In the events inaugural year in 2009, I went up with a few friends, the two who ran the 50k ended up getting lost and needed to take a taxi back to the start. My other two friends ran the 7 miler which ended up being closer to 14 miles with some wrong turns added in. Running any race with friends can really make all the difference in the world. You have people to carpool up with and BS with prior to the race start which helps settle the nerves and keep your mind off the race. Even better is having friends cheer you along during the course, cheer you through the finish, and enjoy some post-race beers together. What really what made this year special was being able to share this great trail race with so many of my RVRR friends. It was a special day for three RVRR teammates who were lining up to attempt their first Ultra, and a fourth running her first trail race.
9 AM – Race Start
The course was different this year in that instead of having roughly 8 miles of easier trails to spread out the pack, we ran roughly a half a mile before turning onto single track up the first notable climb. I went out comfortably with the lead pack of around 10 guys to try and avoid the likely bottleneck throughout this section. I was feeling good, passed by a few on the climb and settled into 5th or 6th with my buddy Bill. I had the pleasure of running the first ~18 miles with Bill who was running his first marathon/ultra marathon. Running with him kept me relaxed and helped me keep moving at a quick and steady pace. It felt just like we were out on a training run, but with more people and covering the miles at a quicker pace.
My Nathan pack has been having some malfunctions recently which I haven’t been able to pinpoint. The bladder doesn’t seem to leak outside of the pack, yet when I put it inside it begins to leak, a lot! I lost about half my water (3/4 L) within the first few miles and was pretty soaked. I didn’t plan to stop at any aid stations long enough to refill it, plus there would have been no point if it would just leak again so I made do with what was left in the bladder. This caused me to be pretty thirsty by the time I got to each aid station, forcing me to stop at each aid station longer than I would have liked. I still was in and out fairly quickly pausing only to drink a cup or two of water, pick up some orange slices, a hammer gel and some PBJ’s (thanks Alli). Bill and I went through the first two Aid Stations together and then passed John from Sneaker Factory who was also running his first ultramarathon, we chatted a bit and Bill and I continued on our way.
I really had pretty close to the perfect race one could ask for; I didn’t get off course, had no tumbles, and never really hit a low or felt super spent. I ran by myself from the point I pulled off from Bill but didn’t really mind it, the time seemed to go by fairly quickly. One runner passed me not long after splitting from Bill. I knew that I was moving fairly quickly and believed this guy HAD to be running the 25K because of how quick he was moving and how fresh he looked. After a mile or two, I pulled up to a battered Jayson Kolb who was in a rough place due to a few falls. He mentioned that the next 50k runner was about 4 minutes up. I had thought Jayson was in third place and couldn’t believe that the other guy was running the 50k. I tried not to dwell on it too much, buckled down and kept moving forward with my eyes on Aid Station 6 at the Start/Finish.
This race has ended up becoming a sort of fitness gauge for myself each year to see how my training is progressing. With only a few small variations in the course throughout the first three years, it’s interesting to see the improvements in my finishing times.
I think this is a true testament to the progression I’ve made in my training and racing over the last four years (note: my marathon times have also dropped from around 3:23 to 2:53). I’m feeling super fit, and feel like I’ve been doing a good job balancing higher mileage weeks (75-80+mpw) with rest and easier days/weeks. I’m hoping to continue with this momentum, train through the winter, continue to do lots of long trail runs on the weekends with friends. I’m looking forward to the future possibilities in my running and looking for a good first 100miler come late winter/early spring. So if you have any recommendations, please let me know!