Monday, October 10, 2016

The New New River 50k

My second time running the New River Trail 50k proved to be a fantastic way to kick off my streak of 12 marathons in 8 months. I did this race in 2014 and it was my first 50k then. The worst part was that I didn't appreciate what I was doing when it was happening then. I felt like 5:21 with a 4:26 marathon split was really slow and I should stick to road marathons after that. Well, 2 years later that is still my 50k PR after several other attempts. And full disclosure, my first ultramarathon was the Pine Mountain 40 in 2012 after which I swore off trail running forever.

This time I really tried to get my zen on, and live in the moment for where I was and what I was doing. It was awesome! I finished in 5:36:53 with a 4:39 marathon split. It was cold and foggy at the start, then 72* and perfectly sunny at the finish. Since I never meet a stranger there were tons of cool, friendly people to talk to out there. awesome.

Macado's in Galax! Who knew that was there

Cute farmers market
Friday night I drove up to Galax Va straight after work. Stayed in the Rodeway Inn in Galax for only $52 - cheap enough so Kelley didn't want to come with me for this trip but the room ended up being pretty nice for the money. The town of Galax is SO CUTE. Must go back sometime for a weekend getaway. In 2014 it was raining, but this time I got to walk Main St for a while and found a Macado's - my favorite restaurant from college. I had to stop in for a beer and some late night snacking. AND I GOT CARDED! The bartender gave me the "holy shit you're the same age as my sister but she looks way older than you do' speech so I guess the mountains of Virginia are fraught with low standards of youth. I'll take it.

Saturday morning I ate breakfast in the hotel, running into another NRT runner from Chapel Hill. He didn't want to eat but I tend to throw down on race morning before an ultra. Made the easy drive from Galax up to Fries Va and got ready to rock. The hospitality up there was incredible.

Foggy on the river - that's a picture of a trash can

facing north

The river was angry that morning - like an old man trying to send back soup

Here's the old man

The registration & starting line area is right next to the parking lot

Start/finish line

I'm ready to go!
The start of this race is very deceptive. Anytime you are running next to the river in the direction of the water flow you are going downhill. When the water is running in the opposite direction you are, you are actually going uphill. This is because of the basic principle of civil engineering - water always flows downhill. The course is billed as flat and scenic, but flat is a relative term. For the first several miles you are actually running downhill. Then you hit a turnaround and go uphill back to an aide station, then out a different section of the trail! It's a wide gravel rail-to-trail conversion, so it's the kind of soft and easy trail that I love.

Beautiful waterfall 2:11 into the race. Maybe 14 miles?

That's how I really felt about that waterfall
I didn't have the Garmin for this one. I wanted to run more by feel and perceived effort than just trying to keep a pace. The only downside to that is that I didn't have the current mileage either. We crossed a really cool bridge, ran through a tunnel, there were waterfalls and river sounds all the time. These pictures above were 2:11 into the race (10:11 am) so I'm guessing that was around 14 miles. It was still beautiful.

After the second turnaround it was a straight shot back to the start/finish line. I realized I didn't take many pictures on the way out there, so I tried to snag a couple more on the way back.

11:28 am, it was starting to warm up more by then

and by 12:04 pm I'm 4 hours into the race and totally beat
The race started at 8 am so by the time I crossed the 4 hour mark it was up to 72* and the sun was blazing out there. I certainly didn't overheat, but was very glad I could drain my water bottle between aide stations.

The day and the course lived up to expectations. It was cold, hot, and beautiful for so many different reasons. They didn't have a clock at the marathon point, but there was a girl yelling out your marathon split time as you ran past. Then at 1:36 pm I came back to the finish line, happy to be done and grateful for the day I had. I finished 29th of 63 finishers, square in the middle of the pack. I wanted to get those 5 miles between the marathon split and the finish line done in under an hour, and I made it in 57 minutes. I wanted to have fun, so that I certainly did.

The same river picture from the top of this post, without the fog

Happy happy finisher!

Giving my feet an ice bath in the river. Best part of finishing this race.

Not a cloud in the sky! What happened to that fog and long sleeve shirt?

Beautiful day in the VA mountains.

With my medal at the finish line

Some of the many cool friends I made on the trail. These girls all finished their first ultra.
Really if I could find a way to bottle up the environment, the emotion, the reasons to run trail ultras, this would be it. I even tried to capture that in a video.

This was a great way to kick off my streak. 1 down, 11 more to go. Up next is the Triple Lakes Trail Marathon in Greensboro on Oct 29. Run more trails!


Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

Congrats on finishing another 50k! I have only done one trail race, but I loved the relaxed atmosphere of that race. It was totally different than a road race. We had similar fog on our river yesterday morning as it was pretty chilly when the marathon/10 mile started (in the upper 30s). It made the river look so mysterious and magical! But I was glad that I wore a heavier jacket and fleece lined tights - otherwise I would have been quite cold on my bike!

Good luck with this stretch of marathons! That's quite a challenge you are taking on but it will feel great when it's all said and done!!

Unknown said...

very very impressive!

Abby said...

Amazing job. Looks like a great race.
And I am loving how the bartender was complimenting you and insulting his poor sister all at the same time.