I started the recap and then stopped so we are now a little over two weeks removed now. Lets see what I remember.
The big goal race for the spring has come and gone. It was a great day! Great course, great trail, great running…do you sense a theme? I was extremely happy with my race. I came into Mohican with a general idea that I would target sub 9 hours, given the course, elevation profile and that it was my first 50 mile race. If I went sub 9 that would be good for 8th place or so given the last couple years of results. I ended up running an 8:07 and grabbed 6th place overall! I’m not going to lie, as the race went on, I really want that time to read 7:59 but whatever…I’m super pumped with the race results.
After a pretty uneventful meeting, pasta dinner and a decision to drop my drop bag in the morning we headed back to the Mohican River Inn for the 4:00AM wake up.
This is the kind of place the Mohican River Inn is: HONOR SYSTEM.
4:00AM came quickly. I really woke up at 3:3o but wasn’t worried about it. I sucked down some bad coffee and my breakfast of toast, PB, banana, and a bottle of Nuun and just waited for it to be time to leave.
I was feeling pretty confident heading into the race, the training was on point, the taper went well, work had been kind of crappy lately but not enough to derail things so I was hopeful Saturday morning would be a good day. The only thing I didn’t know was what was actually going to happen once I hit 35 miles and beyond. My furthest distance to date was a 50K.
The 50 mile course was two loops, a big loop and a small loop. The big loop was about 26.8 and the small loop was 23.2. I didn’t have much a time in mind for each loop besides run conservatively and see how things went.
After some final instructions and a start line photo we were sent over with a 1,2,3 go promptly at 6:00 AM. A couple of guys shot off up the road as it was a mile off road before hitting the singletrack. I settled into about 8th place and was alone. I would spend most of the day alone.
Once we hit the trail the real fun started. The first section was somewhat dark and straight up hill the entire time. I honestly thought about 15 minutes into running “Well this is going to suck.”
After getting through Gas Line, I came to the first aid station around mile 5. Lindsey was there! I didn”t think she was supposed to be at that stop but I was happy to see here. A quick fill of my hand bottle and I was on my way. (She tells me she was a little concerned I was going out too fast and to stay comfortable)
It was now full on day break on the trail and it flattened out a bit so I was able to pick it up a little. By this point, I had passed my first couple of 100 mile runners. They started at 5:00 AM so I would spend much of the day passing them.
More running through the woods, more running, and some more running. Through a couple of more aid stations. Saw Lindsey a couple more times.
I made it to the Covered Bridge aid station about mile 16, where the drop bags were stationed. I wasn’t sure if I would ever actually use the drop bags but I grabbed a Ugo Bar from my bag, filled up my bottle, ate some chips and a banana and was on my way. I also saw Alan at this point, he was doing his first 100 and was looking good. We chatted for a quick second and went back about the business of running.
Coming out of the covered bridge, you have a long sustained climb well over a mile which I walked a decent amount of. It was on this climb that I saw and passed my only 50 miler of the day. Once on top of the ridge, more running through some beautiful pines and rolling hills. More passing of 100 mile people.
I remember this section taking forever in my head and I was running low on water. Just make it to Hickory Ridge I kept thinking. Couple more uphills, and pine tree section and roll into Hickory Ridge. They were a welcome sight out in the middle of no where. This is now somewhere around mile 21. About 5.6 back to the start/finish. At this point, I am feeling pretty tired but okay. The last section is more downhill but pretty technical with a decent amount of roots and rocks to get over and around. I am passing more 100 mile runners but even that is starting to thin out a bit. Down through the woods and up a fire road climb I am out of the woods again and headed back to the start/finish on the campground road. Happy to be running on pavement the pace naturally picks up. Aside from this 1-1.5 mile section and the beginning mile the entire run is on the trail.
Coming into the start/finish I hear Lindsey right away, screaming per usual. I’m glad to be back. I remember her asking how I felt. I felt like I had just ran 27 miles through the woods. So tired, but okay. I didn’t feel too bad. If I remember correctly I came into the station a little ahead of 4:30 so well on pace to go under 9:00. I grabbed some coke, bananas, and chips, ate a little PB&J and Lindsey pushed me away. (not before she took some selfies with the iPad though… are you surprised? I was still battling the poison ivy too which was fun.)
Onto the second loop, I started the lap with two 100 guys and ran with them for a mile or two before losing them on the Gas Line loop. Going up Gas Line a second time was just about much fun as the first time…so not much. The humidity had come down a bit from the morning but going up those climbs I was definitely sweating more and the HR was coming up but I felt pretty good being 30 miles in.
I see Lindsey again at mile 31… 0r what I think is 31. Given the woods, elevation, switch back and general “accuracy” of the Garmin my watch was tracking 2 miles short at this point. More iPad video, aid station coke, bananas, and some chips and I’m onto the next section.
More running. Alone. More running. Finally get to the Firetower aid station at 35.6 and see Lindsey. She tells me this is the last time I’ll see her until the end because at this point the trail changes from the first loop and we aren’t going to run the by the damn or Lyons Falls again. That’s fine with me as Lyons Falls was a bunch of river rock and a literal root wall you had to climb up.
Up over the Firetower ridge and downhill to the Covered Bridge I go. This was definitely the least favorite section of trial. Nothing exciting just a lot of overgrowth from it not being legit Mohican trail.
Once to the Covered Bridge, I’ve got 12 miles to go and I start doing some math. Get up the climb coming out of the bridge and I have a shot at 7:59:59. This was not a goal coming in but I couldn’t help myself. Given the watch accuracy and the fact that I had been running for six hours now I couldn’t tell exactly how far I had to go and if it was realistic. Feeling decent once up on the ridge I pick it up as best I can to Hickory Ridge. At this point, in the race I am passing a decent amount of marathon runners who started an hour or two after the 50. It was encouraging to run past them. It always helps to see people!
I came into Hickory Ridge somewhere around 7:15 of total time. Not knowing exactly how far I had to go I thought I still had shot at sub 8. More running, feeling strong, ignoring that I’m tired. More passing of marathons. Up a couple of hills but by this point I am remembering this section from the first loop and realizing I am running out of time to get sub 8. I hit the campground and the fire road right around 8:00. Damn! Oh well. Keep pushing…the end is coming. Through the campground I good. Once on the pavement I keep pushing, I pass my final 100 miler for the day. The leader. He was headed out for 50 more as I was finishing. He looked good. I don’t think he won though.
I see the finish line and obviously hear Lindsey screaming! I come across the road and under the bridge and almost fall into the river. That would have been good run 49.8 miles just to fall into the river in the finishing chute. A couple more turns. Boom. Done. 50 miles complete! 8:07:12.
Looking back, the race went great. I couldn’t of asked for a better day. I felt good going into the race but I honestly had no idea what was going to happen as I had never ran 50 mile before. A lot of people asked what it felt like and at least for me yeah its a long time to run but after mile 35 I never felt any worse. I think staying on top of my calorie and fluid intake helped and then from 35 on it was just like the end of a marathon forcing your body to press on as your mind fatigues.