Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Buzzards Marathon – Hershey, PA – March 6th

Grass root events are great.  Expectations are low and they bring out the runner who just wants to enjoy the challenge of the course.  Those who came out to the 2011 Buzzards Marathon also were challenged by Mother Nature.  The course was sponsored by Harry Smith (Chief Buzzard) and held outside Hershey, PA.  I took this as an opportunity to visit Mom and Pop with the princesses.  The princesses had a blast and so did Mom and Pop.  OK, back to the race.  So it takes a special runner to show up in torrential rains with flood warnings posted.  A race consisting of four climbs and 8K in elevation gain/loss (per the Garmin).  With the weather, add in running up mountain stream now flowing with the rain.  All this combined –FUN, FUN, and more FUN.
The climbs did not have any switchbacks,  straight up with plateau after plateau.  On days like this you start the climb in the rain, pass through rain and fog, and end up back in rain (sometimes) or just get into more fog.  Today I went all out on the down hills, fast and furious – for me at least.  The second climb was Marcia’s Madness – enough said.  I ran up creek beds with flowing water, through briar patches, over fallen trees, and many, many rocks – all at a 45 degree angle.  Then back down the other side of the mountain on fire roads rolling down to an aid station.  This was point to point so we turned around and did it in reverse.  Again, I minimized my time at the aid station.
By the end, I was completely waterlogged.  Imagine 2 inches of rain fell over the 5 hrs and 27 minutes I was on the course.  This was a great hill training run. 
What did I learn?
Hills can be fun and fast paced walking works to get up them in decent time.  Dry creek beds turn into creeks very quickly in the mountains during rain storms.  Running downhill fast and being in control is a careful balancing act.
What’s next?
Two more 50 milers on the horizon – one late March (Bel Monte) and one in early April (BRR – currently on wait list) as the next and final stage of training for the CAT-100.

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