Thursday, May 8, 2014

I Have a Dream - Bear Mountain Race Report

I've had dreams about my perfect race, and this is how it goes...

The gun goes off, and I immediately fall into stride with a friend.  We share an adventure as we gab about life and running tales, the miles click off with ease.  The trails are beautiful and technical, yet I float across the rocks and appreciate the views.  We pick up the pace in the closing miles but it feels effortless.  We cross the finish line together, having shared the perfect run.

It's a dream, and I'm fortunate enough that it's come true a few times.  This Saturday, I once again had that near-perfect race experience at the North Face Endurance Challenge - Northeast Regionals.  Being only two weeks out from Massanutten 100, I opted for the Bear Mountain 50k race and hoped it would restore my confidence after my disastrous Bull Run Run.

(Early miles along the course)
 
Before the race, I found my friend Kristina Folcik-Welts, so we lined up together and quickly found ourselves running the early miles together.  I don't get to see Kristina often and she is a super enthusiastic and sweet person, so we easily filled the miles with stories of our adventures and updates on life.  She giggled every time we splashed through a ridiculous mud puddle - reminding me of how much fun this was.  Amazingly, many of the dry creek beds and rocky sections that we ran in previous years were flowing rivers this year - it only added to the adventure of the day as we scampered down the rivers and through the rocks.

(Kristina and I, mastering the art of synchronized running)

As the miles ticked off, I was amazed at how comfortable I felt with the pace.  Kristina's an incredibly talented runner, and I kept wondering if eventually I wouldn't be able to hang with her as she would effortlessly drift off ahead of me - selfishly, I wanted to enjoy her company as long as I could without slowing her down.

(Kristina and I, taking things way too seriously)

We had some great fun along the way - sharing miles with some of the 50k men along the way.  It was probably annoying to them that Kristina and I were gabbing like we were at a coffee house, but I hope we provided a bit of entertainment with our crazy stories.  We also enjoyed a few 'fans' along the way - some of the racers near us had support crew out there, so we would see them at each aid station.  One was taking photos of us the whole way so we felt like we were being stalked by the press.  Another cheered super loud through the woods 'Yay, First and second women' the first time we saw her - I corrected her that we were 'CO-female leaders'...so the rest of the time she cheered 'Yay, top women!'. 
(Kristina and I, enjoying some sweet trails)

In the last 10 miles, we simultaneously hit our stride, as we ran over the sections that have crushed my spirit in previous years.  How easy the climb up Timp Pass can seem if you've properly paced your effort on the day!  We passed a few of the 50k men as we worked our way up the field over the last few climbs and down the last rocky decent (which, again, was a flowing river this year).  I could feel that the pace was heating up over the closing miles but it felt great to stretch out my stride and run strong so late in the race.  I think we were both just so excited to be feeling good after 27 miles and to be sharing the company of a friend, so we leaned into the downhills and flew.

(Kristina and I, finishing together for the win)
 
We crossed the finish line hand-in-hand in 5:15:40, sharing the female win.  Without realizing it, we had finished 1 minute behind the course record - which goes to show that when I run happy, I really run at my best!  We hugged and marveled at how races like this are so rare and extremely special - we will both remember this run for a while, and I was so happy to share 31 wonderful and fun miles (and a win) with another amazing female ultrarunner.  What a dream!

(Female Champions, post-race)
 
After we finished, we sat in the sun, still gabbing (I am unsure how we had more to share after over 5 hours together!), and waiting for our husbands to finish the 50 miler.  Brian finished a strong 5th place, and Ryan (Kristina's husband) finished in 11th, somehow getting a 50 mile PR on the challenging course.  It was a magical day.

 

2 comments:

  1. it is informative post for human.This post publish new important news.This post article is important and helpful.Thanks a lot for share your great post.

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  2. I am thinking about doing this race next May! Do you have a training plan you would recommend? Thanks! Sara m. Sarakmadden@gmail.com

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