HYNER, Pennsylvania, April 20 2013
Ambitious goal: 3:25:00
Fallback Goal: 4:00:00
“Virginia Happy Trails!” I heard a woman call from behind me. In a blatant display of hubris I was wearing the BRR 50 t-shirt (over top of another shirt – it was cold at the higher elevations, and both snow and sleet made appearances), and she recognized the club name on the back. She said she had run BRR a couple times, but skipped it this year to run Hyner. Her friend caught up both of us and the first woman told her “This guy just ran Bull Run!”
Friend: “Dude, you’re my hero.”
Me: “I’m not my hero…”
We were some 11 miles in, and had just climbed to the top of SOB, the steepest section of the course. I was feeling pretty drained. Maybe it was the lack of training, maybe it was having run a 50 mile race the week before. The two ladies dropped me pretty quickly.
After summitting SOB the rest of the course is pretty easy, if your legs are still cooperating. I really wasn’t feeling it, though. I’d come in thinking I might go sub-four hours, but at this point I was resigned to just trying to beat my previous best time here (4:31:xx).
Before too long we reached the final downhill section. I was still proceeding at a slothlike shuffle. It was a little rocky here, but not really too technical – just enough so you needed some mental alertness to keep your feet on the trail. In the first quarter mile or so I was passed by several people. They’d call out “on your left!” and I’d have to move aside – there was not really enough room to pass safely on this section of trail.
Before too long I got sick of yielding the trail. “Screw it, let’s see what the legs have left,” and I just leaned forward and let the hill take me. I wasn’t passed again until we reached the bridge at the bottom; in fact I even managed to move up a couple places.
After the bridge there was only about half a mile or less of trail before coming out on the road. I slowed somewhat here but stayed above a walk, reeling in a couple more runners on the way. When I came out to the road my watch showed about 3:52:00 – I had eight minutes to run the last mile. At first I didn’t really think I could pull it off, but along the way I kept meeting up with other runners and encouraging them: “You still have time to break four if you push!”, and soon enough it occurred to me that that applied to me as well. With about half a mile to go I started to kick, but I knew I had delayed too long. My watch showed a pace of about 7:30/mile, which would have been enough had I started to kick as soon as I hit the road.
The course veers back onto trail just before the end and there’s a final hill leading up to the finish line. I was already over four hours, but I realized I might have a chance to beat my friend Shawn’s time from 2010 – he and I had both run it that year, and he finished in 4:00:36. I had started to walk that last hill, but having a new goal put life in my legs, and I surged up it, passing three or four runners who’d passed me on the road just minutes ago. I dusted some dude at the finish line, and crossed in 4:00:33.15, 265th out of 960 finishers of the 25k.
Of course this means I’ll have to go back – failing by 34 seconds will not stand, man!
The Boss did fantastic this year, cutting almost an hour and a half off of her previous time and finishing in 5:49:41.
Miles this race – 15.5
Miles raced in 2013 – 132