Traveling to Charlottesville was quite the adventure with a huge delay in Denver that caused a missed connection flight. I ended up renting a car from DC to Charlottesville and driving through a horrendous rain storm that ultimately would delay any incoming flights to Charlottesville. It all worked out though as I met up with Rosemary and Ellie in Charlottesville airport. Already 10:30 PM, I was was ready for the bed. Turns out we would wait until 1:30 AM for our travel partners, Nick Clark, Jorge Maravilla and my luggage.
|Traveling partners to Wintergreen resort|
Race day morning I was feeling very optimistic in terms of having a steady day. Notice I didn't say "fast". The sciatica I have been experiencing has really limited me in doing any resemblance of speed work so I would have to rely on consistency throughout the race. Right from the gun I settled into the back of the pack as we shot down (2800ft) a very rocky and slippery 3 mile trail. I was really surprised how fast I lost sight of 20 guys but I really was in good company with Ellie by my side. At the bottom 20 guys came running back, as they had taken a wrong turn and lost a couple of minutes. Ellie and I benefited and quickly joined them on the climb back up. Once we started to go back up, I began to feel very comfortable and rapidly made contact with the top 10. If only I could have more of this climbing today I would be OK, I thought. We transitioned back to the road and then back to the trail and so goes the back and forth sporadically throughout the day.
Wintergreen resort sits on top of a hill so there is a 3 mile/1000+ft descent to get to the Blue Ridge Pkwy (BRP). This being the second big descent my quads were already quivering in weakness. I was really nervous as we started on the BRP but pleasantly surprised as I got into cruise mode. Cruise mode for me turned out to be around 7:30/8 pace and I think for the most part I was maintaining my position. Nearing the turn around Ellie caught me and rapidly went by at least 20 sec/mile faster. So much for maintaining huh? I actually felt good coming off the road as we approached the Whetstone aid (32 myles) and the beginning of 8 myles of trail.
Going into the race I had tinkered with my diet, primarily going gluten, coffee, and processed sugar free for a month. I had a feeling that as much coffee as I've been drinking that I may have been taxing my adrenal glands and thus had nothing to tap into late in a race. Sluggish every morning? Yes. So as I took my first cups of Mountain Dew at Whetstone I was buzzing, coupled with the fact I was on some beautiful single track. Its almost as if a light had been switched on and I was in "hunting mode". As I commented to iRunFar "the trail has awakened MexiFast!"
Still no speed, yet steady, coming back on the BRP but I had a sense that I would be catching a few people. Up through mile 48 I had only caught up with Dominic Grossman at the aid station. Seeing him on the road it appeared we were running identical pace so I thought we could help each other. Dr. David Horton was my crew and it always was a pleasure to see him on the course, having him give me aid and updates. Thank you David! Next up would be Frank Gonzales but on the long stretches of the BRP I was not catching sight of anyone. A little demoralizing but I was still motivated to finish strong.
Finally to the last aid station, Reeds Gap (mile 59). Meagan (iRunFar) was there and she conducted a little "on the run" interview. Always gives me a boost to see Bryon and Meagan out on the course. So I charged up the final 3 mile/1000ft climb and ran nearly all of it. Energy was good all day, not really any down spots. I felt the best while I was climbing and being able to run the last hill after 9 hours really made me feel satisfied with a 9.38 12th place finish.
Not only have I been tinkering with my diet but my race day nutrition as well. I realize nutrition and hydration is very individualistic but for me here is what gave me good energy all day: 3 First Endurance EFS liquid shots - Kona Mocha, 2.5 oz (200 calories) diluted down into a 20 oz water bottle. Each bottle lasts about an hours and 1/2. In addition, I carry two EFS liquid shot flasks and take a nip at each full strength every 45 minutes. I realized the full strength concentration was too much for my stomach to handle for extended periods of time so this diluted version did not mess with my stomach and gave me great -even keel- energy all day. I also grabbed a handful of boiled potatoes at every aid station and would continually put them in my mouth to have something to chew on. Last, I added Mountain Dew and Coke at about the 40 mile mark for the extra jolt of energy.
|NOT gluten free beer. Fat Tire all the way from Colorado|
Great way to end the season. I am very pleased with the result. My legs are incredibly sore today but well worth it. Thanks to Gill, Francesca, Rosemary, and David Horton for all of their wonderful support! The last night made every bit of the race come together as we had burgers and beer with the AJW family, Scott McCoubrey, iRunFar, and few runners - all of whom I consider great friends.