STRAVA Summary

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Thomas Jefferson 100k or not!

I hadn’t had any races planned until April, but I received a message from Ken Niemimaa asking if I would be interested going with him to Charlottesville, Virginia for the Thomas Jefferson 100k on March 12th. It didn’t take much convincing for me to say yes and off we went on Thursday evening to arrive some time on Friday afternoon.
The TJ100k is in its 3rd year and is Race Directed by the somewhat famous Ultrarunner Andy Jones-Wilkins. Andy is quite the personality and as it turns out a great race director. I had seen him talk as an MC for the legends presentation at Western States and he does like to talk.
The race is a multi-loop course of 7 x 9 mile loops with 1000 ft. of elevation per loop. As it turns out the course is deceivingly difficult.
My lead up to the race is was uneventful, but I wasn’t getting a lot of mileage per run, but I was getting in about 100 k per week, which is on the high side, but a good target for me. 35k being the longest run. The key for me is usually the back to back long runs, 30+ k on one day followed by 20+k the next. It was nice to taper for the two weeks prior to the race and although I usually abstain from running at all in the week before hand, I felt the need for a run or two the week before and ran twice, both at pace.
I had been working on a new exercise for my hips which seemed to give me some issues while running, so I was interested to see if things were improving or getting worse.
Back to the TJ100k, we attended the pre-race meeting the night before in which Andy filled us in with all the details and what to expect, including warmer than normal weather conditions. Ken had taken a picture of Andy during the talk and posted to Facebook which I commented on: We can’t hear you Andy! ;-) (tongue in cheek)
The race starts at 5 a.m. and we were up at 3:30 to get ready. It was a 20 minute drive from our hotel to Walnut Creek Park where the race is held. We were there early and meandered around while we waited to start. I wore my hydration vest, but only used one bottle as there was an aid station about every 7k or so. This worked well. We started on time into the trails we went.
I tried to keep an easy pace, as this was the goal of the race for me, to pace myself accordingly for a long race. I may have been going a little quicker than necessary, but it felt rather easy. I was looking at two other goals: one to finish each loop in about 2 hours or less and two finish in daylight. Each loop essentially consisted of two separate loops between the aid stations. The second half containing two good climbs up switch backs. Daylight appeared about ¾’s of the way through the second half, a couple of k from the start/finish area. The advantage of starting in the dark is that the second loop seems like another completely different loop. At the end of the first loop I was in dire need of the bathroom and was looking forward to stopping. On my way in Andy was reading off everyone’s name and making comments of one kind or another. After I had passed the finish are, Andy said “Oh, and by the way Keith. I saw your smart assed comment of FB”, I laughed as I went into the bathroom. When I came out he asked me if I felt a few pounds lighter. I left the aid station smiling. I finished the first loop in about 1:43.
The second loop started well enough and the temperature although warm was not as warm as I was expecting. I rolled down my arm sleeves and took them off after my 2nd loop. You get a better idea of the terrain in the daylight and it was hilly and technical. On the second loop was when I started kicking rocks and roots. I was doing it so often I was getting rather frustrated. The second loop was finished in 3:30, so very consistent, but I was starting to tire. Legs felt good though. The first mistake I made was forgetting to have my shake and eshot after lap two. I went into the aid station and browsed the table and left. It was on the third loop that things went a bit sour. I was kicking every rock and root there was and I was about 5k from the finish area when I realized why… my shoes. I was wearing the Altra Lone Peaks and with the big toe box and flat last I was catching everything. A combination of that and being tired made it worse. After lap 3 I stopped, finally got my nutrition, changed shoes, socks, lubed up and changed my shirt (next mistake). The shirt I put on was way too small, at first I thought it would feel better after wearing it for a little while, but no it was squeezing my arm pits! The shoes made a difference instantly. I felt much better and started to run well again. I was looking at walking the hills, but still trying to come in each lap under 2 hours. Lap 3 was done just under 2 hours, not bad for a lap that struggled on. Still on pace.
The fourth loop started well enough, felt better, but not 100%. Gradually I started kicking the odd rock or root here and there. My confidence was also not high. About 4k from the finish area I kicked another… something and my right calf immediately went rock solid. I stopped and tried to stretch it out with no luck. It felt like a huge knot in the middle of my calf. I tried to move but was hobbling badly so I stopped again at a log and tried to massage it out. Again no luck. So I just hobbled on, the closer I got to the finish area the more I thought my race was done. It wasn’t improving at all. I came in to the finish area and sought attention but there wasn’t much to give. I told the race folks that I’d try some arnica and massage for a few and see how it goes. It didn’t get any better, so I pulled the plug. Others said it was the best based on what I have coming up. I still couldn’t feel anything but disappointment though.
I spent the rest of the race cheering Ken on and watching the other racers compete. The race for first was amazing, two guys who had never run the distance came across the finish line together in a course record time of just over 10 hours. 3rd was about 15 minutes back. The next race was for 4th and Ken was leading after the 6th loop. He held on and finished in 11:11. The women’s winner finished 3 minutes ahead of second place in about 11:30, also a new course record.

An awesome event, that is well run. A very enthusiastic race director and crew. A beautiful place to run on a deceptively difficult course.

The calf is healing well and although there is still some soreness it I’m able to walk with no limp and barely a feeling of tightness. I will take most of the week off from running before getting back into the training next week.

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