Friday, November 13, 2009

Chris Reed: 2009 MMTR race report

MMTR 50 Mile Trail Race Report

Chris Reed

Five years ago I got a hold of my first issue of Trial Runner. Within the issue was an article about the Mountain Masochist Trail Run. Like a kid looking through his new toys on Christmas Day, I paged through the magazine and read and reread the article describing the beauty and challenge of the Mountain Masochist Trail Run. In 2006 I ran my first Masochist and thought it would be my last. I thought the novelty would wear off and that I would never return to Virginia to run this race again. Boy, I was wrong. This marked the 14th time I’ve made the journey from Pennsylvania to Virginia since 2006 to run one of Virginia’s ultras. This was my 4th attempt at MMTR.

My family and I drove down to Virginia on Friday afternoon to arrive just in time for the pre-race meeting. We got to our hotel around 9:30 PM and I organized my materials for the race. The plan was for my wife, Raj, and my kids, Eshan and Zia to crew me throughout the race. When we finally went to bed, this plan was a bit tentative, as ¾’s of the Reed household was sick during the past week and we were tired from a long drive. 2:30 AM arrived and I heard Raj say “Chris, time to wake up – let’s get ready to go to the start.” I was psyched, I didn’t sleep for long, but I slept hard with no tossing and turning. We were off at 3:50 AM on our way to the Kirkley Hotel to follow the busses out to the James River Visitor Center. We got to the hotel – and guess what we forgot – the crewing directions!!! Aghh! Luckily, I printed out directions to James River Visitor Center from our hotel and luckily (very luckily) they were correct. We went back to our hotel to get the crewing instructions and then started on the journey to the start. We drove on 501 and eventually made a left onto the parkway – hey… this looks familiar, yes! It is the course and up ahead is that bright, generator-powered light that marked the start!!!

I made my final preparations and worked my way to the starting line. 30 seconds to the start, lots of hoots and hollers. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1! And we are off into the darkness. I made a decision early on to run the 6-mile road section fast and I did. I ripped by aid station 2 and saw Raj and kids getting out of the car and I yelled to them that I would meet them at the next aid station. When I saw them again, I was running in 7th place and feeling great. It was really special getting to see them at the aid stations. Zia and Eshan would take turns taking my empty water bottle and getting me a full one. Raj was the crew caption (the boss). I ran bits of the first half with Jeremy Ramsey. It was fun and challenging trying to stick with him – especially on the descents.

I continued to feel strong during the first half and had my heart set on running around 3:45 for the 1st half. I knew that if I could run about 3:45, I would have a chance of breaking 7:30. I wasn’t wearing a watch, but at the 26.9 mile aid station someone told me it was 9:15 AM – which meant 3:45 – yes! I refueled and took some inspirational high-energy tunes to jam to on my ascent of Buck Mountain. I continued to feel strong and passed Jeremy and Glenn. I practiced my run/walk technique on the hills. This involves picking a point (like a particular tree) to start running and a place to stop (like a course ribbon). Run-walk-repeat. I got to the top of Buck Mountain and started jamming it to the next aid station. Before I knew it I was in the loop. I stopped briefly to adjust my waist pack and Jeremy came bolting past me. I knew I was in trouble, cause Jeremy is wicked on single track, especially on downhill. I tried to hold on as long as possible. During the loop, I had a bit of a low point and had to regroup when I came out.

The next part of the run was basically uneventful. I tried to continue going as fast as I could. At the 13th aid station, I asked a volunteer what time it was – she said 11:45 AM. Oh man, that means I have 1 hour and 15 minutes to finish in 7:30. The aid station sign says something like 41.5 miles. Well, well, lets do the math 50 minus 41.5 equals 8.5, wrong! You forgot to apply the Horton transformation! 50 minus 41.5 equals a tad less than 10 on this last section of MMTR, duh! 10 miles in 1 hour and 15 minutes –not likely for me. I accepted the fact and decided to shoot for breaking 7:45. As a side note, the last 10 miles of this run is incredible. Beautiful trail with a nice layer of fall leaves swish, swishing beneath your feet – really awesome! I ran hard, but smart to the next aid station – time = 11:57 AM. Got to the last aid station and asked for the time = 12:42 PM. Certainly, no chance of a 1:00 PM finish, but maybe a 1:15 PM finish. I downed one more gel and tore down the mountain. I reached the wheeled 1 mile mark and ran hard to the finish, finishing in 7:39:32. I was very happy with my finish. I had a wonderful day in the woods and was grateful to have my family there to support me.

During the race I ate mostly Clif Gels with a couple of salted potatoes at aid stations. I alternated between Nuun and straight water. I took about 1-2 Endurolytes every other aid station. I carried one water bottle in a Nathan waste pack. I wore my new pair of Inov-8 Roclite 318 GTX shoes. These shoes worked out great. This is my first pair of Goretex shoes. My feet did not get wet and they were not hot during the run. The traction on these shoes is incredible.

Overall, I was very happy with my race. I gained the confidence to go out a little faster than I usually do, I had a great day meeting and talking with people on the trail. I hope I can come back for many more Mountain Masochists in the future.

Thanks to Dr. Clark Zealand and Dr. David Horton for making this such a great, memorable event. Also, thanks to all of the wonderful volunteers – you guys are great. And finally, thanks to my family for crewing me.