The Green Jewel 50k was the only road ultra planned for this years schedule, actually it was the only road race planned for the whole year. Until a week ago when I remembered that the Mill Creek half was coming up and I really wanted to run it again for the third year in a row. MCDC was the very first half marathon I ever ran. I was the first time I ran over 13 miles. It was also the first time I was tortured to death by the 20 some hills that are on the course. The only issue was that it was the day after the Green Jewel 50k. Well I guess it wasn’t that much of an issue, I jumped right on line and signed up for day two of road madness.
Green Jewel 50k
My morning started with a 4:00am wake up call. After grabbing the rest on my gear and making sure I didn’t for get my running shoes I headed out the door. The GJ is a point to point race on the Cleveland area Metro Multi propose paths. I drove to the finish line, then they bused us all to the starting line. The buses were really nice! not your old broken down school buses that I thought they would be. By the time we reached the start I mad a few new friends and met some people that I have seen before but never talked. There was also talk of this crazy Tri that was last year with 5-6 waves and the swim was the worst ever. I looked over and ask if it was the GCT in mentor, they replied yup thats the one. Its funny how to perfect strangers can become instant friends by sharing or relating to a sweaty event. When we arrived I had time for one more bathroom break and everyone started to line up.
To me, the starting line of an ultra is the coolest place, the runners are just hanging out chatting away with no care in the world. Unlike city marathons or even half marathons where the air is so thick of stress, your heart rate is in zone 4 before you even start. So after a few short words and final directions we were off. My plan for the race was to use it as time on my feet. Training towards the bigger goal. I wasn’t really planning on running at a certain pace. I just wanted to fall into my own grove and see how long it could stay there until I started to feel tried. As the pack spread out over the first few miles I fell into a nice steady grove around the mid 9′s. I was happy with this pace, thinking I would run about 25 minutes here then walk 5 minutes and repeat until down. Well when 25 minutes came by I just kept running, I thought I would just run to each aid station then walk my 5-10 minutes. When I came up on the first station I grabbed some water and started walk. That lasted about 10 seconds and I started to run again. I thought to myself, I’ll start that run/walk at mile 10. When Mile 10 came up I was at around 1:30. Feeling really strong still I decided to push it out to the third aid station and start my walking there. Of course when mile 15ish came along and I new I was at the half way point at 2:20-2:30 I thought to my self, hey if I keep up this pace I could hit the 5:00 hour mark. When I hit mile 19 I knew it was time to back off and start my run/walk. My trail legs started to feel the hardness of the paved roads. I hit up the four aid station for some Heed and potato soup and was off for the last 11 miles. Even tho I was run/walking I was still keeping a 11-12 minute pace. Coming up to the marathon distance I hit 4:40. Even tho its not a marathon thats an PR from last years Cleveland Marathon mess. The last five miles really didn’t seem like much. Keeping my run/walk pace steady until the last mile. In the last mile i started to run again, I met up with another runner (sorry totally forgot your name) and as were talking out pace was increasing, my the pace on my Garmin we were running around 8:30 for the last mile. That is just crazy! after running 30 miles the last one I pushed out the fastest avg pace for a mile? After crossing the finish line and grabbing the coolest race shirt and medal ever, I pounded down a few pieces of cheese pizza and hit the road home.
Mill Creek Classic Half Marathon
What can I say about MCCHM. Oh ya, if you like hills this is where you need to be! Don’t let the downhill start fool you, you will be running up that hill 13 miles later to the finish. The night before I was chatting with Mike about what was my goal time for this race. I joked and told him if i get under 3:00 I’ll be happy. The first time I ran MC i think I ran it in 2:35ish? The second time 2:25ish? Over the summer I met my half marathon goal of sub 2:00 so I had nothing to prove to myself on this run. I just wanted to run this race to remind myself how far I have come over the last four years. When I lined up at the start I looked around at the other runners and I soaked up all their energy, knowing that today I was running to remember, I was running to forget and most of all I was running for me. It was really easy to fall into my LSR pace in the beginning of the race. I ran up the first hill and even pushed it down the first. Soon as the second hill came up the ultra runner in me told me to run up it until you feel like I was pushing it, then walk. Ten feet from the top I picked it up again and ran the down and flats. I kept up this pace for almost the whole race. It was almost comical seeing the looks on other runners killing themselves on the up hills passing me, only to be passed on the downs and flats. Up until mile 8 I was feeling really for for running a 50k the day before. When mile 8 hit I started to have a small shooting pain in my right shin on the down hills. As soon as I would turn the corner and head up a hill the pain would magically disappear, only to return on the downhills. Walking didn’t help much so I just limped out the downs and flats and pushed harder on the up hills. I really didn’t want to think about what it could be I just wanted it to be over with. I crossed the finish at 2:20. After grabbing a few apples and a cup of coffee I hit the road for the long ride home.
I decided that I would give the legs a rest the next day and runs small recovery run on tuesday on some small trails to see how the leg was doing, if I felt any pain I would stop and call the doctor. I was really nervous about the run and I was afraid that the first steps running wound start to feel that shooting pain again. After the first mile I knew that I was in the clear. Yes my legs felt tried and tight still, but no shooting pain. This week I am going to back off a little on the training milage then start to build back up for the Fools 50k on April 1st.
I think I learned a lot from this weekends back to back races. I learned once again fueling plays a huge part in running ultras and in recovery. I learned that I am starting to have a mental grip on the high milage. Were before anything over a ten mile run I would feel uneasy, now I feel like I can run without worries on how much farther I have to go. Sometimes you have to just let it all go, you have to put it all out there and see what you can do.