20 Oct 2013

WV Trilogy 50 Miler 2013

Author: Matt Young | Filed under: race-reports

Confessions of a Semi-Soft Distance Runner


I was glad to finally make it to the Trilogy weekend after hearing so many great things about it.  Dan and Adam had a great vision for this race and have executed it well.  I’ve heard great things about it from the start and now I know why.

While I was on the course I decided on the title of this race report.  It’s a 50 miler so you can’t be too soft or you wouldn’t even toe the line but this would be a tough test for me.

Trilogy 50mprofile

Confession #1: I just ran the 50 miler.  There aren’t very many places that you show up and say, “I’m just running the 50.” But when you have 3 days of races when many people are running all 3 for a total of 94 miles it just kind of comes out.

Confession #2: I under estimated the course. If nothing else I completely under estimated the net down hill in the first half and the net up hill in the second.  Half way through the race you hit the lowest elevation and then climb your way back up to just about the highest point.  I normally like to run even or negative splits but I needed to hold more back if that was going to happen… and I didn’t.

Confession #3:  I was undertrained.  Right after Labor Day I had a pain in my left foot during an easy run that felt eerily like the pain of a stress fracture that I had last year.  So I shut it down for the 6 weeks leading up to the race and mostly road my bike and ran about 5 times for no more than an hour.  I was hoping my base would carry me and it did…. For a while.  I felt great until about mile 27  on the climb back out of White’s Run when I hit the pit of despair (Princess Bride reference).

Confession #4:  My friend John always drops me. I like to think I’m a comparable runner to John but the truth is he is WAY better than me. He always has the strength to drop me somewhere after the half way. I don’t necessarily drop off much, if any, but he closes strong.  He did it again on Saturday after running the 50k on Friday and staring down the half marathon on Sunday. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned, you have to run your own race.

Confession #5. I wanted to quit. I kept trying to come up with believable reasons to drop. My foot suddenly started hurting (It was fine all day), my right knee hurt and I was afraid of doing real damage (it did hurt but only when I ran steep down hill so I could walk those).  I was tired (as Potts said to me at CMMM, “that’s it? Everyone’s tired, keep going.” ) As I was dreaming up excuses to quit my mind ran through everyone I’d have to tell that I dropped and I decided that would be more painful than continuing.  And honestly, no one really blames you for not finishing 50 miles. But I’d be the only one who ever knew  that my reasons for dropping just weren’t good enough.

Confession #6:  I cry out there.  Yep, mostly over songs and memories. My iPod has a crazy range of stuff from sappy to semi- sappy and every now and again I hit one that makes me cry.  Mostly for my wife and daughter (Cinderella by Steven Curtis Chapman and Best I Ever Had, Gary Allen).  And I cry at the finish just a little.  My dad was at the finish line and I cry from relief and I cry for accomplishment.  I cry when I’m emotional.

Confession #7: Counting time is a dumb move.  While in the pit of despair I tried to figure out how long I’d been out there, how many miles I’d covered, and how much longer it would take me. It’s a pretty terrible feeling to be feeling terrible and knowing you have 5 more hours of feeling terrible.

Confession #8: It gets better. Everyone says that when you hit those low spots it is possible to come out of them and I did.  During my march out of White’s Run I was leading John and we had run step for step all day together. But when I started feeling low I stepped aside and asked him to lead.  That worked for a while but when we hit a runnable part and I couldn’t run,  he was gone.   I let him go and slowed down, ate more and kept moving.  I ran the next 5 hours by myself.   Once I hit the top and saw the blue plate pointing us to Horton I got a charge, felt better, and reminded myself to work aid station to aid station. I only had 2 miles to Horton and that’s all I had to do.  Then I’d regroup and work to the next aid station.

Confession #9:  It was a beautiful course full of picturesque views, vivid fall colors, spans of peaks and valleys…. And I saw none of it.  The whole day was covered in mist and fog and we missed most of what was around us. In fact, I told John as we worked the trail down from Spruce Knob, Huckleberry I think, we came in to an open meadow on the hillside and I could tell that there had to be a hillside full of beautiful changing leaves and I wished we could see it. Instead, we watched the trail, we watched out for each other and I hope to go back and see it again someday.


A foggy view of the finish line and TMI, typical of the weekend. Pic courtesy of Nick Billock.


Falls of Seneca Creek. Pic courtesy of Nick Billock

Confession #10:  Runners amnesia is strong in me and I’m thankful for it.  I’m quickly able to forget the discomfort, doubt and pessimistic musings that often occur during a race and replace it with the joy of the finish, the pleasure in accomplishment and the valuable self reflection that comes from such an event.  For some reason God has placed in me the desire to do this and I believe it’s a gift that I’m thankful for. It’s a gift that I don’t take for granted and I want to use to glorify Him.

It’s not a confession to say that the volunteers were great, every runner said the same thing. The aid stations were a joy to see and the selfless people working them and giving up their weekends were invaluable. Thank you volunteers.

Dan and Adam have a labor of love for their races that produces a weekend for the rest of us to enjoy. I can’t imagine the time and effort in planning and organizing this event and they do it because they love it and to serve their club.  Throughout the weekend everyone raved about the event.

If you’re interested,  here’s the Garmin data but it’s not right. It’s missing 2 miles and I didn’t have the wherewithal to stop it at the finish so it tacked on some time. Officially it was 50 miles in 11:18 with about 8800 feet of climbing over 93% trail with 5800 calories burned. I’m still eating to replace those calories.


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