This was 4 years straight at the Magnus Gluteus Maximus 50K, a race I have really come to love. I have been fortunate to run better each year and ran 4:37 this time, which was good for a PR and 1st place.
I followed my new perfect pre-race routine that consists of carbo-loading with beer, zero planning, and nearly missing the race start. I had a work happy hour the night before the race and then met up with one of my best friend's from college who was in town for the weekend. Dinner consisted a large amount of delicious fried food. Perfect pre-race prep.
I was much less than excited to wake up at 6am and get to the race. I slowly got my things together and chugged some coffee to wake up. I was already running late, which was made worse when I realized I went to the wrong trailhead, which was a good 25 minutes out of the way. Woops.
I rolled up at 7:50 and made it to the start line just in time to be a bit late for the official start. I quickly caught up to the lead pack and finally started to relax. My stomach was growling at me from dinner the night before, but the legs were feeling good, and I was rolling along.
Two first-timers were running up front and asked how hard it would be to navigate the Do-Loop by themselves. I said it would be "pretty impossible" but then amended my statement to "just plain impossible." They did not heed my warning and shot off on their own.
I ran on my own for a bit until another first-timer caught up with me. He was a really nice guy and asked if I would mind him tagging along for the Do-Loop. This sounded a bit like the blind leading the blind since I still don't really know the Do-Loop very well, but I made him sign a waiver absolving me of any blame and said I would do my best.
We came off the Bull Run trail at mile 12 in 1:42, and I felt great. Apparently the two guys who shot off in the front got lost in the parking lot and did not make it even one foot into the Do-Loop. The guy behind me scooped them up while they were wandering around the parking lot and took them through the loop. Just goes to show - don't mess with the Do-Loop.
I took it a bit easier in the first part of the loop to make sure we didn't get lost. Fortunately they actually had a few streamers marking a couple of key turns. Boy I just felt spoiled. It was still tricky, but we made it through just fine. On the way back out I started picking it up and moving well.
I came back onto the Bull Run trail 1:04 later. I didn't know for sure what happened to the two guys in front, but I was fairly sure I was out in front at this point. The first 6 miles back on the Bull Run trail weren't too bad. I was fading on the uphills with tired legs, but I was still moving really well on the flats and downhills.
The last 6 miles were a grind, but I managed to hold a decent pace. At the last aid station 5.5 miles out, I grabbed some Coke and Fig Newtwon, which perked me up a bit. I kept counting down the miles and knew I would break 4:40 as long as I didn't fall in the river (hey, you never know).
Just over a mile from the finish, I ran past a husband / wife out hiking on the trail and soon after tripped on a rock. I caught myself and fell relatively gracefully, but my calf cramped up as I was falling. They looked back to see if I was ok, and there I was rolling around on the ground trying to unlock my calf. I think they thought I having some kind of seizure, so I yelled out "I'm good ... calf cramped up ... carry on, I'll be fine." I hauled myself up and immediately started running to the finish, I'm sure leaving this couple wondering what kind of crazy pills I was taking.
I turned off the trail for the climb up to the Hemlock lodge and saw somebody not too far back on the trail. I finished in 4:37 just a couple of minutes ahead of 2nd place.
It was a great day and a great run. I look forward to hopefully keeping the MGM tradition alive!