Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Thomas Jefferson 100K - Race Report!

-Thomas Jefferson was our 3rd President.
-I finish 3rd in an absurdly high percentage of my races (as previously mentioned here).

-The original building of the Library of Congress is named after Thomas Jefferson.
-I work in that building at the Library of Congress.

-Thomas Jefferson put the city of Charlottesville, VA on the map, founding the University of Virginia as well as building his Monticello estate there.
-My wife earned her masters degree from UVA, and Charlottesville is on top of a very short list of places to which we'd consider moving in the future.

-Thomas Jefferson's second Vice President was George Clinton.
-I've seen George Clinton and the P-Funk All-Stars in concert.

...Ok, that last one was a stretch, but all of the other facts are solid reasons why, when the inaugural running of the Thomas Jefferson 100K in Charlottesville was announced, I immediately knew I had to sign up. This race is the brainchild of one of ultrarunning's elite personalities and performers, Andy Jones-Wilkins. AJW, as he is known by many, has about a million ultra finishes on his resume, including multiple 100 mile wins and a stellar 7 consecutive years of finishing in the Top 10 at the Western States 100 miler. Andy moved to C'ville a couple years ago and, following a long-time dream, organized the TJ100K as his first-ever race from the other side of the clipboard.

As expected from a guy like AJW, every facet of the TJ100K was top-notch. We were all invited to his school for the pre-race dinner/meeting as well as the Awards Breakfast.
The picturesque setting for our pre & post race gatherings on the campus of the Tandem Friends School (at which AJW is the Head)

Couldn't resist taking this shot of the main building on campus while walking back to my car.

I was a happy boy when I saw the cap of this Starr Hill brewery treat peeking out from my swag bag at the packet pick-up! The odds of AJW, a man who loves beer, including this Thomas Jefferson recipe-based brew in our bags for this race was pretty much 100%.

AJW leads the pre-race meeting...then slips behind the curtain and reemerges to act out the one man play "How the Battle of Western States 2005 was Almost Won".
The race itself took place in the scenic Walnut Creek Park a few minutes south of the Tandem Friends School, and the course consisted of seven loops of 8.9 miles with 1,000 ft of gain/loss on each circle of the merry-go-round. On paper that might seem like a bit of a yawn, but let me tell you, it's anything but boring. Traversing the rocks, roots, and rollercoaster rises of this lyric little loop through the cold darkness of the morning, the warming glow of the sunrise, and the high-noon heat offers runners something different to experience every time around. As one can expect, the hills also tend to grow a bit later in the day, so loops 5, 6, and 7 bring out new appreciation for how much you really hate the wonderful people in out sport, such as Andy Jones-Wilkins.

As for my personal race report, here goes:

This being the second year of running on my Daddy Schedule (i.e. on a 75% training level), I've settled in nicely to not caring about much other than enjoying the experience of running a long way with friends on race day. That said, I still have long legs and love the trails, so when I start chatting with a fast new friend in a race like this, I can still kick out the carbon a bit to keep the conversation going at a faster-than-fitness-level pace...for a little while, anyway. Such was the case from the giddy-up of this race when the masses headed out on the first loop at 5:00 a.m.. Brian Pickett was sporting bib #2 (which makes my lungs hurt just typing), and darned if he wasn't a fun dude to run we stuck together at the front of the race...for the first 36 miles. The good news is, if either of us ever needs someone to write our biography in the future, we pretty much covered all the necessary life topics during those 6 hours of running together. The bad news, for me anyway, was when we started out on loop #5, I found myself grinding gears a bit trying to keep Brian in sight as he slowly pulled 2 minutes ahead by the mid-loop aid station. At the time I didn't think that was a huge problem since I had the two long downhills in the second half of the loop to open things up and try to reel in Blazin' Brian...

...A few minutes later, when a guy pushing his mountain bike up one of those hills stopped to ask if I was OK, I realized, in no particular order: 1) I was not catching Brian, 2) Trying to run downhill on one's face is a bad idea.

