Saturday, October 27, 2012

2012 Spinx Run Fest Marathon Race Report

October 27th, 2012 I ran the Spinx Run Fest Marathon. It's put on by the Greenville Track Club, of which I have been the volunteer webmaster (& Board of Directors member) for the last 10 years or so. Running this distance just 2 weeks after a 50k was a new experience for me. I had done ultras 3 weeks apart before, and those hadn't gone so well, but I couldn't pass up this hometown event.
My IT band issue that had crept up on me during the New River Trail 50k stayed with me these last 2 weeks. I took it easy the week leading up to this event - but I was still worried.
My buddy Todd was in town for the race and I met up with him in the Greenville Drive stadium where people were bustling about before the 7:30am start. Saw a few others I knew (like Merl & Team DNR member Dave who was volunteering).
Todd and Dave - Team DNR Goons

We made our way to the start line just outside the stadium and would make our way to the Swamp Rabbit Trail to Furman University, then back on and off the trail to Travelers Rest for the turnaround and 13.6. Swamp Rabbit back thru Furman, more Swamp Rabbit to Greenville before the last 1+ mile on the road, and finishing with a lap around the warning track going into home plate.

I hung with Todd at a fast pace - at least a minute faster than my plan, but it felt ok and I enjoy his company. Just like Charlotte, Myrtle Beach, etc. Was a bit downhill to start too. After an 8:02 mile, and then a bit further with Todd - I finally let him go as I got into my comfortable "pace" of 8:45 or so. No knee issue at all this early, and it would not appear at all during the race!
Had a few little hills here to remind us it wasn't all flat and I was running toward the Furman campus mostly by myself.

We went into the campus just after Mile 7 (in 59:41) and I was looking forward to this as it broke up the race some. I'd be running thru some parts of the campus I hadn't before in my 18 other races there before this one. Left the campus on the opposite side of the lake near Mile 10 and kept heading north. Took a 2nd Gu and started looking for the leaders before I split off the Swamp Rabbit towards the halfway turnaround. Sure enough, around Mile 12 - there they went! Soon after was the lead female, being led on the bike by DNR Good Kathrin!

Started running with a guy thru here doing his first marathon (from Kentucky?). Nice guy and doing well, but he was starting to feel it a bit already, and now we had a big hill to climb. I got ahead of him, took an S!cap and came up to the turnaround. A guy had a box of Krispy Kreme donuts and I grabbed one - it was very good and gave me some extra sugar. So - Mile 13.1 in ~1:54:25, so my 2nd fastest marathon half ever.
So I kept running back thru downtown Travelers Rest on the Swamp Rabbit for another loop thru Furman. About Mile 16 I began to feel it - the sensation that I was running out of steam. I pushed on for another mile and hit mile 17 at Furman and promptly started my walking breaks (after a quick pit stop). I was doing about 9:05's before this and the walk breaks took me down to 10:30's. I was still enjoying the Furman route and had picked up my pace a little bit more while getting back onto the Swamp Rabbit. I started passing and then got passed by the same couple repeatedly as we alternated walk breaks. She finally left me for good at the hill at mile 23.
Mile 20 in 3:00:10.
Around Mile 21, I saw a guy down. Sitting up at least, and being attended to by at least 4 people, one of which had a bicycle. I assumed he was being take care of, but stopped and asked if they needed anything. They asked if I had Gu. I said sure and gave them my last one, but also gave them my 2 remaining S!caps, which I'm sure would have helped more. They were a little concerned with my time but that was the least of my worries.
Turns out - I had my own issues that appeared within the next mile. My right calf started cramping. OUCH. It was constantly on the verge of seizing up and every now and then would cause me to tighten up and hope it would diminish.
After another mile (~Mile 23 and the big hill), my left calf decided join to cramping party. Double-ouch.
Miles 23 and 24 were 11 min miles and the last 2 were 12:10. Not good, but I was not too concerned, especially coming two weeks off my 50k PR.
Saw someone being put into an ambulance at Linky Stone Park - it was warm and people did go out too fast. I made it up the last uphill and went around the outside of the stadium. Saw my HS buddy for Germany who was in town and headed in to the back of the filed along the warning track for the last .2mi.
Heard my name called out and looked for my family. I was just struggling to keep moving and hoping that my calves would allow me that motion.
My little girl (almost 4) was in the arms of my friend and past-GTC President Kerri, When she tried to hand her to me, she decided she didn't want to. I got to her first though, and she hugged my next as I went thru the finish in 4:09 (1 minute faster than the marathon split at the New River 50k).

All I can say is glad it's over! Finishing 2 long events 2 weeks apart was something I was unsure of, but I made it!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

2012 New River Trail 50k Race Report

This event's 5th running on Saturday October 13th, 2012 took me up to Fries, VA, just over the border from NC off I-77. It had sounded like a great event, all along the New River, flat (and therefore, fast), plus - 4 others I know from Greenville were supposed to be going up as well. As race day got closer, all four had to bail out due to injuries, lack of training, or scheduling conflicts. Even with that - I was excited about being out there in nature for the morning and then some.

My family came up with me Friday afternoon and once settled into the hotel in Galax, we got some dinner downtown and headed to packet pickup.

