As soon as I got out of class Friday, I sprinted back home on my bike to make sure I beat Patrick there. Patrick had driven from Northern Virginia and was 5 miles from Harrisonburg when I called him after class. He dropped off at the exit, picked me up, and we headed doen to good ‘ol Sedalia, VA. After some great conversations and singing to Macklemore, we arrived at The Aid Station in Forest, VA. It’s a premier running store in the Lynchburg area owned by Clark Zealand, the race director for Terrapin. It was an awesome store with all those trail shoes you see online you DREAM of trying on to see how it fits and to feel it on your foot. We then headed over to the Start/Finish of Terrapin to get settled in.
We arrived, got our race packets, and set up camp. We then hung out with fellow runners while eating Domino’s Pizza. I caved in and had a couple slices, but I ate some rice and vegetables I brought a bit later. Oh, and I forgot to bring a jacket and it was gettin’ real cold, but Patrick had a couple extra layers I was able to use. Life saver!
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get much sleep all night for whatever reason, but oh well. We woke up to the chilly morning and headed over to the restrooms. I awkwardly waited in a cramped bathroom with other men waiting to take a shit. After much forcefulness, it was out and I was ready to go.
After waiting in the warm car after some time, it was time to head over to the start. I picked up some GUs from a friend, stuffed them in my water bottle’s pocket, and toed the line. As soon as the
gun gong went off, the race began. It started a mile and a half on the road and then headed on double track uphill to Camping Gap, an aid station. After the climb, it headed down for about 5 miles on dirt road (OUCH). I talked a guy who was also having major calf strain on the uphill, and then I talked to a friend for a while about school and stuff like that. After the long downhill, it headed onto some nice single track that swung back to the road we ran downhill on. So then we went up that bitch for 3 miles back to Camping Gap. What a tough 3 miles! It was all runnable so you felt bad if you walked it but got tired for running it.
Then after Camping Gap, you head uphill AGAIN on dirt road, then some double track, then downhill on that same road. This was a tough section as I was really starting to feel some pain. Lots of people were passing me, and some friends ran passed and gave me loads of great encouragement. On the downhill, I began to feel good again. After eating many a Reese’s Cup, I headed up this super steep and rocky single track towards the summit. I met Skylar from Missouri, and we ran together for a while. After seeing the GORGEOUS view from the summit, it was time for some Fat Man’s Misery. We headed downhill on some gorgeous trail to FMM in which these two large boulders are pushed together leaving only a sideways-human-sized crack to go through. The rock face was sharp and it was sketchy, but I managed to get through with only a couple scratches on my hand. Then we headed downhill on this very steep trail with WAY too many loose rocks.
After getting to the aid station and having them lie that there is 4 miles left when there is actually 5.5 miles left, it was only me and the final stretch. The next 4 miles cut into the side of the mountain and was the same thing OVER and OVER again. You would curve downhill to the left, then cross a stream, then turn left and curve to the right uphill. Finally I was back onto the road with an “easy” mile and a half to go. I could see the large, inflated finish line from a half mile away. FINALLY, I heard the cowbells and the clapping, and I finished my first mountain 50k in 5:10.
It was such an incredible experience, and a huge learning time for me. I learned a few things:
- I need to train A LOT harder on the mountains and get that uphill/downhill strength.
- I need to bring a fucking jacket to those kinds of things.
- I need to stay a bit more conservative in the beginning.
- I need to stay better hydrated.
- PIN YOUR BIB TO YOUR DAMN SHORTS
Who knows, maybe my next race will be a 100k ;)
Chowin down on some veggie burgers.