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Race Result

Racer: Aaron Schwartzbard
Race: Bull Run 50 Miler
Date: Saturday, April 12, 2003
Location: Clifton, VA
Race Type: Run - 50 Mile
Age Group: Male 25 - 29
Time: 7:18:09
Overall Place: 5 / 284
Comment: 5th overall, 284 starters, 255 finishers

Race Report:

"Well, this is not nearly as bad as it could be!" was the thought that kept popping into my mind.

I don't suppose that sounds like a rousing endorsement, but really, I was just as happy as could be. Based on trends of the last several months, based on the rain of the previous week, based on the ankle-deep mud that covered these trails the last time I was running in this area, based on the fact that there were some last-minute changes to the course because several miles of the original course were "underwater," I was expecting to spend the day slogging through thick, deep, slippery mud. What I found instead was a beautiful day, a cool breeze, and trails in excellent condition. It was EXACTLY the kind of day I'd want if I happened to be running 50 miles. And that's a good thing, too, because I WAS running 50 miles.

I must admit to some pre-race anxieties. I wasn't anxious about the race itself --- I figured that the running shouldn't be so much of a challenge. I was worried about my ability to get out of bed at 3:30am (which, according to my extensive calculations, taking into account my stunning ability to stretch trivial tasks into 45-minute operations in the early morning, would be required for me to be at the starting line at 6:15am). This isn't the first time that some running adventure has required me to set my alarm for this rarely-explored part of the day. It isn't even the first time I've had to do it this year. For some reason, though, on this particular occasion, I was really worried about my ability to overcome my own sleep-induced inertia, and get out of bed.

I won't draw out the suspense any longer; I obeyed my alarm. As I was eating a big bowl of oatmeal, I realized that I had gotten past the most difficult challenge of the day! Things could only get easier! With that thought in mind, I jumped into my little green car, and I set out for Hemlock Overlook Park, just outside of Clifton, VA.

Now, the race itself... Not much of a story there. This was just one of those days when there were no major ups or downs. Over the first six or seven miles, I just focused on keeping my intensity at a level that I felt I could maintain over 50 miles. By the time I hit the first turn-around, I was feeling really great --- I was just doing a nice, easy (if somewhat long) jog through the woods.

The course is generally a north-south out-and-back course that starts in the middle. From the start, you head north for several miles, turn around to head back to the start/finish area, then head south for several miles. At the south end is a three mile loop. By the turn-around at the north end of the course, and by the loop at the south end of the course, I enjoyed cheering for, and being cheered by, runners going in the other direction. Other than people I saw during those sections, and the volunteers at the aid stations, I ran alone the whole time. Between mile six and mile 50, I was passed by one runner, and I passed two runners. I fell once, landing hard on my right knee and left elbow. As I approached the finish line, I considered singing a refrain from The Sound Of Music ("The HILLLLLLLSSSSS are alive, with the SOUND of MUUUUUUUSIIIIIIC...") as I finished, but then decided that I wasn't sure if I had it in me to pull out by best julie andrews falsetto at that point. (In retrospect, I think I did have it in me, and I regret not giving it a shot.)

In any case, I pretty happy with how I raced. I don't think I could have done anything differently to have significantly improved my time. As far as I can figure, I ran a fairly consistent pace, with only a slight fade at the end. At the finish line, I got a snazzy hat and a snazzy fleece pull-over (really, that's why I do this stuff), then a quick shower to get the top layer of dirt off me, some food, some sitting-around-and-soaking-up-the-atmosphere. After a while, it was time to go home to deal with mud on my clothes and the stink on my body.

So there you go: A nice day, a long run, hilly trails and a cool breeze... We should ALL be so lucky to get a bit of that every once in a while.