On Saturday, I woke up early and headed out to Bull Run to do a training run for Vermont. Bull Run isn’t my favorite trail in the area, as it isn’t quite as scenic as some of the other trails in the area, particularly the trails out in the Shenandoahs. However, it is very convenient to get to and has some fairly challenging terrain that makes for good training. The goal was to run the whole trail out and back, which would total 36 miles. This would be my longest run ever aside from the JFK 50 in last fall.
I woke up at 6 and was on the trail by about 7. It was a perfect day for running. It was about 50 degrees when I started and 70 degrees when I finished. I was running with my Nathan 020 pack filled with water and a Nathan handheld bottle filled with Gatorade. I brought along a bunch of food and Ensure and was hoping to take in about 2,000 calories on the run. I’ve had a hard time getting in calories while running before, so this would be a good test of that before Vermont.
I felt pretty good for most of the run. Bull Run is fairly hilly, but I’d run out in the Massanutten Mountains the week before, so the hills didn’t seem so bad. I felt pretty strong until mile 18 or so. I was bonking and got worried because it was way too early in the run for things to be going downhill. The only thing I could think of was that I was a bit low on salt, so I took an extra Succeed and started drinking more Gatorade (I’d been drinking mostly water up to this point).
I started feeling a lot better a few miles later and didn’t bonk again for the rest of the run. I did run out of water and Gatorade with about 5 miles left, though. I’d brought about 110 ounces of fluid with me, which is way more than I usually drink, so I was surprised that I ran out. It was a good sign though that I was able to drink a lot throughout the run. Because I’d been hydrating well up to that point, I was fine for the last 5 miles.
I ended up getting lost a few times when I accidentally took the detours for horses, so I think the run ended up being somewhere around 38 miles. I covered almost 7,000 feet of elevation gain (calculated based on reading that the Bull Run 50 race has 9,000 feet of gain) and finished up the run in 6:30 (just over 10 minute miles).
I was definitely slowing down toward the end and hiking more of the hills, but I still felt really strong at the finish. I definitely could have gone for a while longer (though I would certainly have backed off the 10 minute mile pace). All in all, this was a great training run for Vermont and was definitely encourage. I’m planning two more big training runs of 40+ miles before Vermont, and hopefully they’ll go as well as this one did!