What a weekend! Saturday was the first of the Massanutten Training Academy Runs, sponsored more or less by VHTRC. There is a series of 5 runs over the course of 3 months, which will cover most (or all) of the course. These are all FREE events, with registration usually opening for newbies to the MMT Race course, then allowing veterans to sign up a few days later.
Allison and I drove down from Ohio and enjoyed the hospitality of Portobello Friday night before the Saturday Run.
Saturday was a 50K: From the Race start, follow the course up the west side of the mountain, and cross over to Elizabeth Furnace.
For the nit-picky, we actually start on the road-Crisman Hollow Road, where the race course takes you through the campground at Carolina Furnace. And at the end, we actually end in the Signal Knob parking lot rather than crossing over the road to Elizabeth Furnace.
So anyways…it’s a nice cold start, about 30 degrees out. Some runners have abandoned their cars and have already ran up the road, but a good group of us waited for the Run Director, Brian McNeil’s last minute instructions and admonishments.
Then we are all off, and running/walking/jogging up the road.
The road section is kind of an enigma race morning. It is all uphill, a very gradual slope. Do you run it? Walk briskly? After all, this IS just the start of a long day.
I did both, running, walking when I wanted to. I realized I had not used my inhaler prior to the start, but I also didn’t want to stop and remove my pack to get to it. AND I was talking so much to people, I didn’t have my Hannibal Lechter mask over my face.
So we get to the trail section, and start on the Short Mountain Section.
There is a good little climb up Short Mountain, and then you just hit the rocks on top of the ridge line.
It is easy to get into a conga line here, where it is difficult to pass. Short Mountain has many sections of boulder hopping. There are also many PUD’s-pointless ups and downs. You come off the ridge line, then start downhill, only to climb back up to the ridge again.
This section did go quickly, and we were at the aid station at Edinburg, at mile 12. Right out of the Aid Station (same as race) there is a real good climb up Waonaze Peak.
There is a repeating theme of MMT Aid stations-they will be down low. There is usually a good climb out of the AS.
You can actually see the Fire Tower at Woodstock Tower. I believe that is the first time I saw it..
The oxbow view of the Shenandoah River
This is the hang glider spot, this is why the area is so clear.
This is a good representation of the MMT course. The trail is across these rocks.
The section from Woodstock to Powell’s Fort (after the big climb) is very runnable, so no pictures. Then the trail turns into a nice downhill, and you are on a camp road. Probably a nice feeling after so many rocks, but it is still difficult to run all of it. I played the game “run to that blaze.” “ok, walk to that rock, then run” over and over.
Then you have the infamous turn around Meander Reservoir:
Around the reservoir, back to the camp ground, and less than one-half mile, you see the blue blaze of the Tuscarora! This is your cue to start looking for the right hand turn, where you abandon orange, and now follow blue over the mountain.
I caught two guys right here. I was feeling really good now, and passed them quickly.
I even pulled my phone out on the climb to check in with the husband, as there is cell coverage on the ridge, but not on the valleys.
This is a rather steep climb up, but then there is about a 4 mile downhill to the Elizabeth Furnace Aid Station.
I was feeling really good when I got to the top of the climb. I felt like I could go for another 10 miles at that point. I hammered the downhill, catching Shelly and Diane, who had been in front of me all day. I think I surprised them a bit, but my “style” of ultra running is that I start out slow. I don’t really start out slow on purpose! But I do. And then I gain strength, warm up, and generally have more energy later in a race.
Fueling-I calculated how long I thought this 50K would take me. Then I calculate using about 200 calories per hour. (Your stomach can absorb 200-300 calories an hour-I use 200 because the math is easier).
I carried all my calories that I would need for this run. I took in:
800 calories from Malto dextrin
100 calories from 1 gel
200 calories from 1 package of Cliffbloks
400 or 500 calories(?) from aid station cookies
Total: 2000 calories
I ran this in 8.43. So call it 9 hours. 9 hours x 200 calories=1800 calories Very good call on the food intake. I think I had one gel left, which I probably should have taken at the top of the ridge before the 4 mile descent to Elizabeth Furnace, but I kept thinking I was “almost there.” I will have to remember race day, even though it’s only 4 miles to the aid station, I should continue to eat through here.
It was good to get back on the rocks again before Reverse Ring, body got a little bit of a shock with the bonus MMT miles!