Blue Ridge Marathon: America's Toughest Road Marathon
Was it hard? Uh, yeah. Wait, let's start from the beginning. Am I terrible at planning ahead? That is also a yes. I showed up, and I realized I forgot my handheld water bottle. So I had to buy a new one at the expo (I now have three of the (almost) exact same model because of this). Stupidly, I didn't consider that the one I was buying was not see-through. Why would they ever make a water bottle where you can't see inside? I have this secret technique to know when I need to refill it called looking at how much water is left. Now I had to try to gauge by feel, which is strangely deceptive, especially after double digit miles in the heat while you are dehydrated. Judgment is impaired to say the least.
Okay, back to the marathon. Well, what makes it hard? You climb three full mountains in this version of the race. They keep changing it to make it harder. The claim is that it is 7,430 feet of elevation change. My Garmin actually agrees. The statistics don't do it justice though. Let's walk through some of it.
My race plan was pretty much to treat it like a normal marathon but just back off a bit in the beginning (meaning first half) to conserve energy. This was not a good plan. You get two miles or so of rolling hills in the beginning, nothing abnormal (haha, this wasn't so bad!). Then miles 3-7 were climbing a mountain. Some spots were 15-20% grade climbs (by feel and by the interactive map on their site). Now, if you don't know what that means exactly, imagining climbing a flight of stairs for 4 miles (roughly imagine running up 80 flights of stairs, then you still have 19 miles of the marathon ahead of you). When we hit mile 7, I had already logged some 10-11 minute miles which is extremely slow for me. But it gets worse, I was pretty sure I was going to drop out of this thing despite going so slow – because slow just means it was super hard going, not that I was taking it easy. I was now in survival mode. I didn't care if it took 6 hours, which I was pretty sure it would, but I just didn't want to die. Luckily, I'm extremely good at downhill running, and I took my 2-3 miles of downhill (down-mountain?) running to hit some 6-7 minute paces at almost no effort (ok my feet and legs were taking a REAL beating from doing this, but my energy expenditure was low). That was Roanoke Mountain.
Next came Mill Mountain. We do basically the same thing, ascending this mountain to the famous star overlooking Roanoke. And according to the website “much of the course still to be run!” Yeah, that's what I want to hear. Then we go back down to the valley floor just so that we can go back out and climb another mountain from the lowest point. We get to climb the “scenic” Peakwood Avenue before reaching mile 20. Have you ever ran up and down 400 flights of stairs? Well, this is a good way to experience it without having to try to find such a piece of construction. So that's what makes it hard. Now, what makes it fun?
This is one of the biggest party marathons I've ever been to. They know how hard it is and love to celebrate the little victories. At the half-way point they were serving mimosas (champagne and orange juice). Who wouldn't take one of those when you feel like you've already ran a full marathon and are only halfway through? Screw it. We're drinking. On top of that, at mile 20, when you've summitted the final mountain, they serve you champagne straight. Of course, then you have to run down the mountain, and all that jostling with bubbly champagne leads to a lot of burping. And, that's not even the end of the hills, so it's still really just a little victory. They make sure you hit every little side street in Roanoke with a hill in it for the final 6 miles.
The townsfolk were very generous. Not only were the aid stations plentiful and well stocked with drink and food, but several makeshift spots were set up by the locals. People were running their sprinklers in the street for runners to run through. They were serving oreas and chips and gummy bears and water. Kids were out with squirt guns to hit you if you wanted. People were cheering on. Heck, at mile 16, I got one of the best surprises I've ever experienced in a marathon. There was a lady serving coffee to runners. Coffee! That's what you need at mile 16! (I'm not being sarcastic, I've always wanted coffee late in a race, but no one has ever had it before.) The caffeine really does give you a good boost.
Overall, the race was almost comical. I asked a volunteer why it wasn't held on April Fool's Day because it seemed like such a practical joke on runners. Every corner and turn led to another ridiculous climb. It just didn't seem possible that any place on the planet could just have so many hills – or mountains in this case. It's definitely worth experiencing, but it wouldn't be my recommendation as a first marathon.
JFK 50 (miler) Report
Soda is the cheat code for running (up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right , B, A -- yeah, I said it). I can see why most races don't have it. Especially, for coffee addicts like me, the sugar and caffeine is a HUGE pick-me-up in the middle of a race (considering when it became 3pm+ and I'd only had a single cup of hotel coffee at 5am). It really felt like cheating when I drank some.
