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Mill Mountain Mayhem 10K trail race April 11 2015

This was my fourth time doing this race.  This is a VERY tough trail 10K race.  The toughest that I know of. It takes place on Mill Mountain in Roanoke, which is next to the downtown area.  Mill Mountain is Roanoke’s version of Central Park in New York.  The race goes up up and up, corkscrewing to the top of the mountain, where the Star is, then it comes crashing down to the finish.  It is roughly 4 miles or more of up hill and 2 or less of downhill.  The downhill is extremely technical!

http://www.mountainjunkies.net/Mill_Mountain.htm

My time last year was 58:03, which was my best time ever.  I placed third in age group last year.
2013 I was 6th place in age group with a 58:36 time
2012 I was 8th place in age group with a 1:04:00 time

Leading up to the race last week, my legs felt dead. I guess all of the heavy racing has caught up with me. I tried to run last Monday, and just did not have it. I ran 2 miles, then walked 2 miles on that training run. Unheard of! I rested the rest of the week, hoping that I could be strong for this race.
We did a test run last Saturday. I felt ok, but my time was a little over a hour! Ugh. 2 minutes off of my race time last year.

I hoped to at least beat out the top competitors in my age group for RNUTS.  If I could do that and have a close time to last year, then that would be a relative success.

When the race started and going up the first hill, I could tell I wasn’t as strong as normal, but I kept going.  The race corkscrews up around 4 miles or more, then it comes crashing down for the finish.  I finally got to the top at the Star, and was so happy to be able to go down from there.  I finished strong with a 58:21 time.  Just a few seconds slower than last year.  I am relatively happy with that, considering all of the ultras I have done this year and the tired legs.

http://www.mountainjunkies.net/results/results.php?segment=45-49&raceid=226&gender=M

I was most happy about beating my 3 closes RNUTS competitors (at this point).  Other competitors may rise, as some have not done as many races.  So, I met my minimum goal.  I really wanted a 57:30 time, but just did not have it this year…maybe next year.

It is amazing that I placed 3rd in AG last year with a 58:03, but was 9th in AG this year with a 58:21.  What a difference in the AG!  My AG also had the most participants in it.  Four from my AG made the top 20 overall, but none place in top 3 overall or got Masters.  I thought I would have gotten at least 5th, in predicting before the race, but I was way off.

Friends that did well:  Matt Togo in his first MJ race in several years was 5th in my AG.   Karen Dillon got 3rd AG.  Tabitha Walker got Masters.  Doug Falls got 2nd AG.  HT Page got third overall.  James Decker got Masters in his first event eligible for a Master.  Congrats to them.

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152843162524072.1073741912.282116549071&type=1

MMM1               MMM3

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Terrapin Mountain 50K March 21 2015

 

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Terrapin Mountain 50K is the second trail ultra of 4 that have to be completed for the Lynchburg Ultra Series.  It is billed as a tough race with lots of climbing and it was definitely that.  I had set my goal at under 8 hours, due to the fact that it took me 6.5 hours to do Holiday Lake…and I figured it would take me at least an hour more with all the climbing on this race.  It also was a mile or so longer.

I went by the Aid Station store 2 days before the race and picked up my packet.  They give out mugs for the race.  I have always wanted one, so I was excited to get it.  I was not disappointed!  It is a great looking mug.  Love it!

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We left Roanoke that morning at 4:45, so that we could make the hour drive and get there well before 6:30.  We had to check in before 6:30.  Terrapin also offers a half marathon.  Eddie Mann (did the half marathon) and Caleb Johnson rode to the race with me.  Other friends there were as follows: Gina Gilbert (there for support, as she is injured), Josh Gilbert, David Landes, Dru Sexton, James Decker, Matt Prescott, John Robinson, and Jeff Jennings (half).

Huge shout out to Gina Gilbert.  She was there before 6:30 also.  She waited over 7.5 hours for all of our friends to cross the finish line and she got pictures of everyone crossing.

The race started at 7.  The weather was supposed to be nice, so I only had 2 shirt layers on and shorts.  The beginning is road and gravel, but it was pretty scenic.  There was a rocky creek and several rustic log cabins on farms.

