2009-10-10 - Andiamo 2009

~44.5 miles @ ~10.7 min/mi

http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/Andiamo_2009_pace.gifThe 2009 Andiamo 44.5 mile run turns out OK, as friend Caren Jew predicts. I clip an hour off my 2008 Andiamo time and manage to tweet along the way, meet a bunch of fine people, and experience what it feels like to work really hard for the last several miles. My 6th place finish this year is the same position as in the 2008 results.

The goal today is to see if I can maintain a slightly sub-11 minute per mile pace and thereby finish in under 8 hours. After a deliberately deliberate start, including considerable conversation with other runners, between miles ~7 and ~38 (W&OD markers ~37 to ~6) I trot along mostly by myself. On the hours I take an energy gel, and on the half-hours a Succeed! e-cap. At aid stations I refill bottles and snag cookies and chips to nibble. Between, I sip water and electrolyte drinks. Comrade Kate Abbott phones encouragement, then meets me at W&OD mile 16.8 with a welcome gift of cheese curls and Dr. Pepper (tnx Kate!).

All's well until with less than 10 miles to go the wheels threaten to fall off: glowing visual disturbances make it hard to see when the trail goes under bridges (an ocular migraine phenomenon?); legs turn to concrete; walk breaks get longer and more frequent. I've run out of energy gels, so I tear open a packet of peanut butter that my brother sent me (tnx Keith!) and wash it down with the last of my water. I try to watch my breath, meditation-fashion, and push onward, pausing carefully at street crossings to avoid getting hit by cars.

Finally the last little hill comes into sight. I crawl up it but start running before the top, so Race Director Carolyn Gernand and others waiting there won't catch me walking. Happy ending! — 7:55:25 by my watch, 7:55:51 on the official clock.

Gory Details

Runners park in Shirlington at Mile 0 of the W&OD trail—the finish line—and at 5:45am climb into cars for the hour-long ride to the end of the path in Purcellville, mile 44.5. Others meet us there, including Debbie Casola's training group who set off at 7:15am on their 24-mile trek. I eat a mini-bagel and drink several cups of fruit juice to pre-hydrate, and then scarf down a Snickers candy bar for good measure.

At 0731 the Andiamo racers line up for RD Carolyn Gernand to launch us on our way. I'm carrying my cellphone and send in mini-updates to Twitter and thereby Facebook en route. The story, expanded from those tweets, with pace information from my watch:

