greg fell into step with us, and from that point we ran pretty consistant 9 minute miles. We paid close attention to maintain breaks for nutrition/hydration, which was most likely the best decision we made that day as the course got tougher at the end and we were passing people who had let the heat take its toll on them. The race has a pretty neat setup in that halfway through the 50K runners do an extra loop around a lake, then join back up to the marathon course. This makes for some easier running in the middle as you can catch some of the marathoners to keep yourself occupied.
Around mile 22, I caught back up to the first place woman and felt strong as I passed her. The three of us continued on to the last aide station at mile 28ish, where Arjun’s long run came to an end (already a few miles too long….oops), and Greg and I went on to finish the race in 5:19, 16th and 17th place overall!
Overall, I couldn’t be happier with a win at this time in the year. Now I can put that goal out of my head and focus on the real tasks at hand in the next 6 months. However, I am a little nervous looking back at how I performed. I didn’t rest at all in the week leading up to the race, and I certainly felt the difference in effort between Holiday Lake and this weekend. I have no idea how I was able to run 20+ minutes faster a month ago, on courses I would say are relatively comprable. Hopefully it’s just because training is picking up and my legs are simply more tired, and I think the heat played its part in it as well. I felt as if I was giving twice the effort yesterday than at HL, and not getting the same results at all. Greg brought me up to speed a little bit on the BRR50 course though, and said it is similar to the Seneca Greenway trail. With some solid workouts in the next few weeks, and a well planned mini-taper, I will hopefully be in good shape to make some moves at that race!