Robbie ran Promise Land 50k this past weekend! The last couple races we went to were new, so it was nice to go someplace a little more familiar since he had already run this one last year. I love the location of Promise Land, and it’s right near where I went to grade school, plus I always love driving in Bedford, the mountain views are gorgeous!
This race starts really early, so we had to be up at 3 a.m. Ouch. At least we’ve pretty much figured this ultra thing out finally! Our ultra mornings are easy peasy and we pack everything the night before. Most of the races are close enough that I drive home after the start to take care of the animals so that we don’t have to do it so early. It also gives me the chance to pack some food for Robbie for after the race, so the only thing we have to do in the morning is eat breakfast, try to wake up and go!
Since discovering that coconut water works great for hydration and replenishing electrolytes, it’s now a race day staple for us. I packed a little one for Robbie to drink before the race started, and he ate it with a protein bar. I packed the big size coconut water to help him rehydrate after the race!
He wore his new headlamp we found him at Blue Ridge Mountain Sports and loved it! When you read his race recap, people cheering him on called him “green guy” for a reason! It’s his favorite color and he’s usually all greened out for races!
I watched the runners leave then headed back to the car. It’s only a 45 minute drive home, so I went back and fed the cats and dogs and got some post race food ready.
I like to see the runners come in, so I drove back pretty early and was there almost 2 hours before Robbie came in. I love the atmosphere at ultras, everyone is so encouraging and I love people watching.
It was raining when I got there, so I stayed in the car for half an hour or so since I got a good view of the start/finish line. I didn’t want to freeze by going outside too soon. I headed to the pavilion at around 5 hours and 45 minutes to watch more runners come in. It had stopped raining so I didn’t take my umbrella, but of course it started pouring a few minutes later. Luckily it cleared up when Robbie came in so that I could get pictures! I talked with a lady for awhile that was there for her son. Always fun to talk to other spectators and hear their stories, also kudos to mom for being awesome and supporting her son!
Luckily my “green guy” was pretty easy to spot this race! Robbie had wanted to finish in under 7 hours, but he finished in 7:10. He tried his best and felt great after the race so that was awesome! He tried tailwind for the first time this race and he felt better at the end than any other race! He’ll be running with tailwind for his races now instead of all gels like he once had.
Here’s Robbie’s full race report from the day:
I went into Promise Land 50k this year a lot better trained than I was for Terrapin. This was the third 50k in 3 months and the third race in the Lynchburg Ultra Series.
I ran this race for the first time last year. I loved the course, but ran it with a knee injury. Going into this race I believed that I could easily PR. I finished last year in 7:03.
Joy and I got up at 3 a.m. race morning, had breakfast, and tried to wake ourselves up. I grabbed all my race gear and we were out the door at 3:45 a.m. I’m so thankful that Joy wakes up and goes with me!
We arrived at the Promise Land camp at 4:30 and found a parking place. I got my race bib on and got everything I needed together for the race. I’ve pretty much decided against fueling during a race with only or mainly gels. They are just so gross. So at the last minute I ordered some Tailwind as my main calorie source during this race. I had added about 600 calories to my 50 oz camelback reservoir and hoped for the best. I had an extra 300 calories in my pack if I needed to refill it. I planned to also graze a little at the aid stations.
At 4:45 Joy and I walked up to the pavilion and checked in for the race. We had a bit of time to kill, so we warmed up by the fire because it was quite cold. Then we debated if I needed to take my rain jacket. I never think I need it, and Joy always says I need it (Joy here saying I’ve been right 3/3 times lol.) Temperatures were supposed to be in the 40s-50s with rain coming in midday. So I decided to try and fit it in my pack in case I needed it later on.
I ate a protein bar and had coconut water just before the race started. I got my watch ready, gave Joy a kiss and lined up for the start.
At 5:30 we were off. We headed out of the camp and down the road. This race has a difficult start because it goes mostly uphill for quite awhile. Also the farther up the gravel road the steeper it gets.
I fell into pace with Don and Anna for the first mile. I was only able to run til about 1.25 miles. It gets pretty steep and I didn’t want to blow up. So I hiked quickly and ran a few steps when possible.
Around mile 3 I came up to the first aid station. I grabbed a pack of GU chomps and tossed them in my pack in case I needed them. Then I made my way up the single-track section that was very congested with runners. Somewhere in this section it started sleeting and I was like “Really?” But I was still warm because of all the climbing.