We've all tripped on the trails a million times, and countless "best blood" awards have been given post-race for crimson knees and hands, but actually hitting my face on the ground? That was a new one for me. The good news is, my cheekbone turns out to be pretty sturdy, so aside from seeing a few stars, I was no worse for the wear in the facial disfigurement department. The downside, in terms of the race itself, was I knew I'd be running the last 2.5 loops in a bucket of syrup just to get it done.  So that's what I did, and you know what? It was still pretty enjoyable. Sure I was tired and a bit wobbly on the downs, and yes it was getting a little warmer than any of us were accustomed to after this past winter's crazy cold, but nothing can take away from the pure fun of running around in the woods all day. The race's TJ-inspired tagline "Persue Happiness" couldn't sum up the whole experience better for me. What a great day for running.

With RD AJW at the Finish
The talented Mr. Pickett enjoying his hard-earned first place finish in the sun!
In the end Brian held our original lap pace pretty evenly the whole way and grabbed the win in a solid time of 10:33. I was lucky enough to hold on to 2nd place about a half-hour later. Peter Jetton rounded out the Men's podium, and the ladies superstars of the day were Stephanie Wilson in first, Jennifer Nichols in second, and Carter Wiecking in third. Congrats to all! Full Results here. Also, AJW was the RD, but there were dozens more amazing volunteers of all kinds who made this race such a smashing success in its first year: Co-RD John Andersen (of Crozet Running), Sophie Speidel and her course-marking crew, and so many many more. Dave Snipes gets his own sentence here, just because he's awesome. This dude always seems to have my back - thanks again Sniper!

The great gifts kept coming after the race with everyone getting a crisp $2 bill (with Jefferson on it, of course) as they crossed the finish line, and I was lucky enough to also score this sweet pewter Jefferson Cup as well!
An engraved pewter Jefferson Cup ranks just behind the Loch Ness Monster on the list of things that are impossible to photograph.
One final note: As it turned out, the week of this race marked my 10 year anniversary of being officially cancer-free. I ended up really appreciating the chance to run solo during the last few hours of this race. We are all really fortunate to be able to enjoy life in whatever manner we choose, and for me to be out on those trails running around like a kid in the woods all day, well, I didn't take one single step for granted.

That said, my next race will be one of the greatest experiences I've ever had the chance to enjoy. I've spent the last few months putting together a team of 10 ultra-running cancer survivors, and we're all headed down to run the Virginia 24 Hour Run in Hampton, VA on April 26-27. This is most definitely NOT a fundraiser for our team. Everyone is tired of that type of thing at this point. Instead, we're all teaming up to try and break the course record for total team miles (somewhere north of 700 miles). It's going to be a blast being a part of a Team out there encouraging each other all day and night, and while we may not get that record, if you want to see toughness and grit on display in a race, we'll definitely be the poster team for that!


Ric Munoz said...

Congratulations on your latest ascension to the podium, Dan. Sorry the tripping incident disrupted things, but at least you were not seriously hurt, thank goodness.

And congrats on 10 years of being clear of the cancer - HOORAY!!

Dan Rose said...

No lie, Ric - Shortly after dusting myself off after the fall, I exhaled hard and said to myself "Well, now I'm 100% sure Ric Munoz would hate this course"!

Kim said...

Oh yeah, congrats on your race too..
Psst, I believe you came in second at Black Hills 100 Mile last summer also.

I've never fallen on my face, that is sure. Glad you were not hurt.

Congrats on being cancer free for ten years, your team sounds pretty awesome. We do take our good health for granted, it's nice to be reminded about it.

Hopefully see you at MMT, I will be working Picnic Area.

Tim said...

Loved reading this- congratulations on the race and the 10 year milestone!

Amelia said...

I know your fans had varied reactions to the antler-type trophies (I for one appreciate their unique perspective!), but I think we can unequivocally say that the pewter cup is awesome. What a great race trophy. Congratulations on an awesome finish! I am running a 10K on April 5 - my first race post baby - and I will try to channel your good running mojo. Say, you should come!

ultrarunnergirl said...

Congrats Dan and nice report. I really wanted to run this but my plantar plate was having no part of it. Cool that you got to run the inaugural year!