Sunday, March 24, 2013

Terrapin Mtn 50k

Terrapin Mtn 50k held in the Blue Ridge Mountains outside of Luray Virginia is one of the most scenic courses I have experienced.
Race starts at 7am with the Terrapin gong gets you excited, a good size crowd of runners for this race with 2 distances - the 1/2 marathon and a 50k. Only the 50K is part of the Beast and Lyncburg Ultra Series.
A fairly crowded start but wide trail for a good stretch so you can pass people. This is on our first climb just over a mile in with a nice following creek alongside for a good ways, which you have to cross over a little later.  Some people decided to get by on the rocks while most of us just got our feet wet.  The sunrise was coming up behind us and we climb and set a lovely red light on the trees around us.
I started conservatively as usual and hung near the back to start. It didn't take long to get to the first aid station after a few miles of climbing. Our next section would be a long down hill dirt road.. we were all flying and loving it.
You could look around enjoy the views and some interesting features in the nature around you...
The long downhill would send some runners charging by me... we passed some farms and came to the next aid station before more climbing on dirt road where we made our first loop in the course, I caught up to some friends and we happily chatted for a few moments, but today I was feeling strong and wanted to push hard. Downhills are a good strength for me and I felt comfortable on the single track out there, they are fairy rocky... but after doing so much training in the Massanuttens lately I didn't think much of these rocks :)
After the loop you climb back up the dirt road to visit the first aid station again and then went onto another loop which is the longest section without aid of about 6 miles, which took you on some of the Promise Land 50k Course... it was nice to be a little familiar with some of this course. I passed some friends, and we made quick compliments and words of encouragement to the fast people just finishing this loop section. They all looked strong.
There aren't so many clear views around you on this section so no pictures here I was talking to a Brian who was running his 2nd Ultra we were back and forth a lot in the race earlier.  After hitting the top though I didn't see him again because I was flying down the hill and back to the first aid station again for the third and final time. They did such a great job at this aid station because it was always busy with runners and they were working hard to refill bottles and supply to our needs.
Next we face a good climb up Terrapin Mtn which was not really that long, maybe a good 1/2 mile climb? but its steep with some loose dirt and rocks... here's a picture...
It was pretty up there offering more open views around us of the mountains and some color with the Rhododendron bushes.
I knew the fat mans misery was coming up that Caroline had warned me about, after seeing a picture of this the night before it was not how I had imagined it to be. A very short out and back to a magical look out....
... and it was time for the Fats mans Misery..
As you see its a squeeze and big step down and onto angled ground in between these 2 rocks made it tricky to get your footing without slipping and today it was a little icy in there which made it fun.  I got to bring back some of my old rock climbing skills and looked for features in the rock to hold onto.  Duck under the chalk stone in between held between the rocks and your free...
... or so you think... after punching your bib again there is one more obstacle. Which isn't was technical and if you have longer legs than me it won't be a problem for you... but it includes a big step up and I though I was going to need a push and ask the people behind me to be prepared to give me a push... haha... but then I looked at the boulders and was able to find a flake on the rock that helped to pull you up and through the 2 tall boulders... I shared this feature with the people behind me and they thought that was very helpful and he let his friend know...  here's the big step up
From here about mile 23 it was mostly downhill from here as they say... with some rocky sections and steep slippery loose dirt sections which really start to burn your quads out, and your legs remind of all that downhill running you pounded out on the dirt road in the earlier sections comes back to bite you!
Some amazing views and we headed down to our last aid station..
It was a perfect day and the sky's were finally starting to clear from a mostly cloudy day, temperatures cool made for a good, strong race for me.  I was making great time and still passing people. A runner who I passed within the last few miles of Holiday Lake 50k I passed again in the last few miles of Terrapin. He encouraged me on and made a compliment.  It was rolling hills from here. A you could see the field of cars in the distant valley.  More creek crossings and one final big crossing with tricky footing and you are just a couple of miles from the finish.  
I had a great day, finished strong in 6hrs 47 mins with a total of 7560 ft of elevation gain and loss.
Many of my friends set new PRs and enjoyed an amazing day in the mountains. There is no place I would rather be.