2 weeks ago, Joe and I headed to Virginia for a training weekend that included a 50 mile trail run. We decided the Bel Monte 50 mile endurance run would offer a great opportunity to train on hard terrain, especially since the MMT 100 is right around the corner. The Bel Monte offered an extremely challenging, yet pleasant course. The course had many long climbs that made your legs and mind linger in the pain cave, as well as beautiful single track that beckoned a fast pace. If you love the adventure trail running offers you would love this race. From the endless scenic views, to getting your feet drenched as you bound through numerous streams and rivers, it was a blast.
It rained for several days prior to the race but lucky for us sunshine was on tap and temps would rise from the frigid 22 degrees in the morning to the mid 50’s by the early afternoon, perfect running weather. Half asleep and after heading to the porta potty many times, I headed up toward the start wondering how my run was going to pan out. My body was tired but my energy was positive. I was saying to myself, "let’s go"! I always get excited to explore and see new areas.
Heading into the woods, the trails were a bit slick from the cold morning temps. I took a pretty good fall within the first 4 miles when I slid right across a foot bridge and landed face first. Joe actually reminded me to be careful on them when we ran part of the course the day before. I got myself up quickly and right behind me were fellow ultra buddies asking if I were ok. We all ran together for the first 22 miles and enjoyed some great conversations along the way, which always helps the miles tick off a little bit faster.
I was running along feeling pretty good and enjoying the time out on the trails when all of sudden a person at one of the wonderfully manned aid stations told me I was in 2nd place and 1st wasn't to far ahead. Taken that in, I ran along thinking, if I wanted to race or just run along at an strolling pace? I turned on my music and allowed it to make the decision for me. I figured if could get my mind focused on the race again and not just strolling around, I would be all set. So I increased my pace. changed my focus and let nature take its course. I ran into Joe as he decided to mountain bike the course, he lifted my spirits and I ended up catching up to the first place female who was 5 miles from the finish line. I introduced myself, chatted for a bit, then ran on, not looking back. I reached the finish line and for the first time I was happy not to have 50 more miles to go.... Thanks again to everyone who organized and volunteered at this race!