Ah, Millersylvania State Park. Home to so many old racing memories. Four 5Ks in 4 months, the last one being my only sub 20 minute 5K. Club Oly trail 5K where I wore toe shoes. The "odd distance run" where I came in first place out of two. And the notorious Holiday Marathons, including my only DNF due to mild hypothermia. Other than the short Club Oly races these all started in the park and went right out onto the unsafe roads. Finally a long race on the cushy beautiful trails inside the park.
Race is put on by James of Rainshadow Running fame, but is not as brutal a course as he usually does. This one is a fundraiser with all the proceeds going to the Interfaith Works Emergency Shelter, so I feel good about my $60 race entry, which is still cheap for long races these days. They did a 10K last year here, and added a 30K and 50K for this year. 50K will be five loops of the 10K course. While the trails are great for running, the park is small for an ultra and it will be a crazy route just to get in 6 miles for a loop.
Over 100 in the shorter races but only 13 starters in the 50K. Nice to see a few friends at the start. For the ultra the Rogue Wave is here with her Dad. I don't know anyone else. So many racing options today, I hope I picked a good one, rather than repeating a race I have done before.
Cloudy and cool. Will warm up but stay very nice to run in short sleeves.
Loop 1 - 59 minutes - Too fast. Big crowd and not much room to pass early on. I ran a practice loop here a few weeks ago and had some trouble with the route. So RW and I figure we should run the first loop together and we do. Trail brush has been cut back and there are only two muddy spots. Most of the trails are barely wide enough for two, but with all the turns and other runners we would be elbowing each other, so I mostly stay behind her. Catch up and run next to her on the road and wide bits. Nice to run with her as usual and extra fun because this is where we met many years ago. With the course well marked we have no trouble (though later I will see runners in strange places off course) and cruise into the first lap complete and well, just knowing it was faster than I should have gone out.
Loop 2 - 1:04 - RW takes a break and I continue on. A little slower hoping she will catch back up. I gain on and run behind two chatting women who are doing the 30K. Hard decision on whether to pass them or not, I do like the pace. I end up passing on the gravel road hill part, but then they pass me back.
Loop 3 - 1:11 - About halfway through I start to tire. Stiffen up a little. Hit the wall as it were, but not so bad. Start having some negative thoughts. I could be home, drinking coffee and relaxing. Five loops is mentally tough. Don't really want to do another two, but what am I going to do drop out? Nothing hurts so I keep moving. Short walk breaks and lots of slow running on the easy parts. At the very end of the loop the RW catches me and I ask what took so long. Apparently she is feeling about the same as I am and we head out together.
Loop 4 - 1:15 - Rough patches come and go. Need to run my own race. Run well when I can and walk when I want to. RW gets ahead, then I catch back up. We are in the same boat for sure, struggling but persisting. Drinking a lot of water but feeling dehydrated.
Loop 5 -1:15 - Happy to be on the last loop. I will not have to cross this road again, I will not have to climb this bump again. I will not have to think of the song "get into the groove" when I reach that rutted spot. RW is behind me and I consider stopping at the fitness station to do a pull up when she comes by, but just don't have it in me. As I slow, I really expect her to pass me and beat me by ten minutes or so. But as the loop progresses, I think we might finish together. Happy that nothing hurts, everything is just tired. About a mile and a half to go and at the top of the last hill, with a down tree to climb over, I look back and see RW probably 30 seconds behind me. Now the nice downhill and I take it real easy. Slow some more, looking back but she is not there. My new plan is to let her catch me and ask if we can just cross the finish line together. Over the mud and onto the boardwalk. Walking but she is not there. Out to the final bit, one look back and still do not see her. What I don't know at the time is that she took a face time chat with her baby and slowed as much as I did. Oh well I make the final push to the finish and......
Finish - With about ten steps to go RW has somehow caught up and since we often think alike, she is saying "lets cross together". So we are done. It is a low key event, no medal or anything. But as the volunteers pretty much ignore me, they shower RW with first place woman awards. Artwork and a nice bag filled with goodies. Good for her! I am happy enough with my own finish time and no real pains. I would like to run this one again. 28.9 miles on the GPS. Each loop came in short, but I will not complain.
9th of 12 finishers
Race#418, Marathon or Ultra#155