What a year 2020 has been. With COVID ramping up for the most part of the year all but a few events were canceled. The big events were all canceled and some running areas and parks were also closed down due to the virus to prevent the spread of the virus. Mentally I am ok with the decision, there was so much unknown so much changing the mind on how to address the spread. So for the most part of the year, I was just basically running for the fun of it, adding a few things here and there, like speed work or some hills. I focused more on keeping the base runs high, just in case the events come online, and then will be easier to train for them.
There were lots of virtual events, if there were free, I would sign up but in reality, I am not a great fan of virtual events, because for me it does not have the push or the excitement of having runners trying to do their best. I was so pleased to see that Derby 50k was ready and they were going to host the event. Although with the last spike in virus cases a couple of weeks prior almost put in jeopardy the event.
Last year at Derby 50k was a fun event, no PR but I was happy with the results. This year I am back with the hopes to complete the event with a decent performance. I know that PR was going to be extremely challenging, but I want it to run with enough energy to not suffer during the last loop of the event. I had similar fuel preparations as last year for the event, bottles of energy drink ready with E-fuel and Tailwind mix, this year I am using baby food pouches instead of gels, extra banana, and my protein shake for post-event. Due to the virus, there was no Skinny Turkey Half, I did go out in the morning and ran the distance but easy pace just to keep the Thanksgiving tradition. The morning routine, as usual, hot cereal, latte, and a banana to eat about 45 to 1hr before the start.
This morning the weather was a tad warmer, although a low key event, there were about 100 runners this year. Given the minimal amount of events available for runners, I understand the full runner participation this year. The Community Center at the start/finish provided shelter from the little rain and have decent bathrooms that were always available. The bib for the event was amazing, a nice full-color picture of one of the most memorable sections of the event. It was a very nice surprise. Although the temperatures were going to be excellent for running, I knew it was going to get a little warm later in the day, so I decided not to wear any windbreaker to prevent overheating. I was very happy to see many friends, Laurie, Ultra veteran, Genno, that paced the Umstead Half earlier this year, Sam, an extremely fast runner that we happen to see each other almost every Saturday during the long runs, and Walter another veteran, were part of the runners at the starting line. It was great to see some familiar faces, it has been a crazy year. It was a beautiful morning with great temperatures and great farm fields around us. After some announcements, we all head out to complete the 3 loops to complete the 50k (31 miles) event.
Loop 1: The Starting Loop – As we headed out, it was clear that it would be harder to finish at the top and that a PR was out of the question. I decided to stay with Walter for the 1st loop. He used to work in the same place and retired earlier in the year. It was great to catch up and talk about all the common friends from work and other runners. We took it very easy as we were warming up and trying to find a good comfortable pace. We talked to a few runners, but after a few miles, the group thinned out. I continue to take a few sips of my energy drink once in a while to keep hydrated. We skipped the 1st water station and continued at a very comfortable pace. At the second water station, I decided to continue without stopping. Walter did the same as he was carrying everything he needed for the first loop with him. The temps were still good; as I approached the last couple miles of the 1st loop, I was pleased that I was feeling good.
Loop 2: Easy Loop – We did a quick pit stop, I grabbed a new bottle, and Walter replenish his vest with what he needed. I decided to continue with Walter for the second loop, and basically, we did the same story as the first loop, feeling great tackling the rolling hills. We skipped the 1st water station once again and feeling great all the way. Like last year the hills did not provide any problems as we tackled them at a steady cadence and pace. At the second aid station, I decided to get some water in my bottle. The Sun was out, and the temperatures were rising; I did not want it to get dehydrated. We were feeling good at the end of the second loop. I told Walter that I would press the pace a bit in the final loop. I wished him luck and proceeded to run towards my vehicle. After a quick stop to replace my energy drink bottle, I went to start my final loop.
Loop 3: Trying to push the Pace Loop – I started the third loop, thinking if I would be able to finish before the 6:00 mark. I started to press the pace a bit to test the legs. Once in a while, I will see a runner in the distance, which I targeted, and slowly I catch up with them and pass them at a steady pace. I once again skipped the 1st water station feeling strong. I saw a few runners ahead of me walking as I pass them, taking my time approaching and passing by at a steady effort. I tried to cheer and encourage them to hang in there and to continue. By the time I got close to the second water station, I was starting to feel the sun and the temperatures. I replenish my bottle with water once again and continue, but this time I knew that if I want it to finish strong, I needed to slow down a bit. I decided to follow a couple of runners. When they walk, I walk, and when they start running, I would do the same regardless. I did that early, closing in little by little until I caught up with them. It was my friend Laurie. She was doing fantastic. I stayed with them for a bit, and then I pressed on all the way towards the finish. I continued to pass a few other runners and finished with a decent pace and a great smile.
At the finish line, there was a very warm welcome. I got another beautiful medal and was able to talk to a few of the runners that finished ahead of me and some of the volunteers. At the community center, they had great food and dessert for the runners. I ate some spaghetti with meat sauce they were offering to the runners, plenty on my plate. Very happy with the run. I will continue to recommend this event for a 1st Ultra and not 1st Ultra.
Course: Looped 3x course with great ample road right of the start. Rolling hills, not challenging until the last loop hill might look steeper than the beginning loops. Around 85 runners. With the ample road, there is no problem starting and finding a comfortable easy pace.
Venue: At a Community Center, good bathrooms and a seating area to rest before and after the event. At the finish, good food, plenty to drink, and snacks.
Expo: No Expo.
Weather: 52º at the start, around 69º at the end, and rain for the 1st 2 hours.
T1D: Sugars within running range, a tad on the at the end but stable throughout the event.
Pre-Race: 1 serving Hot Cereal, latte, and banana.
Race: E-Fuel & Tailwind three bottles, two baby food pouches, and clementines.
Post: Spaghetti with a protein shake within an hour of the event.
- Getting many back to back long runs helped to get used to the distance.
- Baby food as an alternative for fueling works well for long events.