Tuesday, June 12, 2012

2012 Capon Valley 50k Race Report

Capon Valley 50k has become a yearly pilgrimage for me to Yellow Spring, WV for a great low key ultra. This ultra is different then the other ultras I have run on the account that this ultra is directed and volunteered by a locals that are not ultra runners. It funny going through the aid stations and I would thank the volunteers for coming out to help out and they would thank me for coming out to the race. The extra money that is raised goes right back into the local community and the locals are appreciative. The course is primary on private land before it enters the Northern most part of George Washington National Forest (GWNF). 

Emily and I made our way out to WV which took us through Harper's Ferry, while this may not be the most direct route, it's scenic beauty is part of the reason why I enjoy coming to this race. Emily and I arrived early, only two other campers were onsite at the start/finish where the camping grounds were located, so we set up our tent and air mattress (I bought a new power inverter so we didn't have any issues) and chilled out under the shade of a tree and enjoyed the beautiful day. We even brought our propane grill and cooked up some awesome chicken shish-kabobs and grilled some veggies too. We chatted with a few friends that were also running the race then we each had a beer and peaceful nights sleep ensued.

Sad Panda, DNS
Emily had been having hip pain and when she woke in the morning the pain had dramatically increased making her a DNS.  I was disappointed she wasn't going to run the race, but she made the smart decision.  The race started at 7am and my plan for the day was to run everything, if I ran a reasonable pace and ran all the hills I knew I would be able to break 6 hours.  I also tried running the race with minimal gear, I used two UltrAspire handheld water bottles and their SPRY race vest.  I wanted to travel light and run quick (turned out to be great running without my Nathan 1.5 liter hydration pack because I wasn't lugging around all that extra weight).  I started out towards the back of the pack as the race left the Ruritan and made its way through some back yards before finally hitting some trails.  One I hit the trails there were a few small hills to navigate over before making way to the first aid station.  I came into the aid station in 0:37 and I finally felt warmed up by this point.  After quickly filling my hand bottle, the course continued on single track trails and moved onto some gravel roads with some decent little climbs.  I climbed up the first couple hills and my legs felt strong, I got a few looks from people that were power walking thinking there were too many miles left in the race to be running up the hills.

Lil' Climbs
I soon caught up to Kevin and was chatting with him about his 2012 season and what races he had lined up for the fall.  I really enjoyed running with him, not only was I enjoying the conversation but I was keeping a decent pace and was doing it causally.  I eventually came down the trail to Cacapon River to an unmanned AS that only had water, so I topped off my water bottle and got back onto the trail.  Soon I came upon my favorite section of the course, the power lines.  I enjoy this section because of the steep decent and the
Power Line Section
panoramic views of the West Virginia mountains.   I came into AS 3 and my bottle was bone dry and I was starting to feel the heat.  I packed myself a Vito Coco coconut water and drank half of it while my water bottle was being filled.

My energy level was feeling good and I was keeping up with my usual 200 calories per hour using a mix of Virtargo and EFS shots.  Upon exiting AS 3 I came upon a few stream crossings, inside joke this race has approximately 30 stream crossings, before making my up the only real significant climb of the race.  Everything was still going well so I kept my plan of running the climbs.  Once I made my to the top I was really starting to feel tired and was struggling to run the downhill at a decent pace.

I made a brief stop at AS 4 and made down the trail and into GWNF section of the race.  This section had the usual stream crossings and was mostly downhill.  At this point my legs were starting to tighten up so I had to stop on the trail and take a few S!Caps.  Up until that point I had been taking a S!Cap every hour, so I had to increase my intake to once every thirty minutes.  This section was the toughest for me because I really started to slow down  as the temperature neared 80 degrees. 
Downhill towards AS 5
AS 5 came just in the nick of time, I needed to refill my water bottle and drink the rest of Vita Coco coconut water.  I took my time at the aid station and grabbed my Vespa and some extra water and walked out of the aid station.  I continued walking for the next 2-3 minutes trying to cool down and gather my thoughts.  I knew that I was basically on the home stretch and I just needed to keep it together for the next six miles.  This section has short but steep climbs to navigate through as I made my way back through the power lines  and eventually down to barn which was the first/last AS.  This section was the only section during the entire race that I ran a slower split then my 2011 race.  I knew that it would be close if I wanted to finish in sub six hours, so I grabbed a coke and didn't even bother to fill my water bottle at AS 6.
Making my way to the finish

The last few miles didn't really hurt the way I thought they would, I knew my limit and how fast I could go.  As I came over the bridge and through the backyards near the Ruritan I knew I was going to barely sneak in under six hours so I just enjoyed the last half mile.  I strolled into the finish in 5:56:03, which was twenty minutes faster then 2011, and set a new 50k PR.  After the race we had a few cold beverages and cheered on the other finishers. 
Taken by Potomac Highland Distance Club
Overall this is great race and one I look forward to running again next year, as long at I don't run MMT 100 instead.

Here are some extra pictures from the race.

My Gear: 
Shoes:  Montrail Sabino
Socks: DryMax 
Hydration: 2 UltrAspire handheld bottles with UltrAspire Race vest
Nutrition: S!Caps, EFS shot, Vitargo, Vita Coco Coconut water
Shorts: Zensah compressions shorts 
Shirt:  Zoot tri top
Gaiters: Dirty Girl Gaiters  

See ya on the trails,


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