Sunday, May 9, 2010

capon valley 50k

I had such an awesome time this weekend in Yellow springs, WV. here are the results on the race website

I guess the adventure truly began friday morning when I loaded up my car with my camping gear, and took my kids to my mother in laws. I went to south holston lake to pick up my good friend, beth minnick. Loaded up her gear. A last minute glance at the directions to Ruritan Park, and we were off!
We drove north up i-81 happy and excited about the adventure that lay ahead. We thought that capon valley was a "fast 50k" and were both hoping to PR big. However in my mind I have to say, I thought the course would be cake. I really, really did. The course descriptions on the race website ( and lack of an elevation chart) and the fast times on last year's results just had this image in my mind of me running on a dirt road with some stream crossings.. I discovered that it REALLY wasn't the case once the race began. but I'll get into that in a second.

Beth and I made a pilgramage to Sheets at Wytheville( rick and tammy always stop there when we travel with them) and got some essentials and ice. Then drove a couple more hours to Harrisonburg, where we picked up our friend/super cool ultra runner Mike Bailey. He was going to camp there with us the evening before.
We arrived at Yellow Springs to blue skies, sunshine and warm temperatures. set up camp. each of us did extremely well putting up their own tent:o) no, really, it was easy; and just laid around and chilled out waiting for the packet pick up and "runners mixer" ( which quickly became the catch phrase for the evening).

Our friend Amy Albu and her super cute 17 mo. daughter came for packet pick up, and she came over and chilled out with us and tried to feed her daughter dinner ( she was having NONE of it because she wanted to run and play in the BIG wide open spaces of the field.)
Race day was also Amy's birthday. Amy had a STELLAR performance at Promise Land 50k 2 weeks earlier, and I had a gut feeling the Running Gods were going to gift her with an overall female win!

Amy left for her "rustic cabin", and we went to the "mixer" tried to force down some food.

I went back out to the tent and the air was getting much cooler ( maybe 59F-- as opposed to 80F) and I changed into my PJ's which was just some northface fleece pants and a patagonia capilene, some smart wool socks.. ( I had brought and placed in my tent my summer bag (45F bag) because I didnt' want to get too hot in my 25F one-- ) I went ahead and did my little pre- race rituals of crinkling up my bib number, folding it just so.. and pinning it to my skirt.. putting my gels, salt tabs, nuun tablets in my racing vest and this week, a new ritual: of filling a vial with sustained energy and heed mixed together for later in the race.. and placing SE and heed powder in my handheld-- all so I wouldn't have to fool with it the next morning.

Mike's good buddy Janet, who was running her first 50k got to the campground to camp out-- it was getting dark, so we all sat outside under the canopy of stars and looked at constellations. Someone in a camper about 200 ft away had a James Taylor CD playing softly, and on the other side of us, mike and janet's friend jim was playing his guitar.. it made for a very chill evening.

About 9 beth climbed in her tent to read via headlamp. I followed suit about 30 min later.. climbed into my little yellow mtn hardware bag and snuggled down in it and listened to the crickets chirp and the frogs croak until I drifted off to sleep. and I slept well.
I woke up exactly at 5am-- no alarm. The air in the tent was warm 60F-- good.. it's not cold out! NICE!!! I decide to go ahead and get all my race clothes and shoes on and fix breakfast. I go outside my tent. uh, oh.. yes, it's freakishly warm for 5 AM but the clouds over head look ominous and foreboding. I knew they were calling for thunderstorms, but kinda hoped the forecast would change. I went about my business and got out the jet boil and coffee press and made coffee, ate some granola with soymilk. The masses started rolling into the campground for morning packet pick up and the little community of 20 racers grew to 200.

I wasn't that nervous ( for the first time) I spent time with beth, amy, mike before the race. The skies looked green and the wind was blowing.. I made the joke to amy I didn't want to run in a tornado. We all lined up and we were off. I ran the first little bit at the start there with Alisa Springman. She had just ran miwok 100 k the week prior, so I took time to tell her how extremely happy I was for her! I would love to run that race one day! or a 100k even!

I decided to kinda keep Amy and all of a sudden about 5 other girls ( have no idea who they are but they were FAST!) who where in front of me with in reach so I sped up across the bridge and when we turned off the pavement and onto a gravel road.. I looked down 7:20 pace... umm, went out a little hard, did we?? up a gravel road on we turn onto single track and beth was right behind me. Through the woods we went on trails.. that were about ankle deep in leaves. We crossed the same stream 4 times.. and then started up a very steep climb. it was here that the skies opened up and commenced to dump the rain on us.. I really didn't care, it felt good. it wasn't a cold rain. beth made the comment "at least we have cover because of the trees" and the all of a sudden.. a clearing on the same hill.. we were drenched. oh, the irony. THEN 2 things happened: 1. michelle harmon ( who went on to get 2nd overall female passed us hiking up the hill) sorry.. everytime a girl passes me it REALLY gets my attention 2. I realized I had VASTLY UNDERESTIMATED this race.
My friend Frank Lilly tried to warn me repeatedly that Capon was NOT a super easy run.. did I listen??? NOOOO... (I'll try to do better next time with that, Frank) I had just envisioned this nice, smooth muddy double track roads with some stream crossings.. AHH.. so nice.. but this was kicking my butt: I quickly snapped into the reality that if I was going the PR or get my goal time of 5:30-5:45... I was going to have to work pretty hard.. RIGHT THEN AND THERE. get all the allusions of this sweet runnable 50k out of my head..

We top the hill and poor beth is running behind me. I know this is annoying her because I am not fast on downhill sections and she is BLAZING fast. She told me to "let the hill take me" and I just said " hmm.. how about you just go on and pass me." which she did.. buh-bye beth.. see you at the finish line.

