2011-04-09 - Bull Run Run

50+ miles @ ~14.2 min/mi

Rain in recent days makes for high tributary streams that feed Bull Run. Concrete steppingstones that normally are dry now stand submerged by several inches. Envision this picture of Johnny Moore Creek with the water a foot or two higher, flowing fast and furious, the banks a muddy mess.

http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/Johnny_Moore_Creek_Bull_Run_Trail_by_RA.jpgOutbound near mile 6 good friend Kate Abbott teeters and almost falls in while crossing here. I'm close enough behind to grab her arm and stabilize her. On the way back, about mile 13, Kate and the others near us decide to wade across the waist-deep flood rather than risk the steppingstones. I, on the other hand, don't want to get wet.

I make it to the last stone. Then, alas, I slip and fall sideways into the water, submerged with only my left ear sticking out. I don't recall what happens next. Kate reports that I stagger onto the shore looking like a drowned rat and say, "Well, that was rather bracing!"

Much laughter ensues among the witnesses.

(photo, taken 2010-11-19, used with kind permission of Randy Allen — who with his wife maintains that section of the blue-blazed Bull Run Trail.)|

Today's Bull Run Run, my fifth in a row, is a moderately good experience. My time is the median value of the set; it improves my average by a few minutes. The GPS I wear reads low on the distance by ~10%, as it did last year. (The trackfile looks normal. Others have reported the same phenomenon. Could the course actually a few miles short?) I keep up with comrade Kate until ~mile 20, when she runs on ahead to finish in 11:24, only 2 minutes slower than we did together last year. In my opinion for her it's a "moral PR", since course conditions are far tougher this time.

BRR veteran Tom Green visits with me before the start, and we run together for a while as we did in the Bull Run Run 2008. Tom has finished every BRR since the race began — a 19-year streak — and even though his knee is bothering him he decides to enter this year at the last minute, when Race Director Anstr Davidson contacts him. He finishes well ahead of me.

My left foot troubles me; plantar fasciitis in the heel probably was triggered by a misstep in the 2010-12-11 - Magnus Gluteus Maximus 50k along the southern part of the Bull Run Trail. When Kate and I pass the point where the bad step happened I point it out to her. My left big toe and metatarsal bones also ache, perhaps due to a too-tight shoe. My left hamstring is slightly annoying. But the big factor today is probably my under-training in recent months, due to those injuries as well as harsh winter weather.

Kate's husband Victor Perez and their three sons Sebastian, Joaquin, and Jacian are at the Do Loop aid station (miles 32.5 and 35.5). They greet me as I come through several minutes behind Kate and cheer me on my way. Soon thereafter I catch up with a young man who is wearing a kilt. "I won't ask you what you're wearing under that," I say. But he replies anyway, "Socks and shoes!"

( photo by Bobby Gill) | http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/BRR_2011_z_by_BG.jpg |

Curse you, Pace Card! If Ken Swab hadn't made the original version of you, which I then modify and Kate prints out and laminates, at mile 38 I wouldn't have seen that I might, pushing hard, finish in just under 12 hours. So for the last dozen miles I suck down half a dozen energy gels, run the flats, power-walk the hills, and pass at least a dozen flagging runners. And I make it, with almost 5 minutes to spare.

By the time I arrive at the finish line Kate has long since showered and changed clothes. She is shivering cold, her hands white, so I finish a fudgesicle, grab my gear, and we leave as soon as possible to get her home. We run the heater in the MINI Cooper at max, which I also appreciate.

http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/BRR_2011_swag.jpgThe Bull Run Run offers an embarrassing amount of what runners call "swag" — amenities to those who enter, more premiums to those who complete the event. This year's booty includes a nice cotton shirt for starters, and for finishers a technical long-sleeved running shirt. Those who picked the "winning army" (North or South, based on a point system among sub-10-hour racers) also get a kerchief. A wet mini-towel is given out at the finish line to help cool fevered brows. Members of a winning team get a monogrammed blanket (even if the team "wins" by being the slowest, as mine was).

In years past enameled BRR pins were awarded: "I" for rookies at their first success, "V" after the fifth finish, "X" for ten. The five-year pins ran out this year before I made it, and there are no plans to order more. And I had my heart set on earning one! But the five-year visor is a nice consolation prize. |


I complete the race in 11:55:25 for 281st place out of 320 official finishers. The team I'm on, "MCRRC Absolute Zeros", wins a prize for slowest by a few minutes. As last of our crew I do my part in sealing the "victory". Comrade Ken Swab (11:34:19) is first, with Lawrence Bartlett and Yi Dang between us. Running buddies Kate Abbott (11:25:26), Jennifer Weiland (11:49:22), and Caroline Williams (12:24:59) all likewise do well.

location segment
Start 00--0:000:000:000:000:00
Centreville Road 7.27.2--1:461:471:381:44
Turnaround 2.29.4--2:152:182:042:13
Centreville Road 2.211.6--2:432:482:302:42
Hemlock 516.6--4:024:153:383:47
Marina 4.521.1--5:125:254:394:45
Wolf Run Shoals 526.1--6:306:355:455:50
Fountainhead 228.17:156:597:066:156:23
Do Loop - In 4.432.58:208:038:127:177:23
Do Loop - Out 335.5--8:498:548:028:07
Fountainhead 2.437.99:459:279:318:398:40
Wolf Run Shoals 239.9--10:0010:029:139:25
Marina 544.911:3011:0511:1310:1910:36
Finish 5.550.413:0012:2512:5011:4011:2311:56

(cf. Kate Abbott's 2011 Bull Run Run 50 Mile Race Report and Ken Swab's blog report — for my past BRR notes see Bull Run Run 2007, Bull Run Run 2008, 2009-04-18 - Bull Run Run, 2010-04-10 - Bull Run Run, ...) - ^z - 2011-04-19