Sunday, February 15, 2015

Holiday Lake 50k

At 6:30 I set off onto the first loop of Holiday Lake with one goal in mind…don’t go out like an idiot. I have to say I’m a pretty mentally weak runner because I worry too much about what everyone else is doing. I knew if I was going to reach my goal of top 10 women and sub 5 hours, I was going to have to fight myself to stay calm. Control your mind, control your pace, and control your race. My first lap was all about letting go of any anxieties and just running steady.

Fast forward to mile 13.5, two and a half miles before the turnaround. I had found Nick and was keeping up with him pretty well, falling a little behind on the (tiny) climbs and catching back up on the straights. Over the next half mile, four of tech’s boys would pass me, already on the return loop, and DANG are they fast! Mikes Jones, Leif, Butch, and Jonathan cruised by, all clearly in top 10 if they could hold pace. Seeing them do so well made me want to push forward and get a girl Hokie in the top 10 as well. At the turn around, Keely told me I was in 9th

Whew, one woman can pass me and I’ll still get top 10

 …Then I thought about that again. Was that the type of runner I wanted to be today? JUST top 10? No, I wanted to be work for better than that. I started the 16 miles back with one plan: push for the next 8 miles and then push harder for the last 8.

I followed closely behind Nick and Taylor (who was now pacing Nick) for the first two miles. We passed one woman during the four miles back to aid station #3 where Darren, Lynnie, and Hannah were. I grabbed a GU (which would go uneaten) before starting the short segment to the powerlines, the section of the race I was dreading most. A couple minutes after leaving the aid station I started to struggle a little bit, I wasn’t feeling well and the slight inclines were starting to feel hard. I heard my GPS watch beep and looked down

Mile 21: 10:21- Ouch

Shortly after,

Mile 22: 10:38- Even worse

Don’t break. Don’t crash. You’re doing so well, you’re almost at the 8 mile mark where you’re supposed to turn up the heat

I crossed the road leading to the one mile powerline segment and realized that without 18 inches of snow on the ground, this part of the race wasn’t so bad. I felt good, really good. I had less than two miles until the next aid station and mountain dew, basically liquid cocaine. Two miles? I could do that in 20 minutes, no, I could do that in less. I picked up the pace, passing another woman and looked down again

Mile 23: 8:16

You’re back

The 800 meters before the mile 24 aid station was a gradual uphill climb. I caught another woman but lost her again as I stopped to force half frozen water down my throat. I grabbed a cup of mountain dew, the moment I had been waiting for, and took two huge sips.

What the hell did I just drink? I almost spit it out. It tasted like battery juice. I threw the rest away, there’s no way I would have been able to stomach that.

I took off, passing into 6th within the next mile, and started to get excited for the end of the race. I was itching to be done, but had 6 more miles between me and the finish line. I caught up to a nice man who was going at a pace I really enjoyed. I ran behind him for about two miles, pulling out an 8:43 and 8:28.

I’m really loving this pace

Me? This is your pace, sweetie.

What? It’s me doing this?

He told me he didn’t want another woman to pass him. I told him I didn’t want another woman to pass me, either.

You’re gonna catch 5th place, she’s right ahead in that neon green shirt
We caught that person, but it wasn’t a woman. That didn’t discourage me thought, back in December I had told Jonathan I wanted to get 6th woman, a number I pulled out of thin air at the time. ACTUALLY getting 6th in this race was totally fine by me, it was way higher than my expectations coming into the race. I just wanted to maintain my placing now.

Well, with two and a half miles left of the race I took fifth but wasn’t confident about it. The second to last mile has some slight climbs that are TOUGH after 30 other miles under your feet. I hiked most of them, looking behind my shoulder every 10 seconds to see if I was going to get passed back. But no one was there.

Thank goodness

On one of the last uphills I looked behind me and there the 6th woman was. I looked ahead of me and saw Tyler Upham- woah what!? I ran and caught up with him. He wasn’t pleased to see me, he did NOT want me to beat him. He told me how after the water crossing he’d started to fall apart. I made a deal with him: if he helped me keep fifth, I’d help him beat me…sorta. I wasn’t really helping him beat me, I just knew running together would pick up both of our paces and that he would outkick me on the half mile road finish. So we agreed that’s what we would do.

And it worked! As soon as we saw that headless mannequin in the woods, we charged down Holiday Lake’s famous wooden steps and down the road. With fifty meters left, Tyler pulled ahead, and trust me, I tried my hardest to outkick him but it wasn’t happening.  We finished 4:48.35 and 4:48.39. It was his first holiday lake finish and a new 50k PR for me.

I finished 5th woman, twinning with Butch who finished 5th overall.
To say it was a fantastic race would be an understatement, EVERYONE from Virginia Tech did so well and we got 4 hokies in the top 10:

Mike Jones: 3rd/ 3:51
Jonathan: 4th/ 3:53
Butch: 5th/ 3:55
Leif: 6th/ 3:55

UltraVT has some FAST runners. A huge thanks to Keely, Darren, Lynnie, and Hannah being at the halfway and aid station 3- it's so uplifting knowing you're going to have people who support you at points during the race- David Horton for putting on a fantastic race- and my parents for needlessly worrying about me during the race and supporting me every step of the way


20 year Holiday Lake anniversary shirt

Huge thanks to Leif for this one- he decided he wasn't a ladies small after all

Holiday Lake Women's finisher shirt

Earned, not bought!
Patagonia 28L Refugio backpack for top 10 finish

No comments:

Post a Comment