I really tried to keep beth in my visuals and I did for a couple of miles. I last saw her at the power line section.. CREEPY.. we had to run under these HUGE power lines and it was still kinda thunderstormy and you could hear the lines humming... ZZZZZZZ.. not cool. did not enjoy running underneath or around those AT ALL.
At this point, I made friends with this cool guy named Prasad, who runs 100 milers.. I could kinda tell by the way he was SUPER efficient in the way he was running. We introduced ourselves and kept a dialog for a couple of miles.. it was so funny because he asked: " so when's your first 100 miler going to be?" oh devil, on my shoulder! I smiled and told him I was still a year or two away from that, but that I was training for cheat mtn 50 in august. In the back of my mind, it shocked me that I would even answer him that way.. there is this little glimmer of an idea.. and idea that several months ago, would seem so preposterous and OUT THERE.. several months ago.. I would of answered: NEVER! Now, I'm saying.. oh gradually.. I'll run a 100 miler.. Sweet Lord, help me.

Prasad and I leave the power line section and start up another huge climb and I notice this girl behind me in a red tank top. She smiles and yells up the hill that she hopes I don't mind but she is going to stick with me the rest of the day because she doesn't want to get lost. So for the next hour or so... I run and I'll look over my shoulder and there is the cute girl in the red tank top.. I wave, she waves back at me.. 30 more minutes go by... I look over my shoulder.. yep, she's still there! I wave and say " you're doing great!" and she does the same.
We run into a clearing and the girl in the red tank top yells "WAIT!" I stop and realize I am off trail and was about 100 feet in the wrong way.. missed a turn.. and she is now in front of me we get to a stream crossing and I catch up with her and thank her. make a joke that she was the one worried about being lost and she saved ME from getting lost! Introduce myself. Her name is Mary.. Mary is cool. Mary ran frozen sasquatch too this winter. Mary has ran JFK. Mary ran a 3: 35 marathon 3 weeks ago. I decide that mary and I should be friends:o)
on we go, Dan Lehman ( always happy to see him! he's cool!!) catches me we run together on a down hill section and chit chat for a bit. He is FLYING.. so I tell him to have a good race..
Then here comes Sophie. I run with her for a bit.. same deal.. make small talk.. and pretty much just work together running up some hills and into aid station 3. mary is still around.. but she fell back some..
I'm kinda being obcessive about my time.. I'm looking at my watch.. trying to calculate mentally how I'm doing.. when I was with Presad.. I was SUPER HIGH emotionally because I figured out I was 5 hour pace.. and was feeling good about it all... after encountering some tough climbs and then dan and sophie both catching me( knowing the started slow and will only get faster and finish strong) I was feeling a little LOW.. I was wondering at one point "will I even break 6 hours?!" It was mile 18.. I decided it was time for an assessment of myself.. I decided 1. eat salt tab 2. drink more of my hand held.. like GULP the sob. ( I was carrying sustained energy and heed mixed together) so it had some extra calories and 3. eat a hammer gel ( I didn't use that many gels because the SE has calories and protein) see if that helps..

FOCUS. I'm so bad to be in the middle of a long race like this and LOSE my focus on the task at hand.. no going through the motions.. work hard.. so I make myself run. I listen to my ipod and try to think about my running form.. and I think that helps. I start to feel better. mary catches me, another gazillion stream crossings and so does a cool girl named Merideth. We all three run together and talk and the miles are rolling by.. YAY.. I think I may have bugged them some because they noticed immediately that I was still very obsessive about the clock.. They told me to enjoy the experience.. but I tried to tell them I SHOULD.. but REALLY wanted to make my goal time. I wanted to do well. I hate to compare myself to other people ( but hey, we ALL do it.. right??) I knew amy was probably having an awesome day.. I sure wasn't running down beth.. so she was having an awesome day too! Jenny wanted a good day as well!
we get to the last aid station.. and I just go nuts.. I jump and yell "WOOO" and freak everyone out... I'm SOOO happy!! you'd of thought it was the finish line!! I run through and top off my bottle really quick, and just really start running.. 5k left-- time to haul it to the finish! SURGE of energy!! REALLY it was the first time ALL day I felt really connected with myself and my form and my pace.. and not it's NOT lost on me that I was now off trail and on a gravel road experiencing this.. but hey, it's my moment so I'm going with it.. I just run and feel great!! 820 pace!! not too bad.. not too bad at all for end of a big run like that.. as I come around to the finish line there is Amy!! and there is beth!! they were waiting for me! AW!! 5:31.. made my goal time.. glad I kept my watch on or I would ran way slower. I know it. I had 4,500 of climbing and 4,400 ft of descent ( according to my suunto t6) so there was way more climbing than I thought there would be!!
and here come merideth and mary!! WOO! AWESOME ladies! thanks for all the encouragement and way to work hard together for like 10 miles! sorry I became capt caveman after that last aid station!

I go clean up and change clothes, and beth( who was super happy! she had an awesome day! she ran 5:11)

and I go give Amy ( OVERALL female WINNER WOO! 4:52) her GIANT Cupcake for her birthday!

We have a nice lunch, have fun hanging out and talking to friends new and old. Then break camp. Drive mike back to his car at harrisonburg, and then drive 4 more hours to home. I arrive home at 9 pm that evening.. Dog tired.. but completely, totally and utterly blissed out by the fact I set a goal and met it, I got to sleep in a tent, I got to hang out with some really nice people... I can't think of a better way to spend 2 days!

I want to give a shout out to BOB!! he completed his first 50k at capon! WAY TO GO!! WOO!!
and to my buddy Janet! she ran her first 50k and did AWESOME!!