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The following picture is of Terrapin Mountain.  It is pretty intimidating to see that at the beginning of a 31.5 mile race, knowing that you will have to go over it!

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We soon hit single track that was a pretty steep climb for roughly 3 miles.  The first aid station was at the top, which was mile 4.  From there we were on another gravel road, going down hill for around 5 miles.  Those 5 miles were the only easy part of the race.  The rest of the race was very hard.

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It seemed like it was climbing ALL DAY LONG..I got to a part in which the lead runners were running opposite me, as they had already done a loop to the top.  They were running pretty fast downhill, while I was running slow up hill!. It took forever, but I finally made my way around the loop and by the summit. I finally got to run down that fireroad!  At the end of that fire road was an aid station that I had went through earlier.  This was mile 22.

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See mile 22 on the elevation profile below?  The last sharp top on the right…that was it.  Toughest section of the race.

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Once I went past the aid station, the course was single track again.  Now it was a grueling, very steep climb.  I was extremely slow on that part.  I got to the top and there were some nice views up there.

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There were 3 parts of the race that you had to do an out and back or loop, so when you got to a certain point, you had to punch your bib.  The top was one of the punch points.  From there we went on towards “fat mans squeeze”.  Fat mans squeeze is something I had always heard about and was excited to see. All of the following pictures are different views of the same rock formation.

FMS1    fms3    fms4    fms7    fms6

I got through the squeeze and soon came up on a short but rough section of rocks.  It was football size rocks on top of rocks   It was really hard to walk safely over them.  The rest of the way was nice single track trail.

Waterfall within the last 1o miles

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Water crossing within last few miles.  It felt great on tired feet!

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There no big climbs, but my endurance was low.  I walked the uphills and jogged the downhills.  I finally came out on the road, then on to the finish   I saw that I could make under 7:30 and did.  I crossed at 7:28.  I was the last of my friends to finish, but they are all really good runners.  I just wanted to finish, which I did.

We got a nice Patagonia finishers shirt!

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Garmin readout:

https://connect.garmin.com/activity/728975808

 

 


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Montvale 10 mile trail race March 14 2015

This is arguably my favorite race…..just something about it…the winding trails that you get to see other racers so much, the length, the atmosphere, the “regulars” are usually there, the park, the wide open finish, the creek and log bridge, and it’s usually a heated finish

PRE Race information:

This is my history on this race:  I have always done the 10 miler.

2014 1:27:58

2013 1:29:40

2012 1:40:18 Third place in Age Group (first ever race longer than a 10K)

http://www.mountainjunkies.net/Montvale.htm

I am registered for the 10 miler again, but am actually considering the 5 miler.  I am considering the 5 miler, as it will help me get more points for the RNUTS series.  It looks like I could place first overall age group, considering who is registered so far.  I am doing a tough ultra 7 days later, so that is a factor as well.

POST race information:

I stuck with the 10 miler..

Everyone kept saying it was going to be muddy, but I really did not think much of it.  We have had “muddy” races before and that usually means some water logged grassy areas near the beginning and end or one small part of the race.  Most of the MJ race trails hold up well in the water.  Well, I really missed on that thought process.  This race was very muddy.  This race was VERY slick.  This was by far the slickest race I have done, by far.  I was truly lucky to have stayed upright.  We do 2 loops of 5sh miles on this race.  We could tell on the first loop that the second loop was going to be a doozy.  I felt great the whole race.  I probably started too fast, but I never really got that tired.  I did slow down the last few miles, but that was mainly due to the mud.  The slick mud was just not very runnable at all.  Most of was on an incline…it was pretty dangerous.  I ran with Brian Walters for around 5 miles.  He is 55sh I guess, so he is 2 age groups above me.  Brian is a very strong runner.  He was right behind me for those first few miles.  I kept waiting for him to pass me.  He finally did around mile 6 and finished a couple a minutes ahead of me.

I had scouted out my competition in my age group before the race.  I knew that Tim Miller would beat me by a lot.  There was another guy named Tim Coleman that could beat me, based on his time 2 or 3 years ago.  I was hoping for third plus had to beat Mack McGee.  Mack is a runner that I know I am better than, but he did get me at the end of the last race, EYL.

