2011 Holiday Lake 50K++
This was my 3rd Holiday Lake Race in 4 years (I was injured last year). I had 2 goals going into this race and I was really confident that they were achievable. #1 was to finish. (I hadn’t finished a race over 26 miles since Promise Land 2009) The 2nd was to run faster than my buddy Mark had run it in 2009. He ran it in 6:29. My fastest HL was in 2009 in 6:55. I know 26 minutes is a lot to make up, but I had trained really hard for Hellgate, so I was bringing all that and a new fueling strategy, which I had learned from the failed attempt at Hellgate. Mark is my best friend, but man would I like to outrun him.
Now to the race. Usually before a race everything goes as smooth as silk, not so much with this one. Let me explain.
My wife and I got to the motel in Appomattox, got checked in and went to the pre-race check-in and dinner. Everything went smooth there. We had great food, got caught up with old friends and Dr. Horton was in rare form during the pre-race briefing. We went back to the motel and I made my final decisions on clothing for the next day. I laid everything out so I could get dressed quickly in the morning. Everything was going so smoothly that I even set both alarms 15 minutes later than I usually would have. We read for a little bit and about 10 o’clock it was lights out. It was about this time that things began to unravel a bit, because it was about this time that I realized that I had packed the wrong shoes. Right brand (Solomon), just wrong model. I didn’t get all stressed over this. I had a pair of shoes for backups that were the correct model, they are just very old and starting to fall apart.
After the normal night of fitful sleep before a race, I finally got tired of watching the clock and got up a couple of minutes before the alarms were set for. I went about my normal morning routine and when it came time to put my shoes on I decided to go with the wrong model rather than the old shoes.
We drove to the stating area and found a parking spot. I always like to get to a race 1 hour early, just in case. This has always drove my wife nuts. She thinks we should get to the start about 1 minute early, well an hour this morning wasn’t enough. We decided to stay in the car for a while to stay warm. I got to thinking about my goals. I thought I might be a little quicker in the lighter shoes (the old ones), so I changed shoes. I was putting my gators back on when I realized that one of the laces was broke. Anybody that has ever tried to tie a Kevlar lace knows that you can’t do that. This was still not totally devastating, because I had a repair lace somewhere in my race bag. By this time it was 35 minutes till the start, so I hurried to the pre-race check in, while my wife dug around in my bag to find the repair lace. I rushed back to the car and started replacing the lace. If you have ever tried to do this on a Solomon shoe, you know it is very difficult to do, then you add in the fact that the clock is ticking, well, you are starting to get the picture. Needless to say I ended up putting the other shoes on and just barely got to the start line in time. I asked my wife to finish up the repair and I would change shoes at an aid station.
Dr. Horton said go and we were off. The first ½ mile is uphill, but it is asphalt, so I pushed a lot harder than I normally would, because I didn’t want to get held up once we reached the single track trail. This worked pretty well and before I knew it we were at AS1. My wife was there, but she had not had time to finish the repair. Crews were not allowed at AS 2, so I said I would see her at AS 3. When I got there, she had gotten some help and it was repaired, so I changed shoes. Other than the shoe change, the 1st half of the race went really well, it took 3:01 to complete. I felt so go that I really thought the second half would be 3:20 or less. For the next 8 miles I was practicing my smack talk, getting ready for Mark. Then the wheels started falling off. I made it to the last AS and I knew that it would take a miracle to finish in under 6:29.
I REALLY would have liked to beat Mark, but hey. 6:35 ain’t bad. It was a 20 minute PR. I finished a race. The weather was beautiful. The trails were great. My wife was there to share it with me. God is good.
Mark. Watch out at Terrapin. I will be ready for you.