Saturday, December 31, 2016

Rosaryville Veterans Day 50K - November 12, 2016

Return to Rosaryville
Jennifer promptly shows up at my door, we toss our bags in my car, go up the block and pick up Gayatri and are quickly on the road for the 45 minute drive to Rosaryville State Park for the Rosaryville Veterans Day 50K.

About ten minutes before we arrive my phone rings.  It's Sara. She's lost somewhere in Upper Marlboro.  After some back-and-forth to figure out where she is, we are able to give her directions to the park.

As I park the car Sara pulls in behind and Don parks next to me. The gang is all here.

Round and Round
Race-specific course tape!
Rosaryville is a nice three-loop course with a minimum of hills and technical terrain. Runners share the course with horseback riders (none today) and mountain bikers. The course is well marked with paper pie plates and ribbon. This year's ribbon is an innovation, marked specifically for the race.  No need to remember whether to follow pink, blue, green. Just have to remember the name of the race you are in.

We start out together but in a few miles Don has pulled away.  He told us that he only planned to do two loops because he thought that three would be boring.

In the first loop with Sara behind
(photo by Jon Valentine)
Jennifer and Gayatri drop back and Sara and I go on together. Our discussions are wide-ranging, from the elastic ankle braces she bought to try out rather than buy another pair of the two she already owns to some topics that she warns me not to put in this report.

We run easily, not pushing it and taking our time at the aid stations.  There is one about midway around the loop and a second at the start of the loop. Near the end of the first loop I fall, but it is a soft landing on an embankment to my right and no harm is done. We finish the loop in 2:13.

At the aid station at the start of the loop (there is about a three-quarter mile stub from the start and finish) we have drop bags and I shed some extra clothing. Sara adjusts her ankle braces and disposes of a layer as well.

Sara pays homage at the trail-side shrine 
The second loop goes well enough. Sara takes a couple of falls, but nothing serious. We don't rush and enjoy the fine day and the golden color from the leaves.

As we approach the end of the loop I try to convince Sara to go on and run the third loop. She is unswayed and sticks to her plan to call it a day after two.  We finish the second loop in 2:20 and I bid her good-bye as she is headed home to Phoenix in a couple of days and I won't see her before she leaves.

Sara points me to the way to hell
third lap before leaving
Race Time
Back on the trail for the third loop I start to do some calculating. After time to exchange farewells and take pictures, the elapsed time is about 4:40 That means I have 2:20 minutes if I want to finish in under seven hours. Not an unreasonable goal, especially if I don't linger at the midway aid station. Since we didn't push the first two loops I feel reasonably fresh. And the weather is just about perfect.

Since I'm running alone now I concentrate on running.  It starts to pay off.  I pay particular attention to the trail to avoid tripping, falling or rolling an ankle.  I even start to catch an pass the occasional runner.

Arriving at the mid-way aid station in 1:03 I gulp down a couple of pierogies (cheese and potato), have my hand-held bottle refilled, chug some Coke, take a handful of chips to go, thank the volunteers and am back on the trail in 45 seconds.

The midway aid station
Since this is my sixth Rosaryville I know the trail well and I know that there are mile markers if you know where to look.  My back of the brain calculation suggests that a 15 minute per mile pace will get me to the finish in under seven hours.

I feel like I'm light on my feet and moving along smartly. No falls, walk the steeper uphills (of which there are few), lengthen the stride on the downhills and go.

I take note of my watch when I pass a mile post.  Then I check my watch again at the next milepost. Surely I've shaved some time off the remaining required pace.

But no.  It takes 15 minutes to get through that mile.  And then 15 to get through the next mile.  This fast-feeling pace turns out not to be so fast.  On the other hand, it is the pace that I need to reach my goal.

Poorly signing '6' for the
number of my Rosaryville finishes
(Photo by Jon Valentine)
I exit the loop with my watch telling me that about 6:40 has elapsed and turn left onto the park road headed back to the start-finish.

"Only three-quarters of a mile to go," the course marshals tell me.

"No!" I reply, "In my mind it is a mile to go." But I know that they are right and that I'll make my goal.

There is a long gentle incline ahead.  I run a bit then walk more. No hurry now. I'm starting to feel the results of my exertion. Knowing that I have a cushion to make seven hours has drained away some of my remaining motivation.

A woman that I passed toward the end of the trail in the loop catches up with me.  We run together a bit and even though we have crested the hill and are headed downhill with the finish in sight, I can't keep up with her.

Crossing the line I'm surprised to see Don. He decided that the course was nice enough and that three loops were not boring so he did the entire race, finishing in 6:43.

(Photo by Jon Valentine)

I finish in 6:50:55 good for 88 of 113 finishers and 54 of  65 males. When I sit at a table at the finish I eye several age group pottery mugs that have not been claimed and peek at the bottoms to see if on is in my age group. It is! I spot RD Tom and ask if if someone has won it.  He suggests that we check at the scorers table so we do. I'm not surprised that someone has finished in 6:02 to claim first.  I'm second of three but there are no prizes for AG non-winners, other than the satisfaction of having finished.

After Jennifer and Gayatri finish, Don accompanies us on the short drive to Bojangles for my traditional post-Rosaryville fast food meal.

Swag: bib, medal and
the traditional Rosaryville hat

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