July has been a busy month. I ran 5 races, in 5 different states. Three of these races were Ultra's. Now it's time to rest and recover for a while before heading back out to Leadville for the 100 miler.
I ran the Catoctin 50K trail race in Frederick, MD today. This is a very "low key" event. Jo and I were joined by Derek Schultz (who also ran), and his father (who volunteered at the race). We all shared a hotel room, and as always, we had a great time with them both. They're truly great people and we consider them to be family.
(On a side note, Derek took 3rd place overall. He's a very talented runner, a great mentor, and a fantastic friend)
Derek and I getting ready.
Here is a short list of the things they DO NOT offer with this event:
- Finishers Medal
- Course Markings on the trail
These are a few things they do offer:
- 5 decently stocked aid stations
- An abundant opportunity to walk and reflect on your desire to run Ultra's
This race is as close to a "Fat Ass" event as I have ever run. I think the race director likes it simple and prides himself on the culture he's developed over the years.
The race started promptly at 8:00 AM after a runner briefing. This race is an "out and back" course, which I'm not a big fan of. The first aid station is at 6 miles, the second is 3 miles later, and the last is at the turnaround (then repeat on the way back). The first 5 miles were steep downhill on VERY loose footing.
Me at the start.
This is my primary complaint and this is why the race is so slow. The course itself isn't too challenging, but the footing is terrible due to the huge rocks on the course. When the terrain changes, the large rocks vanish and are replaced by grapefruit sized stones that litter the entire trail...loose, and rolling underfoot. If you prefer to stay upright, the only option is to go VERY slow and pick your footing carefully. With my key races for the year still on the horizon, I elected to be very careful and pick my way through the worst sections of trail. These sections account for almost ALL the trail.
After the first 5 miles of downhill, the course leveled out some and became pretty reasonable. I hit the first aid station, refilled my bottles and headed out.
The next three miles prior to the middle aid station were pretty reasonable to run and I took advantage of it. It was gradual downhill. (Note to Self....8 of the last 9 miles are downhill. I'm coming back this way later...probably slowly).
Again, I was in and out of the aid station quickly, grabbing some PB&J along the way.
The next 6 miles to the turnaround were mixed hills with a steep downhill for the final 4 miles before crossing a wide creek and hitting the final aid station.
I'll summarize the trip back. I ran uphill for most of the next 15 miles. Got lost at mile 28 due to the absence of decent course markers. I cussed alot, lost interest and questioned my reason for choosing this race.
Derek finishing in 3rd!!
As an ultrarunner, people often ask..."Why would you run SO far, on tough trails, in brutal conditions". While running this course, I was confronted with the reality that I had no reasonable answer to this question, as it relates SPECIFICALLY to THIS race. This race isn't special. It's not iconic in any way. The trails aren't scenic. So, what was there to gain? Training? No....that doesn't fit either. I totally lost interest in this event at mile 25 and reluctantly continued down the trail. A truly terrible place to be.
On an positive note, the volunteers were amazing people, and they were all very helpful. They were encouraging and had a real commitment to supporting the runners.
I finished this race closer to my typical 50 mile time than my typical 50K time. But I really didn't care. I was happy to be ending a day that was dominated by RUN, HIKE, BITCH, MOAN (repeat).
Me coming to the finish...FINALLY!
For nutrition, I carried no food at all, but did use 2 handheld bottles. One with water, the other with Gatorade. It was in the mid 90's and I drank frequently, depleting both bottles between every aid station. During the race, I ate the equivalent of one full PB&J sandwich, three Pringles chips, a handful of grapes, and some watermelon.
Me and Derek exchanging stories.
Because I'm tired of even thinking about this race, I want to pass along a funny conversation I overheard as the finish line came into view. There were three women standing at the top of the last steep hill, cheering the runners on as they finished the race. This is a conversation between two of these women.
Woman #1- WOO-HOO HERE COMES A RUNNER!!! GO RUNNER!! LOOKING GOOD!
Woman #2- YEAH HE IS!!! GO RUNNER!!! (Quieter...yet loud enough for others to hear) Look at the abs on that runner! GO RUNNER! GO ABS!
Woman #1- GO RUNNER!
Woman #2- NICE ABS!!! (Quieter...yet again, loud enough for others to hear) I need to get HIS number!
Woman #1- He's #4! It's pinned right there on his shorts!
Woman #2- NO!! I NEED TO GET HIS PHONE NUMBER!!!
HAHAHA!!! That was awesome! Jo (my wife) was standing nearby and was laughing her ASS off!
My August is less eventful, and more meaningful. I'll do the NYC Triathlon next weekend, and thereby retire from the triathlon scene, never to return. Then I'll rest and go easy until the Leadville 100 mile race on the 20th.
A final note...during my race today, I had some runners see me on the trail and comment that they had been reading my blog. Some of these people were total strangers, but recognized me from my pictures. It's very cool that people are reading these posts, and I appreciate the feedback and discussions this forum promotes. Thanks to you all!