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Race Result

Racer: Aaron Schwartzbard
Race: Great Eastern Endurance Run 50K
Date: Saturday, September 4, 2004
Location: Waynesboro, VA
Race Type: Run - 50 km
Age Group: Male 25 - 29
Time: 5:14:00
Overall Place: 2 / 67
Comment: Always a bridesmaid...

Race Report:

(NOTE: I've been pretty slack recently about writing race reports. I put together some quick overviews of a couple recent races. I originally intended to get back to it later to write in a bit more detail, but I've come to the conclusion that that's not going to happen. So here are a couple quickie race reports from the last few weeks.)

There's the 50K and the 100K. I wanted to do the 100K. But between moving during the weeks before the race and being signed up for an IM distance tri a couple weeks after the race, I ended up bagging my plans. Thursday before the race, I was jonesing to run long, and I was trying to make plans for the weekend. The weather was going to be nice, and I realized I'd regret not doing the race (just as a nice training day). Further, I knew I'd be done with my week's work early enough on Friday that I'd be able to fight traffic for a few hours, and make it to the race site in time to pick up my packet.

I picked up my packet, had a big greek salad (that I picked up at Whole Foods on the way down) for dinner, slept in my car (car: VW GTI, me: 5' 10" --- doable, but not recommended), woke up early, and got ready to race. We started by running up (UP) the Blue Ridge Parkway for a couple miles, before getting on some side roads, then gravel roads, then fire roads, then single-track. It's an interesting race, in that you get a significant amount of every type of terrain from paved roads to technical single-track.

I led the race for about 12 or 13 miles before someone caught and passed me on a climb. The we hit a steep, tricky descent on a washed out trail covered with loose rocks... My spe-ci-al-i-tay. I retook the lead on the descent, and held on until I made a stupid wrong turn (or, more precisely, failed to make a well-marked correct turn) on the next ascent. Once I got back on the trail, I was in second place again. By the time we reached a short out and back at the 50K turn-around, first place was about six or seven minutes ahead of me. On the way back, I saw Annette Bednosky in third place, about six or seven minutes behind me. Before the race, she was telling me about how excited she was, and how out of place she felt, a couple months prior at the 50 Mile National Championships. I told her that she was in the same league as a lot of the folks she met there, but she was skeptical. Seeing her in third place, I felt that my statement was being confirmed. So I gave her a high-five, and realized that if I started to slack off, I'd risk letting her catch me.

On a descent on the way back, a branch grabbed my sunglasses off the top of my head, and flung them into the brush. I didn't want to lose a nice pair of sunglasses --- especially for a training day. On the other hand, as I was walking up and down the sides of the trail, trying to find my sunglasses, or when I was examining the branch, trying to figure out which way it would have thrown them, I kept looking up the trail, worrying that Annette would be showing up any minute. Just as I was about to give up, I spotted them.

With 11 miles to go, I asked an aid station worker how far ahead first place was. Eleven minutes. Hmm, he's increasing his gap. The only way I'd catch him is if he blows up on the last climb. Last year at this race, on the last climb --- a two mile bit of dirt and gravel road --- I moved from sixth to second place. So I held out some hope. With five miles to go, at the base of the climb, I asked again about first place. Thirteen minutes, and looking strong. Didn't look like there was going to be a blow-up today. A quick glance behind on a long, straight stretch earlier also informed me that Annette was more than a couple minutes behind. With a strong hold on second, and no real intentions other than to have a nice, long training day, I decided just to jog it in. At the top of the climb, and through the beginning of the descents to the end, I had a pretty bad side stitch. I walked a little and stretched a little.

Last year, I was second place with a time of 4:17. This year, I saw the :15 on the clock as I finished, and thought, "Hmm, all that work for only two minutes." Later, I realized that the clock didn't say 4:15; it said 5:15. Aside from a Fat Ass event in deep mud, freezing water, ice and snow, that's the slowest 50K I've ever run (by quite a large margin). The race director admitted that he had made some changes to the course. No kidding... The average time was over an hour slower this year.