3 Days of Syllamo got a kick start at 9AM on Friday with the 50K. It was supposed to be a beautiful day, with sun and temps to reach the 60s. There were guys at the start line, shirtless. I thought, it will get warm... but that warm?!?! Turned out, they were the smartest dressed people out there! After a few words from Steve Kirk, the RD, we were off... climbing a nice, long hill. Everyone was pretty cramped together on the single-track, so I just ducked into the train. Cassie and Brad were both long gone... so I just ran with whatever crowd was in front of me.
This is a tough race to run. You want to conserve energy, because you know you have two more days of running (one of those days consisting of a 50-miler!)... yet, you are so excited to finally get running after a long road trip, you can't help but want to RUN. I just ran as to how I felt... which was good. The voice inside my head kept saying "You're gonna pay for this tomorrow!"... but I just drowned that voice out with conversations with other runners and Brad’s wise words of “Worry about that tomorrow!”. All right…
The 50K course was an out-n-back route, so you got a chance to see all the runners out there. I had a chance to run with some great people along the way. There was Nick from Kansas who is chasing a goal of running 30 ultras by the time he’s 30… next March. His schedule was thrown off slightly last year by back surgery… but he got back to running pretty darn quickly. And running strong! Amazing! There was also Karrie from Arkansas, who’s cool tattoo on her lower leg spawned some interesting conversation that helped to pass the time… and led to some great company in the later races. I was also able to meet up with Brad along the way, to splash through the creek crossing with. (What was a means to cool the feet on my run turned out to be a means to fill up water bottles along the way for some people. Thank goodness for Nathan backpacks!) I was also able to see how Cassie’s race was going for her, as we hooted and hollered as she passed by on her way back. Good sign if she has the energy to make some noise on the run!
Where there were people to run with on the way out, the crowd thinned out on the way back… leaving me to run pretty much by myself. Sometimes it doesn’t work out, where negative thoughts creep in and remind you of how tired you are… but today was not that day. I was feeling really strong… really positive… and just soaked up the beautiful scenery when I had a chance (which wasn’t all that often considering the very rocky terrain!). Then there was the nice conversations at the aid stations with Jerry from St Louis and Liz, the RD’s wife and great motivator. I tend to spend my time at aid stations NOT eating, but chatting with the awesome volunteers. Probably not what you should be doing during races… but it is definitely enjoyable.
The coolest part of this course is in the last mile. It is downhill to the start/finish area where the prior finishers are out there to cheer you in. You can hear the noise from the top of the hill, pulling you in. What was a struggle at the start of the race, you can now fly down to the finish. It’s just a great feeling!
Brad, Cassie, and I all did the mandatory ice bath in the river across the way from the start/finish area. Why is it that you cannot WAIT to get to that creek while you are running the race… but dread it once you step in the frigid water. Brrrr… but a definite help for the later races!
Day 2: Brad's 50 Mile Race Report...
When I got done with the 50K the day before I was ready to be done for the rest of the weekend. Even came close to dropping. But after a soak in the creek and a night’s sleep I toed the line for day 2 and 50 miles. Still feeling the effects from the Rocky Road 100 2 weeks earlier and the terrible 50K the day before all I wanted to do was to just get through it.
The first few miles where pretty slow. It took a while to get loosened up but once I got going things started to get better. Feeling the effects from the day before Julie decided to hang back, which was great, the company is always welcome. So with the two of us running together we decided to make it a 50 mile fun run. Why not, the weather was great, the legs weren’t in any shape for speed and the course was fun but a challenge. We even got a couple of comments on the amount of laughing that was going on. You’re not supposed to have fun in a 50 mile trail run. Ha, says you.
Cruising along at whatever mile it was I commented to Julie that I was a little disappointed that there were no water crossings. Me and my big mouth. Shortly after I said that up comes a large creek crossing, and then a few more. But it was a welcome change. Temps were in the 70s, which felt hot for us coming from up nort eay. Still having fun, splashing around. Even pulled the old stomping in a puddle when Julie is running next to you trick. Oops, sorry about that, hee, hee.
Alone the way we picked up Carrie, can’t remember where she was from, but she was a riot. Griping about her winy niece and nephew and monthly girl things. At one point I think we had up to 5 people in our little group. We’d pull into aid stations and they would say, here comes the party posse. Eventually Carrie must have had too much fun and picked it up after her grilled cheese sandwich she’d been craving.
Leaving the final aid station we got into; let’s get this thing done mode. We’ve run so many miles together that nobody has to say anything. We just pick it up and go. Those last miles flew by and before you know it there was the finish line. 11:30 isn’t a real fast time, but it was a fun time. By the time we finished Cassie had already soaked the legs, changed, ate and probably took a nap. She had a great day and ended up taking the lead for the women.
Day 3: Brad's 20k Race Report...
Cassie was supposed to write this one. The third and final day and we were all feeling reasonably well. Cassie was hurting a bit but it’s because she’s so fast. Weather again was perfect and we were ready to get this thing going.
Right from the start everyone takes off. Stayed with Cassie for about 2 seconds and she was gone, determined to keep her lead. Even I wanted to blast out from the start. Julie was right in front of me and kinda goofing around I was pushing her in the back to get moving. With a laugh she stepped aside and let me pass. Pushed the pace and feeling pretty good, come on it’s only a 20K. Coming up to the only aid station and supposedly the halfway point l filled my bottle and Julie blew past without even looking at the water. I think she’s part camel. But I had none of that, she wasn’t just going to blow past me like that. Guess she was feeling good because it was tough to catch up. Thinking the finish was soon we kept pushing. That halfway point must have been off a bit because the second part took forever. That quick pace soon slowed down. Where the ffff is the finish. We were on the right course for sure. Julie would lose me on the hills but I would catch up on the flats until eventually we came out of the woods and into the camping area. That finish was a sweet site and the end of 3 days of racing. Again Cassie was fresh and cleaned up by the time we got done taking the women’s overall win.
Official Results: http://www.syllamo.org/3days/Results.aspx