It was flat, fast, and would have been a great course for me to go all out.
Race 4: Fountainhead
I’m disappointed to report I didn’t run this race, giving me my first ever DNS. The days after race 3, I was feeling an awful pain in the bottom of my foot. The week in between races just wasn’t enough for me to fight that pain without fears of making it a lot worse.
It sounded like an awesome course though! Here is what the EX2 Adventures Website had to say:
Race 5: Hemlock Overlook
I think I heard chatter about Hemlock at every race. “Oh just wait until Hemlock” I’d hear one racer telling another after the first complained about a hill. “We’re saving all the caution tape for Fountainhead and Hemlock” the race director would joke at ever race briefing. And while I had to chuckle at the buildup, it lived up to the hype. It was, without a doubt, my favorite course of the series, in that ‘this hurts so bad I want to drop at every corner, but my feet are having so much fun’ kind of way. With the exception of race 4, this was by far the most technical, offering up several sections of super rocky rough singletrack. Similar to a few of the other races, this course consisted of two 5 mile loops, each hosting two pretty brutal hills. Along the Bull Run Occoquan Trail, runners spent a lot of slow time running along the very rocky creek bank. The combo of the tough hills, rocky trails, and a few creek crossings caused me to run my slowest of the races, but probably what I would consider my best effort. If it wasn’t so far outside the city, I would go back there and run this course any day.
What I learned:
This might sound a little odd, but I think for the first time I really learned how to race. I’ve always set out to push myself, achieve new PRs, and see where my limit is, but let’s face it, I’m a mid-packer whether I like it or not. But with the EX2 races, where they give the top 5 in each age group a pint glass after every race (sometimes it felt more like little league where everyone left with a trophy), I knew I could actually be a fighter. After a 6th place age group finish the first race, I saw who my competition was, and I went after them. And let me tell ya, as someone who has never really cared how the other racers around me were doing, it was a lot of fun trying to stick with other people or picking off other racers! I ended up bringing home 4 pint glasses from the other races and the overall series.
This series was just how I wanted to end a great season. The race director Jim seems like a great guy, and EX2 Adventures is a top notch company. Well done guys, I’ll definitely be back.