>It was a good day. I’ll save you the effort of reading the entire post in case you just want to know how I did: 3rd female, 42nd overall (out of 257 starters), and a time of 4:56:53. Results are here.
The whole story:
I went down to Charlottesville yesterday afternoon, had dinner and some much needed QT with Francesca and Gill, and headed to bed at 9:30. In theory, that would have given me 6 hours of sleep seeing as my alarm was set for 3:30. However, by the time I fell asleep it was actually around 10:30 and so I wasn’t quite ready for that early of a wakeup. Whatevs, I hit the road at 4 am for the 1.5 hour drive down to Holiday Lake in Appomattox, Virginia. I got there and picked up my packet, shedded my layers, and found myself at the starting line with about 250 others. VA Tech and liberty both sent a pretty solid group, and it was nice to see some people under 30 at a race for once. Tech did their silly little cheer, someone said a prayer, we sang the national anthem (note to self: yelling out the O is only cool in Baltimore…), and finally we were off.
My game plan at this point was to hang back, take it slow and steady and try to consistantly hit 9’s-9:20’s throughout the run. The first mile was marked, I look at my watch: 7:30. Oops. There goes my plan. I held back a little bit and waited for the next group to catch me on the trail, and hung with them for the first 4 miles or so. I got to that aide station at 33 minutes, was passed by Justine “the machine” Morrison, and was feeling pretty good in 2nd place. The trails were beautiful, a few hills here and there but mostly very runnable. The only problem with this is that a course with few climbs provides little time for resting where I can eat and drink. Still, I was able to stick to my nutritional plan with about a bottle and hour, a GU on the 30, and 2 endurolytes at the start and midpoint.
This course is 2 loops of 16.63 miles, with the 2nd loop being run in the opposite direction as the first. I was in third place after 12 miles, but I could see a couple women close behind me on the trails. I kept telling myself not to get competitive, but we all know how that goes. Anyway, I hit the turnaround at 2:22. Justine was about 15 minutes ahead of me, and the girl in 2nd place was about 5 minutes ahead of me. The girl in 4th was about 1 minute behind me. Shoot. She picked up a pacer at the midway point, and was able to pass me soon after. I had my doubts she’d get too far ahead though. Races like these are known for having wildcards, especially in the women’s field. Oftentime you’ll get a random marathoner who wants to try their hand at an ultra. They are pretty easy to pick out – no trail shoes, not carrying water or food, and slow on the climbs. This chick fit that to a T. I was able to keep her in my sight, and then she disappeared….into the woods. When she saw me come around the corner, I guess I startled her as she stood right up from her bathroom break and took off in front of me. The smell was not so nice, she probably should have taken her time. Either way, that was reason enough for me to put some more pressure on her, and was able to pass her with 8 miles to go.
My second lap split was 2:34. Not quite as even as I hoped, but I’m okay with that. I felt strong coming into the finish, and that’s all that matters. Finishing in 4:56 was a huge accomplishment for me, especially because this was by no means a peak race. It is a 17 minute PR, on a course that is about 2 miles longer than my previous fastest 50K. Breaking that 5 hour barrier is great for me this early in the season, and has set a great tone for the rest of my training. Plus I got some sweet valentines-themed race stuff.
My focus for the next 8 weeks leading up to Bull Run will be hill workouts. My speed is there, I just need to maintain it on the hills. This means I need to find more time to get out into the mountains and onto the trails…no complaining about that!