2021 Derby 50k medals vest

Fifth Derby 50k

This year was my 5th year running the Derby 50k event. COVID is still in people’s minds but this year there have been many other events. I am coming from Skinny Turkey on Thursday. Even though I did not run yesterday, my legs are feeling just ok. This year I am back with the hopes to complete the event with a decent performance and be able to say that I am a 5-time finisher of the Derby 50k.

Derby 50k #1: This was my 1st Official Ultra-Marathon event. The friends I made that year were right, they made it clear to me that after this event I was going to be hooked into the Ultra-Marathon fever. I indeed was hooked.

Derby 50k #2: I came the second year with better preparation, more knowledge that resulted in another fun experience with an improved PR of more than 20 minutes. The weather was miserable but the event was perfect, friends, runners, volunteers made it better regardless of the weather. Plus I came in 5th overall.

Derby 50k #3: Another outstanding event. Coming in for the third time, better training and preparation, knowing much better the course and what to expect at each turn, I manage to improve my time by close to 11 minutes.

Derby 50k #4: COVID year was not necessarily easy for runners. Yes, we were able to run for the most part of the year, but the isolation and canceled events made it for one hell of a ride. Extremely thankful to the event coordinators for the decision to host the Derby this year. It was my only event for 2020.

Derby 50 #5: The pursue of the 5 times finisher vest. See below event summary.

Last year at Derby 50k was a fun event, no PR but I was still happy with the results. That was the only event that was not canceled that I was signed for. I knew that PR for the 50k was going to be extremely challenging, but the weather conditions were great and I needed to run smart to have 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, baby food pouches, and my protein shake for post-event. The morning routine, as usual, hot cereal, latte, and a banana to eat about 45 to 1hr before the start.

This is a low-key but great event, there were about 90 runners this year. Given that still we were ramping up in the normality of events available for runners, I understand the full runner participation this year. The Community Center is the start/finish and provides shelter from the cold and also has decent bathrooms that were always available.  The bib, like last year, was amazing, another nice full-color picture of one of another memorable section 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 to start with the windbreaker and drop it at the start of the second loop. I was very happy to see many friends, Laurie, an Ultra veteran, Matt, an extremely fast ultra runner that we happen to run at Umstead earlier in the year, BD another ultra runner that ran and pace with me at the Tobacco Road Marathon a couple of years back, Tarek another Ultra Runner very familiar with Umstead and Walter another veteran runner, all were part of the runners at the starting line. It was once again great to see some familiar faces. It was a beautiful morning with great temperatures and great farm fields around us.

Loop 1: The Starting Loop – Heading out after the few announcements all runners head out for an ultra adventure. The weather was fantastic, although sunny, the temperature and humidity were perfect for running. I was very aware of my 50k PR time and that it was doable for today, but I needed to really take it easy during the first few miles to warm up. Like last year’s event, I decided to stay with Walter and BD for these initial miles. I have not seen Walter in a while and BD, I just saw him last Thursday when we both ran Skinny Turkey. It was great to catch up with both of them and talk about all the common friends from work, other runners, and events. 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 couple of miles, I started my initial pushing the pace efforts. The group of runners thinned out, I manage to talk to one of the runners I met last year. I remember him as the Lipitor runner and he remembered me as the Insulin Pump guy. After exchanging a few updates and stories I removed my windbreaker and pressed on the pace once again. I continue to take a few sips of my energy drink once in a while to keep hydrated. I skipped the 1st water station and continued at a very comfortable pace. Around mile 7, I took my 1st pouch of baby food. At the second water station, I decided to continue without stopping. The temps were still good; as I approached the last couple miles of the 1st loop, I drank almost the remainder of the drink I was carrying. I was very pleased with how well I was feeling.

Loop 2: Easy Loop – I did a quick pit stop, grabbed a new bottle, and dropped the windbreaker and the gloves. I continue to look for the runners ahead of me and slowly catch up with them. Passing and encouraging them to continue as they were doing great. Feeling in the zone at a great pace I continue not necessarily looking at my watch for the pace or time, but the heart rate readings as I was trying to run by a conservative effort. I once again skipped the 1st water station, still feeling great all the way. Like last year the hills did not provide any problems. Passing mile 16 there was a dog in front of a property, sitting a looking. I decided to run to the other side of the road since he was not there during the 1st loop and I did not see a leach or chain. A soon as I was perpendicular to him, he started aggressively to run my way barking and brushing to my feet. Felt like he was trying to take a bite to my running shoe. I tried to speed up, move away, yell at him. I did not want it to slam or kick the dog either as I knew that could provoke making him even more aggressive. I did scream out very loudly “hey, hey, stop” he stop, but I knew there were a few runners behind me that encounter a similar issue.

After the incident, it took a while for me to find the zone again. My heart rate went up and definitely, it took more than I want it. The sudden changes in speed and direction with the additional surge in adrenaline took a little bit of a mental toll. It took a couple of miles to recover and find once again a decent pace. At the second water station, I grabbed a cup of water and walked just a bit. The sun was full out, and the temperatures were rising a bit. I tackle the 1-mile hill at a steady pace, was it just at the very end that I did walk a bit to keep my heart rate in check. I was still feeling good at the end of the second loop. I told Walter that I would press the pace a bit in the final loop.

Loop 3: Trying to push the Pace Loop – I started the third loop, looking at the time and thinking if I would be able to finish close to the 5:00 mark. I started to press the pace a bit to test the legs and to get close to the next runner ahead of me. By this time it was taking longer to reach the runners and pass them, but it was ok, as long as I continue to do that I was going to be close to my goal. Once in a while, I will see another runner in the distance, which I targeted, and slowly I catch up with them and pass them at a steady pace. This time I stopped at the 1st water station, this time feeling a little bit depleted. I drank water and refilled my bottle with water. I saw a few runners ahead of me walking, I walked some then started to run, passing them and taking my time approaching at a steady effort.

Now near the dog incident, the dog was not there, it was a relive. By this time I am running a little bit slower than needed to meet the time. One runner passed me, he was running at a strong steady pace, I encourage him as he was doing great. By the time I got close to the second water station, I knew that I was not going to get close to my best times, but finishing under 5:30 was still a possibility. I was starting to feel the sun and the temperatures. I drank some more water and replenish my bottle with water. I was able to still see the runner that passed about a mile ago, just ahead of me but not by much, I tried to press a bit, but I was definitely very tired by now. Even with the walk-run approach, I was able to continue to pass a few other runners, not the one that passed me but still I was making progress. I finished with a decent pace and a great smile even tho it was not under the 5:30 goal.

At the finish line, as usual, there was a very warm welcome. I got another beautiful medal and most importantly they had a 5-time finisher vest ready for me. I was able to talk to a few of the runners that finished ahead of me and some of the volunteers. Very happy with the run and all the friendships from the running community. I will continue to recommend this event for a 1st Ultra and not 1st Ultra.

When I arrived home, my daughter before she headed back to college left me a note. I was extremely touched and happy to see the note detail in my running log where I was getting ready to write down the event summary results.

Nov-21Derby 50kNCUltra5:31:50


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: 30º at the start, around 56º at the end, the humidity was hovering around 80%.

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.

Learning Points:

  • 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.