“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
Saturday, 10 April, was the 18th running of the Bull Run Run 50 mile trail race and the third year in a row that I was fortunate enough to be able to participate and complete this event. This race is run along the Bull Run-Occoquan trail in Fairfax County and is a mere 10 minutes from my house, so this is definitely a backyard event for me. I do a lot of my training on these trails and it was great to see more than 300 other runners get to share in its beauty. The run is sponsored by the Virginia Happy Trails Running Club (VHTRC) and they do a great job each year. This has become a major Ultra event on the east coast.
We could not have asked for a better day for running; “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24. The temps started in the low 40s and rose into the mid to upper 60s with low humidity throughout the day. The race started promptly at 0630 and it started out fast. Now with every race there is some strategy, for this event I like to get out a little fast so that that I can get ahead of an inevitable traffic jam that occurs at a very narrow and rocky section of the trail, just prior to the 2 mile mark. I was able to do this but in my haste I think that I kept the pace a little to fast for the first section of the race, fast for me anyway.
The first 16ish miles of the race, or the up river section, went very well and I was very much enjoying the day. As I approached the turn around in Bull Run Regional Park I started to see the lead group coming back down the trail. Leigh Schmitt was leading and he was flying down the trail, he would eventually go on to win and set a new course record in 6h:09m. I was able to complete the up river section and get back into Hemlock in 2h:39m, just a few miles behind the lead pack.
The next section of the course started the 11 mile down river stretch to Fountainhead Park, with a couple of aid stations in between. I was continuing to make good time and everything was feeling good. It was during the section that I realized I was running this race at my 50K pace, more on that later. After passing the marina aid station after 5.5 miles I had a 4 mile stretch into the famous Wolf Run Shoals aid station. These guys are known for their ever changing annual theme, this year it was “The Wizard of Oz” (reference the picture) and as usual the service was great.
The Fountainhead Loop is about 10 miles long and includes the shorter 3 mile Do-Loop . The Do-Loop aid station is at mile 32 and I hit that at 5h:25m, a real good 50K time for me. Everything was feeling good but I was noticing that I was dehydrated and starting to play catch-up. I was able to complete the Fountainhead loop in 1h:50m and start back up river at the 6h:30m mark, which was about 10 minutes behind my time last year.
I was still moving good but could definitely tell that I was slowing down and the last 12 miles seemed like the drug on for 2 hour and 26 minutes. About 44 miles into the race my left knee started to hurt a little, which was new for me. It was a discomfort at the time but nothing that raised to much concern. However, as I type this morning my concern has grown to fear as knee has gotten progressively worse. I have been icing and elevating since Saturday but think I will be consulting the Doc today. I was able to complete the race in 8h:56m, which was not my fastest time on the course but it was under my 9 hour goal time and it was a great day to be running. I was able to run fast enough to get to my son’s baseball game, always a good motivator to keep moving.
I have continually praised God for the ability to be able to run in some of the events that I have completed over the past 3 years and have relied on Him to provide direction, purpose and protection for my running; He has never once failed me. So as I work my way through this knee injury, I ask for your prayers for both a quick recovery and patience. Run Strong!
God Bless and Semper Fi,
Training for 5-11 April: Weekly Mi (78.1), Monthly Mi (109.6), Yearly Mi (697.0)
Mon: 5.2 mi – PRECOR EFX 546/Upper Body lift/ABs
Tues: 10.5 mi – WO&D Trail AM Run Commute / ABs
Wed: 7 mi – Roosevelt Island
Fri: 5 mi – Bull Run Trail Marking
Sat: 50.4 mi-Bull Run Run