In case you couldn’t tell lately, I’ve had a case of the ultras. It started….probably last September I think. And I hate to say it, but the last few months haven’t really cured the ailment because I really love running in the woods. I started February with the Uwharrie 40 mile run. Uwharrie is 40 miles of single-track. That means a LOT of paying attention, and a lot of ups and down. As I was about 10 miles into the race, I had that “oh yeah, this is coming back to me” moment from having run the race before (10 years prior). Nothing was every too tough or singlehandedly enough to really be THAT HARD…..but mile over mile, the roots, rocks, and ups and downs add up. And it wears on you! I hit the turnaround and was inspired a bit — up for debate if chugging a red bull did this or just the great jokes by the people helping me with my drop bag – and I felt pretty good to start the return trip. I was able to get a feel for where I was in the crowd: I knew I needed to do some work to make up top 10 overall (male & female), but I also knew I had a good cushion from the next female.
Mt Mitchell challenge, three weeks later, was quite different. For one, I didn’t really know even how long the race would be! Advertised as ~40 miles, but looking at past times I figured it’s usually a bit short….and the course changes from year to years based on the weather and what trails are available. Aliza LaPierre was running and she is a top notch ultrarunner, so i figured why not try to go out with her and see what happens. That lasted about 50 meters, until I decided I didn’t want to run that fast on the road section to begin! LOL. Still, at mile 16, I was told I was “a couple minutes behind” her….it’s always hard to say how accurate that kind of update is, but, at least I was maintaining the same zip code!
I had a blast on the 18ish mile descent. One woman even told me I looked like a little deer running — thank you! Running downhill really is just so much faster than running uphill. Imagine that, huh? I made it up to the summit in about 3:25, and I descended in 2:20! I’ll take it!!
Overall, the course is now one of my favorites. I would love to go back and give this another go as it’s totally possible to train for this course perfectly around Charlottesville. We definitely got lucky with the weather which made it a bit nicer for me this year as a newbie — it was hot down towards the bottom for my taste (in the 70s!) but the top of the mountain was prob 45-50, rainy, windy, and FOGGY! But nothing too gnarly to contend with, and no ice at the top.
I will say I was so pleased to hit that last 1/2 mile around the lake with time to spare to go under 6 hours. That time put me onto the list for the top 10 fastest times for the race with so many of the women I have looked up to through the years – Krissy Moehl, Anne Riddle, Annette Bednosky, etc.
And just like that – my time back in the ultra world is put on pause again and I am switching gears to some recovery, then, ironman yet again. Watching IM New Zealand does have me fired up to get things rolling for Challenge Taiwan. Seeing the continued progress of women I have raced against for years in these early season races has me pumped up for what I can do, too. Isn’t it cool that’s the way it works: you see it, and you believe it for yourself?
Now, time to sleep and enjoy the last of my recovery. I know I have some big sessions coming my way for the next few weeks!!