time split comments
44.50:00:00---tweet: GO!! - ominous clouds - tailwind - 14 starters :-)
43.50:12:2812:28Everyone dashes off as Lou Jones and I fight for the honor of Last Place (aka DFL). We met long ago at the 2008-01-01 - Red Eye 50k, and ran together here at last year's Andiamo. I tell him I remember him as a geodesist, another of those exotic words that appeal to me so much.
430:17:295:01Lou slows and I trot ahead to catch up with Rob Daley, who tells me that he's training for his first 100 miler on Halloween—the Javelina Jundred in Arizona.
420:27:3310:03I tell Rob about Marathon & Beyond magazine and the excellent article in it (cf. SolveTheProblem) that I remember seeing a couple of years ago concerning the Javelina race.
410:38:3411:01Rob takes a walk break and I trek ahead to catch Niki Evans and John Acker, whom I met halfway through last year's Andiamo. Then, they had never done more than a half-marathon; now they're experienced ultrarunners who know how to pace themselves. We discuss their backpack hydration systems. I just bought myself one, but haven't tried using it yet.
400:50:4012:06tweet: Caught up with Rob & Niki & John - chipmunk crosses trail at sunrise
391:01:2810:48Veteran James Moore appears ahead; with his friend Rebecca (volunteering today) he rode with me to the starting line. James asks about Kate and sends his regards to her.
381:12:4411:16James and other runners pause at the first aid station, where the trail crosses Route 7. I do a quick grab-and-go and zip onward.
371:22:2509:41A gently downhill segment lets me blitz out the fastest mile of the day. When I see my watch, I admonish myself to slow down.
361:32:4310:17Clouds remain thick; intermittent drizzle falls.
351:43:0210:20My quads feel a bit tight, perhaps the aftermath of too-hard running last Sunday (2009-10-04 - Artemesia Tempo Trot).
332:04:1721:41I miss seeing milepost 34 as the trail passes through Leesburg.
322:14:3010:14Increasing numbers of other runners appear, and for a while I follow a young lady and her cyclist companion.
312:24:4510:15An stone abutment stands by the trail near mile 31.2; instead giving it a slap, I brush my lips against it for luck. I don't want to hit The Wall this year!
302:34:4009:54tweet: Sticky fingers and beard from gel - pause to kiss old stone wall mile 31 - tight quads
292:45:1610:36At the quarry overlook I catch up with Debbie and her "Casola Cruisers". One of them does a little dance, stretching her legs as she waits for the rest to get started again.
282:55:5810:42The path straightens out through Ashburn. Flattened snakes lie on the path, roadkill from cyclist traffic.
273:06:0710:09Kate phones to check on my progress.
263:16:1110:04Two does eye me from a nearby field.
253:26:1410:03More cyclists zip past, some in peletons that occupy two-thirds of the width of the trail.
243:37:2511:12Another welcome aid station, near the MINI Cooper dealership where we bought my wife's car five years ago, and where I began and ended several training runs.
233:48:0010:35Rob Dolan emerges with his dog Ashley from a neighborhood side trail and runs a bit with me. He finished the Grindstone 100 miler last week—wow!
223:58:2810:28I catch up with Debbie again and we run together.
214:09:0310:35Debbie races ahead to the end of her group's run.
204:19:3110:28tweet: 2 deer - flat snakes - kind Kate calls - Debbie C & Rob Dolan & dog Ashley run with me - rain
194:29:5310:21The route here in Herndon becomes more familiar, from past training runs with Mary Ewell and others.
184:40:0910:16I pass the parking lot where Kate Abbott and I met before our first run together, training for her first ultramarathon last year (2008-09-26 - WOD Marathon Run).
174:50:3710:28She has Sanskrit on her shirt! Yogini Kate meets me during her lunch break to cheer me onward, with a gift of Dr. Pepper and cheese curls. I partially refill my bottle, seize a handful, and enjoy orange-tinged fingers.
165:01:3010:52Kate's appearance re-energizes the bunny who blasts out fast—yes, too fast—for the next few miles.
155:11:4510:16Alas, the water fountain at Sunset Hills Rd is dysfunctional again this year, just as it was for the 2008 Andiamo. I regret not having taken Kate's entire bottle of DP when she offered it to me.
145:22:2110:36My water supply runs out, as it did here last year. This time, however, I know how far it is to Vienna, and know I can make it.
135:32:4710:25Alone now with the power lines and the brush, I'm thankful that today is cooler and cloudier than last year.
125:43:5811:11tweet: lovely valkyrie Kate takes break from yoga class - meets me at Wiehle Av with Dr Pepper & cheese curls - WOOT!(note: this describes events 4+ miles earlier)
115:55:2211:25I refill my water bottles at the fountain near the Vienna caboose.
106:05:5910:36Charlie Mercer emerges from a side path, where he visited a Vienna antique store. We run together for a while, then I have to slow and walk a bit.
96:17:1211:13Charlie reappears to visit some more with me at intervals. He seems to have a lot of speed still left in his legs, though he tells me that they've "turned to concrete", a metaphor that definitely applies to mine. We get some welcome aid from a kind VHTRC volunteer who lives next to the trail here. Charlie races on.
86:27:3410:22"Cool beard!" a kid on a bicycle compliments me.
66:48:0620:32I miss milepost 7, and definitely am feeling the distance at this point.
57:00:1012:05The big job now is to keep moving and not fall down. A 12 min/mi pace would let me finish barely under 8 hours, but I force myself to maintain an 11 min/mi pace to build up a time cushion.
47:10:5510:44The trail winds and forks here, so I have to concentrate and avoid taking a wrong turn—there's not much time to spare! Charlie is far out of sight now.
37:22:1711:22Increasing numbers of street crossings make me pause for lights to change at crosswalks.
27:32:5310:36Almost there, I find myself wishing I had the energy reserves to blast out the final miles like last year—but there's scant gas left in the tank.
17:44:1511:22Walk, jog, walk, jog, ...
07:55:2511:10tweet: FINISH LINE!!! - OFFICIAL TIME 7:55:51 - last 5 miles were TOUGH!

^z - 2009-10-12