Anyway at 6:30 we all set off using two hand-held bottles for hydration. I settled in to a pace I felt comfortable with and immediately knew my 9 hour goal was out the window. It felt more like a 10 hour kind of day already. Things went pretty well and quick all the way to the first turn around. About 3/4 of a mile before the turn around I saw my friend Snipes and he gave me some quick encouragement before blasting past. There were a few camera guys along the course. As you can see....I was feeling pretty good.
The Bull Run Marina aid station (mile 21ish) was awesome...and here is why.....this is important stuff!! Bacon....they had bacon and it was amazing. Apparently people had been turning them down on the whole bacon front which at the time I found to be pretty much a crime. The aid station volunteers hooked me up with two slices of salty-protein goodness and I continued out under a bridge through some precarious rocks. At this point you start thinking "Man these rocks are going to really suck in about 25 miles when I hit them again".
Not a good way to start this segment of the course. Things were getting even hotter and the next 5 miles until I hit Wolf Run Shoals was starting to get tough. I hadn't hit the wall yet but I was starting to dread it. Also the thought of still having 25-28 miles to go was starting to REALLY get into my head. I started thinking about a dirty 4 letter word that starts with a "D" .....but luckily I got a hold of myself a little bit and toughed through till I hit the next aid station at mile 26.
|Things got a little bit tough for a while|
This aid station was good and bad news for me. I refueled and saw a sign that said "2 miles until next aid". This led me to think I'd be at the next aid station in no time! Wrong! 30 minutes later I had navigated a pretty hilly stretch and finally got into the Fountainhead Aid Station (Mile 28). I was right in the middle of hitting a wall at this point so I ditched my shirt with my crew and grabbed about 4 gels (I didn't get to see my crew again for 10 miles). I stalked over to the aid station table where the volunteers helped me refill my water bottles, I ate some food and for good measure took an S-cap to keep my electrolytes up. Then I was out onto the white loop.
The "White Loop" section of the course went much better for me. Things finally started to cool down and the extra time I took to eat at Fountainhead paid some big dividends. I had broken through the wall, was into the second half of the race and feeling good compared to a few hours before. There were some small rolling hills and before I knew it I was coming up on the Do Loop Aid Station (Mile 32).
I ate some fruit and nuts at the aid station as well as some Mountain Dew and then moved out toward the start of the Do Loop. Right as I started the loop my stomach turned on me really bad, so I took a quick bathroom break. After the break I felt really good and made great progress through the Do Loop. I had been warned it was pretty tough but I actually had a lot of fun (and there was a nice breeze off the river).
Coming back through the Do Loop Aid Station they hooked me up with a fudgesicle it was amazing...until I dropped part of it on the ground (a true injustice after 35 miles of running). The two miles back to Fountainhead went by pretty quickly but I was starting to have trouble keeping pace. It wasn't a matter of my legs being cramped up (they weren't) and it wasn't a matter of being out of breath (I wasn't). It just seems that after running for that long.....sometimes your body just doesn't want to listen to you!
Coming in to Fountainhead (38 miles) I saw my crew again, but I quickly got distracted by the pizza at the aid station. I ate a slice of cheese, it felt really good to have some real food in me. The next section was the tough hilly section. I was having trouble with motivation, I knew I was going to finish but I just couldn't make myself run. Luckily I had been running relatively nearby some girl since entering the white loop. She asked if I wanted to run together for the end of the race which made me feel a lot better. Having someone to run with was an immediate improvement. It's much easier to motivate yourself and conversation beats an Ipod any day of the week. Anyway Siobhan (cool name) ran and chatted about how she and her husband were getting into ultras and my upcoming relocation to the southwest. Once at Wolf Run Shoals I was treated to an ice-cream sandwich (Wonderful) and the knowledge that there were only 10 miles to go!
The company really really helped in the next section. Siobhan and I took turns taking the lead and pacing (although truth be told I think she led a little more than me). We agreed that so far this was the toughest part of the race since it was hilly and there was still a good distance to go. There were a couple places at the bottom of hills where there was a small stream about a foot deep. This was awesome, while other runners hopped over, I soaked my feet in the cool water and felt a lot better! After what felt like a long time we crossed the crazy rocks again (it was a lot tougher this time) and rolled in to the last aid station at Bull Run Marina (45 miles)
|It was really rocky!|
In the end I came in at 10 hours 56 minutes. Way slower than my goal. But for my first 50 miler I'll take the finish. Overall, I had a really fun day running out near Bull Run! Great course, great scenery, great running buddy for the last 12 miles, oh and did I mention there was bacon!
Post race I took my crew out to Matchbox Pizza in Rockville... I may or may not have devoured an entire large Spicy Meatball Pizza.