Ultra Runners


Holliday Lake 50k++ (Read 422 times)

Best Present Ever

    I'm registering for this race today. Any thoughts from folks who've run it?  It will be my first ultra.  I know it's not a very ultra-y ultra.


      Don't know anything about it except the race director, D. Horton, is well known for his races.  Looks like a good first trail ultra!  Good luck and report back on how it went.



        I did Holiday Lake the last 2 years and probably will do it again in 2012.  It is a low key, fun,  and well organized race in a nice setting.

        Staying at the 4-H camp was good for me and my friends.  There are a lot of people doing it as their first ultra (I did), many of them college students.  A small number of runners do not make the cutoffs.

        There is very little pavement, maybe a mile.  Mostly it seems like forest service roads / double track, but there is some single track.  There are a couple extra miles beyond 50k.  I wore trail shoes but it wouldn't be necessary unless it is extra wet or snowy.  There is one real stream crossing with water about calf deep, but my friends found a fallen tree to scoot across.  Aid stations at about 4 mile intervals meant I didn't need to carry much more than a water bottle.  I found it useful to read the race reports available from the race website.

        Best Present Ever

          Super long race report if anyone is interested.  Short form:  it was fun!  I had a good race. I'd do this again.  This was my first ultra.  Long version:


          It started with two running friends meeting my race partner, Lisa,  and me at my house with a bucket of treats and balloons to celebrate our first ultra.  Lisa and I then drove down together on Friday.  We stayed in the 4-H Educational Center bunkhouses at the start of the race.  We had some of the dinner provided for us – school-cafeteria-style spaghetti and tomato sauce, iceberg lettuce salad with gallon-sized pump bottles of assorted ‘dressing’ (1000 Island!  French!), bread sticks and something bready/cheesy that I don’t have a name for.  Oh, and squares of sheet cake.  All served by honest-to-god lunch ladies in hairnets.  So we had some spaghetti, and then went back to our bunk to eat some of the food we’d wisely brought with us.  David Horton  (RD) gave a talk complete with ‘drawings’ for prizes.  ‘Drawings’ because he’d pull a name, look at it, and decide if he wanted to give that person a prize.  Usually it would take 3-4 names before he’d hit on one he liked.  After the ‘drawing’, he gave a talk and introduced people who’d done different ultra-y things.  My favorite was the guy who ran the race last year, went straight to the airport afterwards and flew to LA.  Monday morning, he ran home to Lynchburg on Route 60. 


          Lisa and I skipped the pre-race briefing for newbies, being exhausted.  We had arrived at Holliday Lake early enough to secure a bed in a heated bunkhouse (vs unheated cabin) but not early enough to nab a lower bunk.  We also ended up in top bunks with no ladders.  This wasn’t really a problem until I awoke at 3:30 very thirsty and needing to pee.  Since I’m short, getting out of the bunk involved a drop, and I was worried my thump would wake everyone up (there were 16 of us bunking together).  So I quietly read my New Yorker by flashlight and waited for the first person to get up at 4:30 and rescue me. 


          Again, Lisa and I were glad we’d come supplied with our own food given the sweet rolls and bready bagels put out for breakfast.  We were fueled up and ready for the start at 6:30.  The weather turned out to be fairly mild – mid-30s at the start – and was supposed to get to the low 40s and be partly cloudly.  I decided to wear capris, two long sleeved shirts and my thinnest gloves, with no hat.  I had originally planned that Claude (my husband) would come crew for us, but given his work situation (he prosecuting a high-profile murder right now), he wasn’t able to come.  I packed a drop bag with a few things, but couldn’t really think of much I’d want at the halfway point when I’d see it again. 


          At 6:30 we started.  As promised my others, it was crowded.  We ran about a ½ mile on road before turning onto single track trail.  Lisa immediately stepped into a hole and twisted her ankle (it was dark remember?)  It was nerve-wracking for a few minutes, but she was able to shake it off. (By the way, I saw that hole on the way out – it was really a hole, about foot sized and ankle deep, just at the side of the trail). 

          For the first two miles, we walked more than we ran because of the crowding on the hilly single track that was the first few miles.  Even when the trail turned to smoother double track, it was still hard to get a rhythm.  I felt impatient, but kept telling myself that this was  good as it kept me from going too fast.  About 5 miles in, I took my first fall and landed hard on my right knee.  Yikes.  I had to stop for a minute to catch my breath.  Lisa, who had been stuck in the crowd behind me, caught up to me then, and we ran together for a while.  Coming through the next aid station, she stopped to fool with her shoe, and I ran on figuring she’d catch up later.  Soon, I stopped to pee and again take off my shoe so I could pull off the kinesio tape that had come unstuck, and she went past.  I decided to be glad that we’d gotten separated so that I could run my race without feeling pressed to keep up with her.  I was more concerned that I wasn’t going to be able to finish the race than I was about my time, and deliberately trying to keep my pace down to slower than 10 minute miles.  Because of the extreme slowness at the beginning, my overall pace was around 11:20 for much of the first loop, though most of my miles were faster. 