Start/Finish (packet Pickup)

Heron on the New River (packet pickup)

Got to pick out my pottery for registering early, got my shirt, bib and put in for a few door prizes - all went smoothly. Spent a little time at the river just enjoying the views as the sun got lower and thinking about the race. I was looking forward to the course - north along the river to Aid at Fries Junction (5.3mi), a little out and back before crossing a bridge and then running beside Chestnut Creek. Another Aid station at 11.8mi (or 6.5 since AS1). Continuing on by the creek another 4.1 to Cliffview Turnaround (at the edge of Galax). A little past halfway at mile ~16, then returning: AS 4 same as AS2-Mile 20, AS5=AS1-Mile 25.8. No out and back there, just the turn towards the finish. We got our certified Marathon split soon afterwards and finished where we began at 8am.

and we're off!
Race morning was very casual - after a night tossing and turning (just something about hotels!), breakfast in the hotel, and we all got to the race at 7:15 or so. Little cool out at 41°, but ideal temps for running. Race ready shorts, GTC long sleeve, hat, two handhelds (Amphipod and Ironman), wool socks and Montrail Badrocks on my feet. Trail wasn't technical at all - but these are my trail shoes.

where did we go??
At the starting gun from Annette Bednosky (elite runner and race director!), the faster runners took off and the rest of us settled into our paces. We headed down the trail and into the misty morning. With such a flat course - it only took a mile or so for the field to spread out and I was soon running by myself.  I felt pretty good and kept a comfortable pace, trying to keep my body relaxed. The first miles went by pretty quickly even with stopping for a few pictures of the river.
early miles
sunrise over New River

I got to the 1st aid station in 46min and ran thru it as my 2 handheld water bottles were fine and I'd already taken a Gu. I was on the out-and-back and as I started seeing more people, I knew the turn-around was near. Sure enough - an orange cone and 2 volunteers marked me down and I was heading back. As there was alot of time to think out there, I wondered how they got that point to make it a 50k? They'd have to measure from the start to the 1st AS, then the far turn around to the 1st AS, then subtract those from 50k, and then go exactly half that distance. Then - did they have to measure it from start to finish to see if it was accurate?
Anyway - I was running and had a long way to go.
Bypassed the aid station again and crossed the river on a nice big bridge. I had warmed up and after putting my gloves away after a mile or two, now had my sleeves pulled up. We got into some well shaded sections as we ran by Chestnut Creek, so I put my sleeves back down. I noticed how wet my arms were from all the mist in the air. Haven't had that happen in a while. A tunnel on this section was unexpected, but pretty cool.
Thru here I was running just behind two others who looked to have a nice steady pace, and I stayed with them for a few miles. 
It was time to re-fill and re-fuel at the next aid station (1:51). A guy ran up and got a bottle as I switched one of them to gatorade. I grabbed food and stuffed my face (usual items: chips cookie, PB&J, pretzels...), grabbed another handful, and left. Running alone again.
2nd & 3rd place males
1st place female on way back

 I had plenty of time to calculate when I could expect the leaders to come by me the opposite way. I had expected by about mile 13 (which would be about 5 miles ahead of me). After 2:06, here comes the leader, followed 30 secs or so later by two more guys and not too far behind, the 1st place female.

Hit the turnaround at 15.8 miles in 2:29, grabbed some more snacks and headed back towards the finish. It's always a great feeling going thru the halfway point where you know each step is toward the finish line. I was still running fine and hit the next aid station in almost exactly the same split (38/39min for the 4.1miles). 3:08 overall after ~19.9miles.

I could feel my legs wanting to slow down soon after this aid station (refill & small snack). I was so far very happy with my time and knew I'd be around 5 hrs even if I slowed to 12min miles. I added some walk breaks, but I do walk quickly anyway, so it wasn't slowing me down too much. The next aid station (and the landmarks that told me it was getting closer, like the tunnel, bridge) seemed to take forever to come into sight. It was on the warm side now and I was wishing I'd worn a short sleeve shirt. There were a few more bikers/walkers on the trail, but the runners heading toward the turnaround we're all past.
Finally, the tunnel, bridge and the last aid station at Fries Junction (mile ~25.5). I skipped the orange gatorade again and as usual at this point in an ultra - I had no appetite for food. Stood there waiting for something to look appealing. Gave up, grabbed some chips and left to go get my marathon split.
It came up pretty fast - even with me mot moving so well. My IT band flared up which made running difficult. Wasn't concerned with the split, but I was very happy with the 4:10:36. With my previous 50k PR of 6:19 - something dreadful would have had to happen for me to Not PR. 
I ended up running with (occasionally as we repeatedly passed each other) a woman which helped push me along, but I could only "run" for a few minutes at a time. I walk fast though, so I was still doing ~11min miles or so.
Finally - I saw the road crossing (~14min from the start heading out) and I was on my own after that. Came upon another guy obviously having chafing issues. I felt bad for him, but couldn't do a thing for him. I was still alternating running and walking, until I saw the clearing ahead for the finish. I walked to the little bridge and ran in from there. My wife and daughter were at the finish waiting for me as I crossed the line in 5:07:47, a 1 hour and 12 minute PR!!
Into the finish!


Felt pretty good afterwards - no more knee issues (until I ran again 5 days later). Was Very sore the following 2 days, but the 1.5mi walk on a different section of the New River Trail was nice the next morning.

I really enjoyed the course. Volunteers were amazing, aid stations were well spaced. It's difficult using the same muscles constamtly for 5+ hours. There was not the slightest hint of a grade anywhere on the course - FLAT as possible. If that is the way to get a PR - this course is for you! Not sure I feel the need to do that again though. (That's also my typical post-ultra comment!)