Sunday, October 11, 2015

2015 Rock Bridge Revenge 50K

Saturday I ran Rock Bridge Revenge 50K for the fourth time. There is also a 7 mile and 25K race as well. Temperatures turned colder on Friday night and it was only 43F at the start of the 50K at 7 am. Sleep wasn't ideal since I was awake at 3:30 am but I felt good and ready to run. There were 60 people signed up for the 50K but after dropping down and no-shows, only 40 runners started. If you want to drop down you have to do so before since the other races start an hour later.

As opposed to last year, the trail was dry and it has rained very little recently. The weather was perfect through the race with the temp reaching upper 60s by the time I finished. My goal was to finish between 5:10 and not longer than 5:30. Last year I ran 5:22 but the course was muddy so this was a reasonable goal for the dry trail. Overall, I was thinking 10-10:30 pace but this course is tough to run even splits since the terrain varies. The first part of the course is run on one side of the park and then we run a loop on the other side of the road, cross the road and finish the loop we started earlier. Then we repeat for the second half. The first few miles are generally faster and the pace slows across the road even during training runs. On the first loop, we ran a short out and back on the road to spread out the runners. I positioned myself behind Sankalp and he was setting an aggressive starting pace. There were 4 other runners trailing me.

I kept Sankalp in sight but didn't get too close other than on downhills I would catch up a bit. When we reached a creek at 3 miles my splits were 8:31, 9:29, and 8:43. I made the decision that when I got to the creek I was going to let everyone right behind me pass since I felt the pace was not sustainable for me. I stopped for a few seconds and let 4 runners go around. I carefully crossed and mostly avoided getting my shoes wet trying to stay on rocks. They all sped ahead except I did catch up to one of them shortly that had turned his ankle but he walked it off and passed me. The first aid station is at 6 miles where we cross the road. Those 3 miles before the aid station were run at a similar pace that I started even though I let 4 runners pass me so I was in 6th place at this point.

For nutrition there are 2 aid stations on each set of loops and one at the start so a total of 5 for the 50K. I filled my bottles and sometimes had a piece of banana. I also carried 5 gels and used 4 of them and 3 of them were the yummy expensive Huma gels. I used 1 serving of Sword per loop. After the first loop, I was back at the start in 2:24. The first loop is slightly longer since we have a short out and back on the road that we don't do the second loop. I grabbed my full bottle of Sword, a piece of banana, and continued. I didn't see Sankalp but had passed him at the aid station. Shortly after I see the guy that had turned his ankle earlier coming towards me. Apparently, he had gone the wrong way around the loop on the way back. Also, I passed another guy just over 3 miles into the loop. If I passed anyone else, I didn't notice.

Just as I was leaving the aid station 20+ miles, I noticed Sankalp behind me. Whether in front of me or behind me, he helped push me through this race. Also, I kept pushing the pace since I thought that sub-5 hours was very possible. Up to this point, I hadn't fallen and managed not to fall at all in my last 50 mile race but I guess I was overdue. After mile 21, I tripped over something and landed on my arm and left knee. I had a couple scrapes on my knee and my arm felt a little sore for awhile.  At mile 24, I managed to do almost the same thing but landed off trail and squished a bunch of liquid out of my bottle and added a third scrape to the left knee. My legs were tiring so it was more difficult to pick up my feet but I still felt good. A few miles later I hit my left big toe hard attempting to jump over a log that I should have stepped over but didn't fall.

Up to mile 21, I had 1 mile just over 10 minutes in spite of some hills. My slowest mile was 22 and I am guessing took a bit to recover after falling and I had to descend a steep hill and climb another. I'm watching the clock pretty closely since keeping my mind on sub-5 kept pushing me forward. I figure if I can keep an 11 minute average the rest of the way, I can do it. I managed to do all remaining miles under 11 except 1 and even ran several under 10 min. My finishing time was 4:54:06 (2nd overall) so ran the second loop 6 minutes slower than the first and finished feeling good in spite of the half mile climb uphill to reach the finish. This turned out to be a course PR by 17 minutes. This is the best 50K, I've had in years.

There were 30 finishers and 10 DNFs so still a tough day for 25% of the runners. The winner ran 4:33 (24 years old) and Sankalp also finished sub-5 in 4:58. The cutoff for the race is 8 hours. This race is very much run by volunteers and seems to get more support every year. It is becoming an event that everyone wants to do and has filled the past 2 years.

Earlier in day pancakes were served but for those of us finishing later we had pulled chicken, chips, cookies, chocolate milk, Gatorade, and fruit.I managed to eat a little right after finishing. I've recovered well from the race in spite of running on the hard trails and a sore ankle for 1 day. On Sunday, I went out and "ran" 5.5 miles helping to remove flags from the course.


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