Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Bull Run Run 2018 -- Good Weather?

April 6 

It has been four years since I have run this race.  I am running this race again because my son-in-law, Ben, is moving up to the 50 mile distance having run a couple of 50k races.  My daughter, Amy, is also coming with us to crew for both of us.  This was the plan at our last race in February, but Ben ran so much faster than me, and Amy wasn’t able to support us both late in the race.  We fly up to Virginia this morning with a fair bit of turbulence.  We grab lunch at Five Guys, check into the race, and then eat dinner at Carrabba’s.  There is a fun little team competition, so Ben and I team up with Gary and Keith Knipling.  It is mostly for fun with the fastest team getting some piece of swag of some sort.

April 7 

Waiting for the Start of the Race
The weather has been the main topic for this race for the past few days.  The
forecast has varied from heavy rain turning to snow to now it seems there might not be any precipitation.  When I get up, the temperature is 48 degrees, but an hour later as the race is about to begin, the temperature has dropped to 43 degrees.  I start the race with short and long sleeve shirts, shorts, and a buff on my head.  There was no rain overnight.  It is overcast and blustery as the race begins.

Mile 7.2      1:17:10 (10:43 avg./mile) Centreville Road (1st time)

At the start, Ben is out in front of me and as we enter the single track trail, there are a dozen or so runners between us.  I am running with Sophie Speidel, and the miles pass quickly as Sophie and I catch up with each other.  About 3-4 miles into the race, Sophie and I move past Ben.  Sophie has a definite goal time today, and so far, I am able to keep up with her.  At the aid station, Amy is ready with chocolate milk and a bagel.  I grab half of a bagel and drink a small cup of chocolate milk.  Ben is less than a minute behind me.

Mile 11.6    51:03 (11:36 avg./mile) Centreville Road (2nd time)

The course has been modified some to ensure the full 50 miles is run today.  The turnaround is now a lollipop loop.  The problem is that there is no one at the junction of the lollipop and some of the people run it clock-wise and most of us run it counter-clock-wise.  On the loop, I let Sophie go on ahead as I am deciding to run a little bit more conservatively.  As I approach the junction on the loop again, Ben comes up behind me and joins me.  We run together back to the aid station where Amy is patiently waiting.  I drink some Conquest and take half of a bagel with me.  With the new lollipop loop, the race might be a little bit longer, but it is less than an additional half mile at most.

Mile 16.6    1:01:32 (12:18 avg./mile) Hemlock Overlook

I leave the aid station a little ahead of Ben, but then he catches up to me quickly.  However, on the way back to Hemlock, I open up a little gap on him.  I am working the downhills hard, utilizing my speed.  The weather is remaining basically the same.  The temperature has settled around 40 degrees with blustery winds and occasionally, there is a stray flake of snow that floats down.  I come into the aid station a couple of minutes before Ben.  I grab some potato chips at the aid station along with drinking more chocolate milk.

Mile 21.1    54:26 (12:06 avg./mile) Bull Run Marina

Leaving Hemlock, Michele Harmon catches up to me.  I am surprised that she was behind me, but she says she is at peace with her conservative pace.  We catch up for a mile or so, and then she presses on ahead.  Soon thereafter, Ben catches back up to me, and we run together into the aid station.  I grab some Pringles and drink more chocolate milk.  I am moving well and feel fine.  This isn’t going to be my fastest time, but is there the opportunity to get under 10 hours?

Mile 26.1    59:18 (11:52 avg./mile) Wolf Run Shoals

Ben and I continue on together for this section.  We are making good time.  We have been playing leap frog with Mike Campbell.  It won’t be the last time we see him.  This aid station does not allow crews to visit, so I grab a couple of PB&J sandwich quarters along with some water and more Pringles.  Alex is the aid station captain, and he informs me that the next section is longer than it has been.  The trail has been re-cut and now is longer.  I think he said it was about 0.7 miles further and that the veterans were complaining about it.

Mile 28.1    42:53 (21:27 avg./mile) Fountainhead

In the past, I have run this section in 25-30 minutes.  Clearly, this section is now longer as Alex indicated, but the question is how much longer is it?  It appears that it could be as much as a mile further.  Thus, I am calling this an extra Quattro mile or Q-mile for short in honor of the race director.  At the aid station, Amy is ready for us as Ben and I come in together.  I drink some more chocolate milk while stuffing my face with potato chips.

