An ultra legend (Saab) and an ultra virgin (TYA) showed up early Saturday morning for a short trip through the woods just north of Charlottesville.
50k, no, 55k, no 56k through the trails and roads of the Blue Ridge Mountains. My super accurate Garmin GPS clocked us in at 34.91 miles (17.46 on the way out and 17.45 on the way back). GPS said it was just over 5,000 feet of climbing though the run. Here is how it was from my perspective. Nice downhill start for 2.5 miles on the road, 5 miles up and down in the woods, steep 1 mile descent (25k turnaround), 6 miles mostly flat or downhill in a valley in the woods, and 3.5 miles on a torturous paved/gravel road that was uphill both ways. Turn around and try to survive the ascent after the 25k turnaround spot and limp back to the finish line.
Weather was definitely a factor. For some it was negative, some folks had a problem with the camelback tubes freezing. For YHC it was a huge positive as itcut down on the sweating and made hydration a much more manageable issue. Only time we were really cold out there was prerace. Temperature was around 18 degrees at the start and we opted to stand next to the fire and keep warm versus being cold and listening to the preface instructions. Once the running began, weather did not cross our minds much at all. Just a few minutes of cold wind at the highest point of the race, but that is all.
For the first 8 miles all the Richmond PAX (except Lab Rat) were within spitting distance of each other. So good to have 9 of us out there for support an encouragement. A familiar face and a few kind words when trying to accomplish a huge task like this is invaluable. Post 8 miles, Saab stuck with me the whole way. From mile 8 – 14, we kept up a pretty pace and I don’t think I slowed down Saab too much, Mile 14 – turnarounds was tough and we both slowed down a little. For the rest of the race, I was definitely the pacer (holding Saab back).
Once we passed the turnaround, I knew that I would make the full distance. I still felt pretty good and was mentally in a good state. I also knew that I was holding Saab back. I told him on many occasions that he was free to go, that I was good and that he could press on at his pace. He would never leave. At some point in a race this long, you just want to be DONE. That, I think is true for everyone. For Saab to prolong his run to provide me with support and companionship while his mind and body were telling him to finish ASAP was incredible. I cannot express the gratitude and emotion I have at his self sacrificing actions.
Running is fascinating to me. For me, it is all mental. The first mile and the last mile always suck. The number of miles in between, really do not affect my mood much at all. For this race, I just told myself that I had 9 hours to finish and had nothing else to do with that time except hang with my buddy Saab. That kept me pretty happy and occupied the whole time. I just stayed in the moment and enjoyed the company, scenery, and at times the lack of talking.
Interesting things we learned along the way
- Traversing a creek is much easier without walking poles. Saab was ready to kill the guy in front of us who had poles and was gingerly crossing the creek trying to avoid any contact with water
- The ladies love Saab. At one particular aid station, Saab had his own personal assistant. She was attentive to Mr. Saab from the moment he entered the area, and was real concerned about the minor cut on his knee. I think she wanted to go all Clara Barton on him. Good new for her, was that Saab got to visit twice
- Best snack was the peanut butter pretzels. Yes, saltines with pb&J are awesome, but the pretzels were the best. Worst snack pb&j on a corn tortilla.
- Saab is a bit competitive. When we were about a mile from the finish, I looked back to see if any of the 50 milers were coming. He said to me that if one started to catch up to us, I had no choice but to run as fast as I could the rest of the way so that they could not catch us
- Nothing is better than finishing a race and have F3 Pax members waiting at the end. WOW. the support is amazing. It is very much like finishing a BRR leg. You have all the guys there interested in one thing and one thing only: what do you need and how can they help you.
- Just keep moving. One step forward is one step closer. It is that simple
- Water freezes below 32 degrees. Ask Lab Rat about the person he helped whose Camelback tube had frozen.
TYA and Saab Out.
Last thing, for Honeydo, I hope you noticed that Upchuck listed Saab and I in his backlist PAX list. That means we double dipped for BIG DATA on Saturday