The first event on tap was the winter Buckeye 50k. With some prodding and the help of the Beast I convinced some running pals to sign up and do this as their first 50k. Meanwhile their official training started as I was ramping down from quite a year. I wasn't worried about the mileage as last year I ran the 50k on a whim and my longest run since JFK had been 13 miles, but I can definitely tell my friends have been getting stronger while I have been recovering!
So Saturday morning we all arrived bright eyed and bushy tailed. After a brief talk from everyone’s fave ultra gal TC we headed outside and were on the Brandywine loop, only once again we wouldn't do the full loop this year due to treacherous river crossings. So really it is a Brandywine out and back.
Brandywine is about 5 miles and is mostly some rolling hills with a bit of towpath and some stairs thrown in for fun. We've trained a lot out here this winter so we were pretty familiar with the course. I headed out with Daisy and Solarsquirrel for the first loop and we chatted away. After the first loop began Solarsquirrel's woes. It just wasn't her day as she was sick to her stomach the entire race.
Daisy and I slowed up a bit on Pine Lane hoping Solar would catch back up. You know Daisy though and as soon as a train of runners came by we were moving again. Just can't let the "rabbits" go! We moved pretty quickly through the rootiest section of Pine Lane, and I would keep looking back to see if Solar was catching up. Surprisingly she did catch up rather quickly at the turn around despite having fallen in the river. So it was the three Amigos again back to Boston Store. Daisy took the lead through the Pine section of Pine Lane and we just cruised. It was nice to be moving quickly and having fun, thoughts of how it probably wouldn’t be so quick in another 13 miles passed through my head.
Made it back to Boston Store and while waiting for Solar we grabbed some grub and talked with MT and AJ who were volunteering. I gave MT my handheld so that it would be full of water and ready to go when I got back for the next Pine Lane group. At this point Wyatt came cruising through off the Brandywine loop; yep he was 5 miles ahead of us! He had a bad blister and since no one was offering up aid I rummaged through my bag and found him a blister band-aid. I don’t think I used any of my extra gear, but I’m glad I had it since I got to help someone out. Solar caught up and before heading out for our second Brandywine loop we stopped to take a photo with MT and AJ, it’s not like we were in a race or anything ;)
The miles from this loop were pretty much the same. We chatted about when we thought Solar's man TB would come along, and it wasn’t very long that’s for sure. I think he passed us as we were heading up the first long steady hill on Brandywine. He looked good and was in the top ten. Eventually we made it back to Boston again. I grabbed my handheld from MT and a bit of grub. I mostly just had trail mix all morning. Wasn’t very hungry except at the start. Daisy and I started walking up the towpath but she got cold and pulled ahead to warm up. I was worried about Solar, so I kept Rita company as we moseyed up Pine Lane for the second time. I kept looking back and realized Solar was not as close this time as before so eventually I let Rita go and I eased the pace. I talked with DR a bit as she passed and before hitting a long steep downhill section I finally walked a bit to let Solar catch up, and boy did she catch up, she caught me and passed me flying down the hills. I am a pretty confident downhill runner but she was moving way faster than I was used to on this section. She just kept saying she wanted Pine Lane over with!
As we neared the aid station KM caught up to us. She had run with her son the first 13 miles and was now making up time on the 50k. I asked her if she would try to catch the 1st girl. She of course was going to give it a shot! Not long after Daisy, WB, and GR were heading back towards us as we neared the Pine Lane aid station. We gave Daisy a wave and moved along. We finally caught up to Bill Bailey here and we ran with him quite a ways back down Pine Lane. I tried my “rabbit” tactic on him and Solar but they were pretty content with their pace and did not pick it up even when I tried to run a bit ahead.
I love this course because you get to see everyone all day long. Every time we would pass our friends I’d give a smile and a holler. Before the pines we passed Mike and Josh and Mike snapped a photo. I guess this is where Josh made his breakaway and hauled ass the rest of the course. We also passed Bloggister here and I think he said, “I thought I heard your voice.” (This is pretty typical for me; everyone knows I am coming because they can hear me talking miles away) I could tell Solar was not a happy camper at this point but she looked a lot better than she did at NCTM so we kept moving. The funniest part of the day was probably when we came to this big downed tree for the fourth time and attempted to “roll” over it. We must have looked like old arthritic ladies trying to maneuver over this thing.
After this it seemed I became “Trash Girl” for the day, as there was lots of litter out on the course that I felt obligated to pick up. By this time I had two gels packets, a Styrofoam cup, and a Gatorade bottle. I must have looked ridiculous trying to stuff the Styrofoam cup and gels into my handheld and carrying the bottle in the other hand. I figure trail karma will come back and bite you if you leave trash on the trail though so I do my part to clean it up out there!
We finally made it to the downhill before Boston and once again Solar was flying. I had to hit the restroom at this point and we ran into the bathroom just as the janitor was getting ready to start cleaning the ladies room. We politely asked if he could wait just a moment while we took care of business and he replied that we could go if we didn’t mind him being in there. GROSS. We asked again if he could just wait one moment and he said he had just started that room making it very clear that he would not budge, so we opted for the men’s room instead. What a weird experience! I swear I attract the crazies!
Got a quick hug from my buddy JC who was waiting to run her hubby in the last five miles, and now it was time for our last 5 miles. Anyone can run 5 miles right? So we moved ahead. I had my brain working with the time we had left to break 6 hours. I let Solar know we had to run 11-minute miles or faster if we wanted to break 6. Frankly I am quite amazed we even had a chance after all the breaks we had made. Girl is tough! So we pressed forward. We must have just missed TB coming in to finish 2nd overall in his first ultra! We joked that he was probably hitting the shower and getting a drink while we were still running.
I tried to keep Solar moving. I knew if we could get to the top of Brandywine in 11-minute miles we’d make it because girl always picks it up when she is closing in on the finish. She was moving pretty slow on the uphills, but made up for it on the flats and downs. We saw Daisy KM move ahead of the first lady here (not surprising) and shortly after saw Diasy cruising along. I was glad to see she still felt great as many others looked like they could use some more energy on that last loop! We made it to the top right on target and I let Solar know we couldn’t slack if we wanted to break 6. Well that must have lit a fire under her because we hauled ass the next 2 miles. I couldn’t believe I went all day at a comfortable pace just to hammer the hell out of my legs in the last two miles. As we approached the towpath Solar asked if we would break 6. I looked at my watch. We had ten minutes to run a half-mile; I told her I thought we were pretty good to go. :) We still hammered in trying to close in on WB and GR. So 5 hours and about 53 minutes after we started we finished with Solar completing her first 50k.
For finishing we were rewarded with some awesome Brooks jackets and the best tasting chili ever! I pigged out as usual and had two bowls. Bob Combs must think I am so disgusting! Every time he has seen me after a long run I have been pigging out. He joked that I was allowed to get seconds as I had filled my bowl to the brim. We waited for all our friends to visit and gave the appropriate congratulations to everyone then it was off to Winking Lizard for some beer and wings. Then I had to head home, shower, and head out to my husbands company’s winter party. Its never a dull day for me I guess.
Can't get the photo upload to work so you get a mini slideshow!:)