"I have arrived. I am home. In the here. In the now. I am solid. I am free. In the ultimate I dwell." --Thich Nhat Hanh

Monday, October 7, 2013

Blues Cruise 50K


Who is ready to race? This guy!



You know what would be a good idea? Oh you don't. A good idea would be running a 50K while preparing to run 2 marathons in November. Even better idea, you say? Running 20 miles back to back weekends, followed by a 50K. Well, that is precisely what Amy and I did yesterday, October 6th, we ran the Blues Cruise 50K, put together by an awesome group, the Pagoda Pacers out of Reading, PA.





This is more like it!
Blues Cruise 50K is an incredible loop around the Blue Marsh lake. The course description sounds something like rolling up and down hills and one big hill where you might have to walk. To me that sounds like a pretty flat race, no? Well no, it wasn't a flat race. In fact it had around 3000ft of elevation. Definitely more than we thought, but that is what makes these races fun!

Race day registration and the packet pickup were a breeze. Very well organized and fast moving. We got to the pickup/start/finish area shortly after 7:30 am, and the area was buzzing with runners. There was a lot of partial nudity, glide rubbing, and last minute preparations for the race. A completely opposite of what you see at a big city road race. Everyone was carrying some sort of a hydration device, and there was perhaps 3 people "warming" up.




It's getting hot!
After few words by the race director, we got started at precisely 8:30 am. Unusually warm October promised heat and humidity for the day, but clouds were shielding the sun and the temperature stayed pretty comfortable. There was some humidity as well, as we were sweating not even a mile into the race, but it was not unbearable.  It would stay that way until about noon time, when the clouds started giving away to the melting sun rays. By the time the race was over, sun was out in its full might, baking us the last 4-5 miles. I am sporting some farmer tan today due to this.




Off we go.
The front runners started off fast, but Amy and I stayed in the middle of the pack. For the first 10miles, we kept moving past large groups slowly and leaving runners at each aid station. We ran some shorter hills, and walked the more steeper and longer climbs. That strategy seemed to go well for us. Somewhere in that time, I tripped and took a minor fall, but I was fine. I also made a comment to Amy, how it was my time to fall this race (She proved me wrong later in the race, when she took a spill on a flat area covered in soft forest dust. Other then being dirty, she was fine as well).

Team in action!
Looking strong
I was doing ok until about mile 24-25. I started feeling very sluggish, my calves were sore, and I had trouble keeping up with Amy. She went ahead of me, but waited for me at the 26 mile aidstation. I told her that I was just feeling tired, and my stomach was feeling a bit funny.
Orange, good.
Regardless, we went ahead and stayed together for a mile or so, at which point I just told her to go ahead. Next few miles were pretty rough for me, where I walked a bit every few minutes. It also didn't help at all, that the last 2 miles were mostly uphill exposed to the sun, with no shade at all. With 1.5 miles to go I got some rocks in my shoes, but I was too stubborn to stop, so I just kept going. Result is a small blister on the side of the foot, but nothing major. Lesson learned. I ran the last half mile into the finish area to finish the race in 6:32. This beats my previous 50K time by 1.5 hours. Different terrain for sure but PR non the less.
Another one done!
Finish line area had a great friendly atmosphere going. Those Pagoda Pacers really know how to host! We hung out for about 30-40 minutes to eat, rest and watch the other people finish, before heading back home.
Mission accomplished. We did it!
I do have to say that this was such a great experience. I've spotted this race on the internet a year ago and really wanted to do it. It was only about an hour from our house and the cost was very reasonable comparing to other races out there. There was no medals for this race, but all the finishers got a hoodie, which is actually better then a medal. Also, the swag bag included a tech hat, t-shirt and a water bottle, all with the new Blues Cruise 50K logo (top of the page). What a deal!

I can't not mention the amazing volunteers and the aid station crews! They were all very supportive, super excited, and just happy to be there supporting the runners. Bravo! Special shot out to the OktoberFest Aid Station. You guys were great! Number of aid stations was perfect, evenly spaced and very well stocked with everything you could wish for.

We will definitely be back next year!

All my gear worked great! I was very pleased with my Altra Lone Peaks (first time in a race) and my trusty North Face shorts. I really do like those. I used the Endurance Vest by Nathan which also worked well for this race.
Thems worked hard but well.
On the nutrition front, Tailwind Nutrition fueled me the entire way. I brought extra in a baggie which I refilled at 18 mile aid station. Other than occasional watermelon bite and few bites of candy and bacon this stuff was all I needed for the 50K. I do have to point that the further I go in a race, my stomach feels empty and it just needs something solid in there. I don't think I needed anything nutrition wise, but I think it just gets bored sucking up all that Tailwind goodness. I can't say enough good things about this small company and I strongly recommend it to anyone I see!

Next up for Amy and myself is the Runner's World Half hattrick in 2 weeks. There will be another report after that race.

Oh, and in case you wanted to run the Roanoke Blue Ridge Marathon next year, Amy will be giving away a free entry very soon.

Photos are courtesy of my wife Amy, myself, Brad Bansner and Karen Blandford.

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