Sunday, January 18, 2009

1/17/09 - Swinging Bridge 35k & 50k

The Swinging Bridge run is held in Cumberland Virginia at Bear Creek State Park. It is coordinated by the Richmond Road Runners Club. The race entry was very cheep and included a long sleeve cotton shirt. The race gives you the option of what distance you want to run; 35k or 50k. You don't have to decide until you finish the 35k whether you want to go on or not.

Results - 8th in the 35k with a time of 3:35

Race Morning:
This marked the first time I have ever seen negative numbers on the temperature gauge of my 4Runner. During the 2 hour and 40 minute drive I saw temperatures ranging from 8 degrees to -2 degrees. At the 8:00am start it was reported to be -2 degrees and expected to get to the the double digits by the end of the race.

Top - I chose two thin layers topped with a Mountain Hardwear Transition Wind Shirt Jacket.
Bottom - Tights and a cheap pair of wind pants.
Accesories - Two Buffs (My favorite accessory. One for my head and one for my neck and sometimes to cover my mouth and nose.), one pair of thicker glove liners, Sunglasses with amber lenses (when these fogged up the fog froze onto the lenses. Not the best choice early but they paid off in the end), a pair of sock liners (very thin) and a pair of smartwood socks.
Shoes - Salomon Flagstaffs. They've been around forever and I decided to run in them due to the good chance of running through water at some point in the race.

Before the race start the race director asked the crowd, "show of hands, who is running the 50k?" There were about 35 hands put into the air (I was one of them). I had every intention of using this as a training run in preparation of the 2/15/09 Holiday Lake 50k. Everyone was frozen at the start and it took a good 20 minutes for everything to get warmed up. The course was 80% single track and the rest was forest roads and fire roads. The single track sections made you feel very secluded. The trail was well blazed but hard to find on the way out due to thick leaves. I got off the trail a couple times and had to look around to connect back up. There were numerous creek crossing. Fortunately due to the 0 degree temps all of the crossings were ice except for one. I chose to get one foot wet on each trip out and back rather than waste time finding a place to cross without getting wet. In addition, this course had the most trees down that I've ever seen. I thought I was in a steeple chase. Climb, jump, scramble, climb, jump, duck, and climb again. This ended up taxing my left lateral quadracep that I injured a couple of weeks ago, so I eventually stopped jumping over the trees and just walked over them.

About 3 miles in I caught up with a couple guys from richmond and we were running at a comfortable and steady pace. We hit the first aide station at around mile 5 at 53 minutes and kept on cruising. At the second aide station, the turn around point, at mile 11 we were at 1 hour and 40 minutes. Right on the pace I wanted.

Since the race is an out and back we got to see everyone in the race as they hit the turnaround. I was at 9th place at the turnaround and doing fine. Hit the 3rd aide station at 2 hours and 25 minutes. This is where it started to change. The wind picked up a little bit, I tripped on a couple of stick/roots, and started to lose motivation. This 5 mile section felt like 10 and I decided to only do the 35k. I finished in a group of 3 people, 1 of them ended up being the first person to go out on the 50k course. There weren't many takers for the 50k. I think they had about 10 people go on for the remaining 10 mile loop.

Considering the weather conditions this was a well run race and I'd do it again. The volunteers had to deal with 0 degree weather, frozen water coolers and soda bottles, and frozen runners. It takes some great people to come out and help on a day like this. If I can get over the mental trauma, I'd like to come back again and finish the 50k.