Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Blossoms, Calves, and the Bull Run Run

Stars aligned last weekend, I got to experience the Bull Run Run 50-mile race in VA (one of 3 race lotteries I won this year, wow), and the DC cherry blossoms exploded at the perfect time for me to see them. AND I got to see Kathy and Bob. How awesome is all that?

Let's get to the good stuff - Kathy and Bob picked an amazing street to live on! My jaw dropped when I turned the corner onto it, wow:

By the time of this writing, most of the show is probably over. What a lucky break to be in Maryland last weekend!

Now for the race report portion of this post. I don't have a ton of time, which is great news for you. I ran the Bull Run Run 50-mile race in Virginia, it was great, and I finished. OK, I can probably do just a little better than that. Race photos courtesy of several photographers on the course - thanks!

Here's the start (I'm nowhere near the front, although I still started too fast):

We did a loop around the parking lot - Hi cars! And back up to the start/finish before heading down to the river.

The first third of the course goes up the river and back, with a couple creek crossings, lots of pretty bluebells, and a wonderful reminder of the Barton Creek Greenbelt in Austin. I really enjoyed it, and even though it seemed really comfortable I still kinda ran too fast.

But not nearly as fast as Annette (the women's winner):

The larger creek crossings had big lily pads to hop across:

The last couple miles of the out-and-back were mud-covered and slippery. That was entertaining, especially with all the people running in both directions. I made the mistake of counting women in front of me and found I was running in 11th place. So I had to pass one to make it 10th. She eventually passed me back up, which was fine. Long way to go.

After coming back through the start/finish, we went back down to the river for a second, much longer out-and-back in the downstream direction. After about 20 miles of running, my legs started asking just how far was I planning to go today? 50 miles is quite a bit longer than I have run in a while. I was also watching behind me and worrying myself about several women who were hot on my tail.

Finally I figured out that I needed to relax, let my body recover from the quick start, and just enjoy the day. The weather was absolutely beautiful, the trail (once we were done with the muddiest miles) was wonderful, and I started feeling good again.

Hey look, they even got a photo of me!

I reached the Wolf Run Shoals aid station where the Toy Story gang was manning the tent - fun!

I actually made it there without getting passed, but that didn't last long. There were quite a few women in the mile behind me, and they began passing me one by one, over the course of the rest of the race. I noticed but didn't mind. Time to focus on myself for a while. Or the rest of the world - what a pretty course. Much of it was on horse-ridden trails but you only knew that by seeing the occasional pile of dung. In Texas the trail would be completely torn up and annoying - this soil was dealing with the hoof prints a whole lot better.

I came into the "Do Loop" aid station and was sampling a piece of cantaloupe when I looked over to see flat white boxes stacked up on a table along with the words "Ham and pineapple" on a piece of tape. Shut up! They actually had pizza delivered - and it wasn't just for the volunteers. Now, I almost never eat solid food during a race, but I love love love love pizza. And I was no longer racing, just trying to keep moving well. So I had to experiment with a slice. The volunteer tried to get me to make a sandwich out of 2 pieces, but I didn't want to overdo it even though the pieces were small.

I took my pizza down the trail, smiling and mumbling to myself. On a slight run down a hill a piece of pineapple flew off, oh no! But my stomach handled everything just fine. I spent the next 3 miles of the Do Loop thinking of almost nothing else. How to run not too fast so my stomach is still OK, but fast enough that there is pizza left when I get back to the same aid station? What if this person passing me takes the last piece? I'll fight ya for it!

I can't recall ever spending this much of a race, much less any of a race report, thinking about food...

I did manage to notice the rowing competition going on over on the reservoir, that was interesting to watch for a minute (pizza pizza pizza)

OK, I'll spare you any more suspense. YES, there was pizza left! They told me they were ordering more, too. I asked which aid station the order was going to. To this one, sadly, but at least I got 2 shots at it so I really cannot even begin to complain.

I took 2 pieces and made a sandwich. No more flying pineapple pieces. I wandered down the road in pizza bliss, eyes almost closed, obviously making enough of a spectacle that the oncoming runners were grinning at me. Or maybe they love pizza as much as I do and were just excited to see it coming down the trail.

So the rest of the story is pretty mundane in comparison. My legs held up great with the more-reasonable pace, my endurance is still here, my feet did great in wet shoes for many miles, and my knees paid the price for running fast down the early hills. Eventually I ended up running well on the flats, climbing great on the short uphills (good to see my climbing practice is getting better), and easing my way down the other side with achy knees. That was enough to get me to the finish line in 9:37 as a mostly-happy camper.

Phew! That was rather hard.

The next day I talked Kathy and Bob into coming to Waffle House with me. This probably sounds strange (well, maybe not, if you're coming off the last few paragraphs), but one of the things I miss about the South is the lack of Waffle Houses anywhere near Albany.

Thanks for humoring me!! I have great friends :)

Bob found an event at a nearby creamery, so we drove over to meet some really cute calves.

Kathy and a calf getting to know each other:

"Hey little one, check out this video I downloaded":

Creamery trucks and a rooster:

Apparently the calves were expecting bottles every time someone got near them, so they tasted everything with their long tongues:

Kathy was psyched to pet a cow for the first time:

We did a nice walking tour of Frederick where we found this in a tea shop - too funny!

The lovely canal:

And one last cherry blossom photo for good measure!

Next up: Recovery and another 50-miler next Sunday...

1 comment:

Steve Pero said...

Good race, Marcy! Your attitude is so right, food first, racing last....I mean, what the heck are we going to prove by running faster and gaining a place or two?

Hi to John...

Happy Birthday!