I went out for one of the training runs for this race where we ran one complete loop. The race is has one loop that you run twice in opposite directions. So I had an idea what the course looked like and knew that it is definitely a fast, flat, and very runnable course. After some pace crunching I thought that I could have a good shot for a sub-5hrs maybe even more. My strategy was to keep it around 9min/miles for the first loop, speed up on the second and run as fast as I felt comfortable. To save time, I wanted to skip all (stupid I know) aid stations the first loop and run on a clifbar, some shot blocks, S-caps and a hand bottle. Another goal I had set myself was to try to make the top10 (ha ha). So much for the theory...
We (David & Chris) carpooled from Charlottesville at 4am and made it with enough time to check-in and chat to Holiday Lake. We met Robin and Rebecca, who stayed there overnight and had some small breakfast (Pastries, Coffee) that was provided and included in the entry fee (nice). We got ready and there we were, starting at 6:30am in pretty cold temperature. I started somewhat in the back of the pack and had to pass a few going down the road for a mile before hitting the funnel to the single-track trail. Everybody seemed to have gone out quite fast I thought. It backed up on the single track. I felt good and passed some people at the beach before hitting the trail again. I decided to run all hills more or less. This went pretty good. The vibe was good. I heard a few jokes along the way. Running through the creek gave me a quick jolt of winterness. Thanks to my Inov-8 295's, it drained pretty quick. I passed walking David Snipes on an uphill with a quick "Hey David!" and got back that I violated the trail runners etiquette of passing an older man running while he was walking uphill (ha ha) .
I kept running through the first aid station with my goals in mind. Of course I didn't stick to my plan and ran 8:20s and 8min miles. I relaxed myself thinking I feel great and can do it. Just never stop moving. I found an open bag of shot blocks and had a hard time getting them out. They were sticky and pretty hard and in addition tasted awful (what sane person would pick apple-cranberry anyways?). Great! I had two and then decided to ditch them. My cliff bar tasted better but was frozen. My teeth sustained the hard material though :)
I stil felt good and came closer to the turnaround. I thought I was fairly in front of the pack and then was surprised to see the first people coming back. Wow, I thought, they are flying at hyperspeed and look like they just ran a 5k. Demotivating. I kept counting 3, 5, 6, 6, err, 8. Ok ok no Top10, thats fine, maybe Top20 then. I stopped counting after 15... Made it to the turn around in 2:02 and was happy with my time. I refilled my hand bottle and were off. ... Oh, darn, I meant to get some food too.. Oh well, I will make it to the next.
I felt a little exhausted but was still confident to make the sub-5. At mile 21 I thought somebody stabbed two knives in my right leg, a lengthy pain from butt to feet struck me. I stopped and stretched a bit. After that it felt better but was still painful. I started running and limping. After a mile run-walks I thought I could tackle the pain and ran a little slower but kept moving.
I finished the race with a run,walk,run slightly over 5hrs but happy.
It was a great race, day and despite pain very enjoyable.
P.S. Turns out my dull shin pain was a stress fracture. No running for 6-weeks now and slowly getting back to it. Wake up call to include more x-training.
After getting advice from a well experienced ultra runner, I will skip Promise Land as well. Having only 2,5 weeks training after 6 weeks no running coming off a stress fracture is not a very smart thing to do. So no racing until the summer. Highlands sky 40mi or NF Endurance Challenge will be on the schedule instead.
In the meantime, x-training at the gym.
In the meantime, x-training at the gym.
The recently discovered tibia stress fracture got me off running for at least 5 weeks. This means I can't do Terrapin :( I will try cross training at the gym and moutnainbiking in the mountains to keep my base up as much as possible. Next up will be Promise Land, which I am hoping the doc gives me the GO for. I know it is probably not very smart. I will try to run it as easy as possible and don't worry about any pace. We will see. That's at least the only outlook that keeps me from drowning in going cold-turkey.