          As I came into the 3rd aid station, which is down a long hill, I saw Claude waiting!  I stopped to kiss and hug him and was thrilled to pieces.  He’d left a 5:30 to come down and find us.  He told me Lisa had come through a few minutes earlier and promised to meet me at the turn around.  We also chatted about what had happened in court on Friday as I’d lost all internet/phone when we got in to camp Friday night.  I headed back out pretty fast despite the work updates and canoodling.  At that point, I was running strong.  I had to slow down in the miles coming into the turnaround – it’s the narrowest, most technical part of the race.  Rocky single track along the side of a hill with a drop into the lake.  The hills aren’t extreme, but there are some short, steep spots.  This part also includes a long wooden staircase at the end of a bridge over the damn that creates the lake.  Lots of faster runners were coming toward us having turned around already, so I had to step to the side to let them by.   I kept moving as fast as I could because I wanted to get to the turnaround and see Claude again. 


          I came around the corner of a camp building heading to the turnaround, and there was Claude.  He filled my water bottle and I went to my drop bag and left my flashlight and my gloves and grabbed some potatoes from the aid station.  We chatted again.  He said Lisa had come through just ahead of me.  I came in at 3:08, which is faster than the 3:15 I’d hoped for.  He had to be back at work by midday, so I wouldn’t see him again.  I headed out, still feeling strong, still running around a 10 minute pace. 


          I got through the narrow lake trail pretty easily.  At some point, I met up with Lisa again.  The long stretch farthest from the turnaround is relatively flat, wide double track and fire road.  I hit a great rhythm here.  Lots of folks were walking the hills, but I felt like I just needed to keep moving and ran along steadily.  At this point, I was passing a lot of people.  I had a moment when I got to 20 miles and realized I had almost 13 miles to go.  Wow, that’s a lot of running.  I decided to focus on getting to 26 miles knowing that every mile after that would be more than I’d ever run before.  I kept a decent pace, but somewhere  around mile 27 or 28, started to fall.  First a windmilling near-fall, then an actual fall, then a second one.  I have some impressive bruises on my shins and knees.   This was the same stretch where I’d fallen on the way out.  I realized in the light that while it was fairly wide and flat, the trail was pretty rocky under the fallen leaves.   Given how tired I was, both muscle-tired and sleepy, I decided to slow down.  At this point, the folks who were near me pulled away, and there was no one in sight behind me.  For a while, I even wondered if I’d gotten lost.  This was territory that Lisa and I hadn’t covered on our one training run, and it was dark when we’d run through here the other direction.  Just as I began to wonder if I’d wandered on to the wrong part of the course – which makes no sense, because the course was well-marked with streamers and painted arrows, I came on a marking on the ground that said “one mile” with an arrow pointing in the direction I was going.  I took it as a sign I was indeed on the right course, but decided I must be dead last since no one was around.  I picked up my pace.  After about a half mile, I came out onto the road and really picked it up – my last .5 miles was an 8:30 pace.  I ran in, feeling strong and happy.  32.5 miles according to my Garmin.   Finish time about 6:22.  The clock might have said 6:23, I’m not sure.  Lisa came in it at 6:42, also having picked up her pace at the end.    Overall, an awesome day. 

          Demon of Bad Decisions

            somewhere  around mile 27 or 28, started to fall.  First a windmilling near-fall, then an actual fall, then a second one.  I have some impressive bruises on my shins and knees.  


            Congrats!  You are officially a member of the club. Wink  (I keep thinking we need a thread here with pictures of everyone's legs after trail races.)


            Good race report.  I'm glad your husband could meet up with you.  It sounds like you had a great day.  I hope you had fun and are planning on more ultras.

            I want to do it because I want to do it.  -Amelia Earhart

            Imminent Catastrophe

              Those are called "Horton Miles" for a reason. You picked a good race for your first ultra, don't always expect them all to be so well done.

              "Able to function despite imminent catastrophe"

               "To obtain the air that angels breathe you must come to Tahoe"--Mark Twain

              "The most common question from potential entrants is 'I do not know if I can do this' to which I usually answer, 'that's the whole point'.--Paul Charteris, Tarawera Ultramarathon RD.


              √ Javelina Jundred Jalloween 2015

              Cruel Jewel 50 mile May 2016

              Western States 100 June 2016

                Congrats on your race.  Sounds like you had a good experience.  No doubt your own frame of mind and expectations were a big part of that.

