Sunday, February 26, 2017

Race Report: 2017 Mid-Maryland Ultra 50K

My first back-to-back race experience! Exactly one week after the Icy-8, I decided to challenge myself by running another Ultra, which happened to be the Mid-Maryland 50K. I knew it was going to be tough, but I wanted to push myself and see how my body would respond. Overall, I think I executed well, and am really happy with my time and place. Below is a quick recap.

Quick Stats:
Total Time: 3:57:57
Total Distance: 31.1 Miles
Place: 2nd Place Overall, 2nd Place AG
Gear
  • Shoes: Nike Zoom Terra Kiger
  • Shorts: North Face
  • Shirt: North Face/Salomon Elevate Jacket
  • Socks: Smartwool PhD
  • Nutrition: Tailwind

Event Overview
The Mid-Maryland Ultra 50K is put on by Bullseye Running, and consists of five 10K loops. The event hosts both relay teams and ultrarunners, which makes for a fun environment! We were well supported, and the course was well marked - in fact, I think it was the most well marked course I've ever raced! The RD/volunteers marked most of the trail with white paint (or whatever it was), and had ample signage at major turns. As a person who often goes off course, I was confident I could run solo for an entire lap without getting lost!


SWAG and Gear
Start and First Lap
Although I had raced 50 miles the week before, part of this challenge was to really go for it. 

When I got to the finish line minutes before the race started (we took our time in the AM), I spotted my buddy Dan. We had raced together a few months prior at the MD Heat Race, not far from where we toed the line. I knew he was a strong runner, and with my tired legs, I told myself not to get caught up trying to race with him at the start.

Of course, I didn't really follow my advice, and ran the first couple of miles way too fast (it didn't help that there were relay people also running). After seeing my heart rate slowly rise into an unsustainable level, I said goodbye to Dan and focused on running consistently. 

Second and Third Laps
Unlike a lot of the other 50Ks I've done, this course really enabled me to get into a groove. This was partly because there were not any major climbs, and also part because the course was so well-marked. I could focus completely on trying to maintain a steady pace, without worrying about getting lost or slowing down during big climbs. 


Although I was feeling the previous weekend's run, I still maintained about a 7:35 pace for the first three laps. I knew it was fast, but I felt I could maintain it. Plus, my awesome wife was there to hand me a fresh bottle of Tailwind at the start/finish area, so I didn't waste any time or lose my momentum after each lap. I think that proved to be critical in helping me go sub-4 hours!

Fourth Lap
I can't say I was looking forward to the last two loops, but I gained some extra motivation when I saw the third place runner just barely ahead of me once we entered lap four. I tried to keep him in sight, but I could tell he was slowing down. So, for about two miles, I ran right behind him, not wanting to pass because I didn't quite feel strong enough.

About halfway through the fourth, I decided to make my move - I passed, said 'good job', and then hammered the best I could to get out of view.
My wife managed to grab a shot of me right after I passed 2nd place!
Last Lap
I started the lap with third place right on my tail, and first place no where in sight. That was ok - I know Dan is a strong runner, and my hips were going BONKERS. They had totally tightened up on me, and my pace seemed to slow more and more with each step. I stayed focused, and reminded myself that it was worth the effort to get that second place. So, I kept pushing.

As I moved through the course, I lost any idea of how much time I had on third place, until I got to one of the few hills on the course. From there, I could see a large section of the course, and third was not in sight. I knew this meant I had at least 1-2 minutes, so I kept going.

Like most ultras, the last few miles were tough - I felt like the end just kept getting further and further away! However, with the encouragement of other runners, and a intense desire to be done with the race, I pushed on and snagged my sub-4 hour 2nd place 50K!


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