Monday, April 11, 2011

Happiness on the muddy trails: Bull Run 50 MIle 2011

One of the several creek crossings during the early miles
Note: Most photos on this post are from the VHTRC website and used with permission.

On Saturday I ran the 19th running of the BullRun Run 50 Miler put on by the fine folks of VHTRC (Virginia Happy Trails Running Club). This experience really refreshed and reminded me of why I came to love this crazy sport when I first sampled it back in 2003: lots of single track trail, LOTS of mud, water, creeks, flowers and anticipation of adventure!

It rained quite hard for most of Friday during the 6.5 hour drive up from the NC Mountains to the DC area and even more so Friday night. Running weather race day was perfect, and there was more than enough mud and slippery bridges for everyone to get dirty legs. The race is headquartered at HemlockOverlook Regional Park, about 10 miles from Manassas,VA and close enough to either a shooting range or military reinactment park that on  Friday and Saturday we heard gun shots for hours.

I picked up my race number and visited briefly with VHTRC folks I hadn’t seen in years: Quatro Hubbard, RD Angstr Davidson, Frank Probst, Gary Knipling among other amazing humans and runners... Angstr surprised me by leading me into a room and announcing before all present that I won an award some time ago and wasn’t present to pick it up, so it would be presented at this time!  I was a bit scared at what it might be-afterall, on some training runs I have been encouraged to drink a shot of tequila and mooning the gorge during Catawba Run Around??? Who knows what the award would be?

The fine folks at VHTRC held this for me for many years!
A very cool granite award from being the club’s runner of the year in 2007! Wow! It felt nice to be remembered all these years later! Thank you my crazy and kindred spirit peeps at VHTRC!

After a brief, shake-out run in the rain, I headed back to town sipping on lots of Nuun, and checked into Super 8. Again getting lucky with budget lodging-all amenities needed to eat in room and a tub clean enough for a night-before race Epson Salt soak. I yapped on the phone with my Mom and then with George was in bed by 9pm falling asleep with the latest Runner’s World, and up at 4:05 and back at Hemlock.

Weather at 6:30am was overcast and misty with a forecast to remain that way and get to 60 degrees. I wore gloves, shorts, tank top, arm sleeves, calf compression sleeves and carried a Quickdraw Plus and tiny Nathan waist pack containing only TP, and 3 Clif Shots. It wouldn’t be hot, so anticipated being able to eat out of the aid stations instead of carrying all my fuel.

Over the years I have either grown more confident in my clothing and gear choices, or just lazier and don’t want to carry much. Below are photos from Saturday and  2005. David Horton used to call me “the gypsy”.
Looking like a trail gypsy on the same trail in 2005...(I had on a big ole fuel fanny pack)
Same running form, yet traveling a bit lighter in 2011!
A note about the other time I ran this: when I ran in 2005, it seemed pretty muddy to me and I would up making a new Course Record of 7:40:32 In the past 5 years, that CR has been dropped 3x and was re-made last year to 7:23:06 by 29 year old Aliza Lapierre.

On April 9, 20ll, I was certainly not chasing a CR! Due to the past 7 months of injury, time off and slowly getting strong again, this would be the longest distance run since Burning River 100 Mile last summer.There would be some excellent competition: Ragan Petrie, Justine Morrison and Anna Piskorska who led Team USA in the World 24-Hour Championship in 2011, to name a few, yet I was determined not to “race” until at least 35 miles in.

We started at 6:30am. Anna and I chatted some as we ran the “spread out” loop around the parking areas-I pulled ahead to get a good position as we entered the mostly downhill single track. The course had mud, much water and some rocks, yet very runnable through the bluebells and blossoming trees (and mud)... 9ish miles going North on the trail, we turned around to retrace our steps to begin the journey South, this allowed for nodding and sharing encouragement with other runners. I noticed Anna and Ragan were about 2 minutes behind me and several other girls just a minute or so behind them. Too early to even think about it, I reminded myself, “just run, eat, drink and enjoy the freedom of the trail!”
A sampling of the famous bluebells

One of the several creek crossing early on.
Typical mountains to climbs...lots of little steeps between the flats.
We had access to drop bags at AS #2 and I left the arm sleeves behind and yet kept the gloves. Over the next miles and through several aid stations Darrel Voll  and I shared the same general pace, passing and repassing each other. He had an attentive crew, great attitude and killer-strong calves. I admired them out loud to him and hoped he didn’t take it as me being sexist or rude. He didn’t, he assured me!
Darrel and I trying not to fall into the waist-deep water.
After several hours of running, I finally removed my gloves and stuck them in my sports bra-any photos from the 2nd part of the race will show fingers sticking up through the tank top! During my time out there I fueled on package of Clif Shot blocks, 4 Succeed caps, water, Gatorade, 3 PB &J squares, 3 mini Snickers, an oreo cookie, part of a brownie bite and 8 peanut m&ms.

