3.5 Mile Loop
At 6am, we were off. The course consists of you running the 3.5 mile campus loop before you hit the main 25K/15.5 mile loop three times. I ran most of this with Jeremy, Chuck and our friend John from Boston. Pretty uneventful, as the pace was easy and controlled.
First Full Loop
Chuck began to take off on his own, but I still hung with Jeremy and John. Well at least for the campus section. We were about five miles or so in and it was apparent I would need to stop for a bio-break. Was not happy about that, but so be it. I ducked into the woods and all in all it probably cost me five minutes.
As I came out of the woods though I soon joined up with Joe, which was a real treat. We kept each other company for a good while. Still feeling good with no problems and kept the pace steady. Joe would eventually take off but I soon caught back up with John and we ran together for a bit.
Yurt Loop complete and I was now on the Oak Hill loop side. I was alone here, and meandered through the trails, and somewhat astonished that though I've run this route several dozen times, I can never quite pinpoint where I am in the second half of it. It's deceiving like that. I eventually reached the field, the last section of the loop and was at the start/finish area.
Second Full Loop
I stopped at my bag and grabbed my handheld water bottle, which was filled with coconut water. By the way, the coconut water was GREAT throughout the race. The taste is not overpowering, but it's full of electrolytes and potassium as well. This was much needed on a day like today, which was extremely humid and would later grow pretty hot as well. Not having the handheld for the first 19 miles was somewhat risky, but it worked well with me being sure to drink Coke and water liberally at the aid stations.
The sun remained in the clouds for now, but it was still warming up as the day was going on and the thick humidity remained. I also ditched my shirt which brought welcome relief. I made my way through the campus section and was now en route to the yurt. All the while, I was sucking down the coconut water which was refreshing and hitting the spot.
I ran with another guy for a while and we eventually caught up with Norm, a running acquaintance from the Boston area. I enjoyed their company, as it was now 22 or so miles into the race and I was hitting a sort of low point. Norm and the other dude even scooted ahead a bit. I could feel my energy sapping and realized I needed to eat. So, we got to the yurt aid station, and I downed some boiled potatoes. Shortly before then, I also downed some S-Caps to keep the electrolytes up, which was very important in this humidity.
The potatoes did their magic, as I began to feel my energy returning and picked up the pace. Caught back up with Norm and the other dude and soon moved ahead. I ate some more potatoes when we went back by the yurt station (you go by it three times each loop, coming in from a different trail each time) and continued to move well.
However, perhaps from the carb intake, it was obvious another bio-break was needed. Crap (pun intended). This sucked. I ducked into the woods and did my business, and this costed me another five minutes. When I was back out on the trail again, I was pretty demoralized. I could tell breaking eight hours was not an option early in the race (even before that first bio-break), but now I didn't even think I'd be able to even break my PR (8:33:41) or even my second best time (8:40:23).
Made my way around the Oak Hill section, and as I approached the end of the loop I saw Kate and Ian. Ian asked how I was doing, and I believed I responded that I felt like a goth and country music song combined. But, while I wasn't feeling great, I also remember my pace being pretty good here. I was happy that I finished the second full loop without any of the 50K front runners (they start two hours after us) passing me.
|Finishing up the second loop.|
|Not exactly in a high point here.|
Third and Final Full Loop
Roughly about 35 miles into the race now and my legs and feet are sore but still very functional and it's just a matter of keeping the nutrition and hydration in check, as well as the mental state.
Oh yeah, the past few posts here on my blog I mentioned a sciatic nerve pain in my left calf along with lots of muscle twitching and cramping. I only felt that mildly for the first 10 miles. After that, it was and still is gone. However, the other calf, my right one, began to threaten to cramp a little on the field sections right after the yurt. I upped the S-Caps intake (six pills from then to the finish) and drank even more liberally. Smart to do, as the sun was now breaking out of the clouds and it was heating up (lower 80s) and the humidity remained. Kept eating boiled potatoes, but also an occasional PB&J sandwich.
|Ian runs with me for a bit as I head over |
to the Oak Hill Loop for the last time.
I was now on the Oak Hill side, and there were two girls (runner and her pacer) in front of me who I'd catch up to, but they were running everything, including the uphills which I was walking up. So, I'd catch up to them going down but they'd then gain distance going uphill. They were talking regularly as well, so that along with the consistent running told me their energy was great so I wasn't worrying myself about catching them. I mused they'd have more gears to pass me back.
However, my confidence was growing as the loop was going on. With each passing kilometer sign I did calculations in my head. At first, it became apparent that I would indeed break that 8:40 time on the course. Then, it became apparent I had a chance to still PR.
I didn't realize the latter until a few miles from the finish. When I had a mile left in the wooded section, I told myself if I reached the final field by 1:25pm (my Garmin went into watch mode at mile 38 because the battery had gotten low) I could PR. The race actually started at 6:03am, so that would mean I would have roughly 11 minutes for that final mile to PR, which was more than ample. So, setting that goal helped and my pace picked up and I remember reaching the field at 1:21pm.
As I reached the field, fellow Trail Monster Running member, Al, told me to chase down the guy in the green shirt who was just ahead of me. I passed him and we exchanged good jobs, and I cruised the fields. The consistent girl and her pacer were just ahead of me, and as we crossed the street to the final section of the finish line, another girl yelled at me to "get that girl!". I replied no. Just didn't have any desire to try to chase her down, especially knowing she would probably out kick me anyway.
As I approached the finish, I saw the clock and smiled. Moments later, I was across the finish line with a time of 8:23:37, a new PR by 10 minutes, 4 seconds. Really happy about that, especially since those two bio-breaks cost me a good chunk of time. Also, the weather was hotter and more humid then the other two years I ran it in 2008 and 2009. Lot to be proud of with all of that.
|Congrats from my TMR teammates.|
Afterwards, hung out for several hours at the finishing line field, downing tasty beverages courtesy of Smuttynose and mowing down the free BBQ while exchanging war stories with the other Trail Monsters. Definitely a fun cap to the day!
It's now the morning after, and my legs feel a bit sore, but overall great. Far cry from Boston, where my quads in particular were totally trashed from running fast on asphalt on a downhill course. No one muscle group is more sore than the other, and overall it's not bad at all. Sweet.
Big thanks to the race directors, Erik and Ian, for organizing an outstanding event again this year. This race has built a fantastic reputation as a result of their hard work over the years, and it's a must do event.
Also, big congrats to Jeremy who finished sub-8 for a PR, Stephen who also PR'd, Joe who finished a few minutes ahead of me, Emma who had a great performance after coming back from injury and finished without any aggravation and also won her age group, and Val who toughed out some cramping and finished strong. Lots of other Trail Monster Running folks in the 50K and 25K events. Seems like despite the heat and humidity, so many of us had great days today and a lot of PRs to go around.
Ran 50.0 miles @ 10:05/mile pace.
Official Time: 8:23:37
Place: 32nd out of 120 finishers (ouch. stacked field.)
Lower 60s to lower 80s, very humid, overcast to partly cloudy.