Sunday, September 27, 2009

Not quite what I was expecting

Yesterday was the 2nd race in my three week race schedule. The Great Eastern Endurance Run 100k. (GEER) The plan was to go out Friday night, meet my dad at the start of the race, camp out, wake up, run, finish, end. I had a couple internal goals, nothing I advertised but mainly I wanted to finish. I ran a 12 hour event last week where I did 71.5 miles, and I have the Grindstone 100 next week, so I wasn't going to go hard charging this week. I did want to break Dave's time of 15 hours, and I did want to finish in the top half of the finishers, but if I didn't I wouldn't be too disappointed.

Camping was camping, no crazy stories from that. We ate, hung out by the fire, and slept. The morning of the race I woke at 5 o'clock and could already hear the infamous Marty from Charlottesville running store yelling for drop bags. As I got ready, I could hear the rain on the tent and could tell it was going to be a chilly start. Everyone gathered under the pavilion and the race brief was given as planned. At 5:57 we walked to the start, and at 6:00 am someone said go. We all made our way to the trail head and started up the mountain. The first climb is brutal. Just straight up with no switchbacks, in the dark, and in some mud. I was left in the dust by the front pack, and I had no problem with this. I kept going forward and before long, someone caught me, passed me, and then I was on my own again. Stumbling over rocks and scrambling up the mountain. Reaching the top would've been a relief if it weren't so rocky. Actually running was borderline impossible. It was more of a bouncing, jumping thing from one slippery rock to another just hoping to stay right side up.

Before too long, a guy caught up to me and stayed to chat for awhile. His name was Steve and he was really friendly. He told me all about what races he's done, and even gave me the scoop on Grindstone, which was very helpful. Being that we were running I told him about my cross country trip. He asked if my coach knew I was out there. A bit confused I told him I don't have a coach and am not on the cross country team, I'm running across THE country. He told me I should contact the Virginia Happy Trail Runners Club and should talk to them about it. They might know some people.

I ran with him for a lot of the morning until about mile 20. The temperature was all over the place. The temperature at the top of the mountain was about 10 or 15 degrees colder than the bottom, and fog rolled in and out. It was very hard to tell how I was doing as far as place was concerned because the 50k, 100k, and half marathon were all on the same trail for a little while. I just kept trucking along the best I could. I climbed mountains, and ran down mountains. Some of them just wouldn't end. It felt like there was no top, or no bottom. The worst part about running down for so long is that you know when you get to the bottom you will have to get back over the mountain you just hurled yourself down. At about mile 40 something, (I didn't pay very close attention to the mileage) I found out I was in second place. I couldn't believe it. On the climb up to that aid station I had passed three people, and one guy needed to drop because of medical reasons, and another guy dropped to the 50k also because of medical reasons, but there was no way I was in second.

I decided from there to push it. Why not? I only had 20 miles to go, I was feeling fine, and I might as well try to finish that way. The next two sections, I didn't walk at all. I just never stopped. I knew there wasn't much of a chance that I would feel that way for long, so I figured as long as I feel good, I might as well bank some time, and hope that the 3rd place guy was not running the sections I was. At the bottom of the last mountain climb, I grabbed my jacket. It had been raining for about an hour and I was really getting cold. And I knew that it was only going to be colder at the top of the mountain.

That climb took forever. I hiked a lot of it, and then got tired of hiking, and started running. Slowly, but I was running. That section was split up of hiking, running, hiking running, until I got to the top. I was freezing. I was afraid to stop too long because I needed to keep moving to keep my body heat up. Leaving that aid station I was assured that I still looked strong, and I was still moving fast. I doubted that, but I appreciated the comments.

From the aid at the top of the mountain, I had 4.5 miles or so. Mostly downhill. I booked it. For some reason, I thought the guy behind me was really close, so I never stopped running. I didn't stop at the final aid station to fill up my bottle, or eat. I just kept going. Part of that was due to fear of the guy behind me, and part of it was due to the fact that I was freezing, and the other part was due to me wanting to finish. I was mentally done for the day. I didn't come here to be competitive today, I came to finish, and was tossed into the competition unwillingly and due to other people's medical issues. I ended up finishing in 11 hours, and 17 minutes, second place. Afterward, I was stoked. Two plates of lasagna and mac n cheese later, I was showered and already thinking of next week.

(I might be able to find some pics, I'll post them if I do)

Next week's goal: Grindstone. Finish with a pulse.

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