>My mileage went above 90 for the week for the first time this year. The big question is, how do I feel? The short answer: Awesome. The long answer: read on.
That mileage is mostly attributed to Saturday’s race, the Bull Run 50 Mile Run (actually 50.4…ha). Put on by the Virginia Happy Trails, this was a great spring race. Only 1.5 hours from Baltimore (at least when you do the drive at 4am) these trails are spectacular. I woke up Saturday morning around 3:30, and was pleasantly surprised to find out that Brad would be accompanying me on the day’s adventure. After hearing that my parents had opted out of going to the race and I was lacking a crew, he skipping a wedding (although I think he was looking for an excuse not go) to drive down and help me out. This turned out to be crucial.
When we got to the park, I hopped out of the car into the dewy grass in my shorts and jacket, and was freezing. The temperature was below 40, and of course I hadn’t brough along any warm clothes. Such is life. Picked up my number, went over the course with Brad and we decided that I would let him know after the first 11 miles if I wanted him to run miles 16-26 and 40-50 with me. It was fun to see a lot of the same familiar faces at the race, and before I knew it we were off onto the trail (314 starters, 265 finishers). The first out and back portion of this race is “relatively” flat. I had been warned ahead of time to really make sure to take my time and save my legs for the last 30 miles where things get fun. Between that advice, the heat I knew would hit later in the day, and my own plans for the race (see post below), I managed to stick to my plan and ran 8:30ish on the dot for the first 11. I felt good at this point, but I definitely noticed the fact that I was racing on tired legs, and told Brad that yes, in fact he will be running with me today.
The day was warming up fast, and I was sticking to my plan of a bottle every hour (more if aid stations came sooner) plus 2 GUs an hour. I was also going to be using S! Caps as well as Hammer’s Anti-Fatigue pills. Feeling pretty good, I hit mile 26 at 4:10. Slightly faster than I wanted, but certainly close to where I hoped, so I’ll take it. I was walking a fine line between saving my energy for when it got hot, but still trying to get through as much of the course as I could before the sun really hit. After that, my stomach got a little ify, but after releasing the hostages I felt much better (my apologies go out to the canoers who got a full view of that action). I hit the 50K mark feeling pretty strong, but definitely starting to wear down under the heat (high temp was recorded at 79.6). Thank god they had ice at the aid stations…I filled my sports bra with it to keep me cool, filled my bottle with it, and doused myself in cool water to keep my core cooled at any point I could. This required stopping at a couple streams as well to splash water on my neck and face.
After that point was the Do Loop. Thank god I didn’t know what was coming. Although only 3 miles, half of which is downhill, the other half is torture. Straight up and straight down, so steep that it’s almost impossible to run either up or down. Not fun after 30 miles. At this point I was leap frogging with 2 other women, but coming out of the loop I was 6th. Knowing I was on my way home after that, I ran a little easier. I also was passing a lot of people still headed out for the loop, and exchanging words of encouragment helped keep me distracted.
Coming down a hill around 39 miles I managed to kick my foot into a rock, sending me on my face down the hill, and causing a huge cramp in my calf. I looked up and saw a woman I had just finally passed, half paniced and tried to do a limping half run. Luckily, what goes down always goes back up on the trail, so I was at a climb in another half minute or so which allowed me to walk it out and stretch the calf. But that was not fun. I made it back to 40 where Brad was ready for the last ten. The heat was really starting to hit everyone at this point. There were a few rocky sections that were really tiring me out mentally, and the urge to “just get to the finish” was there. The final sections of 5 miles each took about 50 minutes each, but I drank my bottle both times in less than 35 minutes. If they had been any further apart, I would have been screwed. I finished up the last run through the bluebells, made it up the last climb, and ran into the finish as the 5th place female, 35th overall, at 8:43:31. Amy Sproston blew the women’s field away finishing up in 7:34. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th women — all very impressive runners — were all within 13 minutes of me. A hot race on tired legs finishing close to some really awes runners? I’ll take that anyday.
There’s always room for improvement, and in the week to come I’ll go over that. In the meantime, today I woke up and walked around for a mile or so, before lacing up the running shoes at midday and doing the sugar factory/harbor loop. Then I ran with my lax girls at practice. My calves are certainly tight, but nothing like I have been in the past after a race. This is great news for my WS training, and is certainly encouraging that I’m heading in the right direction.
Good luck tomorrow to everyone at Boston – just do what you do 🙂