I started off ahead of Mack and stayed a good distance ahead of him the whole way.  I never saw Tim Miller and I don’t know Tim Coleman.

I got within sight of the finish and started getting a cramp in my right calf…what??  I am very good for this distance and more.  I don’t know why I started cramping.  With everyone watching (more or less), I stopped and stretched the calf for a second, then ran on in.  Weird!

I finished a hair over 1 hour and 30 minutes.  I was 2 minutes slower than my best time from last year, but the mud was a huge factor.  I could have easily beat my best time this year, under good conditions.

I checked the finish list and was surprised to see a 1 beside my name!  I was FIRST in my age group!  Tim Miller had placed in masters and I had beat Tim Coleman by a good bit.

I am happy with this race and my performance in adverse conditions.

On to Terrapin Mountain 50K next week!

Garmin readout for the race: https://connect.garmin.com/activity/720666855

The RNUTS standings were updated soon after.  I am in second place in age group right now.  I beat the leader the first race, Frozen Toe.   He beat me the second race, Explore Your Limits, which I think I am a better runner and just had a relatively bad race.  He placed first in the 5 miler for this race, Montvale.  I could have beat him in the 5 miler.  The pressure is on to beat him in the Mill Mountain Mayhem race.

 

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Explore Your Limits 10k February 2015

Pre Race information:

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This race is at Explore Park, Roanoke, Va
My history with this race:
2014-52:42 time, 8th place in 5 year age group, and 62nd place overall
2013-54:38 time, 8th place in 5 year age group, and 87th place overall
2012-1:00:12 time, 8th place in 5 year age group, and 113rd place overall
2011-1:04:08 time, 8th place in 5 year age group, and 115th place overall

2011 was my first running race ever and I wasn’t trained up for a 10k, much less a hilly trail 10k. Happy 4 year anniversary to me!

I will set my goal at 51:59 (sub 52) time.

I have had Achilles tendinitis the past 2 weeks, so I am not sure how this will affect me.  It is not painful, but I am scared to push too hard.  I will know more by race day, as I plan to do a run today.  I have been doing so much tapering, racking , resting and recovering since early January, that my training is all out of whack.  I don’t have a good feel for where I am at, performance wise.  Going between a 50k race pace and a 10k race pace is kind of tough.

We have had a lot of snow the past couple of weeks.   Explore Park hasn’t been used much at all, so there is up to 10 inches of snow there.  This should be interesting!  The trail will be beat down, since I am not a lead runner, so maybe it won’t be good bad.  The temperature is supposed to be around 7 degrees.  This may be the coldest race I have done so far.  I think the snow will slow everyone down, so that may affect my goal.   There has been a lot of talk about putting sheet metal screws in your shoes to give you more traction.  I did this yesterday..hope it helps!

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This is the shirt and bib I picked up before the race.  Somehow a mistake was made by me or the race director.  I thought I signed up for the 10k, but got a yellow bib (5K) instead of a white bib(10K).  I switched just before the race.   Here is a picture of the shirt and bib with the correct 10k bib.

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I chose to wear shorts, which is very normal for me.  Several people made a big deal out of me wearing shorts on this cold day, in the snow.  The camera guy took a picture of me (pre race) and said “Do they have a drug policy at your work?”.  There were at least a couple of others that wore shorts for the race, but not pre race.

Here is a picture of the beginning of the race.

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Post Race information:

I drove Dru Sexton and Jack Bugo to the race, as a four wheel drive was needed to get in the park. It is always fun to ride to races and back, with friends. We had no trouble getting up the hill, at the entrance.

This was a VERY hard race!  Arguably the toughest that 10k that I have done.  The now was around 5 to 6 inches deep the whole way.  The snow as crusty on top, but soft underneath.  I thought that the leaders would pack down a trail, but I was wrong.  I was crunching through the snow, the whole time.  It really wore me out.  I could not decide whether running in the soft snow was better, or the crunchy untouched snow.

