Tuesday, October 12, 2010

New River 50K

I think this is one of the best photos I've ever taken. I'd like to think it is due to my skills as a photographer but it was more just sheer luck at being at the right place at the right time. That time just happened to be about 6.2 miles into the New River Trail 50K.

I liked the 8am starting time which made for a relaxing morning. Our rental house was only a couple of blocks away so around 7:30 we made our way down to the riverside which was covered in a blanket of fog and prepared for the journey ahead. With the temperature around 45F I was feeling confident that today would be a good run for me and all my friends. Promptly at 8, race director Annette Bednosky sent us off on the trail.

My plan was to run easy the first mile to warm up and then gradually pick up the pace to about 8:50 pace and hold onto that as long as possible. We could barely see the river for the fog at first and in the first mile the course is away from the river anyway so the only view was the runners in front of me. I bided my time behind a small group until the 1st mile in 9:02 and then eased my way around them as I picked it up just a bit. I soon caught up to Kathy Lee and ran talking to her for awhile but then she backed off and I picked it up a bit more and put it on cruise control.

I was feeling good as we approached the first aid station at about 5.3 miles and I was at exactly the pace I wanted averaging 8:50. From here, we had to do a short out and back section of about 8/10ths of a mile which gave me a chance to see most of the other runners behind and in front of me. I pulled out the camera for the first time and snapped a few shots of some friends but I didn't want to take the time to take too many. I wasn't even going to run with the camera since I was racing for a pr but I wanted to at least get a picture of the ladies. Lisa was not very far behind me and Karla was a little bit further back and looking comfortable. I kept the camera out because I knew I wanted to get a shot of the bridge over the river and it turned out to be nearly perfect as the sun was just coming up from behind the hills and burning off the fog.

Once I crossed the river , the course began a very slight but noticeable incline as the trail ran beside and upstream of Chestnut Creek. We would be going this way for almost the next 10 miles so I made a conscious effort to back off the pace slightly hoping that I could stay close to my goal and then make up some time on the downhill return. The only problem with that is that for some reason the pace which should have felt like an easy training run was not feeling easy. I didn't feel bad, I just didn't feel like I could go any faster. That seemed strange to me since I had run 30 seconds per mile faster at the marathon 4 weeks ago and now I had only gone about 7 miles.

I continued along enjoying the gorgeous views of Chestnut Creek and the trail until I reached the 2nd aid station at Chestnut Yard around the 12 mile mark. By now my average pace was 9:00, still good but it was not not getting any easier and I was hoping it would. It was nice to see some familiar faces at the aid station including Mark Long of the MTC. Mark was entered in the race but has been injured so he came up anyway to help out and support some of the MTC crowd.

I tried to maintain my pace as I continued up the trail but I was already gradually slowing down. I had not given up hope yet for the pr but something was going to have to change. A few miles later I could hear Lisa coming up behind me. I didn't have to look to know it was her. We have run so many miles together in the past 1.5 years that I can recognize the sound of her footstrikes. We ran together for a short distance but then she pulled away. She was doing great and I was hoping she would be able to continue in her first ultra.

I finally made it to the turnaround at about 15.9 miles and already I had slowed my average pace down to about 9:15 and by the time I got refilled and on my way it was even slower. Now it would take a miracle to get the pr but I tried to pick up the pace now that the grade would be slightly downhill. Try as I may, I just did not have it today for whatever reason. I just kept getting slower and slower. Finally at about 18.5 miles I decided to just start walking and wait for Karla to catch up with me. If I couldn't run a fast time then at least maybe I could enjoy the rest of the race with the Marathon Princess. I stopped at the next aid station for a refill and some coke and stretched my aching hamstrings for a bit and then continued walking. It wasn't much longer and after 2 miles of walking that Karla finally caught up to me.

She was still running well and we enjoyed the next 2 miles miles together but whatever was causing me to be so tired would not let me even hold her pace so she went ahead and for the next 9 miles I would just relax and do a run/walk to the finish. The plan now was to just get to the end as comfortably as possible and enjoy the views along the way. I was really glad I had chosen to bring the camera along now . The rest of the race was rather uneventful. I was passed by quite a few friends and they all asked if I was ok. I assured them that I was fine, just not having a good day and was taking it easy the rest of the way.

With little less than 3 miles to go, Tony Rouse caught up to me and we ran together for the next couple of miles. It was nice to share a little time with one of the truly nice guys in the sport. Over the years Tony and I have shared many miles in various ultra's. The amazing thing today was that Tony and 3 others, Doug Dawkins, Eric Fogelman and Rick French had just completed a 4 day stage race across NC for 145 miles.

With a mile to go I told Tony I needed to take another short walk break. He hesitated but I told him to go on ahead. I could now see the welcome sight of the finish just ahead and as I made my final approached the best sight was seeing my two wonderful training partners Karla and Lisa standing there waiting for me.

Despite the disappointment of the slow time I still enjoyed the race a lot. It is so beautiful and Annette and her volunteers did a great job with the race .Normally if I was having a bad race I would get in a foul mood but today I was able to keep a smile on my face and just make the most of it.

Here are the results.

and here are the rest of my pictures.


Frank Lilley said...

Sorry your day didn't work out as you planned ... but loved how you decided to have fun anyway! It's really all about the personal enjoyment. Congratulations! And I feel sorry for the folks racing you next time!

runjoey said...

Thanks Frank. I'm resting this week and then plan to put up big miles next week to get ready for the next race, the OBX Marathon