The race strategy? Well, maybe I was foolish enough to believe I could make a strategy for an event I had barely run more than half of. So the plan was to relax during the Appalachain Trail (the first 15.5 miles), then be fresh to do a speedy 26.3 mile flat marathon along the C&O canal, then survive the remaining 8.4 miles. I know, it sounds so easy when you put it like that.
Now that I've laid out the three main sections (as chunked in my mind), let's delve into the first one. People like to complain about the Appalachain Trail (AT) section since it's so rocky and tough. This trail was amazing! After the Fire on the Mountain 50K, where the trail was barely visible, the markings were hard to follow, the footing was terrible, and the hills were continuous and insanely steep, this trail felt like I was coasting along in a Mercedes. The AT was wider, clearly visible, much better footing, and fairly flat (at least not insanely steep). Having said that, the switchbacks coming down off the mountain were as dangerous as anything in FOTM 50K. The AT definitely made me understand why people think trail running is a lot more fun than road running. It was super fun!
I hit the canal feeling pretty good. I needed a bathroom break ... this would be a recurring theme. I wonder if those guys in front ever hit the restroom. It would still be almost 6 hours without going if they did...that's probably more impressive than the actual 50 mile pace they set. I certainly neglected the psychological element of the C&O canal when I made my strategy. Sure it was flat, but it was the same exact thing for more than 4 hours (maybe 5, I really have no idea, everything was so confusing)! It was like treadmill running at it's worst. Dante's Inferno left out the circle of Hell where you just run the C&O canal forever.
I hit the final 8.4 miles of pavement, having walked very little to this point. Sure I walked after aid stations to eat, and I walked a few hills that were steep enough to warrant it in the early sections, but overall it was all running. These final 8.4 were the worst though. It was constant rolling hills after having completed 15.5 of mountain running, followed by a marathon. This was also the first spot where they marked mile markers so we became painfully aware of just how slowly the miles were passing now. The muscles connecting top of my foot to my shins were hurting terribly badly at this point. I didn't even know these muscles existed before. At the final mile marker, I just started running as hard as I could, knowing if I stopped I wasn't going to get started again.
Alright, I've bored you enough with the pure "facts" of the race. Now time to address some of the craziness that is 50 miles. For instance, once you've been out there for a while, you start thinking these totally weird things. I mean I probably shouldn't even mention it because now it just sounds stupid, but it seemed so profound at the time. I was asking myself "What is the true nature of running?" With follow up things like "If I'm running slower than I can walk, is it still running?" Ha! But mostly it was just overwhelming doubt that this was even possible. Sure, your first marathon is hard, but your body doesn't so totally break down the way it does with 10 hours of running.
The mood swings were insane. I'd get so depressed in the miles 30-40 followed by times of almost complete euphoria. It was just still so far, and I felt terrible. How could anyone ever complete the distance? But then it was almost like I was completely fresh (after a soda, maybe?), and I kept telling myself I had to milk it for all it was worth because I may never feel that way again. In hindsight, I was probably hitting the wall over and over again and finally working my way out of it through eating or drinking or electrolyte tables or some combination. In miles 42-50, this didn't happen as much because I convinced myself that if it really came down to it, I could walk the final miles and still finish -- so there was at least always the hope of finishing at some point, but there was still doubt even there since my muscles just were completely shutting down.
Somewhere after mile 35, I developed the "goofy step." I'm gonna patent this thing. Your legs no longer work correctly, so instead of stepping forward, you sort of try to swing your leg forward (no bending of the knees mind you) by thrusting your hip forward. Yes, this was my style of running for 15 miles. I think part of it was being so brain-dead that I didn't even consider trying to run normally anymore. This was the most logical thing. But seriously, if you haven't run for that long before, it's really hard to describe. Your muscles seriously won't work anymore. They just completely stop responding. This didn't even happen at my 32 mile event (aka, not all ultra distances are created equal).
Ah, the aid stations. One cool thing about this event is that there is an aid station competition, so some of them go all out trying to win. The one that sticks out is the Christmas/North pole themed one. It was all decorated with a candy-cane mile marker and whatnot. Speaking of which after 30 miles, I was too stupid with fatigue, that mostly the aid stations were a blur. I sort of stood there for a few seconds looking at the food/drinks in front of me and grabbed a handful of something and kept going.
