Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lucky # 10 - Mountain Masochist 50(ish) Mile

Race Report by Julie Treder...
What started off as a way to escape my life at the time (and try out this ultra with a really cool name!), turned into a vacation destination (I had the opportunity to hike/bike around West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, and DC my first four trips), turned into a way to road trip with great friends (Ralph, Todd, Jeff, Deb, Brian, Angela, Brad, Kevin, Tim, Kurt, and Joel came with over the years), turned into a mission (thanks to Ralph for planting the seed!)… the 10-year finisher jacket.  2010 was finally that year!

There was a great group traveling to represent Wisconsin this year… Angela, Brian, Jeff, Joel, Kurt, and I.  A mere 15 hours after leaving Wisconsin, with stories of killer owls and scary sounds in the woods, which turn out to be ones own footsteps, filling the time… we were at the Kirkley, host hotel of the MMTR.

Friday was spent tooling around Lynchburg… shop here, hike there, search out yard sales and antique stores in between.  We were able to meet one of Angela’s brothers who joined us for the day… unfortunately, no embarrassing childhood stories were revealed.  Before we knew it, it was time for the packet pickup/pre-race briefing.  After getting the low-down on the race and the great story of Jenn Pharr-Davis’ tale of her AT thru hike… we headed back to our rooms for a restless night of sleep.

The race starts at the James River Visitor Center in the middle of nowhere.  We run a couple miles out and back on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  You usually can’t get any groove going in this section, since everyone is clumped together and using the flashlights of the prepared runners.  It’s not until you pass by the Visitors Center when you can open it up and start running your own pace.  This section is tough because it’s roads (so you feel you have to run!)… but it’s hilly (so your brain is telling you to take it easy, but your legs are so hyped up with adrenaline and saying “Ah hell, keep it going!”).  The legs usually win out… and hopefully won’t pay for it as the race progresses.

The fun begins at mile 6… when you hit the singletrack trail and go up, up, up.  These races are so hard to keep pace with others, so I was running solo most of the trek… which worked out for me in finding my happy pace.  Huffing it up one of the climbs, the silence was broken by a runner behind me whose groans signaled some severe issues.  Rather than pull off to the side, this runner kept pace with me.  Weird… but whatever.  Do I dare check on this GI-distressed runner?  Ah, no… carry on.  After a few more grunts, this runner decides to pass me by.  Great!  This groaner turned out to be none other than prankster Joel.  Yes, Joel Lammers.  Back in my part of the pack.  After a few words, he was off to conquer the rest of the trail on his bum hamstring.

My goal over the past few years has been to run this full 4 mile uphill section around miles 13 and 17.  This section isn’t steep, but it grinds on forever.  Conquering it is like a competition within the race, which I like to challenge myself with.  Hey, whatever it takes to break up these races to get through them.  Goal… accomplished!

The second half of the race was a repeat of the first for me.  I was able to break the remaining miles into tolerable sections… up to Buck Mtn (mile 29), to the loop (mile 33), through the loop (mile 37), to the second to last aid station (mile 43), the final aid station (mile 47)… and home free!  Totally doable segments.  All I had to do was maintain my pace and not bonk!

I got to the loop in good shape yet.  All who have run Masochist before know how tough the loop can be.  Jumping boulders, scrambling down rocks, running down leaf-covered rocky trails… oh, it’s a beaut!  In past years, this section was always a struggle.  This year, I felt strong!  I was running sections I have barely walked in past years.  To keep me motivated, I came across a fellow runner who informed me that Brian was about 15 minutes in front of me.  I got the same drive I had out at Wild Duluth when Brad and I were runners on a mission… to catch some of the runners in front of us at the 100K.  This was now my mission!  Toward the end of the loop, I came upon Kurt.  He was wisely taking it east down the steep declines, with memories of a few broken ribs from a fall he took while running trails last year.  We stuck together to the end of the loop, where I just filled up my camelback with water and grabbed a handful of gummy bears before continuing on my chase.

My nemesis in this race has always been miles 43 through 47.  This section takes FOREVER!!  In prior years, this section has brought me to tears by the length of time this “4 mile” segment takes.  The climbs are tough, the trail is ankle-turning… it can be just plain demoralizing to a tired runner.  I don’t know if it was knowing this year’s Masochist was marking the end of my streak, or knowing this was my last race of the year (so there was no need to save anything), or just having a target (Brian) to catch before the finish… but this usual ungodly section seemed to fly by.  It wasn’t until mile 45 where I finally caught up with Brian.  From there, we worked together to cover the last 5 miles as quickly as our beat up legs would carry us.

I did not want to know what my time was until I crossed that finish line.  It felt like I was moving pretty well out there, but you never know what story that clock will tell.  Brian and I cruised down the last miles of rocky downhill and across the final road segment to the finish line… clocking in at 9:35 – an MMTR PR for myself and Brian too.  We were greeted by Horton and Clark Zealand… something I’ve always appreciated about this race – the personal congratulations from the RD.  What an experience!  What a race!  What a great way to end such a great ride!!

I can’t say enough about the crew that came along this year… to make this race so memorable.  Angela joined me despite all the going’s on in her life… which just meant a TON to me.  Jeff came along despite lots of hamstring and leg issues… and knowing that he was venturing on the down side for his 10-year jacket (#6!!).  Brian joined me despite hating the 50-mile distance and his puke-on-the-bus streak.  Kurt joined my despite his amazingly hectic schedule with family, church, and teaching.  And Joel came along even after pulling his hamstring at Glacial just a few weeks prior.  What an amazing crowd to be surrounded by for this very memorable race!!

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