Yesterday was the 17th running of the Holiday 50k(++) near Appomattox, Virginia. It's fun race in its own right, and it's pretty fast; although it is a bit flat for my taste. The two loops make for interesting play as you can try to negative split if you'd like. I can't really write an exciting report of the race since the terrain is a bit uninspiring compared to a mountain race, and possibly since it's my second time at the race, but here you go.
I sort of tapered for the week leading up to the race in that I skipped my long run last weekend, and then got miserably sick on Sunday, preventing me from running much the past week even if I'd wanted to. Toeing the line Saturday, I felt itching to run, but I wasn't really sure how I planned to run the race. I got hurt last year after Holiday Lake and had to pull out of Promise Land in April, so I didn't want that to happen. A nagging IT band the days leading up to the race had me planning a conservative race, and that's what I did, if only just to have fun. My IT band was sore leading up to Horton's sound-off at the start, but after that I haven't felt it again. It's funny how those things work. I picked a couple of the faster ladies who was running a nice pace and followed in behind her for a while, just cruising along. After a few miles, they took off for faster times and I just kept hanging out. After running with a Liberty student I've run with before (nicknamed Idiot...I wish I knew his real name), he told me he was aiming for sub-5. Sub-5 is a nice little benchmark and it would be a PR for me so I decided then it would be nice fitness test to see if I could run comfortably all day and still hit that...and that's exactly what I did!
I coasted through the halfway point not paying any attention to the time and after grabbing a bag of energy chews (Pink Lemonade Honey Stinger are delicious!) from my bag, I headed onward. After a while, a lot of people who had passed me early in the race started coming back as I just held my comfortable cadence, hiking the couple super steep hills and grinding out the rest of them.
There's long section of soft doubletrack that follows some powerlines at around Mile 22-24, and somewhere in there, the unexpected heat of the day and my adjusted stride from my still healing right ankle cause my right hamstring to grab. Another awkward stride change to keep the leg straighter (I'm glad HL isn't technical!) and I was still trucking along. At the next aid station I just grabbed salt off a plate and ate it, which helped. The two super cold stream crossings locked it up again though, so I grabbed more salt at the last aid station before moving on.
I felt a bit low with 3ish miles left (no calories for a while) and a nice Australian man gave me a gel that I sucked down and started picking up the pace some; he followed suit. Somewhere around here, local runner/friend Rachel Corrigan passed me on her way to finishing 11th overall. She had a bit of a breakthrough race yesterday! The Australian and I were moving along nicely with like a mile left and he mentioned we were starting to cut the 5-hour mark a little close, so when we hit the road, I leaned into it and just let gravity take me down all the way to the finish. I just squeaked by too.
So, I finished the first race of the Beast Series (which I'm leaning toward over the LUS) still feeling pretty fresh. Today, I was a little stiff, but other than a nagging right knee from the awkward form I had for a while, I don't feel any worse for wear. Next up is the Gahuti Ring-of-power challenge on March 3 in Georgia!