Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Bull Run Run 50 miler (Race Report 2013)

Bull Run Run is a popular race that is a lottery entry just like Hashawha Hills 50k probably because they are both put on by the Virginia Happy Trails. Rik signed us up and sure enough, I got in and he did not (which was just the opposite of our Hashawha experience). He ended up #91 on the wait list. We never thought he would get in and I was unsure if I wanted to run it if he didnt get in. Low and behold he was the very last person to get in on the very last day at the very last minute. It was meant to be! We were going to be running! It would be my first 50 mile attempt.

This race takes place down near Clifton VA which is about a 2 1/2 hr drive for us. We decided to head down early Friday afternoon and spend the night at a local hotel. There are actually bunks available in bunk houses at the start but I felt like I really wanted to sleep in a private hotel room the night before my first 50 mile run in order to hopefully get some kind of sleep.

We went to packet pickup first and checked out the trails a bit. They looked beautiful. We then went and checked in the hotel before heading out for some pizza. We came back and were ready for bed early. Slept decent and we were up and getting ready by 4:30am. We got to the park at about 5:30. And were ready to run at 6:30-just after the sun came up. It was about 45 degrees and just a beautiful morning. Good day for a run!

The start happened right on time and we took off on a small loop on the road to spread people out a bit and then headed on to the trails. It is a double out and back race. Its out and back in one direction and then the same to the opposite direction. It is entirely on trails. Trails that never seem to stop going up or down!

The first out and back is the shorter of the two and where the bluebell flowers were blooming along the river. It was beautiful. I was feeling great. The trails were in good shape after some rain early Friday. Everyone was running along talking and having a good time. The nice thing about the out and back is that you get to pass everyone and offer encouragement and good jobs (and I would get to see Rik).

By the time I got back to Hemlock aid station I was still really feeling good. I took some time here to refuel well and fill my pack. And off I went. After this point I ended up running with a small group of people for awhile. It was great to have company since I am used to running by myself at this point. Its amazing how many people said that I picked a harder first 50. Thanks. I actually did not know this when I signed up!

One guy was 69yo (I forget how many times he said he has run BRR). Another one was working on his 6th finish (and he just barely made it!). Another guy was just trying to keep going after already throwing up 3 times by the time he picked up with us (I wish I knew if he made it or dropped). And another girl, Shelly, who I probably ran with the longest who is training for her first 100 in May! There were others too.

I really cant believe how good I felt up until I had a bit of a low point at about the 30 mile mark when I was informed that we were to make a left onto a trail and then would eventually come back and then continue, kind of another out and back. At that point just knowing that I was doing another out and back really got to me. This was also during the warmest time of the day so I think that was wearing on me too. Once I got to the aid station and got a Popsicle it really helped!
I am eating a banana here and not a popsicle but whatever.
I did the Do Loop after that and then knew I was on my way back to the finish line...eventually. The hills were really starting to wear on me. They arent big. They just dont stop. Hill after hill after hill! I would say about 200ft up and then down again and again and again. You get the picture. If not, here is one that Shelly took of me to help you out a little...
So what I am trying to say is that this hills were tough but I was surprised that I was still feeling good physically. Mentally, meh, just ready to get it done! By the time I left the last aid station there was about 5.5 miles to the finish and I tried to pick up the pace. I ran when I wanted to walk and I just kept going. I was by myself for these last miles and even passed 6 or 7 people.

The last bit of trail includes a section of rocks beside the river that you are trying to maneuver over with legs that dont exactly cooperate any more. I thought for sure I would end up in the river. I survived the rocks and was rewarded with the last and biggest climb up to a field of grass. I was so tired but ran across the grass and onto the last bit of stone road to the finish with everyone cheering me in. Heaven!

I'll tell you what's heaven. Every single volunteer out there on the course and at the finish. They are just amazing souls. The one at the finish line handed me a cold wet cloth to wash off with and a cold cup of water.

It really was a great race. A great day with great weather and great company. You just cant beat it. If you are lucky enough to get in this it!!
Garmin elevation profile. Very deceiving other then it is true that you are either going up or down. Final read out said  just under 5000ft total ascent. I think that is fair.

After my injury last fall I know that I came into this race slightly under trained but oh so happy to be healthy and running without any pain at all. And now that I have accomplished my big 50 miler it high time I work on speed over the summer and decide what I want to do for the fall.