I was behind Doug Falls for the first part of the race, but passed him around 2 miles in.  He was right behind me most of the rest of the way.  I also noticed that Mack McGhee was right behind Doug.  I spent most of the race trying to keep Mack behind me.  Mack is in my age group and is registered for the RNUTS series, so he is a direct competitor.  The cold and snow never bothered me at all.  I didn’t feel strong at all, but kept trudging a long.  The last mile came.  It was hard for me to know what was going on behind me, but I was pretty sure that Mack passed Doug.  Then I knew Mack was right behind me.  He had more than I did on the last quarter of a mile, going up hill to the finish.  He passed me near the end and so did Doug.  I was disappointed that I let Mack pass me.  Other than that, I was glad the race was over.  I was beat.  It was a very tough event.  My ending time ended up being 1hr 10mn, which shows you how slow the course was, with the snow and conditions.  Everyone was much slower.  That is 17 minutes slower than my time last year, on this course. I ended up 7th place in my age group, so at least I did better than 8th!(see top) I fell WAY short of my goal, but I had a great excuse, with the snow! My goal was based on perfect conditions. I don’t think the screws helped much, as most of the snow was so soft. There was some ice on the road portion, that I think it helped on.
The achilles soreness was not a factor at all. The 2 ultras I did the past 5 weeks were probably a factor today, but no excuses for that poor performance the last half mile today.

I was glad for Doug, as he got 2nd AG for the 50-54 ag.  Same for Tabitha Walker, getting third overall in the 10K and Karen Dillon for getting masters for the 5K. Robert Drinkwater and Dru Sexton placed, which is an every race deal for them.  Lastly, Eddie Mann placed 2nd in the 5K. Kudos!

Some bad news, was that my friend Eian (who already had a recently diagnosed hip stress fracture), was at the race as a spectator.  He slipped and broke his femur at the stress fracture..Ugh, that was/is terrible.  He is in the hospital now and has had surgery.

Another great adventure.

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Holiday Lake 50K Feb 14 2015

First race of LUS..Lynchburg Ultra Series. This one is labeled as a 50K++, as it is around 33.2 miles. It is held at Holiday Lake State Park, near Appomattox, Va.  The race is an out and back, that part of it goes around both sides of the Lake.
http://www.extremeultrarunning.com/2015_HL/runner_packet.pdf
It is light rolling small hills and very run-able for a mountain area trail race.

PRE RACE:  I will set a goal of 7 hours.  It is hard to set a goal, without doing the course before.  I did a recent 30 mile ultra in 6:37.  This one is almost 4 miles longer, so 7 hours may be tough to do.

I picked up my bib and shirt yesterday..was disappointed that the shirt is bright pink! It IS on Valentines day, though!  Darn Horton!  David Horton is the race director.

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POST RACE:  I had been torn all week whether to 1.) stay at the race event, the night before, 2.) get a hotel room close-by, or 3.) get up at 2:30am the morning of (I live 2 hours away in Roanoke).  The race options were to stay in a lodge at the park or camp at the park. The advantages to staying at the event the night before, is to not have to get up early and be able to enjoy the Friday night dinner.  The cons were that there would be several people sleeping in the same room, which means snoring and a good chance of not getting much sleep.  Hotel was too expensive and not close enough.  It was too cold to camp.  My son had a basketball game Friday night and I am the coach…that was a big factor as well.  I finally decided to coach my son’s game and stay at home that night.  I would leave out by 3:30 that morning.  Luckily, Gina Gilbert invited me to ride with her husband Josh, and 2 other friends, James Decker and David Landes.  I gladly accepted the offer.  This was a treat, as it made the whole trip a lot more fun.  Great people.

HLride

I had been a little worried about the weather.  An arctic wind was supposed to come in and make it very cold and windy.  The cold doesn’t usually bother me, but all the talk got in my head.

I got a decent nights rest and was up at 2:30..I was at the Gilbert’s house by 3:30.  We got to the race around 5:30 and had plenty of time to get ready.  The race started at 6:30.  It was dark, so most of us used head lamps until the first aid station at mile 4.

