Holiday Lake 50k++ 2012 Race Report

When I lived in Europe, I came in to the habit of referring to a vacation or fun 
time as a "Holiday".  So any race called Holiday Lake sounded right up my alley.  
I had wanted to run this race last year, but due to work commitments I had to 
skip it.  

Several of my "Team Gaylord" friends had signed up too, so we made a road trip 
of it by carpooling down.  Three beautiful girls and me being the only guy 
sounded really good to me!  We swung in on Friday to pick up our bibs and then 
we headed right back out to Lynchburg to eat at Waterstone Pizza.  4 great 
beers, a Thai chopped salad, and a Spicy Shrimp pasta later;  and we were off to 
the hotel to crash.

Morning came early as a 4:45 departure was in order.  We arrived and I 
immediately got to the restroom for a #2 before the race. Downed a GU, Caz Bar 
and Ensure so that I had a good base calorie layer at the start. I had decided 
to run with my VHTRC long sleeve, an Orange Vest, and running shorts (I've found 
that unless it's below 25, shorts are the way to go).  I checked in and dropped 
my bag at the start, then gathered with the other 370 or so runners.  I soon 
started to reconsider my clothing options as I was a bit chilly and starting to 
shiver.  "We better start running soon, " I remarked to one of the girls.  The 
traditional singing of the national anthem and then we were ready for the fun to 
begin.  Slow start as everyone is bunched together and a little hill on pavement 
up to the trail made me well aware that I was going to have to stop and go #2 
again.  I was running next to Denise, but as we got off the road onto the trail, 
things bottled up and soon I found myself behind alot of people that aren't use 
to running in the dark or on trails.  But I was desperate to find a good spot to 
head off and take care of business.  At 1 mile, I slipped off the trail and 
found a place to squat, while everyone (and I mean everyone) passed by me.  With 
my orange vest, I was hard to miss and Toni yelled out a, "Is that WHTom over 
there?" to which I let out a "Whoop! Whoop!"

Back on the trail, I felt SO much better and quickly caught up with the back of 
the pack.  Th e unfortunate thing about having my standard beginning of the race 
dump, it puts me behind EVERYONE in the race.  So now I was stuck behind 
countless "New"/"First race"/Slower ultra runners.  God bless them and I love 
that they are all out there, but it provides for some real tricky passing and 
maneuvering on my part.  I even got a, "Show Off!!!" from someone as I flew by 
them and down a steep little down hill single track.  I felt good as I passed by 
Toni and then Sara, where we chatted quickly before I sprinted off.  

My goal was to soon catch Denise, but I was trying to conserve my energy.  I 
felt good enough to blaze 8:00/mi, but I didn't want to blow up later on.  I 
blazed thru the first aid station without even stopping and soon saw Denise up 
ahead.  I caught up to her at around 4.75 miles and told her that she was 
running too fast!  It had taken forever for me to catch up with her!

I was having a blast, feet were feeling great and I was really happy with my 
clothing choice.  I hit the creek crossing that came up to your knees at 6.75 
miles and thought, "I can't wait to hit that on the way back, it's going to wake 
up my legs and give me a kick into the finish!"

At Aid #2, I grab more water and was happy to find Clif Shots and plenty of food 
to eat.  Then as I started to head out, it hit me again.  Off to the brush so 
that I could do numero 3, #2!  Back on the trail, I felt good and kept my good 
pace going. I ran into the race leaders heading back and gave them each a cheer.  
I came into Aid #3, grab more water and headed right out.  

This had to be my favorite section of the race, both going into the turnaround 
and heading back to the Finish.  Fun ups and downs, the only tough climbs of the 
course, nice single track, stairs, and pretty views of the lake. Not more than 1 
mile in and I came upon a guy on his return trip that was puking.  On I went and 
saw several of my friends and other VHTRC runners enjoying the race and looking 
strong. I zipped into the turnaround, found my bag and ate!  1 Ensure, 1 Fruit 
puree, 1 chocolate coconut water, and plus some Pringles, a banana and a few 
boiled potatoes.  Then off I went!

I saw Denise right away and then Sara and Toni shortly after.  But I soon began 
to think that eating that much stuff at the Aid was a mistake.  I was feeling 
pretty uncomfortable and I soon thought back to that Puking guy earlier.  Was 
that going to be me?

I wasn't feeling it by Aid #5, but I filled my water bottle, downed  a GU and 
pushed on.  I never really stopped and walked or felt sorry for myself as I had 
done in other races, but I was stuck in a low gear.  I'd find energy here and 
there for a short time, only to be playing yo-yo with a few other runners around 
me.  I was daydreaming and couldn't wait for that creek crossing.

I only grab a few things at Aid #6 and headed out, knowing that the creek 
crossing was only about 1.5-2 miles out.  Even just the thought of that, picked 
my pace and spirits up.  And it was ON, once I hit that creek!  I could feel the 
cold water sting a bit as I hit it and then that rush of warmth to my legs as my 
body and brain tried to figure out what was going on.  I was cruising!  

I flew past at least a dozen or more runners! My pace dropped down to 9:00 miles 
in miles 26, 27, 28, and 29... slowed a bit for some up and down terrain in 30, 
31... Then I ran an 8:00 the last mile of the race!  

I could hear Dr. Horton's loud boisterous voice yelling encouragement as I ran 
into the finish. And I always look forward to that hearty handshake and twinkle 
of delight in his eye, that lets you know how proud and happy he is that you 
came out to run his race.  

I collected my finishers shirt and went over to the car so that I could have my 
"recovery drink" and have ones ready for the girls when they got in.  I can't 
wait until next year when I can take another Holiday!
James Ingrassia