Sick or not, I decided to go ahead with my plans to do this trail race. It was my second time; I did it last year because I wanted to try out a new pair of trail shoes before I did the Ghost Town 38.5 the following month. The shoes worked out fine and I really enjoyed the race, so this year Iopted to do it again, simply for fun. And it was fun, despite the continued presence of my very annoying cold.
The Seashore Nature Trail 50 K is held at First Landing State Park, just a mile or so from the host hotel (the Virginia Beach Resort and Conference Center). Packet pickup is at the hotel and this year the post-race party was also at the hotel (last year it was at a downtown restaurant so, since I was without transportation, I chose to eat in the excellent hotel dining room).
Although the temperature race morning was in the low 40’s, it didn’t feel that cold, perhaps because of the absence of wind. I dressed warmly but soon jettisoned my mittens and hand warmers. Although I had picked up my bib the night before, the chips, on ankle straps, were handed out just before the race. The race began promptly at 8 am and about 300 runners took off. As expected, I was the caboose but since I had familiarity with the course, I was not too concerned about losing my way. The course had pink streamers hung from branches to mark the way and yellow caution tape to mark wrong turns. Earlier I had reviewed my map of the course from last year and I was really glad I did because, while the streamers were well-placed, there were fewer volunteers at the occasional turns so it was good to have a mental map of the double loop course. There were 2 main aid stations that we passed a number of times because of the setup of the out and backs. It is a very scenic park, with lots of trees and wooden bridges. But I had forgotten how many roots and rocks were hidden in these trails; I had to watch my step carefully. Fortunately I managed to avoid falling.
I could definitely feel the effects of my illness on this race. I couldn’t move very fast without having a coughing fit. My back and side muscles were sore from coughing so much and I found it difficult to walk very fast. But I persisted and had a good time, regardless. We had 8 ½ hours to complete the race and there was one cutoff point at the 27 mile mark. My main concern was meeting that cutoff. Turns out I was able to do it with at least 30 minutes to spare. That gave me a much-needed boost and I managed to make the last 6 miles or so my fastest (or at least it felt that way) and even passed a few people.
You get a lot for your money at this race. At packet pickup, I was given a nice fleece vest and a decal for my car plus a key chain from last year’s event. After crossing the finish line, I received a cap, a paperweight, and a medal, all with the distinctive Seashore Nature Trail 50 K picture and logo on it. The post-race party included a selection of pizzas plus an open bar with beer and wine. I stayed and ate and spoke with some Maniacs but the noise finally sent me back to the quiet of my room where I tried to sleep since I had a very early flight the next day. Unfortunately, it was Saturday evening and there were lots of noisy revelers in rooms next to mine and traipsing back and forth along the hallway throughout the night, so I only slept in bits and pieces. Still, the next morning I was up early, anxious to return to Florida. Lucky for me, Delta gave me upgrades on both my flights so I had plenty of leg room and lots of water and snacks to keep me hydrated and fed. Now, if I can only get rid of this cold!