So this weekend I ran my first race of the year, the Naked Bavarian 40 miler at Blue Marsh Lake outside of Reading, PA. A beautiful trail system hidden away behind what looked like mostly farmland and suburban homes.
The first 10 miles were amazing! Its been such a long cold winter with so much snow and ice that I haven't been able to run on the trails regularly since October, so it was really nice to be spending the day out in the woods, in the sun, even if it was a little cold.
This was a very low key race, no t-shirts, medals,
announcers, inflatable start/finish lines, hence the "naked" name and
the price which was strip down as well. I can appreciate that, though I
actually love race t-shirts and would have bought one if it were
offered. Who wouldn't want to buy a Naked Bavarian race shirt?
Because of all the snow and ice this winter the race actually had to be postponed from March 8, the day after my 40th birthday, which is why I signed up for the race, to March 29th, which significantly cut down on runners for the new date. I think there were about 50 people that started the race so it ended up being a small intimate group of nutjob dirtbag ultrarunners, of which I enthusiastically count myself one. Trail Whippass, the trail ultramarathon team that I am a part of, had a decent showing and I met a couple of people that I follow on Instagram as well. Like Laura Kline (fellow vegan) who finished first female in the marathon distance race. It's funny how trail ultrarunners have taken to Instagram, it is where I have met pretty much everyone I know in the community. Between that and the Trail Whippass Facebook page I have gotten to know a bunch of runners interested in running these crazy ultramarathon races.
I have been training diligently for the last 3 months pretty much doing all of my runs solo and it was really nice to share the trails with friends and meet new like minded people. This race was just the motivational boost I needed. Thought I spent more time than I would have liked to thinking about when the race was going to be over, I was able to get into the moment and really enjoy the experience of being out in the woods doing what I love. Most people think of ultras as being really physically difficult, but I have found that the real challenge is more mental than anything else. If you train regularly you can get your body strong and ready to run 40 miles, but on race day it is your mental attitude that will determine whether you finish the race, suffer through it or give up half way through. I think doing all those long runs this winter in less than ideal conditions is good for me physically, but more importantly it teaches me to keep running even when it's not fun and all I want is to be home warm and safe on my couch with a plate of food in front of me.
So this race consisted of two 20 mile loops with about 5000 feet of total elevation gain over the 41.5 mile adventure. My goal going into the race was to run something around 8 hours total, thinking it was a perfect 40 mile race (they never are) I was hoping to run an average of 5 mph or 12 min/mile, a nice even pace. I really wanted to try and run an even race instead of going out fast on the first loop and crawling home destroyed on the second loop. I finished the race in 8:14:27 good for 28th place out of 47 finishers and I felt good all the way through and decent afterwards, so for me it was mission accomplished. My big goal for the year is the Vermont 100 in July and so this race was a good test run of my nutrition plan, equipment and pacing. Boy at some of the later points in the race the thought of running 100 miles just seemed absurd and impossible, but as I recover this week my foolish bravado that I can do this is coming back.
Next up is the North Face Endurance Challenge 50 miler in Washington D.C. in three weeks!