I was feeling good and strong and a lot better than last year. I really enjoy how supportive everyone is in the ultra community. It’s always nice to encourage and be encouraged. Another cool thing is the more races I do, the more people I recognize and get to know.
After loads of climbing we finally got to enjoy some rolling double track. This section is a great time to recover. I had been running in line with a group who were laughing and telling jokes but weren’t going at my pace.
Alissa passed me and I followed behind and paced with her for a while. We made our way up to the parkway. This first section is my least favorite of the course. I crossed the parkway and headed down the service road. It was a nice downhill section that my legs quite appreciated.
I talked with some people I’d seen at the race last year and also met some new people. One guy I met was from VA beach and primarily trained on the treadmill. I told him I wouldn’t be an ultra runner if I had to train that way. I don’t know how he does it!
The next aid station was at the sunset fields parking area. I grabbed a snack and a drink and headed on down the trail. This section headed down to Cornelius Creek and was super fast and a little technical. I love this section with the noise from the creek, it’s just beautiful.
There are only a couple uphill sections and lots of easy trails to make up some lost time from the hard beginning section. It continued to drizzle on and off most of the race. I was feeling great and well on my way to a sub seven hour finish.
There were a couple creek crossings but with all the hard running they felt great. I was still playing leap from with Alissa through this section.
I made my way into the Cornelius Creek aid station, grabbing a pb&j and a GU with caffeine thanks to Helen MacDermott, and continued on not wasting any time.
Then it was a boring road section for a couple of miles. I talked to another runner who had followed me on instagram, but couldn’t keep her pace.
Alissa caught back up and we ran this section to the single track together. I hate the road section! The single track was rolling and beautiful. There was a small group of runners that I was pacing with. I slowly worked through this section. This was the first time in the race I started feeling worn out.
Alissa and I made it to the next aid station. We both excitedly grabbed a Popsicle and because it was cold, almost immediately regretted our decision. We finished our popsicles and started the “forever” section. Alissa was looking strong and pulled away, I couldn’t keep her pace. This was a double track section that dragged on forever. I ran as much as possible, but was slowing down quite a bit.
I made it back to the out and back at Cornelius Creek. Alissa crossed my path and she’d already been to the aid station. I came into the Cornelius Creek aid station, which is around mile 25. I grabbed a few bites to eat and headed for the entrance to Apple Orchard Falls.
Apple Orchard Falls is the most beautiful but also the most difficult part of the race. Having almost a marathon distance of difficult miles and then climbing back up 3-4 miles back up to sunset fields.
The lower section is mostly runnable and I ran until it got steeper. Then I hiked. There’s lots of technical rocks and lots of stairs to climb up. My legs were on fire and I was even hiking slow. Very very slow. The falls are so awesome and totally helped motivate me while I was struggling through this section.
I made it to the trail sign saying .9 to the summit. This is the longest .9 I’ve ever run. In fact, I believe Horton was responsible for measuring this section of the trail.
Coming up to the sunset fields aid station, spectators were cheering on the runners. I was wearing mostly green and some people where saying “lets go green guy” This is your race green guy!” Totally made me smile 🙂
I came into sunset fields aid station and grabbed a couple of orange slices and headed across the parkway and to the final 5 miles of the race.
After crossing the parkway I got cold and it started raining. I put my jacket on for the first time all day. You were right Joy!
At this point in the race I knew I had no chance of a sub 7-hour finish, but I’d tried my best and that’s all that matters. There was only 1 small climb to get through and then it was all downhill. I navigated the technical single track as quickly and safely as possible, not trying to win the best blood award.
Then it was 3 miles of gravel road all downhill to the finish. I picked up my pace a lot. I even managed to pass several runners in the last bit of the race. I saw Gina (Mountain Junkies) just before the paved road and she got a lovely picture of me grimacing to how the race went.
Then I could see the camp and could hear all the cheering. I ran across the finish line in 7:10 and shook Horton’s hand. I found Joy for a hug and a kiss. I’d missed my goal, but had a great race. I love how encouraging everyone is in this environment.
I got my picture with Horton, got my finishers shorts and took it all in. This is the best I’ve felt after any race. Tailwind was my answer to fueling and I highly recommend it! Last L.U.S. race is in November, can’t wait!