Holiday Lake. In the words of Hannah Bright, the place where we freeze our a$$es off and get yelled at by David Horton. That was pretty much the theme of this year’s race. The start was 9 degrees, windy, and my bones were freezing. I was excited by Holiday Lake 50k, it was my first ultra (3 years ago!!!), where I did terribly. The progress I’ve made since then is unfathomable, and I’m really happy that this sport is in my life. So anyways, me Jonathan and Adrienne were the only ones manly (and womanly) enough to camp, and having 4 sleeping bags was definitely the move. Prerace festivities passed by quickly, and soon we were running up the road into the dark, cold abyss. Me, Mike Jones, Leif, and a couple others were out in the front, moving a little faster than I was comfortable with. The race is so flat, I didn’t know what to do. So I just ran. Early miles passed by incredibly quickly, I was chatting with Leif and Matt Thompson, a Crozet runner.
Adrienne was awesome as my crew, flawlessly switching bottles with me and not letting me stop by the fires that the aid station workers were lucky to have. Matt and I were 4th and 5th, rolling along at a steady pace and crushing the last singletrack to the turnaround. I could see the front 3 runners already on their way back from lap 1, and it kinda sucked because they were all 5 minutes ahead. Then we turned around and the hunt was afoot. I ran strong and hard all the way to mile 20, and then sucked at the powerline section (where I got passed by Nicholas DiPirro, the first time I’ve been passed in the 2nd half of an ultra in a damn long time). He was rolling and I couldn’t keep up. My hamstrings were cramping like crazy in the cold but somehow I kept running the same pace I had been the whole race. The last 4 miles were wonderful, back on the singletrack and passing 2 people and sprinting downhill to the finish and limping around and congratulating the first 2 finishers and trying not to freeze and noting how hard flat races are. And flat races really are hard. This race involved so much fast running, no hiking, no critical climbs, just plain pushing through the whole time. It’s kind of beautiful, kind of frustrating, very competitive, and very challenging. It was super cool to start the season off with a completely different kind of race, mixing it up and giving me confidence that I can still run a fast 50k with no specific training and no taper whatsoever. It would’ve been nice to win, but I ran as hard as I could and a 3rd place is pretty decent.
Everything went pretty well. I was happy with my shoe choice (Salomon Sense Pro, one of my favorites), fueling (just a Simple Bottle, which froze a couple times but it was fine, and 6 gels) I’m feeling really strong for Georgia Death Race. That Golden Ticket is mine. A race with mountains please. Oh and Mt Cheaha 50k in 2 weeks! On the team front: Spike Mike got 7th, Mike Jones got 8th, Leif got 9th, Headlamp Henry 12th, Brett and Trevor 17 and 19 (Brett with an insane 70 minute 50k PR). Hannah 3rd for the women!! Royce and Ginger wrecking the course. And Thilan, Josh, and Teagan crushing their first ultras: congrats everybody you’re wonderful people.