What you’ve got boy is hard to find
Think about it all about it all the time
I’m all strung up my heart is fried
I just cant get you off my mind
-ke$ha, “your love is my drug”
*This song has nothing to do with the remainder of the post, I only want people to understand what was stuck in my head for 8 hours and 48 minutes.
**Parts of the remainder of this post (like much of the blog) may be enhanced for reading pleasure. This story, while based on facts, may not be completly true.
Bull Run this year came upon me before I knew it. Usually the week before the race I am planning race logistics out, packing on wednesday, leaving nothing to do on Friday except eat and sleep. This year was a little different. On Friday I was at Oriole’s (home) opening day at Camden Yards till about 630 , and came home to eat AND pack AND get to bed at a reasonable hour for a 3am wakeup. Luckily, this race requires little planning – you can only have a drop bag in one spot, so there’s only a couple things to prepare.
3 am came quickly, and I headed out of Baltimore towards Clifton, VA. Only about 80 minutes from Baltimore, these trails are often overlooked, but it’s a great area. I got to the start and picked up my packet, realized it was going to be much warmer than I thought and put on shorts and a t-shirt for the run. Since I still rely mostly on GU when I run, I would wear a Nathan racepack and then have everything I needed with there and at the Hemlock aid station (mile16). Going into the race I knew a couple things – one, I wanted to try to go out hard. This has never worked out well for me in a race; however, it is inevitable that I do this at least a couple times a year. I figured this would be a good race to get it out of my system before OD100. Second, I knew that as much as I could carry in my nathan pack, it was going to be difficult to carry all my GUs and I would have to find something else that worked at an aid station in order to have the nutrition to finish.
The race starts with a .75 mile loop around the parking lot to spread runners out before getting onto single track. I was with the top 2 women for this loop, and we headed onto single track. I kept them in view, but stayed in the pack right behind them through the first aid station. After that, you do a 2 mile out-and back on a fast trail down along a river. I was still very close to them coming back through that aid station, but I was beginning to notice the fatigue in my legs. I would not be able to keep that pace up much longer. So, I did the smart thing and dropped back on my pace. Unfortunately this left me in an awkward position in the crowd – not quite with the leaders but also no one right behind me. I was either getting passed quickly, or no one was around. Shoot. I came up to the 16 mile aid station and saw some friendly faces. I told Bobby that this was not going to be a pretty race for me (although I did remind him that I am always pretty…this was just going to be a struggle….haha). I spent a couple minutes changing my bottles and GU, and then headed out. At this point I was probably the 7th woman or so.
After this I headed out on the trail for the longer of the 2 out and backs of the day. I felt relaxed, but not comfortable. Instead of enjoying the run I knew I was working pretty hard, which made it more exhausting since I was focusing so much. It was obvious that when my mind wandered I paid the price. I took 2 good falls in the span of a mile and a half or so. After the second fall I rolled over and was sitting there looking at the damage to my knees and elbow when a gentleman runner came upon me. Bearing no race bib, he said “i’m just a runner, are you okay?” I said yeah, I was fine, just took a fall, keep going! But he said “are you sure? do you need anything?” At that moment I thought about it, and did what any girl would do….I pouted my lips and batted my eyes and said, well if you wanted to run to the next aid station with me that might be nice. Of course, that would be my wildest fantasy! he said. So I jumped up and we ran and chatted for the next 2-3 miles into the aid station. When we got there I went into the chute towards the tables to get fuel and he peeled away (turns out he was out there cheering on a friend). I felt much better mentally after having company so I moved on, knowing that the worst was (almost) behind me.
Not long after that I came upon what most would say is the most challenging part of the day – the Do Loop. Not even much of a trail, its a 3 mile loop consisting of a lot of steep uphills and steeper downhills….not fun after 32 miles. I dropped my pack for the 3 miles though and having a lighter load helped me move along. When I got back to the end of the loop there was also PIZZA there. I grabbed a slice of pepperoni and was super pumped about the treat that as I ran out of there with the slice in hand I told everyone who I was passing (as they headed into the aid station) that there was PIZZA!!! They didn’t seem to care so much.
Even though I had been over half-way done with the race for quite awhile, I was finally headed in the actual direction of home, and that’s a huge boost. But, apparently I wasn’t moving as fast as I thought because I got passed somewhere around 40 miles in. At this point I knew I was close to being in the top 10. So I kept pressing on and BOOM passed a girl who I hadn’t seen since early in the race. I felt great and was running the climbs too! And then the wheels started to come off. I left the 45 mile aid station feeling great and within about 250 meters I felt like I was moving backwards. I could hardly pick up my legs. I couldnt think of anything else other than oh. my. god. how will I ever get to the end?
I struggled mentally for a few minutes before getting a hold of myself. Then I went through my checklist: Was I drinking enough? yes. Salt? yes. GU? hmmmm…..Looking back, I realized I had skipped at least 2 GUs since the pizza. Whoops. I quickly popped 2 into my mouth, washed it down, and kept moving. Unfortunately, it was a little too late – the girl I had passed a mile or two earlier came rushing past me like I was standing still. Gah. After a little while longer, the GU’s set in and I was moving again. Lucky for me the energy hit right before a technical section and I was able to pass the girl again on the rocky part! I knew I was within 2 miles to go at this point so I kept my head down and ran. I got to the last climb and when I looked down from the top I saw not one, but two women behind me at the bottom. That lit the fire! I brought it in the last 400 yards, finishing in 8:48, 9th woman, 55th overall.
This time was actually a few minutes slower than last year, but that doesnt worry me. Like I said before, last year I think I peaked too early. Now is when I need to put in the work and get the job done. I have recovered well and will continue to take it easy this week and weekend. I’ll be heading down to Charlottesville to help with the marathon, and I am opting to skip Bumpass in the name of getting rest and not stressing out over a race that won’t help me towards my ultimate goal. I made a few mistakes at BRR but hopefully I got those out of my system. I had fun and I am confident going into these last two training cycles!