Monday, June 15, 2009

Bethel Hill Moonlight Boogie 50 Mile - 6/13/09

Josh (TN), the marathon winner

Volunteers, Tiger, and 50 miler, Andy (NC), at the finish

"You can beat 13 hours. Run!" Nothing like an enthusiastic race director ushering in his last runner. I shake my head. He's joking, right? So what do I do? Run, of course, lol.

I have coined this race "the 3H's" - hills, heat, and humidity, lol. We're in a small town called Ellerbe, NC in the middle of June. How else could it be described? But what a neat little race!

We started at 6:00 p.m., and the temperature was in the 90s. The best advice that Doug, the race director, gave us was to start off slow and wait until it cooled off at night before picking up the pace. The course is 10 miles, repeated 5 times for the 50 milers. The first section of the course is a 6 mile loop, and the second section is a 4 mile out-n-back. The Boogie also includes a marathon. Doug said that this was the first time his race has filled up. There were a couple of people running as approved "bandits", since they couldn't get into the race. One of these runners was using this race as a training run for the Badwater 135 Mile Race next month in Death Valley. Wow!

It was a 9 hour drive to Ellerbe, and I arrived at the race about an hour before the start and picked up my race number. One of the things that attracted me to this race was the registration options. I ran a 50 miler for $15! Doug offers three discounts on the registration fee, and I took all three - no t-shirt, no finisher's mug, and the bottle credit. The bottle credit means that I would carry my own bottle for fluids, saving the cups at the aid stations for those that pay for that privilege. I loved this! More race directors should give this approach a try.

Another thing that attracted my attention was the 15 hour cut-off for the 50 miler. Granted, there was an intermediate cut-off of 10 hours at the 40 mile point that had me a little worried. But, I thought, a 10 hour cut-off at 40 miles allows a very generous 5 hours to complete the last 10 miles. It wasn't balanced, so there had to be some leniency to the cut-off at 40 miles, right?

I talked with Marcia (NC) and Rita (NC) before the start. Marcia informed me that the 40 mile cut-off was not strict. She had run the 50 miler last year, and she said there was a runner that was allowed to continue past the cut-off. That took the pressure off! Marcia and Rita ran the marathon. I saw them on the out-n-back portion of the course for the first couple of loops. They were so close behind me that I thought they would eventually pass me, but they didn't. They appeared to be having fun and having a good race.

There were 2 porta potties in the start/finish area, which was right outside the Bethel Baptist Church. Signs on the doors of the porta potties read "If it's brown, come on in, but if it's yellow, be a good fellow, and go around" or something to that effect. I was puzzled before I stepped inside. Surely, Doug didn't want women squatting in the woods behind the church, lol. I decided to use the porta potty. Who's going to know if I excreted yellow or brown, lol?

As I was leaving the porta potty, a runner asked if I was from Tennessee. When I told him that I was, he said that we had a mutual friend, Dallas (TN). Josh (TN) is very nice, very young, and very fast. We chatted a little before we both hurried off to make final preparations for the race. Josh had an excellent race. He won!

My running buddy, Don (NC), and his 2 sons, Matt (whom I did not get a chance to meet) and Brad (whom I've been in a number of races with), were running the marathon also. Brad, however, was doing something a little different. He was completing his first Ironman by swimming 2.4 miles the morning of the race, cycling 112 miles to Ellerbe, and then running the marathon. He arrived at the church on his bike about 15 minutes before the start. Truly amazing!

We lined up on the road in front of the church, 50 milers facing right to start the 6 mile loop and marathoners facing left to do their short out-n-back before following us on the 6 mile loop. It was hot, but we were running down hill. We had already forgotten what Doug had said about starting off slow while the sun was up, lol.

It did not take long before the marathoners came by us. Josh was looking strong at the head of the pack. Brad came cruising by and slowed down to chat for a minute. I asked him how long was the bike ride down to the race. He told me that it had taken about 7 hours, but he had stopped to have lunch. Imagine that! He had time to stop and have lunch, lol! Soon afterwards, Don caught up to me. We also chatted for a bit before he took off at a blazing pace.

The most inspirational sight was Fred (NC) and Ivan (NC). I don't personally know either one of them, but I've read plenty about them. Fred runs with Ivan, who was blinded while fighting in Iraq. A white string tied into a loop on both of the runners' wrists is what keeps them on pace. They would go on to finish the 50 miler together. Congratulations!

About half-way through the 6 mile loop was another aid station, right before the long climb back up to the start/finish area. Our cars were parked along the main road for easy access to whatever we needed. As I approached the main aid station at the church, a guy came up to me, introducing himself as Joey (NC). I've read plenty about Joey and know that he is a remarkable ultrarunner. The unanswered question is how did he know who I was, lol?

I headed off to the out-n-back section. It was a 2 mile down hill runner's dream, but of course, at the turn-around, it was a 2 mile slog back up the hill. I would walk that 2 mile stretch on every loop!

I arrived back at the aid station in the start/finish area, finishing the first loop in 2.5 hours. Marcia had said that Doug wanted everyone to run at least that pace per loop. But if I was at 2.5 hours for the first loop, there was no way I would be at 2.5 hours by the 5th loop.

Starting the second loop, I hear Josh behind me. "Run with me. We need a 9:30 pace." Although the sun was going down, it was not quite dark, so I was not hallucinating, lol. Josh stayed with me long enough to tell me that the second place runner was starting to walk the hills. "That's it. Right there," he said. I'm running 9:30?! I'm going to pass out trying to keep up with the leader who is lapping me, by the way, lol. I stayed with him for less than a minute before he continued his race. That's the benefit of a looped course. I get to say that I ran with the elite, lol.

From then on, it was just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other. I finished the 2nd loop in 2.5 hours again. This was beginning to look promising. Maybe I could maintain this 2.5 hour pace per loop. It definitely felt right to me.

The main aid station had cantaloupe and veggie burgers cut in half. Yum, yum! This became my staple throughout the night along with plenty of water, gatorade, and a can of coke for the 3rd and 4th loops.

During the night, I kept a watch out for the rattlesnakes and crazy local drivers, only because during the race briefing, Doug had told us a funny story. One year, a driver had come upon him during the race and asked why these crazy runners were out here with all of the rattlesnakes that come onto the road at night. The driver was so concerned about the safety of the runners, fearing that the runners would be bitten, that he removed a rattlesnake from the road. Doug looked in the back seat of the car, and sure enough, there was a rattlesnake in a box. Personally, I would much rather have a rattlesnake on the road than in the back seat of my car, but that's just me, lol. I'm happy to report that I saw no rattlesnakes at the Boogie.

My 3rd loop was right on pace at 2.5 hours. I finally slowed down on the 4th loop. I made it back to the church 15 minutes past the cut-off. However, neither the volunteers nor I said anything about it, so I started the 5th loop, lol.

During the last loop, I came upon a poor runner that was weaving. He didn't have a flashlight or any reflective gear, so it took a while to figure out what exactly was in front of me. I finally caught up to him, probably waking him up, lol. He said that his body felt fine, but he just couldn't stay awake. I told him that I've been there myself and that he would be just fine. I felt guilty leaving him, but we had less than 10 miles to finish. My next to last place position did not last long. When the sun came up, my sleepy runner woke up and passed me as he ran up the last hill, lol.

At the finish, I am given a beautiful finisher's mug. I tell Doug that I did not pay for the mug, but he insisted that the last runner must have a mug. I am honored. Thanks, Doug!

1 comment:

  1. Angela, great race yesterday at Rattlesnake! I have two good photos of you, smiling of course. Give me your e-mail and I'll send them to you!

    Susan (