Saturday, April 18, 2015

Run the Rock 50k Race Report

What would the night before a race be without little sleep and a coughing, spitting up child? Sigh. Although Sam really had appeared to be completely over the 4-week cough she had, last night she coughed so much she spit up a whole bunch of phelgm and bits of dinner (perhaps too much pool water swallowed? Or just a release of the build-up of mucus from the prior illness?). Either way, yum!! Parenting is so awesome! ;) Needless to say, the alarm at 4:15 came way too early... although I probably should have set it for even earlier as it took us a while to get things together and out the door.

We headed onto the highway, the sky dark above and stray showers hitting the windshield. Took us about an hour and a half to reach Raven Rock State Park, the location of today's Run the Rock Ultra and Mini races. Put on by the friendly, Southern Pines Ultra Running Club, the course was made up of two "loops," the first about 5.5 miles and other just over 5. About 85 people, most of whom appeared to know each other, were assembled at the picnic area for the two races. I kept smiling at the thick southern accents. I know we probably sound weird to southerners too :)

The 50k took off at 8:00 am, with the 25k starting an hour later. It was in the mid-60s and incredibly humid, but the cloud cover remained for the majority of the morning, which was nice at least.

Start/finish area

No idea what I am talking about here at the start line...

The first loop started off downhill. Despite trying to keep the pace fairly mellow, I still managed to run sub-10 for that first mile. I did have a lot of people fly by me in the first few miles, many of whom I ended up catching later on... The course wound down to run along a creek for a while - very pretty woods with some big azelea bushes and fairly wide open woods. I was surprised to find that the forest floor wasn't all that green yet, but the oaks were that almost flourescent green color that they get in early spring, especially set against the overcast sky. When we turned away from the creek, we wound up through the forest, eventually hitting the "top," where the Raven Rock outlook overlooked the Cape Fear river. I was tempted to take the short side trail to check out the view, but ultimately decided against it. Around 3+ miles in, the route took us on an out-and-back down to Nottingham Ferry, right at the edge of the river. And by down, I mean down! Only to turn around and truck right back up. Aie. I managed to run everything though, but I did feel like I was working for it a bit in the thick air. Throughout this loop, the treadway was a mix of fairly wide and slightly rooty "single track" and wide old carriage road type "trails." Not super technical, but a good bit of elevation gain and loss throughout.

Then it was back to the start/finish area at right around 5.5 miles, early enough to see Ryan run up to the line for the 25k start. Woohoo! Then it was across the parking lot to the other loop - the Campbell Creek Trail. This was a  lopsided lollypop, with a solid 0.5 mile downhill on a wide and very rocky (big rocks) "road" to a bridge spanning a creek. The course then split, with the "out" being a long uphill, with a few short descents to stream crossings, on rocky trails through fairly exposed forest. At the top of the loop, the trail turned into a lovely relatively flat wide trail down to the edge of the Cape Fear River. From there, the trail wound along the edge of Camel's Creek, which meant it was mostly flat and runnable. Then it was back to the bridge and uphill for the final 0.5 miles to the start/finish, only to do it all again x2! ;)

I saw Ryan heading out onto the Campbell Creek Trail as I was almost done, which was fun. I stopped briefly at the aid station for a chug of coke and took off again. I was doing a really good job of eating every 1/2 hour and drinking well too. I did stop at the end of loop #3 to refill my bladder, get some more gels and salt tabs, etc, so I ended up taking off after female #3 for time #2 on the Campbell Creek Trail, but I did pass her on the downhill and worked hard on the uphill to stay ahead :) Somewhere along that loop, I had a Salted Carmel Gu, which I normally really like, but the gel was hot and sticky and oh so gross in the heat. Ugh. So, that was the end of the gel intake. And around mile 18, mid-way through the loop, the sky started to clear and it got hot. It was noticeable. And not in a good way. I was determined to run as much of the course as I could on each loop, and to make as good time as possible on the runnable stretches, so I kept running but it was getting a bit harder. 

