Training for any mountain 100 mile race has its share of “sucky-ness” from time to time. Whether its the super early morning wake up times, the slogging through rain, mud, or snow, blisters, muscle aches, or just missing out on other social activities, sometimes following your training plan just plain sucks.
So when I saw a fat ass that billed itself as a race where everything “just sucks” I was quite intrigued. The closest hill near me goes up for close to 3/4 of a mile, and peaks at 800 feet (300 feet of elevation from the bottom to the top.) This is pretty wimpy when I think about the hills in Grindstone that peak at 4,400 feet (with 2,800 feet of gain) I figured I needed to step up my training game asap!
This started at 900 feet and went up to 2,430 making it a total of 7,610ft elevation gain and loss over 29.0 miles. MUCH better than my “mountain” that I train on at home. As a matter of fact the top of the road crosses the AT and Skyline drive. I joked that if it really started to suck I could just hop off onto the AT and go run some trails.
This weekend also happened to fall on my 8th wedding anniversary weekend, since my husband is such a great guy, he booked us a hotel room so we could make a weekend of it. We hopped into the car at 7 am (for the noon start) and drove the 3+ hour up to Charlottesville VA. On the way up I tried to decide, would this be an easy, chatting, enjoying the day training run, or would I actually try to run it hard? With the 29 mile JIM my week would total at 97 miles, so there was no tapering for this…so I eventually decided I would just see how it went and how I felt.
I was actually most excited to meet some of the speedy VA ladies there. Two of them being Sophie Speidel, and Jenny Nichols. Ultrarunning is a small niche sport, and well known women in it is even smaller so we have mutual friends, but its always nice to meet face to face.
Anyway, back to the day. Drew dropped me off and went to explore VA, while a friend (Ben) and me got ready to run. The first lap up I recognized several people from different races around and chatted, interested in what they were training for, if they had run Grindstone before, and just asking general questions (can you tell I like to talk yet?) I love the downhill, especially since it wasn’t technical…all I had to do was let go, and make sure I wasn’t running too fast. There was no way I was going to bonk! Not driving 6+ hours just to drop out!
The second time up I chatted with a few different people that I recognized from the Grindstone training run last summer. Marc Griffin and Christian Dahlhausen. Its always nice to meet and chat with other ultra runners…makes me feel less like a running freak. I also met John Andersen, another Altra ambassador, and owner of Crozet Running. He and his wife were so nice and so very knowledgeable when it comes to running gear, if you are in the area of Charlottesville you have got to go say hi at their store!
Anyway, the next two laps went by uneventfully, and I realized I was almost dead on pace each up and down, just a little over an hour per lap. Great, so that turned into my new goal, even splits. I was still waiting for the repeats to suck, but the overcast sky, and the great company made it way less sucky 🙂
So while hill repeats suck, heat sucks, getting chased by a dog sucks, rocks in your shoes suck, what the RDs forgot to mention was that all the great personalities there negated the suck-factor! It was easy to enjoy the day, with all the high fives, and smiles that greeted me up and down the hill…it really boosted my mood, and I hope my enthusiasm made others feel the same. This group of VA trail runners was so warm, and so comfortable…it was like a class reunion or an extended family get-together. I loved how everyone was just happy to be out there, and with each other! I even got to meet the ever famous ultra runner David Horton, who was recovering from knee surgery. Even though you could tell he was dying to be out there running, he was biking with words of encouragement, and goofing off at the start/finish with all the runners and their kids. It was a great afternoon, followed by a wonderfully chill evening with my husband after!
I ran in my Lone Peak 1.5s, my TrailHeads shirt, my hydraquiver pack, ate 1 Powerbar latte energy gel, 1 Huma chia energy gel, and 1 GU Roctane Energy gel, a handful of S-Caps several home made peanut butter/chocolate rice krispy bars, and lots of water.
The Peanut Butter Bar recipe will be my next post…
Hope you all had a wonderful weekend as well!