Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Rosaryville Veterans' Day 50K - November 9, 2013

To Race or to Run?
Gayatri, me, Sam and Rebecca trying to stay warm pre-race.
Gayatri and Sam, who is running her first ultra, have registered in advance for the race, but Rebecca and I had to contact the race director in order to get on the wait list and then get into the race.  The race, in its fourth year, had sold out before we had a chance to register.  We have to register at the park, but our names our on the approved list and registration is fast and easy.

Jeanne warms the pipes prior
to National Anthem.
The day is a bit cool and frost marks the grass in the shade of the pavilion at the start, but Jeanne Lou Who delivers her usual impressive rendition of the National Anthem and off we go.

As the defending Male 60+ Age Group champion at the Rosaryville Veterans' Day 50K I have an early decision to make.  Shall I try to defend my title, the only one I've every won, or should I just enjoy the day?

I mull this over while on the 40 minute drive out to Rosaryville State Park with Gayatri, Sam and Rebecca.  More on my mind though is the thought of getting to go to one of the few Bojangles in the DC area after the race.

The aid station midway thru the loops.
Rebecca and I start off together down the road that leads to the entry to the mountain bike trail that we will run three loops on.  As has become somewhat of a Rosaryville tradition for me I quickly realize that I need an equipment adjustment.  This time I've forgotten to attach my gaiters to my shoes, so we stop and I do so.

Decision Time
After passing the aid station midway through the first loop (there is a second aid station at the entry to the loops) we are joined by a runner I think I  recognize.

Rebecca followed by Tom G.
"Aren't you one of those Bull Run Run 50 Mile guys with lots of finishes?" I ask.

"Yes," he replies, "I have 21."  He's Tom G., and no one has more BRR finishes.

Now it is time to decide whether today is a run or race day.  Tom and I are the same age and I figure that if I want to defend my title, modest though it be, I'll have to beat him.

Rebecca follows me across the footbridge
on the first loop.
(Photo by Jon Valentine)
Last year Rebecca and I ran the first loop together before I set out to try to win the age group.  Now the decision come earlier.  Tom is starting to gradually move away from us.

I decide.  "Enjoy the day," I say to him. I'm going to enjoy a stress-free day in the woods running and chatting with Rebecca.

Which we do. Not even three falls, one each on my hands and knees, on my side and even a rare butt fall can ruin the day.

With three loops the course is designed to allow runners to access their drop bags twice at the aid station at the beginning of the second and third loops.  For late Fall races this is very convenient as it allows one to shed layers or change to lighter clothing as the day goes on.  I start the day with two long sleeve shirts, a hat, buff and gloves and finish with shorts and one shirt with the sleeves pushed up with the surplus clothing stashed in the drop bag.

Painted rocks to trip over.
Tom goes on to win the 60+ age group in 6:08.  Rebecca and I take our time and finish in 6:41, with me being third of five in the age group, 81 of 95 males and 123/147 overall.

Follow the black arrows!
At the finish I thank Race Director Tom D. for the pleasant day for for allowing me to run it even though I missed the on-line sign-up.  He tells me that there are only a handful of people who have run all four of the races and that he'll have to think of something special for five-time finishers in 2014.  I guess I'll have to return then, I reply.

Sam and Gayatri finish in 7:23. Sam also finishes with a souvenir of her first trail ultra - a cracked rib from tripping over a day-glo marked rock.

Once we have all finished it is off to Bojangles for a spicy chicken sandwich, fries and sweet potato pie.  Pretty much a good ending to a good day.
Halloween Darth Vader at trail side
A tree bike for really going off-road.

The trail side dry "aid station".

Four fingers for four finishes!
(Photo by Jon Valentine)

Swag: Hat, Medal and Bib.