Let's compare aid stations for this 50 miler vs. FOTM 50K. At the 50K they tended to be at least 6 miles apart. Every time you got to the next one you made significant progress. At JFK they tended to be 2-3 miles apart. We were making almost no progress between them -- so demotivational! Benefits of shorter distance: you can convince yourself to just run to the next one (and then the next, and then the next...), and if you screw up eating or something it can be fixed fairly soon. A problem with shorter distances: even if you only spend 2 minutes at them, you can easily add on over a half hour or even a full hour to your time. Benefit of longer distance: if you carry the right stuff you won't be wasting time standing there stupid with fatigue trying to figure out what's happening, and every aid station marks significant progress. Problem with longer distance: if you screw up you are in serious trouble.
It's funny to see the ages of the people finishing directly around me: 50, 40, 53, 25 (me), 53, 53. One of these things is not like the other ones.... It was cool to hear that some people were finishing their 10, 15, 20, 25, or even 30th time! This race even gets passed down from generation to generation. Some people's parents and grandparents ran this race, and now they are doing it too. Very cool!
I'm sure I'm missing things. So much happens in 50 miles, but I guess I covered all the obvious stuff for now.
Fire on the Mountain 50K
For those of you who haven't done single track trail races through the mountains, let me tell you a little bit about the differences between a trail 50K and a road marathon. A trail 50K is a lot like trying to run 32 miles over a course with hurdles during an earthquake while invisible people are trying to grab and punch the top of your feet. You have to leap over fallen trees the whole time, there's no solid footing (especially when the ground is covered with leaves and you can't see what's there), and roots and rocks keep tripping you (and smashing your feet). Speaking of which, another major difference is the blood. Dear god there's a lot of blood in a trail race. Everyone's got it on them. I got it on my bib -- that's definitely never happened before. Was that blood mine? Who knows? Probably. And the hills. I suppose running a race with the word "mountain" in the title should have tipped me off that we'd be traversing up and down and all around a mountain, but what do I know? Any 10 miles of this race had more elevation change than the entirety of any other full marathon I've ran ... and that says a lot after Freedom's Run. Alright, on to my actual run.
I went out at a blistering pace. Well, it felt pretty slow, but I didn't realize the perils of trail running yet. All that leaping, and never being able to get into a rhythm, and getting up from the ground really elevates the heart and simulates sprinting (even as slow as 9 or 10 minute miles). So the first section (aka the "Red Trail") involved an insane number of stream crossings in water that probably would be frozen if it wasn't moving so fast (yes many times we had to wade through up to our knees). The trail kept weaving back and forth over the stream, and I found myself asking "who builds a trail like this?" then wondering "who even builds trails? Is that a real thing?" Most runners wait until after the run to take an ice bath, we were doing it during the race! Anyway, there was a real threat of hypothermia since it was the start of the race and the temperature was still hovering around freezing, and my feet were completely numb after getting out of the water (every time I started to warm up, we had to plunge in again). I heard that some people slipped and fell completely in the water. Ugh. During this section I tripped hard. A root or something smashed into the top of my foot, and with mesh running shoes, there is no protection there. The cool part was how I hit the ground, rolled, and was back on my feet still going. The guy right behind me commented that he fell earlier, but it wasn't nearly as graceful. The downside was that the pain was so unbearable especially with the cold streams that I was definitely considering dropping out. Once we got past the stream section, the pain went went away ... somehow. We'll see what tomorrow brings.
This section also had the "Billy Goat Trail" that wound along the edge of a shear cliff. The trail was also super steep up and down, to the point where some of us resorted to basically sliding down on our butts to avoid plunging off the cliff to our deaths. I guess there was like 4 miles of this.
After 9 miles, I had felt like I ran an entire marathon. Sure, softer trail may be easier on the knees or something, but you're really utilizing a ton of muscles and making agile movements the whole time (plus all the falling and getting up can't be good on the body). But I had definitely learned at this point that trail running could not be approached like a road race. I was in major trouble because I started out like a road race. I was probably making good time at this point. I estimate I was around 5th in the field and some of the front people may have been relayers. The hills were really taking their toll too. There was no reprieve. After halfway (when I didn't think I should drop out anymore, but was pretty beat up), we did the logging road for about 7 miles. The website says "only 1 real hill". Well, I know what hill that was because it was HUGE, but the constant other hills weren't trivial that's for sure. I was getting passed a lot at this point, but it was also right after the relay exchange, so it's hard to tell who was catching me and who had fresh legs.