I was happy to see Ryan back at the aid station at mile 21, and he helped me get some coke and got out the watermelon for me to eat when I told him I was done with the gels. I even took a few pieces of watermelon to go (and ate them too!) in my neat-o little Ultraspire cup, as the event was truly cupless. One last time along the Raven Rock "loop." I admit to walking pretty much the whole uphill on the Nottingham Ferry out-and-back despite the fact that I was saw the #1 female on the way up as I was headed down and really would have loved to have caught her ;) I also had some lovely quad cramping, which put a bit of a kink in things, but an extra salt tab helped.

Back at the start/finish, I had more coke and watermelon and despite feeling like I was sinking under the heat/humidity, I took off quickly to get in that final loop. My watch was reading 5:10 and I was really hoping for 6:00 hours, so I did as much as I could to run the uphills once over the bridge, but there was still a fair amount of walking, and then there was more quad cramping, so I spent part of the flat runnable portion walking with a local runner who was also in a bit of a bad patch. But, I didn't want to walk it in, so after a bit of conversation, I took off running again. I knew the edge of the Cape Fear meant I had only 2 miles to go so I ran as much and as "fast" as I could to the bridge. I was really ready to be done as damn, it was hot out there. I was also hungry, so despite being only a short ways from the finish, I opened up a pack of Honey Stinger chews and had a couple. I ran and walked and ran and walked and then hoofed it as fast as possible to the finish once I saw the parking lot. I ended up with 31.55 miles on my Garmin in 6:11 (moving time of just a tad over 6:00) and finished with a smile on my face. Yahoo! Nothing like a hot, humid ultra after an extra cold, snowy winter and no heat training whatsoever ;)

Eyes closed, dripping with sweat, but finished with a smile on my face

And then realized I was totally overheated and exhausted and completely spent ;)

I managed to finish 2nd female, and along with the cool finisher's medal, I got a neat 2nd place finish award too. The club did a really nice job with the race, and despite the heat, it really was a neat place to run and a fun race!

Ryan ended up taking 3rd in the 25k so it was a good day for Team Snowplug :)

Top Three in the 25k

Top Three Women in the 50k

Cool hardware ;)

While Ryan had put away three hamburgers waiting for me to finish, I wasn't up for grilled food, so after a short while, we took off. I somehow decided I really wanted biscuits, so we stopped along the way at Hardee's only to discover that they do not serve biscuits all day long. Oh the horror! So I had to make due with chicken tenders, fries and a chocolate milkshake ;) I'll have to get biscuits another day I guess. Oh darn!

Run 50k. Eat Hardee's. Ah, ultrarunning :) Hey, I am not ashamed!

Of course, Sam had a great day with Neenie and Pip while we were out running and sweating in the woods around Raven Rock State Park, so the thank you list would not be compete if we did not say a huge thanks to Mom and Dad for hanging out with her all day! She had a great time crafting and swimming, and was in the midst of an easter egg hunt with Pip when we got home :)

Sam and Pip

Sam hiding eggs for Pip


Looking for eggs

Opening for clues

We got big hugs and kisses when we got home, which was a great way to finish up the day!


I will readily admit that I was really wiped out after the race and into the evening - the heat took a lot out of me - and I am hobbling a bit as the quads are a bit sore from the cramping, but really, overall I'm happy with how today played out. I felt pretty strong and steady throughout, despite the slowdown in pace due to the heat, and I stayed focused and determined the whole race. I feel I fueled well and adapted to the situation as needed. It was some good time on my feet in a fun race, and of course, always nice to end up with a good finish! No results up yet, but here are my Strava stats.


Anonymous said...

Yay, D! Great report and amazing run in the heat! I knew you would have your report right away!


Sparkplug said...

Thanks, Ann :) You know me well!

Scout said...

Nice work! Sounds like you had a plan and executed :D

Anonymous said...

Awesome! Sounds like you kicked ass :) Congrats!
I'm not quite ready for summer, but I definitely want to go out and run some trails after reading this.