Mile 32.5    1:01:10 (13:54 avg./mile) Do Loop (start)

Going out to the do loop, we get to do the white loop in addition to the trail that goes straight to the do loop.  This goes by very quickly as Ben and I are talking away about some of my experiences in the Marine Corps as a General’s Aide.  Before long we are heading straight to the do loop.  We meet Keith Knipling heading the other way and then Sophie Speidel a little later.  Finally, we make the left turn that takes us up to the do loop aid station.  Dave Yeakel, Jr. is here with the aid station workers.  I grab a couple of sandwich quarters, and then Ben and I begin the do loop.

Mile 35.5    41:59 (14:00 avg./mile) Do Loop (end)

The do loop is actually a lollipop loop from the aid station and back to the aid station.  Ben has heard it is a rough little piece of trail so after the first half mile he says that this isn’t that bad.  Of course, this is the easy part and then when we get down to the water, we have to make our way back up with many ups and downs along the way.  At the Nash Rambler there is a full-size picture of Gary Knipling.  Both Ben and I take the opportunity to water the Rambler.  Early on the do loop, Mike Campbell came back past us as he seems to be doing better with his ailing knee.  When we arrive back at the aid station, Gary is just getting there.  This good for two reasons:  we are comfortably ahead of Gary, but more importantly it means that all of our teammates are likely to finish.

Mile 37.9    34:59 (14:35 avg./mile) Fountainhead

Ben leads the way after the do loop, and I think he has picked up the pace.  We are moving along nicely, and I start to do some figuring in my head of when we might be able to finish.  The numbers seem to suggest that we could finish in about 10.5 hours.  But for now we will continue to press on.  At the aid station, Amy looks happy to see us, and one of the aid station workers tries to put a lei around our necks.  I decline the offer as I have no intent to wear the thing for the next dozen miles.  I grab some food while Ben checks his blood sugar level.

Mile 39.9    41:42 (20:51 avg./mile) Wolf Run Shoals

Ben’s blood sugar level was a little low so he is now running with a bottle of honey.  He squirts some in his mouth every so often and washes it down with water.  Not long after the aid station, two ladies pass us saying they aren’t in a hurry, they are just cruising.  So, Ben and I from then on refer to them as the cruisers.  This section is still overly long with the obvious extra Q-mile.  At the aid station, I talk with Alex again while stuffing my face with potato chips.  I also grab two small cups of Coke.  It is time to start the push to the finish.  With his extra Q-mile, it is now obvious that we will finish over 10.5 hours, but do we still have margin to finish under 11 hours?

Mile 44.9    1:03:13 (12:39 avg./mile) Bull Run Marina

At some point, we got ahead of the cruisers, so after leaving the aid station, they cruise back by us.  Ben and I are hanging on, but I am calculating miles and pace.  Up and down we go; hiking the uphills and trying to run quickly on the downhills.  As we get about a mile and a half from the Marina, we pass Mike Campbell again.  His knee is really giving him problems now.  With a mile to go until the aid station, I pop a caffeine pill as I want to start my final surge before I get to the aid station.  Ben says he probably needs a bathroom break at the aid station, so I walk on through without stopping.

Mile 50.4    1:08:02 (12:22 avg./mile) FINISH!

My final surge is gutsy, but not overly fast.  Andrew Sullivan rides on my coat tails the last three miles.  I try to shake him, think he is going to pass me, and eventually we end up finishing together.  It was a good push at the end, but I don’t have the speed that I want.  Is it a problem of getting older?  I hope not.
Darin and Andrew finishing!

Official Finishing Time          10:57:27

109th out of 272 starters (231 finishers)

Ben comes across only seven minutes after me.  He ran a great race for his first 50 mile finish.  It was awesome running with him for most of the day.  The weather ends up to not be a factor with almost ideal weather for running hard.  The precipitation never arrives, and the trail is drier than I think I have ever seen at this race.

Ben and I quickly shower and change, and then we wait for our fourth teammate to finish.  It is a cold, blustery, raw day, which was good for running, but not so much for spectating.  We are pretty thoroughly chilled when Gary finishes with Zeke Zucker—two 74 year olds, who finish in 12:39.  Quite a race for some seasoned citizens.  I am thinking about running the Kettle Moraine 100 miler in June.  Until then…

Never stop running,


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