I really ate and drank a lot at the next aid station which I think helped bring on a second wind that really helped with the final 3rd of the race.
The Purple Trail ("Mountain Bike Trail" -- named after sir Mountain Bike of Wales) was the final trail. I think it was supposed to be the easiest, but the ground was so covered with leaves that the footing was terrible. We couldn't make up any time on the down hills because of it. It was also the worst marking in my opinion. I wandered off trail several times and had to backtrack to find where I was. One time I was on path but several trees were downed right in the way. I thought for sure I was off, but it was correct. There were "5 miles" after the last aid station to the finish, but it was brutally long. I met up with a girl there that really helped carry me to the end. Apparently we had both thought about dropping at halfway. After the race, I thanked her for helping, but she said I was the one that helped her! Apparently I kept laughing and joking about the craziness of race (hard to believe, right?), and it kept her spirits up.
Was it fun after all that? Sure. In retrospect I actually did have a lot of fun even though it didn't seem like it at the time. Would I do it again? I think I need a lot more trail experience before trying this one again.
Empire State Marathon Full Report
Another marathon that starts cool in the low 40s. In a hope that it would warm up, I pulled the sleeves off my running jacket and kept a long sleeve tech shirt on underneath. This would turn out to make for an interesting maneuver later on in the race.
There was tons of parking right next to the starting line in the parking lot of Alliance Bank Stadium in Syracuse, NY. It was definitely not the nightmare that some marathons can be.
The port-a-pottie experience was unlike any other that I've ever seen. They had carpets on the floor with potpourri on the walls and flowers. I'd take those port-a-potties any day over a lot of public restrooms that I've been in.
I think most people would agree that the start was very sudden. Later, I found out that the National Anthem was sung and there was a countdown, but it was very crowded and noisy so most of us missed it.
I was worried about the aid stations since the map showed only 6 stations total with Gel's at mile 7 and 17. But we cruised out onto 370 and within 2 miles already saw our first aid station. It would turn out that there were significantly more aid stations than advertised, almost all with Gel's of some sort.
Soon after, we turned onto the Onondaga Lake Parkway that runs along Onondaga lake for 6 miles. It was a nice little paved running path, but secluded from much outside observers. Leaving the parkway, and heading back out onto 370, was the relay exchange.
We turned off 370 onto a side street for 3 miles. This was where I got interviewed by a reporter. She ran alongside me and asked me questions, taking notes on her pad. After a while, she asked if she could use it for her article and ran ahead to take a picture of me. This was a pretty funny, new experience. I didn't realize papers were in the habit of hiring runners to do running interviews during a marathon.
A little before mile 10, I managed to slowly undo the pins from my number (attached to the vest I had) and reattach them to the shirt on underneath. I'm sure this caused me to slow down tremendously especially since it was during our first major uphill. There was some stabbing of my fingers during this fiasco, but it was nothing compared to what was about to happen. As I approached my parents, I waved the vest at them to indicate they should pick it up. In my excitement to look far ahead towards them, my foot hit the pole of a sign indicating where we should go. I flew forward and smashed into the ground only 10 miles into the race! My hands were torn up and my right knee was bleeding. I popped back up and kept going. As usual when something like that happens an adrenaline rush took over. I sped past shirtless guy, apparently the first shirtless guy in this cold weather according to the last aid station girls. They were quite happy to see him.
After another jaunt along 370, we took another side street, this time to get to the B'ville diner. This was a terrible idea in my opinion. We had to take a weird sandy path uphill with no foot traction to get to the halfway point. It made for pretty crappy running and provided ample opportunity to get crap in your shoes for the second half.
Miles 13 to 17 were pretty hilly compared to the rest of the course, but really were nothing compared to Freedom's Run two weeks ago. They were also stocked with aid stations and spectators, so it went by in a flash. We also passed an Anheuser Busch factory during this stint (this led me to falsely believe there would be free beer at the end, bah!).
Around 18, right before heading back along the Parkway along the water, there was a band that was not yet playing. I yelled out to them that it was my favorite song, and they got a kick out of that.
