Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sweet Redemption

"Neither running, nor life is so serious that we cannot face it with a smile on our face and infinite joy and hope in our heart."---Devon Crosby Helms

Readers of my last post on my BRR drop/quit/bail/DNF probably suspect that while I was *OK* with dropping/quitting/DNFing because of the heat, in reality I wanted a re-do. Don't we all want re-do's about an hour after dropping from an ultra? C'mon, admit it. We do. Anyway, I got my chance at the wonderful Capon Valley 50K in Yellow Spring, WVA on Saturday.

Let's catch everyone up. After BRR, I was whining to Rusty about wanting a redemption run and then it hit me...hey, I know! I could run Capon Valley! I love Capon Valley. It was my first REAL mountain 50K (OK, Holiday Lake was my first 50K but I don't count it as a mountain ultra). It had lots going for takes place after the girls lax season is over, it's on Mother's Day weekend so I could run guilt free, and it is within driving distance on the morning of the race. All good! Plus, it has good ju-ju. It is a very low-key "old school" ultra that gives 100% back to the community, benefiting the local Ruritan and Fire and Rescue operations. What's not to love about that? And Capon Valley was where I first met many of my VHTRC buds, including Annette and Michelle. And for good measure, I ran it really fast in 2004 back when it was just a trail marathon, so I knew the course (despite added miles this year to make it a real 50K---it's still a *bit* short, at 29 miles, according to Bill's GPS. Whatever).

I decided that after my BRR debacle that I needed to go back to the basics. Fittingly, it was at Capon Valley in 2004 that I began to figure out this ultra thing, so it made perfect sense to come back to this beautiful place and regroup. I told Pam Gowen that I did a poor job of what I call "managing my race" at BRR, so this time I paid attention to the little things: running very easy the week prior (after a fabulous 5K uphill race the Saturday before---but that's another blog post); getting enough sleep in the days preceding the race; and taking my time to pack, including all the essentials for hot weather running: S caps and Nuun tabs, as well as Sustained Energy for the first hour and Ultragen for my recovery drink.

Most importantly, I decided to run the race with pure joy. Racing had become a bit too stressful, and I wanted to run within myself and see what the day presented. At the start I wished Bill, Sean, Steve and the VHTRC folks well, and ran with my old friend Heather (Trainum) Shaffer, with whom I've had a longstanding and very friendly running rivalry. Heather and I battled for second place at the Blue Ridge Burn 10K about 9 years ago (right after her first child was born), and she is coming off maternity leave after having her third child last November. It was great to start off the day with her and catch up on our running, the joys of motherhood, and the frustrations of raising daughters in this "Mean Girl" culture of ours. Heather holds the course record for the Catoctin 50K, so I knew she would run well here...alas, at the first big hill I was walking and she went on ahead looking strong.

The day was indeed amazing! We had great weather---cloud cover, cool breezes. When the sun popped out it was a bit warm, but I was feeling acclimated. I took 2 S caps just before the start and one at very hour mark, and they worked great. No cramps and just one face plant. Not bad! I ran very easy for the first few hours, and felt strong on every climb---I even ran many of them. The wonderful volunteers were super supportive, and I was having a total blast, re-living my past ultra runs and reminding myself of exactly why I love this sport. It was just what I needed: to spend the morning running in the woods with my friends and forget about the stressors of life for awhile.

I came upon Heather a few miles from the finish as we were climbing the last long climb of the race. I suggested that we work together to finish, but she was feeling the effects of the heat and of too few miles of training and urged me to go on without her. I knew we weren't far from the finish and was ready for a nice cold Coke, so I took off, ready to be done. Despite being considered a "runnable" ultra, one perfect for newbies, Capon Valley 50K is actually a tough run, because there is lots of running and some steep climbing on a variety of surfaces--gravel roads, old fire roads, muddy trails, and over 18 deep stream crossings.

Bill and Bobby G ran together for a sub-5:00 finish...studs.

At the finish, I saw Bill, Bobby G(illanders), Sean, Steve and gave them all a high five---Sean and Steve had taken me back to the BRR finish line after my drop there, so they knew all about my desire for a re-do. It was perfect that they were there to see me celebrate! Heather came in about 5 minutes later and Alisa about 10 minutes after that...a closer race than I realized. Alisa really impressed us all as she is running the Keys 100 this weekend and looked mighty strong a week before her 100!

Just a sample of the many VHTRC runners at Capon Valley 50K on Saturday. I won a homemade vanilla pound cake which was promptly devoured by my family upon returning home.

I am very excited about this week coming's state lacrosse championship time! Chapin's team, St. Anne's-Belfield, is the defending state champion, and I wrote about the joys of winning states and finishing MMT here last year. The finals are Saturday in Richmond and we hope to be there to defend our title. Afterwards, I am hoofing it up to MMT100 to meet Marlin at Woodstock AS...the plan is to pace him from W'stock to the finish. Talk about sweet redemption...the last time I was at Woodstock AS was at MMT in 2005 and I was begging my pacer and crew to let me drop. I am looking forward to coming back and paying it forward to Marlin.

Best of luck to all the MMT runners, especially my buds Quatro and John. Watch out for those boys!!

Capon Valley results are here. and article with pics here


running etc said...

You NAILED it, chica. Great job! I am real proud of you.

Rick Gray said...

What a re-do!!! Way to go Sophie. It is great to see you run a well executed race. We should all take some lessons from you. You took this race to the cleaners and won. What a lady! Rick

Kiry said...

Winner winner, chicken dinner! Great report Sophie. I love Capon Valley 50k.

Mark Lundblad said...

Awesome job. Nice way to bounce back and make the re-do really count. Big congrats from the Lundblad's.

ultrastevep said...

Congrats, Sophie!

Yes on the redo and I do remember 2005 very well ;-) and is why I withdrew this year. I'll be happily course marking with Corris and Bligan.

See you this weekend,

Sophie Speidel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sophie Speidel said...

Thanks dear friends. You all have been such rock-solid supporters of mine throughout the years, and it means so much. I am still on cloud 9 and super pumped to pace Marlin on Sat night---can't wait to be running in the front pack at MMT!!!

See some of you there..

annette bednosky said...

Congrats Sophie! Sounds like you had a fabulous run in great spirits!
Enjoy the Massanutten's and fine people tomorrow!

Thomas Bussiere said...

Re-do always feels great and washes away the bad aftertaste of BRR. I like the way you keep it simple with no self imposed pressure to perform.

roger said...

Yes, a very nice bounce back!! Somehow, linking your "winning is easy" comment on Grindstone (I'm sure just a whimsical comment on your part), to your failed BRR (although others behind you, in much worse shape, still found the finish), to your recent win at Capon, all prove that ultrarunning is full of wonders, if one only sticks with each game one chooses to play. Will the pendulum swing back in the other direction next time out?

Sophie Speidel said...

Thomas, I really did enjoy running with no pressure...truly the way to race! I hope to do it more often :-) Thanks.

Roger, who knows where the pendulum will swing? That's what I love about the sport. I don't see my BRR run as a fact, it was a learning experience that was far more valuable than risking injury which is what I would have done had I continued. As for the Grindstone comment, you are referring to the documentary and the "winning is easy" quote was taken out of context (aren't they all?). She actually asked me what I tell my lacrosse players to motivate them. I think winning an ultra is really hard and admire those who can pull it off!