Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Holiday Lake 50K++ Report - February 10, 2007

Holiday Lake 50K++
February 10, 2007

Since becoming involved with ultrarunning last summer I have learned a lot, albeit some lessons have come the “hard way”. One of my original goals for 2007 was to complete the LUS and perhaps the “Horton Slam”. Almost immediately after registering for Holiday Lake I learned that I would not be able to make Promised Land in April so the LUS in 2007 was out the window. I decided that although the LUS was not in the cards that this would still be a good race for me to do. After all I enjoyed MMTR last year and Holiday Lake fit in well with my training schedule for Massanutten in May.

The Holiday Lake Center folks did a terrific job with the prerace dinner on Friday night. All of the volunteers made it very easy to get in out with your packet as well as sign up for lodging. We were all encouraged to try and donate to the Holiday Lake Center for the new men’s bathroom building. When I put some money in the box, it was overflowing. Hopefully, the Holiday Lake folks got a meaningful donation from all of us. After dinner I got organized for the morning and crashed in the bunkhouse.

It was very cold at the start. Depending on who you asked the starting temperature was somewhere between 8 and 15 degrees. As the course consists of two loops, I decided to use my car as a midway aid station. This would allow me to refill bottles, etc. very quickly. I was going to try and only consume gels and liquids for calories in the race to see how I reacted to it. My only time goal was to break six hours and more importantly to feel good at the end.

The first few miles were a little slow as a conga line formed right as we got on the trail. This was a year where the course was mostly dry which undoubtedly led to faster times. Eventually we spread out and I went to work trying to run steady easy miles. I was cold and often found myself picking up the pace just to stay warm. I moved along uneventfully and met several folks along the way. I took it easy on the downhill after AS 4 since I would have to go right back up after the turn around. I followed this advice and moved along reaching the turn at around 2:48, a bit faster than planned. I refilled my bottles, replenished my gels and headed out. So far the gels were working great but the shot blocks had become “shot rocks”. The second loop was definitely more difficult but I continued to make good time. I leapfrogged with a couple of runners on the way to AS 6 and we seemed to motivate each other.

Between AS 6 and 8 I began to feel a little tired but kept pushing on. As I came into AS 8 I knew I had around 9 miles to go and that 6 hours was definitely still possible. I had lost a good bit of my cushion at this point but I was still passing others and feeling okay. The remainder of the race was uneventful and the weather felt almost perfect for a run through the woods. As I came down the staircase and crossed the dam, the photographer said it was about 2 miles to go. I knew I had one more little climb up to the road at the end so I turned up the pace a bit. For the first time, I really had legs at the end (maybe I am finally learning. I came into the finish at 5:55 and felt the better than I ever have after an ultra finish. I shook David’s hand and congratulated other finishers while I stretched.

Overall, this was a very nice experience. I believe close to 250 starters were on hand despite the cold at the start. Thanks to David and all of the volunteers and the Holiday Lake Center staff for putting on such a nice event.

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