I certainly would have preferred cool weather like we have had for nearly all of the Spring of 2013, but it wasn't to be with a forecast for the warmest day of the year. So, there was nothing to do but work with what you have and try and make the best of the situation. When I saw the forecast was for 86F mid afternoon, I knew I would have to change my goal by at least an hour if I was still going to have a shot at a pr.
I arrived at the trailhead about 1:45 and saw Lee Watson and Mike Walsh were waiting for me and I was pleasantly surprised to see THE Marathon Princess, Karla Werner pull in right behind me.We made last minute preparations and right at 2pm we started off at a nice and relaxed pace. At this time of day the sun was bearing down and most of the greenway was exposed. I was being careful to keep my pace slower than normal and hope to stay fresh by the time the sun went down and things begin to cool off. Karla was already feeling the heat by mile 5 and told us to go ahead but I said it was time to do some walking and so she was able to hang with us I had some water stashed at mile 6.5 and we stopped long enough to refill before heading on. I had hoped to do the first lap in 1:35 but having to slow down to keep the core temp down made it take 1:39:30 which was fine for my new more conservative goal.
Karla called it a day and after just a short break I headed out. Lee caught up with me after about 1/2 mile. Kept waiting for Mike to catch up but he was struggling with the heat. He finally caught us around 11.5 but by 13 he backed off and Lee and I continued own having a good time getting to know each other better and sharing old hippie stories and running stuff. Lee started struggling around mile 17 right in the middle of me telling him all about how Karla and I began training together and how she became the Princess. He told me to go ahead so he wouldn't hold me back but I finished the story and then left him behind at mile 18. As I made the last turn going back up to the parking lot I was greeted by cheers from, Kara Labella and Brad Broyles and Laura Frey and her sweet daughters.. That lap took 1:49:58 including the aid station stop between laps which was what I was hoping to hold for at least the next 2 or 3 laps. The last 5 miles had more shade but it was still in the mid 80's. Laura and the girls brought a cooler with cold cloths for me to wipe down and cool off with and they felt oh so refreshing. Thanks !
Lee and Mike called it a day but Kara and Brad headed out with me for lap 3. We had had a great time and were maintaining the pace fairly well and were enjoying even more shade now. Pretty uneventful lap other than the nice companionship. With about 2.5 to go we saw John Adamoff running toward us. I paced John a lap at Umstead this year and he wanted to come out and support me and get in a long training run for Western States coming up next month. That lap including the transition took 1:57:15. I had taken a longer break and a potty stop but it was still slower than I wanted. I was still feeling pretty good but I knew I needed to keep up with the calories and hydration so I once again took a longer than hoped for break before heading back out.
Brad and Kara left and John and I headed out for lap 4 as the sun began to set. It had cooled off a little but we could feel the humidity rising. As I had done on each lap, I took advantage of gravity and ran the whole 1.2 miles down to the river and then another .5 to the bridge before beginning to start the walk breaks. I was still moving at a decent pace but the stride was getting shorter as expected. The bugs were coming out now and bouncing off of us and in our faces and the frogs were serenading us along the river. It was now getting dark but it had become overcast and light reflecting down made it possible to run without our lights which I prefer to do whenever possible.
But without the lights I missed the turnaround point. I noticed some things that didn't seem just right and sure enough we soon came to the county line which is exactly 1/4 mile past the turn point. Not really a problem. We would just turn at the sign 1/4 mile before the turn the next lap to even it back out. We were about a mile and a half from the finish of the lap when we saw a headlamp coming towards us. We figured it must be Sean Flannery who was planning on running through the night with me. Other than a cyclist with the brightest headlight I'd ever seen we had the trail to ourselves that whole lap. I was still running fairly well running most of the uphill back to the lot again.
That lap with the extra half mile took 2:25:44. Even with the extra distance I was beginning to worry about the pace. I didn't want to be that slow until the lst couple of laps but now my cushion for the pr was already disappearing. I knew as I headed out that if the pr was going to happen I couldn't slow down anymore. I started out and John and Sean quickly caught up to me. It didn't take me long to realize things weren't going too well and it didn't take long for the guys to notice too. My legs were feeling fine and for brief moments I could run a decent pace but was soon back to a shuffle. I couldn't pinpoint anything in particular that was wrong. I was just tired.
I took some S caps and ate another gel and felt better for just a short time but the pattern continued of short burst of decent running followed by shuffling and more frequent walk breaks. We made the short turn and I was actually feeling a little better the last few miles as we headed back but although I was beginning to feel better the pace was still way to slow. I tried to push as much as I could up the hill to the lot but when I checked my time I knew it was over. Even with the short 9.5 mile lap it took 2:2846. Even if I could hold that pace for the next 5 laps, I was going to be over the pr and the reality was I would be slowing more each lap. I really hated to do it but the only sensible thing to do was to call it off. I felt bad that I couldn't keep going and run the next couple of laps with John and Sean and I was expecting a few more folks to join me for the finish in the morning.
With long and frequent breaks, yeah, I probably could have finished 100 miles but it would have not been pretty and it would have been meaningless. Been there and don't have anything to prove to anyone or myself there. This was all about the pr or bust. I gave it my best shot which is all I could do. Much wiser to shut it down and save myself for the next big thing which will be the Bighorn 100 next month.
My time for the 50 was 10:21. In contrast at C&O two weeks ago I went through what should have been 50 in about 9:15. In contrast to feeling weak, tired and slowing way down here I was still holding pace at C&O. Just shows you how much difference the weather can make. I have never performed well in heat and the difference was about 40F cooler at the start two weeks ago with the high only reaching the low 60's.
A big THANK YOU to all that came out and also to so many at home that were keeping up with my progress and keeping me in your thoughts and prayers I feel truly Blessed that you care !