Friday, May 11, 2012

Promise Land 50k and my FIRST 10K!!!

Due to sheer lack of time, my keeping up with this blog has definitely taken a back seat. Since Boston, I've run two races. The first, two weeks after Boston, was Promise Land 50k. The PL course is one of my favorites. Absolutely beautiful! Constantly either running up mountains or running down mountains, the course stays interesting. 

When Dr. Horton started us at 5 am I realized my car light was still on so I had to stop before we really got going. I thought about just leaving it on but then thought about the complete drag it would be finding someone to jump my car and dealing with that whole mess so I stopped to turn out the light. The first 3 miles or so to the first aid station is all up hill. Because of this, catching up to the front was out of the question. Besides, this year, the competition was stacked! There were some crazy fast guys out there this year but even still, I felt that there were a lot of people tearing out of the start line hammering early. I decided soon after leaving my car that this year I would just relax and enjoy the course. I climbed to the first aid station and gradually settled into a manageable chilled out pace. Soon after going through the first aid station I caught up to my friend Darrel and we settled in for a good day of running. Both of us were surprised at how fast everyone was running today but then again, the weather was absolutely beautiful even though I remained slightly chilly for the entire race. 

We ran the first half together somewhat expecting to start passing people around the 1 hour mark because of the pace the front took so early, but we didn't. We felt we were running a pretty strong pace but very manageable. Curious about how we were doing we asked the 3rd aid station what place we were in. 17th and 18th. Astonished we continued on. I couldn't believe how many people were in front of us. We weren't running fast fast but we weren't moving slow either. From there to around the halfway mark we were passed by a couple of people and coming into the 16th mile aid station we were 19th and 20th. We cruised through and after running the short road section we turned on to the trail and I decided I didn't want to be 20th, or 19th. I felt good, so I continued on a little faster. The second half of the race was beautiful. I gradually started to catch people and was thankful that I hadn't taken off with the front of the race. And besides, I looked forward to Apple Orchard Falls as opposed to dreading it. I caught enough people to be in 12th place at the bottom of the climb. I was 2 minutes behind 11th place and 12 minutes behind 10th. It's a pretty brutal steep climb for several miles. You climb next to a waterfall almost the entire way and it's very technical. Then there's a ton of stairs, and then you just keep climbing. As long as you're in the mindset of, "this just won't end, so I'm not going to expect it to any time this decade" you get through it. I just love it. I caught 11th place within the first mile of the climb and was loving the scenery. The water was frigid and the waterfall was roaring because of the recent rain. 

I continued to climb and was very thankful that I was able to take part in an event like this. It really was very pleasant. I got to the very top of the climb and found out I was 2 minutes behind the 10th place now it was on (as 'they' say). I hammered through the next (very) short grassy climb and with a right hand turn down the trail realized it was literally all downhill from here. With plus or minus 4(ish) miles to go I ran hard. I ran straight through the last aid station and I saw him up ahead of me. The dude in the green shirt was 10th place, so I ran harder. I hammered the steep gravel road and suddenly realized that I'd been running pretty hard for awhile now. I expected to find the guy on the big climb so I ran a lot of that this year and last year I hiked the whole thing. 

My calves seized up. Which, really is a strange feeling. Then both quads started twitching on their own. I ate two gels in a row and it did the trick within a minute or two. I was running what I'd imagine were about 5:45 minute miles down this mountain chasing the guy. But then again, he was running hard too. I caught him with about a mile and a half to go. From the looks of him, I was fairly confident he wouldn't be rallying a sudden burst of speed so I slowed down a little bit after passing him. Though, just for fun I thought I'd time the last mile since there is a spray painted "1 mile to go" marker on the street. The last mile was in 5:58. I finished the race in 5:06:40ish. It was faster than last year by around 5 minutes but my place went from 8th to 10th. Eric Grossman set a new course record in 4:27 which is just amazing for that course. I mean really impressive. 

Though, the most impressive feat(s) of the day to me were how many people didn't drop out of the race once the rain started about 35 minutes after I finished. Very cold rain, sleet, hail, thunder, lightning, and basically everything except snow pounded on the remaining runners. They battled the obvious elements as well as hypothermia. My hat is off to them. 

A week later I ran my first 10k. The Carytown 10k in Richmond. My friend is the race director so I went down to run it. That's a tough distance to race because it seems like you just run as hard as you can for 6.2 miles. But then again, what do I know about road races? 9th place 37:42...ish. 

...maybe I should start keeping track of my exact times for these things...or maybe not.