Pictures stolen from Nick Billock. Thanks for the pictures, Nick! Good to see you out there. Hang in there!!
Early Saturday morning, I made the decision: carry the camera, or not? I put the camera in my purse. I came to run the YUT-C this day. No putzing around taking pictures.
I spent the night at the Harris' home, thanks Jim and Beth for the hospitality! I really appreciated it.
Jim and I were up very early. We drove over to Mill Creek Park, where Jim was going to run the 25K course to make sure of trail markers. I had gotten the okay to start early, so I figured 430 AM was good to go. I turned my trail headlamp on and started my two watches.
Jim caught up to me right as I hit the Monkey Trails and took a slight wrong turn, so I was then back on track. We stayed together until the Covered Bridge, where Jim decided to just run the shorter loop, and I promised to proof the bottom half of the course.
Course markers were still in place, and I had a pretty uneventful run through Mill Creek Park. I had forgotten that the trail here is a bit technical-both rocky and rooty. I'm glad I have a 50 miler-the URINEO, December 18, on the same course. I did note I got back to the start, for the 25K distance, in 3 hours 6 minutes. A very good time for me.
The YUT-C 50K course has changed a bit over the sixth year history. The present version is a 25K of both the upper and lower lakes, then two more laps of the upper loop. So when I got back to the start/finish, the official race had not begun yet. Bob Combs, Race Director, advised me that I had 23 minutes until other runners would be joining me on the course. I took off!
Shawn Pope, the race winner, didn't catch me until just before the famous love log. Coming into the Covered Bridge Aid Station, I noted I was keeping almost even splits.
I ran into John DeWalt, ultra trail legend, right where we climb past the turnoff for the Lily Pond. John gives me praise for looking so strong, and congratulates me on finishing The Ring. High praise indeed, coming from a runner like Johnny D.
I make it back to the start/finish in 5 hours. I'm starting to think favorably on my one goal for this race: finish under 8 hours. I haven't finished YUT-C under 8 hours (usually 8.5 hours) ever.
But now there's this other little goal popping into my head:
what about finishing under 7 hours?
Well, first goal is to get to the Covered Bridge. I run. I mean, I run. I run everything that isn't a big uphill. I run across the boardwalk into the CB. I take off my hydration pack, yell for Rich Vribonic to fill it, and tell him I'm trying to break 7 hours.
I then take off. I am RUNNING. I am running everything. I've got one hour. I don't know the exact mileage back to the finish, I was afraid to ask. Afraid I will pysche myself out. I concentrate on just running.
I pass John DeWalt, again, at the Pionner Pavilion. He comments again on how happy and strong I look, and I tell him I'm trying to break 7 hours. He tells me I can do it!
I know the landmarks. I glance at my watch. I keep running. I get two girls in front of me. Oh crap, I will have to pass them. Luckily, they keep a good running pace in front of me.
Where's that last little bridge? I hit it. I know we will dip off the trail pretty quickly. I glance at my watch. 630. Oh yeah. I'm doing it!!!
The girls hesitate at the last right turn, and I direct them to the right. We burst off the trail, and I pass them as I head into the open, heading for the finish line. I'm RUNNING! No walking, running!!
I hit the finish line at 6 hours 40 minutes. My fastest 50K time, EVER. Damn. And that's with about three hours of night-time running to begin with.
I am very very pleased with my race. I felt good. My leg calf cramped up, very early, as it has been doing for around the last year. I had a ultra sound on it last fall, to rule out a DVT, so I'm safe there. I did use S! Caps, and ate some bananas at aid stations. I do have a compression calf sleeve on order, so maybe that will help.
A very good solid race effort. Weight loss and training is paying off!!!!