Friends at the race were as follows: Gina Gilbert, Josh Gilbert, James Decker, David Landes, Dru Sexton and Caleb Johnson.  Others that I am acquaintences with are Matt Prescott, John Robinson and James Phillips.

I had a great time and the race went perfect.  While it was cold early..around 18 degrees I think, the weather was perfect overall.  I left my top layer and headlamp at the first Aid Station with Gina.(Gina did not race, as she has been having some heel issues).  I was extremely comfortable the rest of the day with 2 shirt layers and shorts.

It started out on a road.  After less than a mile we entered the trail.  I started in the back..it got really backed up for the first couple of miles, but smooth after that.  One lady had a bad fall in mile 2 and had to go the the hopsital for 19 stiches!  I felt pretty well all day long.  We had a creek crossing pretty early in the race..always nice to get your feet wet in a cold creek, on a cold day!  The early part of the race goes around part of the lake.  That was probably the best part of the trail.  The sunrise through the trees was beautiful.
Sunrise

The whole race, I was judging how I was doing compared to the 7 hour goal.  I hit the halfway turnaround point (16sh miles) at just under 3 hours.  I figured the last half would take close to 4 hours to do, but hoped it would be less than 4 hours.  The farther along I got, the more I realized that I shouldn’t have any problems hitting my goal.

I never felt miserable or ‘ultra’ tired, but I was getting tired those last 7 miles.  I walked more and my running pace was extremely slow.  I was passed by a chunky guy around my age at mile 25 or so.  I wanted to pass him back.  The fact that he was chunky, made me want to pass him back really bad.  I finally did around mile 29.  When I got to the road with less than a mile to go, I ran pretty hard to make sure he didnt catch me.  His small kid and wife were cheering him on at the end, which was a nice moment.  I crossed the finish line at 6:33.  I was happy with that time.

We received a Patagonia long sleeve technical shirt as a finisher award.  Everyone under 8 hours got one.  I was very pleased with the shirt.  It is one of the nicest shirts I have gotten.  It more than made up for the pink registration shirt. 😉

HLF

Here is my garmin readout for the race.  As you can see, my pace faded near the end, but that was expected for me.  https://connect.garmin.com/activity/698240589

This was a fun race and I highly recommend it.  The trails are not the best I have been on, but they are good.  It was a great, well done race

HLFINISH

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Humble Creek trail race 10K January 24, 2015

This race wasn’t in my plan…..2 weeks ago I won a door prize at the Frozen Toe race. The door prize was a free registration to the inaugural Humble Creek 5k/10k trail race. I had heard about the race on Facebook. Blue Ridge Trail Runners (Lynchburg trail running group) put it on. The race is in Altavista, which is about 90 minutes away. That Saturday morning was free, so I thought I might as well do it, if someone would go with me. Eian Cork said he would go. The weather was sleet the day before the race and supposed to be cold, wet and frozen the day of.

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Wow..this was a tough 10k. Arguably the toughest 10K I have done. The first 3 miles seemed like a lot of short steep hills with no recovery periods. This was on farmland and was mainly open pasture with major major mud. I don’t know if me doing a 50K 7 days prior was a factor, but I was sucking wind big time…for the first 3 miles. I had to walk part of several of the hills and the mud slowed us all down. The last 3 miles were much easier. The finish times were indicative of the toughness of the course. My time was 1:02…wow. That is a slow 10k time for me. That is roughly 9 minutes off of my Frozen Toe 10K time from 2 weeks ago. Eian Cork did much better than me on this race, but was still roughly 6 minutes off of his Frozen Toe time. This was a small race. I finished 18th overall and placed third in a 10 year age group. I think I got passed by both guys in my AG, the last half of the race.
The race was very well organized and the food layout and awards were awesome.
While, I appreciate and respect the great job they did by putting the race together, I did not like the course at all. This was mostly pasture and a little gravel road, double track. I prefer woods and single track trails. I can’t see me doing this race again. I am sure some people would love it, but it’s not for me. I can see a beginner and an Altavista area person liking this race.
This is the first climb:

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My garmin readout:
http://connect.garmin.com/activity/682428252

