Monday, May 23, 2016

2016 Berryman Trail 50 miler

I ran the Berryman 50+ miler Saturday. There was a large group of us from Columbia that went this year and many of us camped together. Some were running the marathon and several the 50. Temperature at the start was 53F and humid and got up to 75F. The 50 miler started at 6:30 am. I took off near the front and was in 4/5th place the entire first loop since I ran with another runner. He wasn't wearing a GPS and it was his first 50 miler. I think this is the longest I have run with the same person in an ultra.Most of the time he ran right behind me.

I didn't spend much time at aid stations so often started out ahead of him but he would shortly catch me and not want to pass. We had a drop bag at the 16 mile point on the loop. He even changed his shoes after we had crossed the creek and still caught me. I was a little worried I might be running too fast but hoped to finish the first loop in 4:20 as I have done many times (might be time for a new approach). As we finished the first loop, the time on my GPS just hit 4:20. It seemed a little more difficult than some years which might be since I ran all the hills. I have run all the hills in this race before but it has been a few years. One of the 50 milers had dropped at the first loop so we were now in 3/4th place. The first loop went by quickly and I am thankful I had someone that I enjoyed running with to pass the time.

I took off for the second loop while he was changing his shoes but of course he soon caught me. I asked again if he wanted to go around. I had a feeling that might have the ability to pick it up since I never heard him breathing hard behind me. After about a half mile, he said he was going to try to run the downhills faster. I wasn't able to keep him in sight for long since he did pick up the pace. He obviously had the ability to run faster but was smart to hold back on the first loop. I was able to keep my pace in the 10s (about same as first loop) for 5 more miles but at mile 31, I slowed to 12 min.I kept running other than uphills and managed 11-12 something pace all except 1 mile at 14 min where I spent a little extra time at the aid station catching up on hydration. No miles in the 13s!

I passed a few slower marathoners but didn't see anyone else. I wasn't too worried about any 50 milers passing me even though I had slowed since the temperature had warmed up. I didn't feel great the last 20 miles but felt good enough to run most of the time so pace didn't completely go downhill. I probably made the mistake of running the entire first loop and didn't walk any hills.

I ended up finishing 4th overall, 2 places higher than last year and 14 min slower. The guy I ran the first loop moved up to 2nd. He ran the second loop only 8 min slower. I ran it 38 min slower in 4:58 so my overall time was 9 hr 18 min.  I ended up breaking my streak of 4 Master's wins since another 47 year old finished 22 min ahead of me. Fine with me since I really didn't need another plaque and even if I had run the first loop slower, I don't think I had an 8:54 in me. I did run an 8:52 in 2014 but it was much cooler. 

This race was the 7th time I ran the 50 miler here plus 2 marathons. Most likely I will plan to go back for another 50 miler next year. It seems to be a tradition to have a group from Columbia and it is always a fun time. The winning time for the 50 miler was 8 hr 18 min which was much slower than usual. Typically, there are runners in the 7s and the record is 6:30. There was a guy trying to break the course record and didn't even come close. Times seemed slower than usual for whatever reason. The course was wet in a few places and it was a little warm so probably didn't help. 

Crossing Brazil Creek

Friday, May 13, 2016

2016 Flat Rock 101K

I ran Flatrock 101K (aka Storm Rock this year) on April 30. I rode with 2 friends on Friday to the race. We encountered a storm on the way that we were driving right into. Fortunately, we were on the edge of it and only got really heavy rain. As we were nearing race headquarters we noticed piles of hail along the roads. Race headquarters had been hit with hail and high winds so they were putting everything back together. The race shirts were a little wet. The pre-race dinner was delayed about an hour. It was included in the race fee but with the weather I assume some of the locals stayed home.

The race started at 6:30 am and the weather was 58F, sunny and humid. The course is 2 out and backs. We could have drop bags at 2 locations in addition to the start but I had one at start and 1 location so had access about every 10 miles. The trail is very rocky but no major hills. The challenge at this race is getting through and over the rocks and we were literally climbing through and up some of the rocks. My favorite race photographers (90 Mile Photography) were there yet again. They've been at all my races so far this year.

I had a pretty good first half but very slow going since this is a very rocky course. About 10 miles into the course, a half mile looked like a war zone with downed trees. It was very difficult to find the trail and took some extra time to get through. I was in 5th place right behind a guy as I went through this mess. Huge trees had been uprooted, blown down and it was a tangled mess. The rest of the course was okay other than just a lot of leaves on the trail to cover up rocks. After the turnaround I was in 4th place and then headed back.

We had to run about 3/4 mile on the road on each out and back. Before I got there first place was going back out and around 4 miles ahead of me. As I was heading back on the road, I could see 2nd and 3rd place not too far ahead. I quickly took care of what I needed to do and was back on the road so now am in second place and 6 hr 28 min. 

On my way back from the turnaround I was hoping for at least 2 miles as a good cushion for whoever was behind me. It turned out to be 3.5 miles or I figured maybe 45 - 50 min but they were moving slower and I was building a cushion even though I had slowed down. It was a little warm and humid which slowed everyone down. They had flagged the area with all the trees down to take us around it a little but was still tough to get through since some of the flags were placed on the downed trees since there was no way around.

I slowly made my way back and felt great the entire time. I finished just before running out of daylight in 13:37:57, 2nd overall and 31 min behind 1st. They fed us our choice of breakfast foods after we finished. I ate biscuits and gravy (something I rarely eat) and sausage. Overall a very well organized low-key event. I highly recommend running this race if you want a technical challenge, beautiful course, and nice race amenities (included in overall fee) like pre and post race meals, buckle, great aid stations, and professional quality photos.