My goal race is still MMTR but in the meantime I need to get in miles, more specifically miles with some elevation so a repeat of this race from last year made sense. The main goal of course being (broken record from other posts)... DO NOT GET INJURED!
I finished third at this race last year so I knew the course and what it could do to (or for) me. It could potentially hurt me with the 3+ miles of knee jarring, quad busting over-speed on the downhill but it also was a good way to get in some good hill work. Not to mention it was a great excuse to visit with the in-laws and be in the Blue Ridge Mountains around peak fall leaf season.
|Elevation profile - straight up and straight down|
|Running 3rd & smiling with an 'I'm just happy to be here' attitude ~1mi|
|Running in 2nd/3rd with the leader ahead in white and Ashley (in car) in front of him|
|On the 'hunt' around mile 2|
As I neared the apex of the climb I thought about a friend named Phyllis who is a beast of a trail runner. She is doing the West Virginia Trilogy (50k, 50mi & 1/2 marathon 3 days in a row) while I'm here running this little hill. I prayed for her multiple times on the run and sent her positive thoughts of 'flying on wings like eagles, running and not growing weary, walking and not failing' (from Isaiah 40:31, one of my favorite running verses). She should be somewhere in the beginning of her 50 miler after running a 50k the day before and probably dealing with just as much elevation but on gnarly trails instead of smooth (albeit steep) roads. Phyllis goes to our church, and from what I've seen, lives one of the best examples of servant-hood out of anyone I know personally. Along those lines, she is doing her race(s) to help raise funds for Ethiopa to build a community. I knew finishing these races would be no easy task and as much as I liked to think it helped her to pray for her during the run I know that it probably helped me put things into perspective to remind me of how Blessed I am and how this race pales in comparison to hers and even more so in the grand scheme of things.
Mind back in the race at hand... with a slight lead on second place. Here is where I would take my final planned walk break knowing that the turn wasn't far up but the final incline was some of the steepest. I switched to a walk for about 40 seconds and as soon as I felt him off my shoulder I began to run again and I wasn't hammering it but I definitely put on a little surge for a bit to let him know that I planned to take off. I ditched the hat & gloves which gave me a mental boost and switching into race mode. The plan was to hopefully get in front by enough to dash his hopes and leave him not wanting to chase me. In this ideal world scenario I would be able to cruise the downhill without pounding too hard. He didn't answer my surge and a quick glance before the final turn into the parking lot turn around revealed a decent lead for such a short distance.
|Running in the lead just before the turn with second place in view.|
|A low five and 'good job' given to current second place...|
competitive spirit doesn't have to change one's character right?
|I'm the grey figure on the left looking over my shoulder|
|Happily on the way back down with ~1.5 miles to go|
|Coming into the finish of Mt Jefferson 2012 in first place!|
I cheered in the next most of the top ten with Ashley and Alekzander and temporarily said good by as they took off to finish breakfast and I took off back up the mountain for more
The awards ceremony came and I got nervous as they awarded the ladies first (6 deep) and I didn't hear any mention of the wreaths they gave last year... until the winning female. When the guys turn came I (very happily) received the same prize and even said a quick plug for West End Wreaths since our family had fun going to the tree farm last year. Call me silly but I think I was happiest about the win because of the wreath and the fact that if I finished third or even second I wouldn't have won one (a nice Mizuno running hat or visor was given to 2nd-6th).
One of the coolest things was overhearing two women (who were some of the last to come in) talking about the run and how tough & excruciating it was for them. Amid the lamenting one of them suddenly got a real big smile on her face... pointed straight up to the forested summit and said... 'We just ran up that'. Seeing the mountain before them surely put everything into perspective. With smiles on their faces their outlook was changed as they now seemed empowered and capable of many other things once thought impossible (or at least unlikely) for them. I was able to relive my experience thinking the exact same thing last year... for anyone who has finished this race (or many others like it) you can not run another step in your life yet drive by 50 years from now and point to the sky and say... I ran up that. That's better than any finishers medal or award that I know of and surely will last longer.
|Some of the top six males & females (me in orange of course)|
Some stats from the race:
-Paces by race distance (7.2 miles) : Overall - 6:58/mi, Up - 8:37/mi, Down - 5:21/mi
-Paces by 'corrected distance'* (6.6 miles): Overall - 7:36/mi, Up - 9:23/mi, Down - 5:49/mi
*The website lists distance as 7.2 miles (3.6 up & back) but my garmin (and others) as well as mapmyrun seem to have it closer to 6.6 miles.
-Improvements over last year: Overall - 3:18 faster, Up - 2:29 faster, Down - 0:49 faster
-Temps ~40 were cold but wore gloves and stocking cap and kept sufficiently warm (ditching them near the top).
-Hydration/Nutrition: Carried amphipod filled with Vitargo S2 Grape and drank ~1/2 before tossing it near the top. Worked on a chia gel (didn't think I needed it) before the top.
-Shoes: Brooks Green Silence (same as last year and the same shoe I've worn for all road running for the last few years).
**All race photos courtesy of MOJE facebook page