                I was there too.  Was looking for someone that looked like the picture on your profile page, but didn't find/recognize the match.   I really like this race.  No race report yet, but I was happy with the whole thing.  I think I stepped in the same hole at the beginning of the trail.

                Good job!  When's the next one?

                Best Present Ever

                  Thanks for the kind words. WG, you saying I'm a real trail runner makes me feel like one. Perfessor, i was warned about Horton miles and he puts on a good race, but i could happily skip the sexist 'humor.' Chuck, wish I'd been more organized, we could have met. I wouldn't stand out in a crowd at all, as a 5'3" 46 year old white women with short hair. No dearth of middle aged white women in that crowd. my husband might have. Tt here weren't a lot a big African American men at the aid stations. We were pretty close together - I wonder if you ever passed me out there? (i jut realized i was wearing te same shirt as in my avatar - my lucky race shirt!) I doubt I'll run another ultra again this year. My life is prett hectic this spring. Maybe next year. Maybe Promised Land 2013?

                    Kathryn, I imagine we did pass but I was definitely watching the trail so I could stay on my feet.  And while probably your husband stood out more, my aid station focus was for a quick in and out.  I only remember one person in particular that I didn't already know.  He filled my bottle twice.


                    My brief report:

                    Context: I entered the race for a fun extra long run in the middle of marathon training for Boston in April. It would be my 3rd time at Holiday Lake.  Ten local running friends were doing this race so it was a fun road trip driving together, staying at the camp, etc.  In late December I developed heel pain that increased till it interrupted my training plan and sent me to a doctor.  Three weeks of big cutback in miles including 7 days of no running.  Adjusted goals to finish upcoming races rather than PR.

                    Plan/expectations: run comfortably, manage heel pain, enjoy the day, finish(or drop) without further injury.  Run as much as possible on downhills and flats, walk uphills to avoid stressing the plantar fascia tendon that connects to where my heel hurts.


                    Race day: Dressed for running in low to mid 30 degree temperatures without rain/snow.  Bio-freeze on sore foot, tylenol and more bio-freeze in belt pack.  Inov8 Roclite 295 trail shoes with heel pads (modified to give more room for sore spot).


                    Race summary: I managed to run mostly normal effort for a long run, following the run/walk plan above.  Took 2 tylenol tablets 3 times at about 1 hour 30 minute intervals.  Reapplied bio-freeze at about 20 miles.  Ate a mix of sweet and salty at aid stations.  Mostly drank my own sportdrink, water, coke.  Was into the halfway turnaround at 3 hours.  Felt stronger coming into the middle of the second loop and my heel never got too painful to the point of setting off some other problem due to compensation.  Leg muscles definitely felt the extra miles and hills but everything kept working. At the 2nd stream crossing around 26 miles, I stood in the stream for about 30 extra seconds to get a little icing effect for my foot.  With about 5 miles to go I caught up to Janice who was bunking with the ladies I travelled with.  We stayed together

                    chatting away the rest of the run to ignore the fatigue and discomfort.  Finish time 6 hours 12 minutes and some seconds, far better than I anticipated.  Yay! 


                    modified to fix formating problem from copy/paste

                    MTA : link to long report  http://chuckruns.blogspot.com/2012/02/holiday-lake-50k-february-11-2012.html

                    Best Present Ever

                      Sounds like you had a good race, Chuck. It was a good day.  And  fast group of runners.  A local runner was the female masters winner last year with a time around 5:13.  This year she ran 5:01 and wasn't even close to the masters winner -- 4:38 I think, followed by 4:45-ish.  Wow. 


                       I didn't expect you'd have noticed either one of us -- only a few runners stand in out my mind  and they all had something unusual -- the woman with sleeve tattoos, a guy wearing chili pepper shorts, a woman I recognized from another race because she wears costumes.  But you never know what will catch someone's eye. 

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                        Congrats to Kathryn on successful debut. Happy that you bounced back off the ground and kept going.


                        Last night we were at an awards banquet, and when one person at the table talked about falling at the Rosaryville trail, a friend of ours said that now she didn't feel so bad about falling  at Rosaryville. I told her, "Remember when you came on the training run to Rosaryville with us? There were six of us in the group that went ahead of you, and five of the six of us fell during the first loop that day."


                        Falling. It's for everyone. Smile

                        It's a 5k. It hurt like hell...then I tried to pick it up. The end.

                        old woman w/hobby

                          Kathryn / chuck -


                          I enjoyed your race reports very much.

                          I'm planning on running my first ultra (50k+) the end of March so am trying to pick up ideas.  

                          Thanks for the informative descriptions of your race.



                          Just run.