Monday, June 8, 2009

Old Dominion Training Run

I went to Woodstock, Va to run the OD 100 last weekend.Old Dominion is the second oldest 100 miler in the country. Only Western States is older. Like States, OD started as a horse event. The horse and runner events have separated since then. This was the 30th running of the event.
I had run Keys 100 May 16, then Denny's BFT Boogie, 42 tough miles with 8,000 feet of climbing, just last weekend.
Most wouldn't have even attempted another 100. I'm not sure what that says about me. I felt good by the end of the week and had rested as much as I could all week. I drove down in 6 hours. It is about 300 miles. About 30 miles away, I still didn't see the mountains we were supposed to run over. That area has unique geography. The mountains popped up just in time and they were for real.
The race headquarters is at the Shenandoah County fairgrounds. The grounds are visible from the exit of I81. There are motels and places to eat within sight of the race start.
I checked in at the fairgrounds and got my number, 58. I intended to camp, but the grass was almost knee high and soaking wet. They had received 5 inches of rain in the last 3 days. I was allowed to sleep on the floor of the building that was the headquarters. I had foam pads and didn't mind the hard floor. I just didn't want the wet. The race briefing was on time and not lengthy. There were 39 runners, about the usual number for this event.
I went out for some pizza and came back to a dark and empty building. I was able to turn in before 9:00. I slept well and the first of the race crew coming in at 3:15 woke me up. That was about right timing. I got dressed and ate a bagel and only had to wait around 10 minutes before the start.
The morning was comfortably warm and foggy. I felt good and started off in the main pack. We ran some streets to get out of Woodstock and then some paved roads to the George Washington national forest. The roads there were a mix of pavement and gravel. Some parts were steep so that was plenty of walking. The aid stations were 4-6 miles apart. I felt good and kept a comfortable pace. I could tell I was moving plenty fast, but it felt good. There were a couple nice trail sections, but the first 25 miles were mostly roads. I was out of the 25 mile station at 4:40 into the race.That works out to a 11:15 pace per mile,which is faster than I sometimes run.
I felt good, no sign of the quad soreness that I felt at Keys and on the BFT. The BFT had a lot of downhill running, so I wasn't sure if I had done more damage. Apparently not.
What did grumble was groin muscles. I had torn them badly in martial arts class almost 2 years ago. They were not right all last summer. I thought they were healed this spring, since there hadn't been any soreness there. I kept going, paying attention to what I felt.
At 32 miles, I took a good break. I ate a can of chili and a hard roll from my drop bag. I have learned I need real food and not to rely on aid stations. If I had anything to say about this race, the aid station food was spare. Pretzels, Pringles, and chocolate chip cookies were the choices. At the last couple stops there had been orange sections.
I felt I could ease out another dozen miles, since the trail came back to that same place later. I headed out and took it easy. This time I saw some more trail sections. Nasty trail, with lots of rocks and water running down it. I don't know how anybody could ever run this part.
The day was getting warm. It must have reached 85 degrees. I walked along and got passed by lots of runners.
I got to the 42 mile point. That was a medical check. We had been weighed at check-in.
I thought I had been doing good with my drinking and S-caps. I did get a bit behind on eating. A few yards before the medical check, I crossed another stream.
I weighed 2 pounds over my earlier weight. Considering I now had wet feet, I called that dead on. That was good to know, considering how things went at Keys.
I told the folks there I was dropping out. They agreed with my assessment and gave me an ice pack.
I was given a ride to the next station where there were more crews and I might get a ride back to base. There wasn't a ride there, so I got driven to another station and did finally get a ride to the fairgrounds. I needed to check out with the race timing official. That point had been repeated several times in the briefing. I couldn't find him. I ate and waited and he finally came back a couple hours later. He showed me a sheet he had left on the table in case anybody needed to sign out. This race is small, and quite different from any other I've been in. Not bad, it just thinks differently. Definitely old school.
I loafed around the parking lot until dark, then put out my sleeping bag on the grass. I intended to cheer in runners as they finished. The runners would have to pass right in front of me. The last bit was a lap around the outside of the horse track to the finish line.
I didn't hear a runner all night. I didn't wake up till 4:00 am. By that time most of the runners were done. I did get to cheer in 2 runners.
I stayed for the awards presentation and breakfast. The most amazing story was Dan Brennan. He got off course by 9 miles. He ran back to the course and finished the race, 118 miles, within the 28 hours allowed. And Dan is no kid. He's 58 years old.
"Tough as nails" was the description that summed it up.
I felt I had a good weekend. I know that is a monstrous amount of running in a short time. I wanted to see how much I could do. I had paid the registration fee. It cost me around $100 to drive down. Old Dominion is usually a hot and humid, tough race. I hoped for a run in the heat. It was actually the nicest weather in years. I stopped early before I did any serious damage. I have too much at stake in July to blow it now. I'm not sorry I went down. I may well try this one again. It is sometimes disparaged as a road race. It is not, there are some absolutely nasty trail sections. And the 24 hour finisher's buckle is very classy. Being old school, the awards are men and women's winners, then 24 hour finishers. No age groups, no finisher's plaques for completing the distance.

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