Part way through the Do-Loop (a loop turnaround at the Southern end of the course) I inquired about the position(s) of the other girls. I was told I had a “few minutes” on them. Ok. Now with 11 miles left to go, it was time to say hi to Dorsal Fin.

Dorsal Fin reminded me that I was strong, well trained, fueled and had been looking forward to unleashing all day. (This is very true, yet after 40 miles of running, unleashing might feel dramatic, yet wouldn’t look that way!) So we were off: bounding the downs, scampering or power stepping the short steeps and with 7 miles or so to go, we had sightings of 2 prey! The first guy seemed in pain and I passed with a word of encouragement. Don’t misunderstand, I don’t experience glee as I pass folks during the end of a race, yet am a grateful for the incentive and motivation their presence often offers to Dorsal Fin and I.

I was very happy to see Coach Howard Nippert out there too! What a great surprise as he made jokes and shared encouragement whilst standing to the side of the trail.

Eventually I caught up to Jack Kurisky, one of my teammates from No Bull. (For more on teaming, visit this part of the website.) Jack and I entered the last aid station together as I went through as fast as possible,hopeing to get to the portapotties  set up beside a soccor complex a mile or so ahead. Whew! Had a needed and fast pit stop-and heard Jack pass by while I was inside.

Dorsal Fin and I joined him a little later on the trail and we ran together for most of the remaining miles. With a half mile left to go, Jack and I caught up to Aaron Schwartzbard and one of his WUS buddies entering the final hill. Teammate Jack and I encouraged each other, yet I eventually took off to the tunes of Aaron singing “Maneater”…as I’d just looked at my watch and understood it I really boogied, I would better my time from 2005. Dorsal Fin and I gasped across the line at 7:39:14, 1st female, 16th overall. Regan finished in 7:52:10, followed by Gaby Gorman in 8:06:42
Racing towards the finish shoot for a PR
Showing effort at the very end...
This year Bull Run Run 50 Mile had 344 starters and 320 official finishers. Full results are here.

Speedy Matt Woods, 31 ran away with and won the race and set a new course record of 6:08:14! He was followed by Neal Gorman, 34, 6:44:53 and David Frazier, 25, also 6:44:53.

It was a fine weekend-yet I was excited to get back home...I was gone for a little over 50 hours and was shocked to find the phollax that wasn't blooming when I left Friday morning in full rage when arriving home yesterday. Spring is great!
Spring happens fast!
Cleaning up the mud is part of being back home! 
Clothing and Gear:
Montrail Mountain Masochist shoes
Dry Max trail socks (No Blisters-REALLY!)
Zensah calf compression sleeves
Mountain Hardwear Pacer Advance Short, Wicked LiteTank Top, power stretchgloves, arm sleeves
Patagonia Overhead Sports Bra
Nathan Quickdraw Plus water bottle
Nathan gel pack


jennifer Nichols said...

great race report and awesome job, annette! I really would like to run this race one day! it looks like so much fun! glad you had a great day out there! take care and see you soon! ((HUG))


Rick Gray said...

What a run. So glad you felt good the whole day and I can tell you were happy by the pictures and your words. Congratulations to be back feeling good. Had not heard the gypsy name. Interesting!

Shellyrm ~ just a country runner said...

Annette ~ Thanks to the benefit of the out-and-backs I was thrilled to get to see you running as I was running my first 50 miler and in the middle of the pack. I am amazed at your fueling and your spot on form. You are inspiring! Congratulations on running a sucessful and smart race.

Frank Lilley said...

I really enjoy your reports! It's a view into a part of ultra running that I've never experienced! You are quite the inspiration!!

Sabrina Moran said...

Congrats, Annette! Great run. Glad you're racing strong and happy, way to go!

Ken Swab said...

As Shellyrm said, it's always nice to see a great runner headed toward the finish and give them a "hi, Annette!" while plodding to finish almost four hours later. On the other hand, that meant that I got to enjoy the pepperoni pizza at the Do Loop AS both on the way into and out of the loop.
Congrats on winning your second BRR (in two tries) while leading from wire to wire under sloppy conditions.
Ken S.

annette bednosky said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts my friends-and congrats to Shellyrm and Ken especially! VHTRC knows how to put on a race and establishes such a supportive and fun culture for all runners!

...And Jenny, you'd love the course and atmosphere of this event!

Rick-I am trying to remember if I am paraphrasing Horton when he badgered me for so long carrying lots of stuff, or if I made it up in my head? Oh well...I'd always rather carry too much than have to be rescued!

Again congrats to all finishers and participants of this year's "Battle"!

Kelsey said...

Hello Annette!
I was hoping to get a quote from you about the race for an online story. You can email me at - thanks!