Tuesday, September 24, 2013

12 Hour ATR Race Report

12 Hour Adventure Trail Run

My original summer racing plan had me running the Air Force Marathon this weekend, but with the gov't financial mess, my travel budget took a hit. My wife had to suffer thou six workdays off without pay, in turn...we decided to stay close to home.

Over the summer when everyone else may have been cutting back on miles, I made a distinct effort to ramp up my mileage.  Rolling into September I put together three months over the 200 mile mark (Jun 206, Jul 235 and Aug 250).  I wanted to become a better Ultra-runner and gain some confidence on the hills.  I'm about half way there.

(Cool Race Swag Included)

A detailed look at my pre-race plan can be seen in a previous post.

I found the race well organized, and well supported with a extremely welcoming crowd.  After a little pre-race festivities where the RD welcomed new Ultra-Runners into the fold, we all lined up and the gun went off.  The run started at the break of dawn meaning we covered most of the first lap with limited natural lighting.  Going into this race I had run four 24 hour events and felt confident I could log 50+ miles.  Prior to the race I did check out the map and elevations charts...but in reality, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

The ATR course in Prince William Forest is winding, rolling and a challenging combination of single track trials, fire roads and hills.  When you weren't running on the well groomed trails, you were challenged by some climbs over rocky passes, tree rooted turns, pounding descents and the ever popular suspension bridge crossing.

(Suspension bridge, which nearly
 bounced you off of it if you ran across it)

Compared to my mostly suburban flat-lander training, this run offered a wonderful afternoon in the woods.  BUT what kicked my butt was the elevation changes...I had worked some hills into my training and I thought my legs were ready, they were not.  They were not ready for the repeated attack of these hills.  Being 6.5 miles in length...to reach my 52 mile goal...I would have to face these monsters eight times.  I knew after lap three, I was in trouble...this course was a grinder.

(oh the hills.... times 7)

To be honest after completing lap three and going out for lap four I was down on energy and mentally confused.  With all the extra miles I had put in, with all the runs in the summer heat and all the hills, why was I already struggling?  Just two weeks prior, I had signed up for the Umstead 100 miler (spring 2014), and at one point I wondered who I was kidding.  This was a very humbling and confusing section.

Then just as the wind turns, after finishing lap four, hitting the fuel stop and power chugging a Diet Dew...my energy returned and the day was looking a bit better.  This trend continued with each pit stop and slowly I felt I was getting stronger with every lap.  lap 5 went better and Lap 6 I was feeling pretty strong, maybe the best.  Heading out on lap seven and I was running the best I had all day, bonding up the climbs, making fast work over the rocks, zipping over the bridge.........And then.

The clouds opened up!  I no longer worried about finishing, but worried about busting my butt.

My fall goal race is the Niagara Falls Marathon...where I'll be gunning for my first four hour marathon...so when the rain began I decided lap seven would be my last.  With some of the technical climbs over flat rock, tree roots and step inclines...I did not want to ruin my run to Horse shoe falls.

I was okay with my early departure, the course was risky, we had a long drive home and I had bigger fish to fry.  That was until I got a hold of the final results.  Then I realized I let myself down.    I could have easily made a 8th lap and projecting my time I think I would have been in the top 10 and maybe as high as 4th.  Rats, If I don't get my sub four....

(Sub 4 or bust......)
45.5 miles in 9 hours 48 minutes 32 seconds, 15th out of 59 Male Runners.

1 comment:

  1. As hard as I am sure it was to stop early- you've got your bigger goal of sub-4 in mind and that was probably a really smart play. You are an awesome runner and I think you have it in you for Niagara falls, hell a marathon distance is nothing for you these days with all the ultras, you've got the distance now get your head in sub-4 mode and GO FOR IT!