Sunday, March 4

an ultra fun day.... even without the ultra

The 3 weeks since Mountain Mist went quickly... I did a lot of resting, trying to get my tibialis muscle all healed up. It was feeling good, so I joined the Wed Night Trail Run crew the week of my race for some confidence building - needed a nice run off road to ensure I was ready to go. It felt good, so I went with it... perhaps a little too much. The next day I woke up with IT Band pain on both legs. Yikes!!! The next two days were lots of self-massage, epsom baths, and some anti inflammatories.

Friday evening I drove to Asheville to check in for the Black Mountain Marathon and Mount Mitchell Challenge. I was signed up for the Challenge, the 40-mile race that takes runners over the summit of Mount Mitchell, the tallest point east of the Rockies. I had been preparing for this since... September or so? I was ready for this... but the small injury during my training run at Mountain Mist, and my ITB pain due to my silliness at the run this week seemed to be changing my plans. Jay (director of the race and a friend), understanding my conditions and desire to do the full thing, was trying to get me to run sweep on the Challenge (following the last runner to make sure they were fine). Hmmm.... long and slow, but perhaps a way to do it??

Saturday morning I woke up early and headed to the start in downtown Black Mountain. My legs just weren't feeling it and I didn't want to take the chance of injury so early in the season, so I decided to switch to the marathon (which sounds funny - I'm only running the marathon! As if that itself wasn't going to be tough!) We started at 7am, with about 250 runners toeing the starting line. The first 2-3 miles were on pavement, not ideal for my sensitive legs to warm up on. It hurt. I even doubted as to whether or not I'd finish. We wound our way up through Montreat and finally find some off road stuff. It was mostly forest service road, with some single/double track thrown in. The first 15 miles were uphill check out the elevation profile here. (remember it's showing the Challenge, so just look at the first 15 and last 6 miles). I kept my pace even and conservative to ensure that I wouldn't blow up for the last half. Part of the course is there and back, so when I saw the first female turn pass me, I started counting so I could estimate my place. I hadn't looked at the stats of previous marathons to see what the average female time was and guess where I could place, but I was feeling pretty good at this point and a bit optimistic at a solid finish. I counted 9 by the time I got to the 15mile turnaround point at the Blue Ridge Parkway. At the aid station there was another 4 or so... Hmm, so I'm around 14th now. Not so bad....

The aid station marked the turnaround for the Marathon folks, while the Challengers pressed on for the summit. Mount Mitchell loomed in the background. It actually made me think and almost reconsider. But while I was feeling pretty decent, the tightness in my ITB told me to play it safe. After taking a moment to put some band aids on my heel that was starting to rub, I took off feeling refreshed. It wasn't long before I came up on 3 women taking it somewhat easy. I passed them, thinking Hmm, around 11th. I was making good time on the downhills, despite the rockiness in some sections. Usually I'm a bit more timid on stuff like this, but race adrenaline can do wonderful things :) I passed a few guys, then another woman. 10th now?? Nice!! I came to an aid station that in my mind was around 20. I managed to pass a few more guys, hoping one of these short haired people would actually be a girl - no such luck. I noted the last 5 miles (where the last aid station was.. supposedly...) were done in 45 minutes, so I thought wow, maybe 60 minutes and I'll be done! My watch showed a time of 3h45m so far. Nice! During this last steeper section on FSR, the men's 1st place Challenger, Will, flew by me. wow. impressive! Then we hit some pretty steep sections on pavement, as we exited Montreat College. The guy I was running near wondered how pavement could stick at this angle. After about 45 min, we hit another aid station that I wasn't totally expected. They said another 3-4 miles till the finish. What?? By my calculations, I should be a mile or two away. Hmm... Then out of the blue another aid station appears... 2-3 more miles. I obviously didn't have the distances right in my mind and this was quite demoralizing. The pavement was hard enough to deal with; but having to run an extra 30 minutes was killing me! Finally the lake where the finish was came into view. I could see the banners off to my right a short distance... but oh, we had to run 3/4 around the lake to the left before we can get to the finish line!

My official time was 5:09.45... 51 overall out of 129 runners, and 11th out of 40 in the women's division. (dang! my counting was off...) Still, I'm quite happy with the time. It was only about 5 miles shorter than a 50k, where my times have been around 6 1/2 hrs... so I think I'm improving. (It was also a PR for my marathon time, but it has been 4 years since I've run a road marathon!)

Jay and the rest of the Black Dome Crew put on a fabulous race. The volunteers were great, the aid station packed with goodies, the post race meal by Montreat College was absolutely delicious and filling, and the swag itself worthy of the entry fee (we got custom embroidered North Face fleece pullovers for finishing, as well as SmartWool socks and a nice CamelBak water bottle). It was great to catch up with some friends there - Tony pulling in an awesome 6:22 for the Challenge, and Lorna & Stephen having solid Marathon times as well.

Labels: , ,


Blogger Lorna said...

ah, I've been waiting for your write up. Congrats on the great job. I hope that your IT band isn't giving you any more grief. BTW, I count you at 10th on the marathon.

11:23 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home