I started Saturday morning by growling. Or at least that's how I think it started. It was before 6:00, and D was telling me that it was time to hit the road. Luckily, I was soon treated to Dunkin' Donuts coffee and a beautiful moon set, so I woke up pretty quickly. By 8:20, we were in the parking lot at Bradley Palmer State Park on cold morning with a bunch of other yahoos to take part in the 2009 GAC Fat Ass 50k. The course was a 10k (6.2 mile) loop, and people were running anywhere from 1 to all 5 loops. My plan was to run at least 2, hopefully 3.
The not-race started at 9:00. Well, for most of us. Someone was stuck in the bathroom, so Ian, Emma and I waited for her and started a couple minutes late. Eventually, we caught up to the rest of the pack and we kept an eye on Mindy up ahead. Her red hat was unmistakable!
The first lap went by fairly quickly as the pack was pretty bunched. The conditions were a mix of solid ice, firm snow, soft snow and shin deep sugar. With my screw shoes, the solid ice was the best to run on...the shin deep sugar, not so much. I popped a chocolate munchkin at the aid station and headed out with the crew for the second lap. The aid station gave us the chance to catch up with Jamie and Stephen, and I ran with them long enough for Jamie to tell me a joke about a glass of milk, a tuna, a whale and a bartender. Also, at some point in this lap Jim decided to moon me. Luckily, my chocolate munchkin didn't come back up.
It was still cold out, but by the middle of the first lap, I was pretty sweaty. I meant to change my shirt between laps one and two, but I kind of forgot. So, after the second lap, I dropped my heavier shirt and switch to a t-shirt, which was a good move. The aid station had Pringles, so I was a happy camper. I was still stuffing my face, when D announced that she was headed out for her third lap. I told her, I'd catch up, and off she went. I started this lap alone, and I ran alone for almost 2 miles. I pulled over to pee and was soon caught by Ian and Stephen. I ran with them for a bit, but they were moving along at a good clip and I just wasn't feeling it. They slowly pulled away from me, and I decided to eat a couple of the Clif Shot Bloks I was carrying with me. They definitely helped as I slowly started to get my energy back. The timing was good, too, because I was coming into the toughest part of the loop, which was an uphill single track section that seemed to get longer with each lap. Just before this section, I finally caught D who was running with Shauna. They let me pass, so I knew that I had to pull it together and look good! I soon caught back up to Ian and Stephen who were a part of a longer train, and I ran with them for a little longer.
At this point, a common phrase I heard was: "How far you going today?" Every one was assessing how they felt and trying to determine if they could run another lap or two in the kind of tough conditions. Once I got my energy back, it really came back, and I felt great. I started contemplating running a fourth lap. As we came to the end of the field and onto a road, the trail, which usually required single-file running, opened up, and I pulled to the side to wait for D. I could tell she was tired, so I offered here the Twizzler that I had put in my sleeve for just such an occasion, and I think it perked her up quite a bit. I ran the remainder of this lap with her and Jim. And, Jim, kept us amused the entire way in.
I was still feeling good and comfortable as I finished the third lap. So, as I was eating some potato chips, I decided that one more lap was in order. Sort of a snap decision, but...what the hell?!?! Ian and Stephen were also running another lap, so I decided to get one board the train. We were running together at one point, and it hit me: "This will be the second longest run I've ever done." I even said it out loud, sort of out of nowhere, and I think they thought I'd lost it. My plan was to hang with them as long as possible, which I hoped was through the single track, which was about halfway through the course. Well, I stayed with them, and we were chatting the whole way. Shortly after that section one of them said, "OK, I'm starting to feel it now." I responded, "Well, I'm glad I'm not the only one." Keep in mind, both these guys are training for 100 mile races this summer. Me? Um, yeah, I've run a marathon...once. Anyway, they helped me out a ton on the final lap and basically pulled me all the way through. We finished together all tired and happy with our "only" 40k. And, yes, it was the second longest run I've ever done. It was a PR for the amount of time run.
Here are the stats:
Lap 1: 1:00:10
Aid station: 3:04
Lap 2: 59:20
Aid station: 5:01
Lap 3: 1:01:00
Aid station: 3:06
Lap 4: 1:00:06
Total time: 4:11:50
Run time: 4:00:36
Avg pace: 9:42/mile
All in all, it was a great day. Thanks to the GAC for putting on a great event. Mindy, Emma and Jamie are all coming back from injuries, and each ran 2 laps. (Well, a little more for Emma and Jamie, and not quite that much for Mindy.) Great to see all of them back at it. D, Jim and Shauna each ran 3 laps. And, then Ian, Stephen and I finished 4. Clearly, I was the happiest of the 4 lappers, as those guys were hoping to run all 50k. But, it was a great day for the Trail Monsters!
Today, my ankles are sore, which isn't a surprise based on...well...running 24.8 miles in snow. The calves are tight. But, really, I feel pretty good. That's very encouraging. Not nearly as bad as I thought I'd feel. We'll see what the rest of the week has in store.