Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Catoctin 50K Race Report

“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.” 2 Chronicles- 16:9

Sorry for the long hiatus but I have been enjoying the remainder of my time off for the summer. Sadly that time has come to an end and I am out of retirement and back to work. I have been very fortunate to be able to spend so much time with the family this summer. We had an incredible trip out west through the Rockies and up into Yellowstone and to finish off my vacation time I was able to run in the Catoctin 50K on Saturday.

This is the first time that I had run this race and was anxious to see how well my body had recovered from the Western States 100. My training leading up to this race had been sporadic at best. In the five weeks since WS I had run a total of 88 miles, fortunately I did run an out an back training run on the first 9 miles of the course so I had a little idea of what I was in for. This race is advertised as a low key, no frills ultra and that may be true from a swag perspective but the organization, volunteers, and runner camaraderie was first class.

First things first-running a 50K on August 1st, starting at 0800 in the morning, in Maryland-two things come to mind immediately: Hot and Humid, and we were not disappointed. There were about 160 of us toeing the line for the start in Gambrill State Park and even though the temps were mild, the humidity was thick and would remain that way all day. The course is a 15.6 mile out and back along the Catoctin Trail with about 6000’ of climb and descent. At 0800 we started the train moving down the mountain and I settled in for the day.

There was a little over 6 miles to the first aid station and as we hammered down the first steep hill over the incredibly rocky trail I was remembering how nice the western trails were. The good thing about running on these rocky trails is that it keeps you intensely focused on your foot placement to the point that the pain gets pushed aside. The section went very well and as I came up the hill to the Hamburg Road aid station I was feeling good and got in and out quickly.

The next section was a short 3 mile stretch into Delauter Road and then into the last section of just over 6 miles to the turn around point. The last 2 miles is a pretty good downhill run into the aid station which keeps you thinking about what you have to come back up. I got to the turn at 2 hours and 47 minutes and the heat of the day was just starting to reveal itself. After a quick refuel and water I started back to Gambrill State Park and up the hill.

I was very pleased with how I was feeling and was able to mix some uphill running in with power hiking to get up the slope in a respectable time. It took about 15 minutes more to cover this section of trail going in the opposite direction. The next 3 mile stretch I was able to do in 35 minutes which was the same time that it took on the outbound leg. However coming into the Hamburg aid station for the second time it was almost 1300 and the effects of heat and humidity were starting to take there toll.

I quickly refilled and started on the last section, 6 miles to the finish. I had covered this distance in 1 hour 12 minutes on the way out and was shooting for 1 hour 20 minutes on the way in. I knew that I should be able to run the first 3 miles or so of this section before the big uphill started and I did. Once I got to the bottom I was ready for a hiking break, I was also very ready for the 5 stream crossing that I knew were coming on the uphill leg, they could not have been spaced out any better, this really helped to keep me cool on the climb. I stayed true to my 1 hour and 20 minute pace and crested the final climb to cross the finish line in 6 hours and 18 minutes and a strong 15th place.

I was very pleased with how my legs felt but I am still having problems with my stomach and can not figure out how to get more calories into my body during the run. Although I never got sick or even felt sick during the run, as soon as I finished the urge hit me and stayed with me the rest of the afternoon- this something that I have to figure out. I would like to say thanks to all of the great volunteers and to Kevin for putting on a great event, for pictures of the race follow this link to Geoffery Baker's photo site. The next race is the North Face 50 miler on 19 September. Run Strong!

God Bless and Semper Fi,

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