I am not ready.
Vermont 100 is 96 days away and I am glad I ran the Bull Run Run 50 as a tune up race to see where I am at in my training and whether I need to make any adjustments.
I can’t say enough good things about BRR and VHTRC. The entire process from registration to the finish line where the race director is out there personally shaking hands with each and every finishers is world class. The volunteers at every aid stations were very lively and did all they could to accommodate the runners.
BRR is not a course for beginners and I went in with the mindset to just finish. No time goal, no pressure. The organizers highly suggested carpooling as an option due to the limited parking at Hemlock Regional Park. I carpooled with Mike Hannon, a superb ultrarunner to the start. I know I wasn’t as fast as Mike and told him that he might need to wait an extra hour or 2 for me to finish.
6:30AM rolled around and we were off. As I was running I noticed there was one runner that knew EVERYBODY and they all seem to know him. He was greeting almost everyone from the lead pack to the back of the packers. I found out from the other runners that returned his salutation that his name is Gary (Knipling). Gary have been with the club a long time and have ran the BRR 15 times. Knowing how bad my sense of directions is and my tendency to get lost on trail runs I introduced myself to Gary and asked if I could run with him for a bit so I won’t get lost. Gary graciously accepted and became my personal BRR tour guide. I ran with Gary for about 20+ miles and learned a lot about the history of BRR. My favorite part of the tour was the collection of pet rocks that had accumulated on the trail after 19 years of BRR. Every year runners would run by and drop off their pet rock on the pile promising to come back for them later, or next year.
The first 25 miles or so flew by. I felt good and was keeping up with my gu, mountain dew and food intake at every aid stations. I decided to push the pace a little bit and see what happens.
BIG MISTAKE. The 2nd part of the race was very unforgiving. There were so many twist, turns, uphills, downhills that will wreak havoc on your legs if you’re not careful. I didn’t come to this conclusion until it was too late. My quads were shot by mile 40. DEAD! I could no longer run the downhills or uphills without causing my quads to scream and struggling to keep myself vertical. The last 10 miles was a huge mental drain. This is the first time that my quads ever gave out. I didn’t know what to do. It was very frustrating to want to run but your legs cannot respond. I walked a LOT. I tried to run the flat part (there weren’t too many) I struggled on the uphills and grind my teeth to keep moving on the downhills.
In hindsight I might’ve been braking too much earlier on the downhills part of the course and that in part contributed to the demise of my quads.
I need more training on running downhills as Vermont will have lots of it. I will start to incorporate squats into my daily exercise routines to make my quads a bit more durable. I am sure it will give out but dead quads at 80 mile into a 100 race is much better then at 50.
BRR was a great learning experience in preparation for my first 100 miler. I will adjust my training to include more downhills training and quads exercise to make them more durable. Live & Learn.
More information about the 20th edition of the Bull Run Run 50 Miler