Tuesday, October 7, 2008


I ran the GEER 100K on September 27th. This was my third time running in this fabulous event in the Blue Ridge Mountains outside of Charlottesville. On the way, I picked up Kevin in Staunton who was coming out to help out as well. Kevin is a very fast runner (2:20 marathon) and is a freelance writer, contributing often to Running Times. Needless to say, we had a lot in common. I also met Jay Perry, who is a client of Gill's from Mississippi. He, his wife and three boys drove 13 hours for the 50K - now that is dedication! I met up with Sniper and after the briefing, we all headed back to Waynesboro to grab some dinner and make final preparations. I was only using one drop bag (I would see it three times), so my preparations were fairly quick and easy. The rain was coming down in monsoon-like sheets all night and we knew the trail would likely be very slick for the race. Slept okay but 3:30 came much quicker than I hoped. Still pouring in the morning and thunder and lightning was thrown in as a bonus!

At 6:00 AM, we were off and on our adventure. Sniper had Grindstone looming so he was running as the sweep so I wouldn't see much of him today. I made good time on the first mile climb that literally goes straight up the mountain. It was very foggy and misty so a headlamp was a necessity. Once on the ridge, Jay and I ran together. He was running the 50K so I tried to set a good pace for him to follow. We had a good time chatting and cruising the trail. Unfortunately, there were no views due to the fog. Jay moved on ahead and I ran solo for most of this until I caught up with Ragan Petrie. I met hear at Laurel Valley this year and it was good to visit with her again. The visit was short as she soon blasted down the trail on the way to a top-3 women's finish in the 50K. Soon I was headed on the long road portion all the way down to the Priest Mountain Vista aid station (@ 15 miles). Once at the bottom, I said hello to Jeff Wilbur and then headed back up. Things were pretty uneventful and soon I got to the next trail section and made my way back to Camp Marty (mile 23).

I felt pretty good but my stomach was a little irritated. I made my way up the long climb up to the Bald Mountain Jeep Road and finally got to the aid station (mile 25.4). I was pretty wiped out so I rested for a bit. I ate a couple of grilled cheese and some soup and my stomach started to feel better. My only concern was my legs were pretty tired and the real "fun" had yet to begin. I ran very well down the Kennedy Ridge Trail and was soon at the aid station (mile 31.2). Half way home mileage wise but probably about 70% of the work remained. I ran most of the rolling gravel road the next 3 miles and checked into Stony Run (mile 34.2). One of the hardest climbs of the race follows so I sat and rested a bit and chatted with Gill. My stomach was unhappy again and I ate a few crackers and drank some ginger ale. I found some motivation and got going to get the climb over with. Soon I caught up with Erika from Florida who was running her first 100K. She had a very solid hiking pace going so I tagged along and let her pull me up the climb.

We got separated when I started running when the trail leveled out and soon I arrived back at Bald Mountain aid station (mile 40.7). I was pretty spent so I again rested a few minutes and filled up on the calories. From this point on, my stomach felt great. The next section is 100% runnable so I soon took off and made my way down to the valley floor. I was making really good time until I twisted my knee when going under a blow down. It really hurt and I walked/hobbled for about 15 minutes. After stretching and walking some, it started to feel better and I was able to resume running. At this point, I knew that I would likely run slower than last year and that was a little discouraging but I kept forging on. I passed a runner about 1 mile from the aid station and that motivated me to go into the Turkey Pen aid station (mile 47.7) with high spirits. I filled my bottles, ate some potatoes and headed off on another 3+ mile road section. I ran most of it but wanted to save energy for another tough climb that loomed ahead. I got to Kennedy Ridge (mile 50) and headed up the climb. I pushed pretty hard and made it to the top in about 52 minutes (a PR for me on the climb). I then ran the jeep road as best I could. It was really foggy and the light reflected back at me which was a major pain. I actually made better time power walking so that is what I did.

Finally, I was at Bald Mountain aid station for the final time (mile 56.5). I learned that the last runner was about 30 minutes ahead so I knew I wasn't catching them. I headed off and picked my way down the very technical Torrey Ridge trail. We climbed it earlier in the day and I swear the descent at night is harder. I got to Camp Marty (mile 58) around 9:20 or so. I knew I was about an hour from the finish so I headed off immediately. I didn't see or hear a single person the whole way. I did take a nice face plant as I was coming off the trail. It was pretty funny actually and I got a nice mouth full of dirt. I crossed the finish in 16:29, about an hour slower than last year. However, it was good for 16th place overall. Of the 71 starters in the 100K, only 29 finished! Just finishing appears to have been an accomplishment this year.

Although I ran a much slower time, I had a good race overall. I was definitely under trained for this race as my longest run since Laurel Valley (early August) was only 21 miles. In hindsight, I should have run the 50K since I was better trained for that distance. It took about 5 days for the soreness to fully subside (compared to only 3 after Massanutten). This validated my thought about being under trained. Oh well, I still had a great time. I plan to take a little break from running now and will not do another ultra until 2009. I will start my training back up again in November and am actually looking forward to the down time.

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