Jazz hands???I'm not sure you're supposed have as much fun during a race as I had at Terrapin Mountain 50K this past weekend. There were a few things that happened throughout the day that could have turned the day to the negative side of things but I was having too much fun to care about the constant pit stops during which dropping several gels, nope none of that matter because I was in the mountains having a blast just running with awesome people. So far this year I've been enjoying running more than at any point in my life. The pure bliss of running in the mountains with a healthiness that had been long forgotten the past year and half. I will admit the nice side effect to all this fun I'm having is that I'm laying down a solid early base for the year.
As for the race, I couldn't have been happier with the day's events. My thoughts coming into the race were to use it as a fast training run as I'd logged pretty significant miles leading up to race day. For the most part I stuck to this plan. From the start I purposely lagged back as to not get caught up in the early pace of the lead pack aka Speed Demon Jake Reed. I settled into a nice comfortable pace moving steadily toward Camping Gap. Near the top of the climb I spent a little time chatting with Jordan Whitlock. Jordan has been struggling lately with a bum foot plus completing a marathon the weekend before was moving fairly well all considering. As I descended toward Goff Mountain Rd my stomach showed the first signs of going south. This would be the first of many pit stops throughout the race but oh well life is like that at times.
Terrapin Lane Aid Station
Departing AS3 I noticed that Frank 'The Tank' wasn't far behind so I yelled for him to catch up so we could run together. I ran up Goff Mountain Rd. battling the urge to take yet another pit stop. Making my way off the gravel Rd back on to the Glenwood Horse Trail my stomach won the battle once more. During this little break I was passed by Jim Moore and Frank. I jumped back on the trail to catch up with Frank. Frank and I soon caught up with Jim. I ran the rest of the section with these two guys chatting.
The three of us departed AS 4 to begin the climb up Hunting Creek Rd. to Camping gap for the second time. I asked Jim how many ultras he'd run, he stated it was his first. I thought to myself this guys running well but I hope he holds it together in the later stages. Jim and I gapped Frankie a little through this section but not by much as I continued to scream for him to catch. Coming into to Camping Gap I had one thing on my mind, I needed some more wiping material cause the stomach had begun to rage once more. Of course Horton was there to inform me Frank was right behind at which I replied I know we've been running together. You can always count on Ol'Horty trying to fan the competitive flames.
Leaving Camping Gap for the second time it's a fairly easy grade the first 2 miles. I ran this section with Jim in tow and Frank just a few steps behind. As we begun the first real climb of this section the stomach demanded that I take another stop. Jim continued up the mountain, as I quickly did my business and began the process of once more catching up. In past races this would have caused me a great deal of anguish but not today I was just having too much fun just simply being out there. Now I will also say that If I'd had higher expectation for this race I'm sure this would have been rather deflating…let's be real no one likes giving back hard earned time but that day it simply wasn't a huge deal. I caught back up and passed Jim in a matter of minutes. I summited and punch my bib to start the descent back to Camping Gap for the third and final time. The last mile and half before returning to Camping Gap is one of the highlight of the race for me. Here is where you get the opportunity to say hello and encourage all of your fellow runners. Through this section I cheered for several folks including Rick Gray, Sophie Speidel, Jaime Azuaje, Chris Bernard, Jennifer Nichols and many others. I was having a blast!
Leaving Camping Gap for the final time the tough climb up to theTerrapin summit awaits all. This climb is steep and not very runnable for many at this point in the race, which means it's the toughest and of course my favorite part of the race. Peaking out and bumming a gel off Frank, after finally discovering that I'd drop several while 'playing' off trail, I jetted down the other side of the mountain. Oh how the run off the top of the summit gets the juices flowing. This is descent is steep and gnarly with rocks and roots cluttering the way….It's absolutely the best…wait didn't I say that about the climb? Ok I'll just say that in my eyes you run the first 22 or so miles to get to this section of trail. About half way down I stopped to tie my shoe, as I got it tied Frank caught back up. We bombed the rest of the downhill into the Terrapin Ln. aid station. We had passed David Frazier on the out and back before the AS. I guessed he had about a 7 minute lead for third.
Frank and I ran out of the AS together heading for home. I turned and asked Frank if he was going to finish with me? He mumbled something about I'll try keep up but I was having none of it. I told him jump on my back because we're finishing this together. It was nice running with Frank the last 5 miles, as we had never hooked up in a race before. With David a solid 6-7 minutes up we did a good job keeping each other honest the last few miles. We finished the last mile in 6:33 for a finishing time of 4:25:05 good for 4th with a total elevation gain of '6768.
I had a blast running but more importantly catching up with Ultra friends at Terrapin. The race, taking into consideration that I pretty much trained through with the exception of Friday's 20 minute jog with Jake, went as planned minus the plethora of pit stops. To date I've been logging quite a bit more miles than at this point in previous years. I'm feeling strong but not very fast with most of my miles being of the slower variety but with Promise land on the horizon it may very well be time to sprinkle a few tempo runs into my training schedule. With all that being said I'm absolutely ecstatic with the way my running is progressing. Hopefully with the addition of a mini taper this will translate into a solid race at PL50k. For the month of March I averaged 85 miles a week with 12,000' of gain. I had the pleasure of participating in three wonderful events for the month (CRA, Crowder 50K, and Terrapin 50K) plus one sweet solo 26 miler the weekend before Terrapin…..so that's my long winded way of saying this month ranks pretty high in the most pleasurable months of running ever. With that said I hope the month of April is better. Oh two last thing i'd like to mention. For those of you worried yes I maintain my tradition at Terrapin of crossing the finish line holding hands. Lastly lookout Ultra world Jake Reed is for real.
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