"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

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Altra Coventry Woods 6hr Challenge - Great Day in the Woods

This will be a very quick recap of the Altra Coventry Woods 6hr Challenge that I ran on August 2nd. I say quick because I really treated it as a last long training run before the Eastern States 100.

While I had the this race on my calendar for most of the year, I really wasn't even sure if Amy and I would do it until 10 days prior. I heard from one of the Altra folks that Amy and I could run it if we wanted to. Of course we both said yes. Not only would we be running the race, but we were also in charge of setting up the Altra booth at the start/finish line. We both choose to do the 6hr event.
Start/Finish Area
Bright and early we made our way to Pottstown to setup before everyone else started showing up. I was great to be greeted by super enthusiastic RD Don Morrison. Very friendly guy and great to work with. Don puts an amazing event in the Coventry Woods. We live only 40 min away, but we had no idea about this hidden gem. It was hard to find any real information about the course before hand, so both of us were going into it clueless with some loose goals in mind.

Best part of manning the Altra booth was talking to various runner, both old and new Altra enthusiasts. I was surprised how many people decided to not only try the Altra Olympus that we had on display, but actually wear it for the duration of the race. Really a great experience.
Our Altra Headquarters for the day
The race consisted of approximately 6.5 miles loop (it was closer to 6 miles) of varying terrain, mostly single track, shaded wooded area. The temperatures were fairly normal for the summer with humidity pretty low for this time of the year. I was supposed to do at least a marathon with 50K being my top, and Amy was shooting for at least 50K. Her day didn't go as planned but you can read more about it on her blog. We started around 7 o'clock by running a short .2 mile loop through the woods before continuing onto the main course. The short loop was only on the first lap. At the same time as the 6hr folks, we had 3hr and 10k racers. The loop proved to be a lot hillier than I expected and fairly technical in parts due to many rocks and roots. Finishing the first loop in about an hour, I realized that it would be hard to get to 50K in 5 loops due to course being shorter than I thought, but more importantly harder than anticipated. I didn't want to destroy myself chasing the number. Thus I took it fairly easy and walked when I had to and ran hard when I could, especially on the downhills in the last 2 miles. I was thinking that I could most likely do 5 loops but I wasn't 100% sure.
Stamp of approval
Somewhere during the first loop Amy and I lost each other. I tried waiting for her but she just wasn't showing up. I was wondering where she was and while finishing the 4th loop I saw her sitting in our Altra booth. As I said previously she ended up not having a great day and called it quits after 3 loops. I still had about 1.5 hours left in the race, so one more loop was a must.
All done
I finished the 5th loop in 5:32. With only 30 minutes left to the 6hr mark, my race was done. Only full loops counted in this race, and there was no way I was going to do another full loop in 30 min. At the end of the day I came in 8th overall and 2nd in my age group. I was rather surprised with that result and also very excited as I have never gotten any kind of placement before. While Amy didn't have a day she wanted, she had a great time manning the Altra booth and talking to runners for few hours once her race was done. Don and the Chester County Running Store crew did a great job, I would definitely not hesitate doing one of their races again.
2nd place - age group
Next on the calendar is Eastern States 100, less than a week away. I am nervous and excited at the same time. It will be a new adventure to me. My crew is set. My training is done. My plan is almost there. Until next time.

Go forth and run.


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