Time: 3:13:09 Place: 10/106
I decided to run this one as we were in town. I ran the race in 2016 when it was very hot so wasn’t expecting a super quick time. Safety and Health foundation races are always well organized by Jay Wind, and this one has an Ethiopian theme with live music and Ethiopian food at the finish line making for a nice atmosphere. The course is relatively flat, on the C&O towpath, starting in Washington DC and running 6.5 miles out into Maryland before turning around, running back and doing it all again a second time. There are some small climbs/descents at locks but it’s mostly flat on stoney trail.
No special preparation. I had a couple of low mileage weeks (27 miles and 24 miles) after the Anchorage 49k and ran 24 miles in the week of the race (commuting to and from work). The plan was to treat this as a long training run and decide how hard to push it on the day.
There were multiple start times (7am, 8am or 9am). I opted for the 9am start time to give me longer in bed, accepting that my time may be affected by the heat on the second out and back.
I had my usual pre-race breakfast (PB&J bagel) and Mrs P gave me a lift to the start. I had a banana about 30 mins before the race start and ran a slow mile out and back along the towpath as a warm up.
I decided on Altra Olympus cushioned trail shoes for the race.
I started at a good pace (7 min miles) but my legs felt heavy (training miles and probably still not fully recovered from Edinburgh 24 / Anchorage 49k) so slowed the pace a bit. I was running with a couple of others on the way out, occasionally taking over pacing. The group split as we neared the turnaround and I paced someone back to the aid station at mile 10 where he sped off. I ran a slower pace on the way back to conserve energy for what was likely to be a hot second out and back.
I got to 13.1 miles in 1:35 and felt ok so decided to carry on at that pace to 19.5 miles then push from the turn around. As I had run a conservative pace for the first half I was occasionally overtaking people on the way out and on the way back. In places the trail was busy with racers from the earlier starts and the usual walkers and cyclists. There were only a couple of times it affected my stride though. The temperature had risen over the last hour or so but not to the levels of 2016. I felt ok at the final turnaround and managed to up the pace for the last 6 miles, overtaking several people (though it was hard to tell who was a 9am start and who had started in an earlier wave).
I was very happy to finish in 3:13 and a BQ time. At the final turnaround I had thought 3:20 would be more realistic.
After the race I had some Ethiopian food and caught the end of the live Ethiopian music before getting a lift home.
Water and Gatorade at aid stations (located every 2 miles or so). Clif Shot bloks taken every 1-1.5 miles from mile 6. Two gels, at mile 17 and 22.
Legs are still recovering from Edinburgh 24 and Anchorage 49k.
I’m no longer running hundred mile weeks and need to factor that into pacing.