Friday, September 20, 2013

Sunday, September 15th - Pisgah 50K

31mi* - 4:03:25 - 4th place. As usual, I was excited to race at the Pisgah Trail Race this year. I wasn't as excited as past years though, because I'm just not as fit as I'd like to be. Usually, I end the summer in top shape and chomping at the bit to p.r., win, or set the course record. Some years I've been lucky enough to accomplish all 3 of those things. I knew that all these things were highly unlikely going into this year's race. Still, I hit the starting line with a positive attitude, ready to have an epic adventure out in the woods. No matter the outcome, this was going to be fun. I started off running with Chris Hayhurst, George Adams, and Josh Ferenc heading up the hill on Horseshoe Rd. Jonny was out in front leading the 23k'ers with a little chase group behind him. Scott Traer was a few seconds up. Ferenc got antsy with the slow pace and bolted ahead to catch Scott. I was only mildly surprised when I saw him run right by Scott and keep going to pass Jonny. He came to crush souls! I caught up to Scott and ran with him as we entered the woods. Chris separated from George and wasn't too far behind Scott and me. We rolled through Southwoods and Nash trail feeling good and the pace felt easy. Scott told me that he came to set the record. He holds the 50K records at Pineland Farms and Tarc Spring Classic and he trains with 50-100mile stud Josh Katzman. I let him know that the record was legit and that David Herr is the man on this course. The record would be no cake-walk for Ferenc and Scott. I was disappointed that David wasn't in the race because he was home sick. It would have been interesting to see him take on these young bucks that were both rookies to Pisgah. They are fast and hungry, David is experienced and wily. Maybe next year. Chris caught us on the long steep descent on Dogwood Swamp and went flying past. He was hammering the downhills. Scott went with him and I decided to save my legs and run a more conservative downhill. It was going to be even effort all day for me. No pushing anywhere on the course. Just smart and controlled. I rolled into the first aid station in 57min and filled up my hand held. It leaked all over me when I was drinking climbing the Reservoir Rd switch back hill, so I dropped my bottle in disgust. I caught up to Chris and he asked what happened to my bottle. I told him it was leaking and I was gonna run camel style. Guzzling fluids at the aid stations and carrying no bottle. I passed Chris on the uphill and Scott was already out of sight. It seemed that he picked it up intent on catching Ferenc. He also didn't stop at the aid station which helped him get out of sight so quickly. Hitting Chestnut I felt good, but it's always here that I start to feel the climbing a little. I become aware of the daunting task ahead as I chug uphill. I had to take a pee break on Chestnut and Chris went barreling past me again. We came out of Chestnut and started the gradual uphill climb on Old Chesterfield Rd. The usual aid station wasn't set up in the parking lot because the bridge was unsafe to drive a vehicle over due to the 5" of rain on Thursday. We would have to wait another mile + for the next aid station at the Ski Trail. Climbing Old Chesterfield Rd., I caught a quick glimpse of Scott on one of the long straight-a-ways. I figured he had about a minute on us. I pulled away from Chris again on the climb. I almost said to him, I'll see you on the next downhill but I held my tongue. I stopped at the Ski Trail aid station and Chris caught me while I was leaving. I was told that Scott had a little more than a minute on us and that Ferenc was 5min up on Scott. I think the time on my watch was around 1:40. I thought that Jonny must be almost finished. We climbed up Reservoir Trail and I pulled away from Chris again. My legs were feeling really good, but there was still a lot of running to do. I hit the Pisgah Ridge trail and fueled up at the aid station. Chris again caught me but I left in front of him. I was able to put some distance on him going up the ridge. My legs always feel a little fatigued at this point in the race, though I'm still moving smoothly. I gave the Elijah Salute at the top of the ridge and glanced over at Mt. Monadnock. It was a glorious day. I pulled into the Kilburn aid station in 2:31. Chris was coming around the corner when I left the station. Time for the Kilburn loop, where dreams go to die. I was feeling pretty good on the downhill, but as soon as I made the left hand turn to climb out, both quads cramped. I walked a few steps and glanced back. Chris was back there, but not in striking range yet. I was able to resume running at a decent clip, but I was in cramp management mode. Run smooth and relaxed. Don't cramp, don't cramp. I hit the Aid station again at Kilburn and couldn't see Chris. Maybe he was struggling a little bit too? I got to the Kilburn parking lot where I saw Jen and she threw me a gu. She let me know that I was impossibly far behind Scott and Ferenc which I sort of figured. I got near the top of Davis, running slowly but doing ok. Suddenly my left quad locked up in a brutal cramp. I screamed out in pain and tried to massage it out. It was locked straight for what seemed an eternity. I yelled and swore a few times and tried walking backwards up the hill. Finally the cramp ended and I started walking. Looking back, still no sign of Chris. Ok time to run cautiously again. I got up and over Hubbard with no cramping, but my legs wanted to cramp and I was now officially death slogging. Finally, Chris caught me going downhill near the logging clear cuts. He offered me his Gatorade bottle which I gratefully took. I knew there was no chance I'd be able to race him the final 2 miles to the finish. My legs were done. He disappeared down the hill and I kept plugging away down my road. The hill on the road was tough as always but I was able to run it with no cramps or walking. I hit the line in 4:03:25 for 4th place. It was a fun day and I gave it all I had. Ferenc ended up getting passed by Scott on my road on the hill. Ouch. They were close to David's record running 3:41 and 3:42. The chili at my house was excellent and I got fired up seeing Glenn finish. I knew he was in the zone and feeling emotional from the effort. I'm already excited for next year. I have a lot of room for improvement. Some day, maybe I'll be able to master this race and finish knowing I couldn't do anything better from training, to nutrition, to race strategy. This year was not that year but it was fun and I've gained some wisdom. I can't wait to try again.

5 comments:

  1. Great write-up. Sorry to hear about the cramping but it sounds like you gave it everything you had. Maybe next year I'll brave the Pisgah...

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  2. Thanks! It would be awesome to have a big WTAC contingent come up to run. That would mean skipping Surftown though. Great job there by the way.

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  3. Great race! I'd consider forgoing Surftown for this one, from the sounds of it...

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  4. LOL at that Kilburn phrase again. I love that it's always either/or. There is no middle ground! Bummer 'bout the cramps; that's definitely my worst fear (well, after tarantulas, I mean obviously). Still, great run, Greg. Four hours is just freakin' incredible. Betting you've still got a shot at besting Herr's record in coming years.

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  5. loved seeing you before the race!!!

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