Place: Rosaryville State Park, Maryland
Time: 7:00am, Sunday, July 17th, 2011
Placed: 31 / 71
Course: Open and paved half mile out, followed by 3 x 10 mile trail loops and the same half mile back. Loops were 95% wooded with no massive elevation changes, but trail was rolling for the majority of the loop. There were runners of the 10k, 10m, and 25k distance, but they never really came into play during the 50k race as we started 30 minutes before them. High for the day was 92F, with humidity in the 60%-70% range.
Preparation: Almost none. 50-miler 6 weeks prior, half a dozen scattered runs in said time.
Outcome: Hovered between 14th and 20th place for the first 20 or so miles, ran into inevitable foot pain and stomach issues a few miles into the last loop (obviously due to lack of training). Pain after the race lasted about 3 days, much better compared to the 2 weeks for the 50-miler, but much of this can of course be contributed to the shorter distance I had to run.
Overall: Excellent no-frills race (there were finisher's medals). Inexpensive entry fee for a 50k, some of the best volunteers you could ask for, fun trail, etc.
I woke up at 4:45am on sunday morning and my dad drove us the traffic-less (even on the capital beltway) hour and a quarter to the park. On the way into the park we passed by where volunteers were setting up the second aid station (of two total) at the very end of the 10-mile loop.After a brief check-in, and 30 minutes of waiting, the word "GO" set us off through the imaginary starting line designated by the race director. Probably the most anti-climatic start to a race I've ever experienced, especially compared to the sawed-off shotgun blast from the top of a ladder that started a massive 600 runner race at one of our high school cross country courses, but there are a million ways to start a race, so we were off.
7:00am seemed a little late for a start, but do to the wooded nature (...no pun intended) of the course, heat never really played a huge factor in the race. I only lost about 5 pounds, dropping to 145 from 150 which is quite average for me. We settled into several detached centipedes of about 6 or 7 runners each for the first 5 miles moving at perhaps an 8:30 or 9 minute pace. At the 5-ish mile mark, we hit a road on which we did about a half-mile total out and back that started and ended at the first aid station. The AS were five miles apart which really was the perfect distance in my opinion. Less distance between is always better but it wasn't really necessary in this case. The loop finishes up with a roller-coaster-like character, but the ups and downs were mostly small and quite manageable throughout the race. On the second half of the first loop I locked into a solid 7:30 or so pace with two other guys and after the five miles I saw my dad waiting just before the end of the trail, which was a real pick-me-up. By now I had cleared the first loop in the top 15 or so with a time in the vicinity of 80 minutes (including the first half-mile out). I spent a few minutes at the AS talking with my dad, got some water and was off.
There is really not much to say about the second loop. I slowed down a little, finishing in maybe 1:30 or so (slower because there was no extra half-mile) plus a few minutes at the AS. It was at the end of this loop that I downed a few small cups of coke, half a peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich (new favorite race food), and a cube of potato dipped in salt. During the second loop I tried and failed to get down a trail mix bar; I just wasn't that hungry. Towards the end of this loop my familiar TOFP (top of foot pain) started.
I started the third loop in around 18th place, and the first two miles of it went well. However, 20 minutes in or so I was in need of a bathroom break... I made it over eleven hours in my 50m without this issue, but this time somehow ran into said issue after less than four. This really screwed with my groove, and drastically reduced my motivation to keep my pace up. The TOFP wasn't nearly as bad as the 50m, but I am sorry to say that walking breaks became a necessity. I was also kicking myself for the reckless way I that ran the first loop. Getting to the first AS didn't take a ridiculously long time: I was slingshotting with other runners back and forth. Also met a cool runner who was doing is first ultra. We talked for perhaps a mile which was great; it's fun to meet people during races. But soon he went ahead, as we still had three or four miles to go. Finishing the second half of the loop was simply miserable. I had to stop for a bathroom break one more time, and this was nothing short of infuriating. I don't think it has anything to do with how I fueled during the race...Most likely how I fueled the day before. But eventually I stepped it up and passed three people in the last mile of the race. The sunny uphill finish after an open half mile on pavement wasn't much to look forward to, but finishing sure was. 31st out of 71 was better than I thought I was at the time, and I was the second youngest runner. Too bad I don't get to run in the 19&under category anymore ;)
All in all it was a great, fun, bare-bones race, and I honestly do recommend it to anybody. It's one of the few races I've found lately that doesn't charge a year's worth of college tuition to simply race other people. And the volunteers were fantastic, efficient, and most importantly, friendly.
Ahead: Iron Mountain 50 miler is four weeks from tomorrow. I'm going back to school a little early to get some good mountain miles in for the race. My feet are all sorts of messed up and I have no idea why. It's not really a pain-pain, just discomfort at odd times (new in left achilles, right bottom of foot, both top of foot) that should not be there given all the rest they've had. I'm trying to give them some more time off now, because they are going to be the sole limiting factor in finishing that race under the cutoff (12 hours). Either way, I'm excited for a solid, tough race in the mountains.