This year was one of the coolest Rock Bridge Revenge runs I can remember. The temperature at the start was about 40F and it was supposed to warm up to 70 F by the time I would finish. I went into the race feeling good having run pretty easy during the week.. I ran the 7 mile section of the course with Hugh yesterday and didn't feel any effects from that run. It was also nice to run this race without any sciatic nerve pain like I had the previous 2 years and be able to easily duck under trees.. The 7 milers started shortly at 8 am and the 25K & 50K at 8:15. The race was chip timed again this year and Jeff gave the 25K and 50K instructions before we started. This year we ran a little further down the road to spread out and then came back and into the woods.
The same as last year I found myself running with Tony T., but should know better by now since he is too fast for me.. He always starts out at a slower pace and then speeds up and has a negative split. The first few miles he was running pretty easy. There were quite a few people directly behind us that were pretty quiet other than their footfalls while we were talking. Eventually, one of the 25K runners passed us but the rest stayed behind.. I stopped at the aid station in the parking lot just after 6 miles to refill. After that I didn't see Tony again and I kept the pace slower. Also, was running on the Gans side which is more difficult so pace is slower.
I ran the Gans loop alone, but Shawn was not far behind me and came up behind me at the unmanned aid station just as I was leaving. I ran alone until I got back to the parking lot and then Shawn was with me for awhile. I came in at 15.5 miles at 2:28, spent a few seconds restocking my running vest and then was off. Nutrition plan for today was 4 gels, 3 bars, and supposed to be 4 Succeeds. Also took 3 electrolyte capsules.
The second loop was a bit frustrating when I got to 20 miles. There were 2 trails and one went left and one went right. We had just run this earlier and went right, but the flag was now on the left. I am wondering if I am going crazy, but decide to follow the flag and quickly realize that isn't right and am mad at myself for doing it since I know this course without any markers.. When I turned around I tripped over a root or rock and fell, but was fine. No blood or dirt. When I got back to the intersection, I noticed a couple flags had been thrown into the woods. Some dumb ass had pulled down the flags and moved one to a different tree or I think maybe had tied several around it since it was a larger tree. Earlier there were several flags on the right. Another runner came up behind me just as I was getting back on course and asked if I was sure I was going the right way. I told him I was pretty sure someone had moved the flag and torn down the others so I saved him from going the wrong way. I yelled back to him soon that I had seen another pink flag so we were definitely on the right track. It is not smart to mess with a trail runner's mind since we are not always thinking clearly and rely on those flags.
At this point realizing what had happened I was mad. It is probably good that I didn't see the person moving the flags or I am sure I would have gotten a little violent with them. I did speed up so that was good. Then I misjudged a tree that was leaning over in the trail that we needed to duck and I didn't quite duck enough and hit the top of my head. It sounded much worse than my head felt since it felt fine and no blood. I found out later that several other runners had gone the wrong way and turned around when they saw the water tower along the trail since that was obviously the wrong way. Probably didn't cost anyone more than 3 or 4 minutes but still frustrating that someone would do something so malicious.
I filled up my bottle at parking lot aid station and mentioned to Lisa what had happened. Also realized that I did not have my Succeed packet. I had ended up leaving it on the table when I restocked my supplies. I was okay since I had an extra gel and would just get Gatorade at the next station. About 2 miles into Gans a runner is coming towards me and says he is running the 25K and is sure he went the wrong way since he should have finished hours ago. I told him to keep going the way he was going since that would take him back. He was about 3 miles from the finish. He did eventually make it back okay. I saw James running with a guy and he did part of the loop with him since the guy not being familiar with trail running was afraid he was going to make a wrong turn on his second loop. He was doing it as a fundraiser for a friend and James made sure he stayed on track and he did finish.
I filled up with Gatorade at the unmanned station. Not much happened the rest of the loop. I walked a few more hills than the first loop. I saw a cat in the woods about a mile from the finish. I figured I could finish in about 5:10 or 5:15 since I had slowed down the second loop. Once I got to the hill going up to the finish I had to walk a few times. I was okay running on the flat but hills were getting my heart rate up too high.
I made it to the finish in 5 hr 11 min and placed 3rd overall. I had run the last part about 12 min slower. The course came out to 30.7 with my slight 0.2 - 0.3 mi detour. Pace still was slower than last year even though a cooler day, I finished feeling really good (no blisters, no blood, and had an appetite at the end) so maybe I didn't leave everything on the course today. Usually, I can't eat for awhile after I finish. The 2 guys ahead of me finished in under 5 hours. Tony passed the guy in 1st place and I think finished in 4:39.
The course was in really good shape this year and the trail was beautiful as usual. It is a fun and well organized race and will plan to run it again next year. I wore the Mizuno Cabraken shoes and didn't have any problems with them rubbing my toe like last year, but my right ankle felt pretty unstable and was twisting around a lot the first loop. The second loop seemed fine. I think I am going wear my Mizuno Ascend shoes with the least amount of miles for my 100 miler since those shoes never let me down.