Race Report - 2019 Upchuck 50K

11/09/2019 02:00:00 PM

RayJay doin' his thang!
What a crazy weekend it was. I landed back home in Huntsville, AL Friday night just before midnight after a weeklong work trip to San Jose, then slept 3 hours before driving 2 hours to Chattanooga, TN to finally run the Upchuck 50K, a low key regional favorite that features a point to point course and the most entertaining pre-race runner check in you will ever get to experience. However, I only barely made it to the race start as my Jeep blew a plum of smoke and spewed oil/transmission fluid all over just 1.5 miles from the finish line, where a school bus would pick us up to take us to the race start. I coasted into the parking lot, said "screw it!" and hopped on the bus. My car troubles would have to wait until after. Turns out, they are still not resolved, which is why it took me a week to finally summarize my race.
The goal was simple, make it to the finish line at a faster pace than had be the norm for me all summer while running a bunch of 100 milers. LSD would have to give way to SFD. After an energized start to the race I quickly fell in with a few fellas I've share some miles/races with this summer. In fact, I think every single runner from the Southeast (ok, just from Tennessee and Alabama) that had toed the line in Squaw Valley this summer was also at Upchuck 50K. At least that's the impression I got during RayJays pre-race runner check-in. If you're getting lost in my insider references, I guess you'll just have to sign up for next year, but be quick, this one has a small field and sells out quick.
I ran with Matt Hawkins and we let Ryan Meulemans set the early pace. Matt decided very early on not to push too hard as this was his last long run before the fabled TNF 50 Miler in San Francisco the following week. Ryan had no such plans and also didn't show any signs of slowing down even after having just completed the Cannonball "Last Human Standing" event as the top dawg.
I managed to hang on to his small group of runners and while the pace didn't necessarily feel comfortable, it felt good enough to hold for a while. Whenever I run shorter races, I usually don't spend as much time taking photos and videos and today was no exception. In fact, the Cumberland Trail, on which much of this race is run, is a rather technical trail in some areas and that coupled with the faster pace required my undivided attention for the most part. In case my pictures don't show it, this race should be on the to do list for ALL local trail runners. It provide a variety of surface terrain and elevation changes and will keep you on your toes.
Due to the race's low key nature and a lack of easy vehicle access points to some of the trail sections, this race only features 2 aid stations. Cooler temps usually make this very manageable, but I still executed and planned poorly on that part causing me to run out of fluids with 8 miles to go. This ended up not being too much of a factor as my body really wasn't ready yet to race the full 50K at a faster clip, so by the time I ran out of fluids I was already in the process of slowing down some. 
Even with my slow down and lots of walking on the remaining climbs, I only got passed twice during the entire duration of the race, which at least showed that I had settled into a pace and place equal to my current fitness. Ultimately, I would finish just outside the top ten in a time of 5 hours 39 minutes, which was only 9 minutes slower than the goal I had set for the day.
I had a great day on the trails and had the opportunity to catch up with lots of friends and trail family. The support shown to me especially after the race just to get my car taken care of and me taken back home shows why there is no kinder and more supportive community in sports than the trail running community. It was a fantastic day on the trails that was barely dampened by my car troubles. Thanks to everyone for your help, especially Nathan, Sam and David. Without you guys, I would still be sitting in a broken down Jeep in a parking lot in Soddy Daisy wondering what to do;-)



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