The CATs made a great showing at this year’s running of the Mountain Masochist Trail Run (MMTR) 50-miler, held last Saturday starting at 6:30 am. Counting David Snipes and recent CAT-shirt inductee, Jack Broaddus, we had 12 CAT runners start the race and 12 complete it (the others were Neal Church, Bob Clouston, Joey Cohen, Christian Dahlhausen, Marc Griffin, Brian Kelleher, Jenny Nichols, David Smith, Sophie Speidel, and Jen Ward).
|Christian Dahlhausen, Sophie Speidel, Andrew Krueger, Neil Church, Bob Clouston, Joey Cohen, David Smith, Quattro Hubbard after the race|
You could not ask for better race-day weather. Cloudless skies and temperatures starting in the low 30s and rising midday to the 50s made for a perfect autumn day in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.
The CATs performed well on this beautiful day, with two top-30 finishers (Joey, in his first Masochist, placed 22nd, and Christian, with a PR, came in 29th), the Lynchburg Ultra Series female winner (Sophie, also was 6th among the women racers and ran her PR), the Lynchburg Ultra Series female 3rd place (Jenny Nichols, who also PR’d with a 10th-place finish among the field of women), and an age-group winner (Jack Broaddus). Completing Masochist meant Marc Griffin and David Snipes were that much closer to capping off their fourth consecutive completion of the Beast Series, and newcomer Jen Ward finished her first Masochist after running the Marine Corps Marathon the previous Sunday. Overall, an impressive group!
The day could not have been the CAT success that it was without awesome crewing from Drew Krueger, Cristina Reitz-Krueger, Jamie Dahlhausen, Ann Rice, and Harry Landers!
Below are pictures from the race and individual summary race reports. The race reports reflect both the highs and lows from the race, so read on!
This was my second MMTR which made the race not less beautiful (peak of fall foliage) but definitely easier knowing the course. Last year I ran into IT-Band issues after 2/3 of the distance, had to walk quite a bit and soothe the pain with Advil. This year I was a lot better prepared: many more quality mountain miles of training with CATs, a couple of VHTRC events, and last but not least, Skinny B’s workouts. My goal was to beat my time (9:55) by an hour and run a sub 9hrs – I figured that I had to run 10:06min/mile’s on average to make this reality.
I ran the first mile or two with David and after wishing him well at the turnaround, took off. Generally I stick to the general rule to go out slower the first half of a race and run faster the second half – but not this time. I remembered Horty saying “Don’t be stupid” and thought that I am right now but justified running faster by telling myself that the first miles are the easy, flat ones and that there is plenty of walking uphill ahead of me where I could recoup some energy.
During the race I felt a lingering pain in my right knee, immediately I thought this was my IT Band yet again but stuck to my plan and hoped it would just disappear after a while. The pain aggravated a bit but I could keep running without pain relievers. I convinced myself that if I’d run faster, the race would be over faster, hence the suffering would be over sooner as well. (What a stupid thought).
I was happy, felt strong and remembered parts of the course being very hard to run last year and this year everything felt much more do-able. I got to chat with a couple of other runners which made the time pass a lot quicker. At the half-way point, Long Mountain Wayside aid station, I could immediately spot the bright green CAT shirts – fantastic! The “Drew Crew” (Jamie, Cristina & Drew + Harry Landers) were a great team and provided everything what you could ask for (THANKS!!!), it felt like a quick pit stop in a Formula-1 race. A motivation boost. Now the real race began. I lagged a little behind my anticipated time but figured I could be able to make it up on the downhills.
A long way up Buck mountain, Rocky music, perfect running weather made the second part go by quick again. I kept up with my nutrition (two gels diluted in 24oz water bottle and one Endurolyte capsule every hour, a couple of snacks at aid stations). I felt much stronger running uphills than last year which kept my motivation going. I made it through the loop in 57mins (1hr 20min in 2010) and still felt I had lots of energy left. Great!
The final miles I ran with Kevin Smith, who was hoping to finish sub-9 as well. Despite feeling strong and keeping up the pace I couldn’t quite make it and finished in 9:13. Still, I am really happy with that and felt the difference the better training made. Thanks to all the CAT’s, especially the Drew Crew for support and going the distance.
I came into the race well-trained, healthy, and the weather was ideally cool for running. So why did this race suck so badly for me?
I entered race day pretty nervous, as this was my first 50-miler. I knew too that my normal pace on a good day would put me not-too-far ahead of the race cutoff of 12 hours (which meant averaging sub 14-minute miles over the 52-mile course and 9,200 feet of elevation gain). I had trained for the race steadily since the summer, so I wanted to believe that my training would payoff. Indeed, I started to feel like I could even maybe pull a sub 11-hour finish!
I don’t want to bore you guys with a blow-by-blow of the day, much of the run was a blur. What I will say is this: It was a very hard race, with both low and high points. I finished 20 minutes short of the twelve hour cutoff, in 11 hours, 40 minutes. Now I can’t wait to try the race again and improve on my time. I need to turn the race blur into something more coherent to analyze because I think with some tweaks here and there, and continued quality speed and hill work, I could achieve my sub 11-hour goal next year. And I loved, loved, loved the race. Especially after I was finished!
Here are the high points for me: Great undulating course, with nothing too technical and lots of beautiful mountain scenery; seeing Drew, Cristina, and Jamie at the halfway point at Long Mountain Wayside — Oh how I had looked forward to that point through the first half of the race; getting to the Loop and being helped again by the “Drew Crew,” with the added surprise of having Harry Landers escort me on my run through the Loop — great time and conversation with Harry; and finally, the hammering, quad-busting run down the last two miles to the finish. What a blast!
I will also talk a bit about one of my lowest points during the race. It came during the last 1/4 of the race, when I wasn’t sure how the last “Horton miles” translated to actual remaining mileage on the course. Horton miles are longer on average than real miles, and can vary in their accuracy from station to station. I began to fear that because the actual remaining miles were probably much higher than the Horton remaining miles, I wouldn’t make AS cut-offs, and even if I did, I would still end up not finishing under 12 hours. This was especially true through the second-to-last AS (with 7 Horton miles remaining), where I inquired about the actual remaining mileage. I got a shrug from the AS volunteers — after all they were about ready to pack up — and an answer along the lines of, “the next four miles are tough, then it is all downhill.” Well, I knew that meant 4 rough Horton miles and then 3 Horton miles downhill. But what I remembered from earlier conversations and advice from Marc Griffin was that the last 6 miles were downhill. So I said to myself, “Geez, assuming the next four miles is actually four miles (they could be longer), I still got 6 actual miles of downhill after that.” Doing the math in my mind, I calculated that there was no way I would make it down in time for the 12 hour cutoff. And yet. . .I had hit all aid stations with 10-15 minutes on the cutoffs, so I didn’t get it. Was this some master Zealand/Horton trick, to take you all the way to the last AS with OK cutoff times, only to shut you out at the bottom?? I spent a lot of time pondering this and hating the run of “four miles” to the next aid station.
Then, as I continued to run/walk this section, hating life and hating running, I realized something . . the downhill sections seemed to be staying with earnest, and I could even see that there was really no way to go BUT down now, towards the valley! OK, so the last six miles of downhill begin BEFORE the last aid station. . .I love you Marc, it all makes sense now! In no time, I was at the last AS, it was 5:32 pm, and the volunteers there informed me that we had only 3.8 actual miles straight down to the finish. And that was the end of my lowest, low point!