The Parkway was much windier on the way back making for some hard running when we were heading in the direction towards the water. Aid stations suddenly become sparse during the final 6 miles, where we really needed them! But there wasn't any during the final 3 (well, maybe one, but it felt like nothing)! The sun was out and beating down on us. It might as well have been 90 out even though it couldn't have been more than 55. I was really struggling during the final miles and let some age groupers pass me I think.
Turns out the effort earned me 7th in the age group and 60th overall. I was actually expecting much less competition at a first marathon in a small city. The Freedom's Run two weeks ago had much less competition, and it's a pretty well established race in a historical city.
Overall, this could become a pretty good marathon over time. The weather was nice, cool, and runnable. The season was perfect in the fall making a decent course into a beautiful course since all the trees were turning. I'd like to see some real food at the aid stations (bananas, oranges, etc) and maybe changing out that weird sandy part.
Freedom's Run Marathon Full Report
I apologize ahead of time for my mindless ramblings.
It was 6:25 am, and I stood hovered over a small cup of coffee, shivering in the 40 degree chilled air. Rain sprinkled down over the runners. The sun hadn't yet touched our frozen skin. I dreaded taking off my waterproof wind-breaker, but I figured things would warm up once the sun came out and I started moving. I looked out left and right. There was a nervous energy at this small event. The starting line was a piece of duct tape and two orange cones, and the announcer called people by name. He reminded us never to give too much even up to mile 22 since the hills would be devastating. I chuckled at the challenge. The other 5 marathons that I've ran have been predominantly flat, and certainly not something where the announcer is standing there literally telling people not to worry about PRs, but to stay in a condition that merely allows you to finish. After all, it wasn't too long ago that I signed up for the "Dreaded Druid Hills 10K" in Baltimore for just such a challenge. Little did I know that this marathon would make Dreaded Druid Hills seem like child's play.
The start was unremarkable, almost as if it hadn't occured, but people started moving forward. Luckily, the rain had stopped. We went around a quick U-turn within the first hundred feet, and at the apex, I could see every single runner in the entire field. This would be impossible at even moderately sized marathons. I'm also overwhelmed with this sense of awe at the people there. It's so unbelievable that so many people will gather each weekend to run 26.2 miles together. The marathon crowd is more like a community than a race. Sure, people will meet at cross-country to compete, but 98% of the field at a marathon is not there to compete, but...dare I say it? Share. They're sharing an experience. The experience of pain and victory, together, no matter who wins.
I easily fell into my pre-10K marathon routine. This involves a ton of relaxing and deep breathing. I remind myself to loosen up and not bother passing anyone yet. The first 10K is a warm-up in a marathon. We trotted along a road which quickly turned into a dirt road heading out to Murphy's Farm (I don't know Murphy or what the deal with his farm was, but it was labelled so that's how I know what it was). A friend of mine who ran it before warned me about the trail running section and how easy it was to trip. This didn't seem so bad, but little did I know this was most definitely not the trail running section. We got off the dirt road at mile 2 and onto real pavement where the field opened up a bit.
Somewhere around mile 4 they had real indoor plumbing toilets as we passed through historic Harper's Ferry (or Bolivar or some town thereabouts). I mumbled something asking whether this was some sort of luxury cruise or a marathon. I'd wait for the port-a-potties, thank you very much (hey, if I'm paying for a certain experience, I better be getting that experience). Then, right before we went over this scary footbridge crossing the good ol' Potomac River, I joked with one of the volunteers, trying to get him to let me run through an abandoned railroad tunnel. Apparently that was off-course. Boo! We want the tunnel!
At about mile 5, we hit the trails my friend had warned me about. We'd be running these things for the next 10 miles along the edge of the Potomac. Wow, this was a scenic and fun and amazing trail run. I hit my stride shortly after (mile 5) and allowed myself to start passing people, trusting that the pace I hit now would be correct for the rest of the race. It felt good, even, not pushing hard so that I was out of breath. Save that stuff for the 5 and 10Ks. At mile 7, the only person to pass me the whole race passed me (well, some people passed while I screwed around at aid stations, but I mean while running). He was huffing and puffing really hard, and it wasn't long before I passed him back and never saw him again (I always wonder if people who go out that hard end up finishing...). At mile 10, I was alone. Seriously, where did everyone go?
