Some good tips I learned from Greg Hammett (CMS), after he saw me attempting to 'warmup' before the race was to: NOT warmup. His point was pretty good and seems now to make a lot of sense. He doesn't warmup for races like this because 1) You go out really slow anyways 2) Not warming up forces you to run slower at the beginning, as you are still somewhat tight and nothing's gotten going yet bio-mechanically 3) It's all about conserving energy. That third point is huge. He's totally right about making sure you conserve as much energy as possible and not try to burn through any before the race actually starts.
The last tip he gave me was AFTER the race (so I'm skipping ahead a bit)...Unfortunately, I didn't get this memo until after I already bonked and finished the race, but basically his advice was to eat a big breakfast...he mentioned bacon and eggs, etc. I ate next to nothing, as I usually do before races...I had a pop tart and a Powerbar. Not smart. I am too used to the 5k mentality where that is plenty of food...for these long trail/mountain grinds where it doesn't matter if you have to stop for a bathroom break 60 minutes in, I have to make sure I have enough fuel to burn throughout the race...that was obviously not the case here. For my Pisgah attempt, I will follow Greg's advice and eat a decent breakfast early in the morning so I can see if it makes any difference (I'm sure it will).
As the race went off, Brian Rusiecki (Vasque) went right to the front and Greg and I latched right along side him. We were trailed not too far back by William Hawkins (NY) and a couple others, but they hung back a while. The course starts out on some grassy fireroad and then eventually cuts into the woods and up a ridiculous single track climb. Only 10 minutes into the race I was thinking this race could be in the mountain series for sure (I just think it's too long to be feasibly in that series...and it's too much of a trail race, but the climbing is certainly there). For much of that climb and the subsequent racing after that, over the ridge, down the backside and up the second climb, Brian was in the lead, followed directly by Greg and myself. William Hawkins and David Herr joined up and it was a pack of 5 for a while. Somewhere after that, Will dropped back out of sight and it was just 4 of us, with no one wanting to do any trail blazing except for Brian. Every once in a while, someone would say something, but it was relatively quiet. There was some discussion back and forth between Greg and Brian about other races, similarities to other courses, etc. but for the most part, it was a quiet, focused run. Somewhere before the last descent, they mentioned that the way back up after the turnaround (it was an out and back course) was brutal. The climb back up, starts only a few minutes after you reach the halfway aid station and it was apparently a bruiser. I wasn't feeling that hot already, and we hadn't even made it out halfway. I made a point to take my sips of water (I brought my handheld) and my gels at precisely the same time Brian did...corny I know, but I figured that this kid does ultras all the time and he knows what he's doing.
I came to the conclusion that I suck at maintaining energy in the later stages of these races. I also know that had the race been even 1 mile longer, I would have been caught by Brian, no doubt. I was lucky to even have finished this race, let alone been ahead of these guys... David Herr is just a monster right now. The guy is in brilliant shape for these types of races...I have a lot to learn, but will hopefully get there by just watching what these guys do. The same lot of us will be at Pisgah, but I'm just looking to finish that race. A finish will be good for me. I couldn't care less about place at this point. I just want to be able to run strong and run across the finish line. That said, I may be letting all of these blokes go early and just jog the first 10-11 miles and make it a 20 mile trail jaunt...All I know is I'm not even going to think about racing during the first 90 minutes.
Top 10 (CMS in Blue)
71 Total Finishers.
Photo above: Chillin' w/ Wolfetracks after the race and knowing I'd be messed up for most of the following week....Steve's singlet was actually white and black, but was saturated by blood, so it appears red in this picture.