The best thing about the local races is that you don’t have to travel far from home.
Just to keep myself in a decent shape, I kept training well after my arrival from India in December 2019.
I did put some good mileage in last 6 weeks and decided to ran John Dick 50k. I won this race last year when conditions were horrible. It was tough to make a balance in the messed potato type of slushy snow.
This year though temperature and conditions were predicted to be much better.
Night before the race
As some of you know that I really like high fat low carb diet. This diet has helped me perform well in past. But due to carb craving and undisciplined attitude, I started cheating on many days and loaded myself with carbs most of the days. One cheat day per week became 4 cheat per week.
Not surprisingly, I paid the price by performing below expectations in Asian & Oceania championship held in Jordan.
I am now slowly getting back to keto diet but as one can imagine I found it very challenging. But this is the need of the hour. So, I am trying my best to keep one cheat day per week.
My wife prepared pasta for me and I got overloaded with carbs. I had a great sleep and woke up around 4:30am to prepare my drop bag.
Started driving around 5:30am and reached on the scuppernong trailhead well on time. I am usually late most of the time but was able to make it on time.
The race was supposed to start at 7:30am. After signing up for the race and chatting a bit with my runner friends Josh, BJ, Hank, Tina, Jeff, Jason, Angela. To my surprise, number of registration this year was over 160!
I was pleasantly surprised to see my friend Dana. He is a great runner and wonderful human. He introduced me with his friends who were also going to run the race.
Everything was set and race started on time. As I tried to switch on my new Garmin, it shows two fields of “distance”. I had forgotten to set the pace and distance field and now have to do that when race had kicked off.
I started jogging very slowly to set my watch. That took me almost 2-3 minutes. Since it was just the start of the race, there was no point of panicking. When I saw many young strong runners at the start line, I realized that winning this year won’t be as easy as last year and I was ready to fight.
The race course consisted of five 10k loops. Each time, one completes a loop, he/she was supposed to enter the shelter and shout his bib number to someone who was keeping track of time and runners.
I honestly found it very irritating because you need to stop running and in a the crowd of people, shout your name. You need to make sure that the guy has noted down your bib number.
Within first mile, I was just behind the leading pack along with my friend Dana and another runner Emilia. Dana and I kept talking about the race course, who might win and other things. We kept it very easy for the first mile.
After the turn around at mile 1.5, there was a half mile long steep hill where I started to walk. Dana and Emilia also followed the walking strategy on this hill.
My eyes were on the leading pack of 4 dudes and one girl. I told myself that there is no need to push right now and we still have 29 miles to go.
Dana told me about a guy in the leading pack named “Nico”. “He is a very fast runner and had won many races in the area”, said Dana . This dude will give you fight, he said. I felt a bit intimidated at that point but than made excuse of my age.
Great thing about being older is that you can blame your age if things go south.
While coming back from the turned around point, leading pack kept going past the shelter. We needed to report at the shelter after one full loop. So the leading pack did the right thing by not stopping there after 5k.
Dana and others however entered the shelter. I was running just behind them. I also followed them but Dana came out and said, we need to report after each 10k and not after each 5K. We lost some time there while the leading pack extended the lead.
After loop one, we saw that Nico was leading the race followed by a girl. Dana, Emilia and I were around quarter mile behind them.
Loop second started and I still was taking it very easy by walking the uphills, maintaining the pace on flat and hammering the downhills. Dana, Emilia and I were still running together.
At the turn around point, we saw that a girl was leading the race and we didn’t see Nico at all. I asked her where the leader is and she looked confused with the fact that where this dude went?
We saw Nico while coming back and he was around 0.6 miles behind us. Again there came the long hill and we started walking while the leader kept running the long hill.
Since it was a local event, I knew many people running the race which made it more fun. My running group encouraged me in each loop and grateful for their positive vibes.
Loop 2 was also easy and relaxed. The female leader, Dana & Emilia took around quarter mile lead and I kept telling myself that the race has not yet started, so I need to just maintain the pace. Don’t push. Stay relaxed.
I came out of shelter to start loop 3 and not surprisingly, Nico was hammering it. I was thinking that this dude is going give me a tough fight today, but I won’t give up till the end. He looked relaxed and strong
Dana and Emilia had already taken off. I needed to push harder now because Nico was chasing me like a lion.
Turn around point in loop 3 and Nico was closing the gap with me. He was now only 0.4 miles behind me. Dana, Emilia and the female leader was in the lead.
In this loop, I decided to catch up with Dana and team. So I had to run the big hill that leaders were walking on.
I closed the gap with them and now was running just behind the female leader. I asked her name (which I don’t remember) and we chatted a bit about iceage 50 miler that we both did in 2019.
I took off from there and was leading the race now. To defend my title, I needed to push hard now while keeping an eye on Nico. I saw him running fast to catch me up. I completed loop 3 huffing and puffing and shouted my bib number in the shelter. Nico followed immediately after me and we both took off for loop 4.
This dude was determined to win the race and had closed the gap further by making the difference between me and him only 0.2 miles.
Big hill again and I started walking and jogging by catching my breath. I then hammered the downhill later on at sub 7 pace. It was hurting but my goal was to save myself from Nico.
We completed loop 4 almost running at the striking distance. I exited the shelter and he entered. Last loop and I told myself let’s give it all now. Do or die!
At that point I did not care about uphill or high heart rate or leg pain. I told myself, let it hurt now. I didn’t want to have any regrets of not giving my all when it mattered the most. I had trained hard for this day and I can’t let it slip so easily. These were the thoughts that were moving in head.
I was sweating hard on the trails covered in snow but it was a moment that every competitive runner go through. I am not sure if being competitive is good or bad but when it comes to running I am very competitive!
I was looking back every mile to know where my competition was and he was not far. Turn around point in the last lap and Nico was just 0.10 mile behind.
At this moment, I was telling myself to give it all. I ran the big hill sweating, breathing hard and ran the down hill as fast as I could. My pace got faster each mile. I was calculating the pace Nico needs to run to catch me in last 3 miles and it was only 20 seconds per mile faster than my current pace. So I decided to keep pushing.
3k to go and I saw him again trying to hunt me down. I am not going to give up so easily, I said to myself.
I put the top gear again on the downhill and kept the pace up. 0.5 miles to go and distance between us was more than a quarter mile. At this point I was sure that I would be able to defend my title but did not take any chance and started sprinting as fast as possible.
I reached at the shelter and the clock was at 3:59:54. More sprint to make it sub 4 but missed my 2 seconds. My final time was 4:00:02. Nico showed up after 2 minutes.
I went to him to let him know that he is superb and had given me a real fight.
I never raced so hard at the end but it was worth it.
Emilia won the female category by running the distance in 4:14 and Dana came 3rd Male at 5th place overall.
I would like to thank my friends who cheered me on the trails during my run. Thank you Jason, Hank, Josh, BJ, Lucy, Angela, Jeff, Tina, Dana, Andrew and Jaime for the extraordinary support.
Let me know what you think about the race report. Any question, comments and suggestions are welcome!