Spring is definitely here in Virginia now and like in many years past the first really warm and humid day Saturday fell on BRR 50 day. Yikes....you'd think a year in the desert heat would have helped me but noooooooo it felt hot out there to me.
My day started off at 3am when I rolled out of bed, grabbed my stuff and jumped in my trusty Nissan Sentra to make the 2 hour drive to the very familiar BRR50. This would be the 4th time I completed this run...more than any other race I have entered.
Since this was the 8th ultra of 2008 for me I have a pretty good routine down now. I drink two 210 calorie "weight loss shakes" from costco (they are cheap and full of good stuff..a knock off slimfast) and if I have 3+ hours until the run I might eat a powerbar as well. So 640 calories for a breakfast and then on the starting line I put down a pack of cliff shot blocks for another 200cals. I drink plain water or NUUN dissolved in water during the run and try to take in a 200 calorie pack every 45-60minutes. Bull Run was no different except that at the start line I was not standing shaking in a long sleeve shirt (or two and with pants) like I have been in the previous 7. I was in shorts and a singlet and I was completely comfortable...even warm.
I had wanted to push it in this one a bit more with the hopes of running near what I had in 2002 (7:56) but knew the shape I showed in 2001 was not really likely. The 11:40 I ran with my dad in 2003 would surely be doable though!
I started off at a conversational pace on the very first parking lot loop and settled in with the front pack that included Anne Lundblad and Justine Morrison. When the single track began I let them go and really started watching my heartrate monitor keeping it around 150bpm. From previous race sI know if I run at a pace that elicits a HR higher than 150 I will end up bonking and hurting. 150 is 82% of my marxHR.
I had some good conversation with Leo Lutz who I ran some early miles of JFK last Nov with and then settled in behind "Last Great Race & Grand Slam" record holder Joe Kulak. He lead me to the first aid station 1:05 into the run where I realized I was in the top 10 overall. I got excited and let it go a bit. I felt strong and good and was delighted that the super muddy section to the turn around where Anstr always is was not that sloppy. The temperature however was sweltering and the singlet I was wearing was already soaked through and had begun to chafe and bounce.
After the turn around I settled in with Jeff Brower and really enjoyed the constant ups and downs off good runable footing that makes the BRR special. We returned to the start/finish at 2:26. This felt great and I was confident I could hold this sub 9:00/mile pace a good while longer. Soon other runners were coming back to me off the front and I was able to pass Justine just prior to crossing the soccer fields. I had put down 200 cal shotblock packs at 60min, 1:45, and 2:40 but was beginning to tire. During the really hilly section after the 21mile aid station I realized I was gonna be slowing down and the fun running I was doing with Jeff and Justine was soon to end. At the 3 hour mark with 22 or so miles in the first quick rain shower hit and with it went my hamstrings. Hello Mr. Bonk! Done. Done done..like dinner.....DOAH!
Plan B. Enjoy the great event and finish. The next couple aid stations I sat down and hit the salt and coke hard. (21 minutes of down time says the garmin) The trail heading toward the infamous do loop was not my favorite as I didn't feel great and it being a newer lesser used trail that I was unfamiliar with made it downright suck. But, by the time I got to the do loop I was feeling a bit better. I gladly brought an umbrella out to Sean Andrish who was sitting gaurd at the T intersection and began some running with Leo again. I still had no strength to run any uphills and quickly let him go when nature called me off trail.
Once I had left the do loop and started the slog back most of the 20+ runners that would pass me were already gone so I actually ran alone for 2+ hours. Always amazes me that in a field of 350 runners you can end up being alone for so long.
One of the highlights of Bull Run is the aid stations and volunteers. This year was no different and a big thanks to John Dodds and Robi S, Bunny, and Aaron. (Who took awesome photos here)
With about 6 miles to go I was caught by Denis who woke me up and as you can see by looking at the below HR chart got me running again. I finished with a smile feeling like I had put out a really good effort on a tough day.