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Tsali Frosty Foot 50k trail race January 17, 2015

http://www.active.com/robbinsville-nc/running/trail-run-races/frosty-foot-trail-races-2015

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PRE race information:
I will be doing this ultramarathon/50k race this Saturday. I had wanted to do it last year, but it was cancelled due to the government shutdown. This race is held on the Tsali Trail System, which is a National Forest and on Federal land, so they cancelled it last year. The race has 3 different loops that goes around Fontana Lake, which is in Western NC (Robbinsville area) and just south of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
I am setting a goal of 6.5 hours. I find it really had to set a goal without running it before. It is roughly 30 miles and does not appear to be much climbing and elevation change.

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Travel and accommodations information.
Travel info:
We left Roanoke, VA (home) around noon on Friday. We stopped in Asheville, NC, on the way, and got the packet.
Nice bib, beanie and Pear Izumi arm sleeves.

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Accommodations info: We stayed at the Microtel in Robbinsville. We didn’t realize that the race is in between Bryson City and Robbinsville. The race address is Robbinsville, so we booked a place there. We were disappointed in the Robbinsville Microtel. For anyone doing this race, or visiting the area, I recommend the Bryson City Microtel over the Robbinsville one! We switched to the Bryson City one the second night. I got a good nights rest and arrived for the race.
Race day, race and post race info:
The temperature was in the low 30s, but the forecast called for a high of mid to low 50s.
I didn’t want to overdress, but I put 3 layers in , knowing I would have to stash or carry a shirt or two for much of the race.
We were off and running around 8:32 or so.
As expected, the trails were beautiful. The views of the lake were wonderful.
The course was steady rolling hills of wooded trails near the lake. I ran well for 15 miles or so. I did 13 in 2:30. I started wearing down after that and had to hike a lot of the remaining miles. I ran when I could, but was more comfortable hiking, with the energy level I had. I finally got to the third and final aid station at mile 23.
At that last aid station, I noticed that the guy manning the aid station had a ‘Canary in the Cave 25k’ hat on. I told him that I ran that race. He said he was the director of it. He was happy to hear that. I, then, noticed they had a bottle of Brandy and Schapps sitting out with a shot glass. They offered me some gatorade, snacks and a shot of liquor. I thought that was pretty funny…I took a picture of the liquor. I usually don’t drink liquor, but I had to this time..just because. I took a half a shot of brandy.
I actually felt better after that aid station, for 3 miles or so. I had 7 plus to go, though. My wife and I had exchanged a few texts. She was going to meet me a couple of miles from the finish line. I ran into the race director with around 2.5 miles left. He was just checking in people. I ran into my wife soon after. She ran/walked with me the rest of the way and carried my extra shirt and water bottle. It was great to haver her support and company the whole trip. I crossed the finish line at 6:37. That was 7 minutes short of my goal. That time isn’t bad, considering my lack of long distance training, the last couple of months. With some decent training, I could easily do this race in under 6, if not 5:30. They gave out a nice keychain as a finisher award. It was a fantastic race and I would do it again.

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We went out that night. Most of the nicer restaurants were shut down for the off season, but we found a nice place to eat in Waynesville. The Bourbon Barrel Ale. Maria spent the day in Bryson City, while I was racing. She had a great time visiting the shops and talking to the people. I got a feel for the city through her and by visiting it some later that night and the next morning. It is a fantastic little town. It is very outdoors with a lot of personality. I got the feel that it is on the brink of growing a lot more in popularity. It is already a very bustling place in the spring through fall. The night after the race and after eating, we had a beer at Nantahala Brewing. This was a very cool place with great atmosphere. I highly recommend it.
A younger crowd (late 20s) of 7 or so guys and girls were at the brewery. They approached me and asked if I did the race. They had seen me stretching in the parking lot, from the stiffness in my quads. They had all done the races, as well. Only one of them had done the 50k. We were sharing stories. They had been at that last aid station, waiting on their friend, when I went through. They remembered me and that I took that shot. They made a big deal out of it. We all laughed about it.
My Garmin readout:
http://connect.garmin.com/activity/682428300