Wow. It really has been a while since I've written anything on here. So recapping a race that took place back in mid-March may be a little outdated but whatever look at this cool shot below!
Overall result in case you want to skip: 7:30:31 - Tied for 311/383 finishers (official results) all in a day's work
I had invited Aaron and Kristen down for the weekend but once Friday rolled around I figured that Susquehanna State Park was more or less halfway from their place to mine. I told them to meet me there. I rolled out of bed at around 4:30 and headed out from Baltimore (I'm always WAY too early for races...not a bad thing). Stopped at the rest area off I-95 on the way up (note to travelers DO NOT stop here if you are a DD regular, go to exit 85 and work the drive through. Faster and you save ~$.40 on a reg cup of coffee. OK rant over). So anyways I arrive way early and start looking around for Aaron who ultimately texts me that he'll be coming alone and good luck so I'm on my own. Luckily I texted a new running buddy Matt who is a ridiculous ultra runner and a BQ runner as well. Met up with him in the parking lot and got settled.
We left our cars and walked about a 1/4 mile to the actual picnic area/start/finish line. I highly recommend anyone doing this race to pack at least a large duffel so you can haul your stuff up. I had no idea what I was thinking in the morning and managed to just throw a ton of junk (literally all of my running accessories) into the back of the Fit not knowing what I was going to expect. I imagine next year I'll convince Aaron and Kristen to actually do this with me so maybe we'll bring a tent down or something. Either way I had this really sweet picnic mat that we use when hanging out with my son down in the park which doubled as an excellent transition mat for both me and Matt.
Once we were a little more settled in the reality of the wonderful mid-March MD weather hit. It was cold. Not so cold where you were needing a real jacket but just cold enough that all the scrawny ultra dudes looked like chihuahuas shaking in the morning breeze. So happy I am not one of them. With a little bit of prep on my nutrition plan for when we loop back in (you hit the start line 2 times - once after a little over 3 miles and then again at mile 17 or so) we lined up on the line you see above. I told Matt there's no need to wait up for me but good luck and we were off promptly at the start.
Off we go! That's me in the green/grey top dealing with the cold. Man look at those thighs.
The plan was simple: run SLOW and walk hills. I really had no idea what to expect. I'm not a fast runner by any means. Nor am I a really experienced runner either. Back in November when I was planning on signing up I still hadn't run a single full marathon to date. This doubled as my first marathon AND first 50k. I'm not the most prepared but I am the most determined. I only planned on really one thing: not giving up.
The course was pretty cool. I did a dry run of one of the loops with Matt a couple weekends prior so I had a general idea of what to expect. Lots of hills and a couple stream crossings. From the race photographer guys photos you can see a couple samples of what crossing was like.
That's me in the bright colors after a wardrobe change (first lap got a little warm)
|It honestly felt good|
The first lap itself didn't feel so bad from what I remember. It was long and painful at times but nothing I couldn't handle. My heart rate was going up on the hills and I just had to take it slow. I knew my limits and I was pushing them but still determined to go on. A little ways after my first lap ended, Matt's final lap finished. He's the one crossing below. Wicked fast.
Lap 2 was a completely different story. Though it followed the same course it almost felt like a whole different race. All of the positives I had on the first time through were now painful reminders. I continually questioned WHY I wanted to do this and how long it was going to take me. I also found that doing a lot of math/calculations based off of training paces can basically get thrown out the window on a race like this. You really just need to enjoy the outdoors and have a good time experiencing it rather than trying to over-perform - especially for your first ultra.
You can see me here in my 3rd outfit of the day as I finally saw Aaron again (he managed to work one of the aid stations right in the middle of the race.
|No wardrobe malfunction here|
I hobbled over to him a little after this picture was taken (approx 6 hours in at the marathon mark - woohoo a PR even if its a first time!) and asked how I was doing. One of the race dudes came over and said I still had an hour and a half before that station closed so even if I walked the rest I should be ok to finish in the time window. Now I'm not normally one to just "do" a race...the competitor in me wants to always be striving for more. However today was not the day. I told Aaron I was going to just angry walk the rest and hope for a final burst at the end to call it a day. Ultimately that's what happened as I rolled in right at 7:30 with another old guy who was regretting signing up as much as I did. NEVER AGAIN I told everyone that asked about the race.
Or so I thought.
Now that I'm far enough removed I have that bug in me to try harder. I know the pain was immense but now I know what to expect. I really want to sign up for this one again when it opens back up in November but I'm definitely going to be a little more fit and have some more time out on the actual course to prep. Bring it on 2015.
Next up TTT in Ohio which I'm also overdue on a write-up for...