Just what I needed to check my progress in preparing for Massanutten. The Fool's 50k was part training run and part race for me. Instead of just logging some miles I wanted to put forth a strong effort to see what my long distance pace was shaping up to be for the upcoming summer season.
A few mistakes on my part did not put me in a good place for the race though. Pre race night I got just under four hours of sleep, then drove three hours to Akron to the race and with three tough training sessions during the week my body felt fatigued before even reaching the start line. Around 5:00 am in the parking my stomach took a turn and I started dry heaving in the parking lot for a few minutes. This stomach issue floated through me for most of the race. The good side of that is it felt like I was at mile 69 in a 100 mile race with the toughest 31 miles left to plow through on a beaten body. Nothing better than simulating my goal; well at least that was my optimism.
The plan was to run the the first loop of 25K in 2:45 then step up the pace a bit for a 2:30 second 25K (a nice 5 hour 15 minute run time.) Well I got off the line with a comfortable pace and ran the downhills & flat-like sections through the entire first loop. Most of the hills were in the beginning and end of the loop with a quick middle section. Coming through on the first 25K in 2:43:17, but not a lot left in the tank to repeat that effort. Kylie (my oldest daughter) said, "good job, are we ready to go?" I responded back, "I still have a second loop." She processed that for a brief moment then commented, "Really?" Nothing like the humor of a teenager to make the moment even better as I felt the bus run me over. I told her hang in there I will be back in about 3-3 hours 15 minutes.
Starting the out the second loop the weather was getting even better with partly sunny skies, warm temps around mid 50's and great trail conditions. This loop started with a bit of walking until I got around mile eighteen then I came to terms with the more I run the sooner this will end. My entire body was aching (biceps, triceps, shoulders, quads, hamstrings; basically everything except my eyeballs to make it short). I held in there and pushed along running all but the inclines. During the inclines I did enjoy the walking bit more than I should have, but that was the trade off for running all the other portions. The craziest part of the this loop was that I thought I saw a seven foot man dressed in purple cloak running through the forest off the path watching me. What a great hallucination for a short distance race. I closed out the second 25K in 3:12:38 making a perfect 5:55:55 on the finishing clock as I passed over the line.
The race was well organized and is held (in my opinion) on the best 15.5 miles of the Burning River 100 Mile course. Just over 1200 wooden steps to navigate in the hilly sections and a lot of just beautiful sections to take in while running. The race sells out and I would recommend putting it on anyone's to do list. Each finisher gets a nice hand crafted coffee mug.
Well April 14 I head to the Winona 50K in Indiana to once again check my progress. Followed up with the Tie Dye 50K in Ohio on April 28 for a final check before the tapering begins for what will be a "rocking" Massanutten 100 Mile!