Mile 11, the rain started again, and that was when I wished I had my wind-breaker back on, considering the 10mph gusts and rain and mid-50s weather. I knew it was a bad idea, but I started pushing the pace to keep warm...and maybe catch up to some people. Let me learn my own lessons, announcer guy! Don't push the pace my butt. Ah, I'll take this moment to describe the aid station fiascos that were occuring. I tried bringing my own powder to mix with water instead of using Gatorade. It's made of maltodextrin instead of sucrose or fructose. Screw it, instead of me trying to describe it, I'm using something called Amino: http://www.succeedscaps.com/main_amino.html. So I'm stashing these pouches of powder in my pockets, but my shorts are getting soaked from the rain. So I'm trying to pull them out and they won't come out or come out stuck together. Then I tear the top off and powder goes everywhere, but then it's on my arms and stuff and the rain turns it into sticky, sugary stuff. Needless to say, I probably lost some time doing that fun game -- plus there are probably some awesome pictures of me with weird powder/orange stuff all over me. Maybe I'll be tested for doping because of it...
Mile 15, the much anticipated section of the course is coming up. The trail along the Potomac finally ends. It's a confusing nightmare here since the 5K/10K/Half/Full are all merging on the one section of the course and then go in different directions! I punched a guy out that ran into me...just kidding...maybe. Actually, it wasn't crowded there, but I did get redirected down the wrong path, luckily a marathoner who knew what was going on steered me back on course. Anyway, this first section was a nice intro to the rest of our lives for the next several hours since immediately, once we turned off the river trail, we hit a steep incline. I welcomed the challenge as if it were a 5K and blew past some people who were apparently taking the marathon more seriously than me and conserving energy for the next 10 miles of pure hells (oh did I spell it hells? I meant hills). This is along Miller's Sawmill Rd for those of you still reading for some reason.
We marched on towards Antietam National Battlefield. At this point, we were combined with the half marathoners who started an hour after us. I felt super fast as I started working my way through the back of the half marathon pack (most of them were walking). We had passed mile 17, and I still felt strangely good, running all the hills. Then I saw the mother of all hills. Antietam National Battlefield was no joke. To add insult to injury, the half marathoners went straight up this hill, but the full were required to cover some extra distance before the rest of the course matched exactly with the half. We were redirected along a "quick" out and back to Burnside Bridge. Nevermind, this was the mother of all hills! It was a steady half mile super steep climb, then a torturous decline along the same route. A nice lady sat at the top in a jeep reminding us to enjoy the view. Ha! Good one! Once we reached the bottom of that sucker we were required to go up the thing I originally thought was going to be an insane challenge.
I got my first company of the race here (here, being the semi-mother of all hills). A guy who's done a bunch of 50Ks and 50 Milers in New York state was asking how I liked my shoes while we were going up that climb. He was walking as I passed him, but he entered into a trot to talk. I felt my pace slow, but it was probably for the best here. I said they spoiled me and I was going to have a hard time finding something I liked as much as these (NB MT101). I tried the Minimus which had better ground feel, but I couldn't get used to the 4mm heel drop. He said he also liked how they were so light but the bottom was super tough for hard trail runs, which I agreed with. He asked about how the little toe rubs against the side of the shoe, and I said I noticed that when I first started in them, but don't get that anymore for some reason. Then we chatted about some races we'd done, and he finally fell back again and I resumed my pace.
When we finally got out of Antietam and onto Main St in Sharpsburg, I was starting to feel it. This was maybe around mile 22. Previously, this was the feeling I'd get around mile 16, so I was pretty happy about it, but I knew it could still spell disaster before the end if I wasn't careful. At the aid station, I refilled with fresh chemistry experiment...I mean drink, ate some brownies and pretzels, and grabbed a gel. I popped an electrolyte pill to make sure I was keeping the water I drank and took off towards the final 5K.
The whole final stretch was along the super small shoulder of a road that wasn't closed down. It made for hard running since I was still steadily passing the half marathoners. I had to keep checking for cars before pulling out into the road and passing. It was mostly uneventful though. I never felt much worse than at 22 and even gave a good push the final mile. I had no clue what my time was since I don't wear a watch and no mile marker had a clock. I also had no idea what place I was in since I kept passing people not really sure if they were half or full or what the people ahead me were running. Turns out I did well enough for 3rd in my age group.
Overall, it was a beautiful, scenic and challenging course. I think history buffs would have enjoyed it more than me and probably have written a completely different report since I completely left all of that out. lol. The moral of the story is store your powder differently if it is raining. Thank you and goodnight.