Back in high school and college, my main sport was ski racing. I know, who actually ski races?
Sometime while I was in college, Bode Miller burst on the scene. You may remember him from hearing about how awesome he was and then watching him stink it up at the Olympics. Bode always had a very simple philosophy - 1st place or DNF (did not finish). He skied balls to walls and either crushed the competition or crashed spectacularly.
My good friend Danny Brome (aka babaganoush, the big guy, or fat man) reminded me of this last night. It seems that I've adopted the Bode mentality for running. Last weekend was the DNF (see below for gruesome details). This weekend, at the EFA 50k, I went out hard and actually got first place!
This race was another tough training run for the BMER 50 Miler on March 28th. It was out in the Massanuttens again very close to where I ran the MMT Training Run in January and where I took some pictures 3 weeks ago. As usual with the Massanuttens, it would be a tough run with over 6K feet of climbing and plenty of rocks.
I did some great training last week and hit 102 miles. I though I'd be worn out from the mileage, but I felt pretty good and started out pretty hard. We took off around 7am from the parking lot and started up what would be the first big climb of the day.
I was soon in 3rd place but found out that the 2 guys ahead of me were going to call it a day at mile 22 when you loop back close to the finish line. They went on ahead leaving me in 1st place for the 50K.
I felt great up the first big climb and didn't see anyone else until mile 7 or so. A guy I didn't recognize was closing one me and caught me around mile 10. We ran together for a little while, and then I pulled away on the next big climb. The next 3.5 miles were on the ridgeline, and you basically had to jump from rock to rock the whole time.
I was moving along pretty well, but Greg (as I found out his name was) caught me at the end of this section. This dude could really move in the technical sections! It became a pretty consistent theme that I'd pull way ahead on the uphills, and he'd reel me back on the technical sections and downhills.
We came to the next big uphill section at mile 15, and I charged ahead hard to try to build my lead. We hit the top around mile 17, and the next 5 miles were technical and flat/downhill. I knew I'd have to really push on this section to hold Greg off. I was still feeling great, so I ran a bit faster than I normally would.
I came into the mile 22 aid station still feeling strong. I hadn't seen Greg in a while, but I figured he was close behind. From here we'd go on a 9 mile loop. There was a monster climb in the first 3 miles and then another 6 miles of technical, flat/downhill running. I planned to run for all I was worth in the 3 mile uphill and then try my best to hold on in the next 6 miles. 1st place or DNF!
I was warned that the 3 mile climb would be brutal. It started off pretty runnable, and I thought "man, this isn't so bad." Wrong. I got owned in the last mile or so. The trail got steeper and steeper as you went up, and it was just laughably hard at the top. Well maybe not, because I certainly wasn't laughing.
The next 2.3 miles on the ridgeline were still pretty tough, especially after the ludicrous climb. My stomach was also going south (pretty familiar story), but a Ginger Chew helped settle it down. I found Ginger Chews online recently, and I think they'll be extremely helpful with my frequent stomach troubles.
I charged hard in the last 3 mile downhill. I crossed the finish line (aka stumbled into the parking lot) in 5:41 and first place.
I was really happy to be able to charge hard and finish strong after a really tough training week. 1st place or DNF strategy is working so far! I'm hoping to hit 100 miles again this week provided that I feel ok after the race today. After that, I'll do a mini taper for a week before BMER 50.