You certainly don't have to enjoy pain to run 30 odd miles through snow and hills, but it helps. For the rest of us, there's Aleve.
You also may not think that warm chicken soup during a 7+ hour winter run might not be the most wonderful thing you've ever tasted. On this count, you'll either have to trust me or try it yourself. But honestly, if manna from heaven tasted this good, the children of Israel would've never left the desert.
The day was relatively warm, as days have gone this December; low to mid 20s feels positively balmy when you've been in single digits for a time. Easy to over dress, but that's why layers were invented.
The start had a sort of carnival feel; no complicated race instructions, no jockeying for position to find the right place for your pace- just a bunch of people trying to squeeze together for a group photo and a big "Thank You" to the RD (race director).
Not that FA50Ks usually have RDs, or aid stations, or awards, places, or race t-shirts, but this wasn't the typical FA50K. All kudos to Farra for making it so!
The first lap went well; I started off fairly slowly with the first few miles averaging somewhere around 15 min pace. I broke off from the group and moved along on my own, slowly catching up to a couple of runners somewhere around mile six. I chatted back and forth with them till the end of the first lap- the usual "when did you start running" "what races have you done" and the relatively merits of screw shoes vs Yak Trax vs Microspikes and the like.
First Lap 2:18
First Break ~15 minutes.
I started lap two with a fellow I had been chatting with for the last part of lap one- a marathon maniac who had PRed in a 50K the week before. Not quite as crazy as some of my friends who had run the HUFF 50K the day before, and were out of the trails with us, but still plenty crazy. He felt the fatigue building, though, and I left him behind about a mile into the second loop.
From then on, I ran pretty much on my own. It was pretty familiar to me- I run the trails at Pontiac Rec a lot, and occasionally in significantly worse conditions. There was maybe four inches of broken snow, but I was using screw shoes and only had to be kind of careful on the down hills. There were branches hanging over the trail, but I only had to be careful to not let them whack me in the forehead was I tried to run bent over at the waist.
I failed at that a couple of times. It's a good way to get a headache and neck pain at the same time!
Mile 15 is when I started to feel pain in my left hip flexor, which moved to my gluteus medius muscle after about a mile. This gave me two huge draws to finish the second lap- the chicken soup of the heavenly variety, and the bottle of Aleve I knew I had stashed in my car.
Second Lap 2:20
Second break ~21 minutes.
I started my third lap thinking "this could be bad." As much as I've run at Pontiac Rec, I've never done 30 miles there. And my longest training run for the race was *cough* 17. My longest run through heavy snow was 6. But the Aleve had muted the pain to a barely noticed sensation, and I had trained fairly hard for the past three months to "just finish" this race. And I wasn't feeling bad, just fatigued.
I ran the course never hitting the wall, and I only stopped running due to mental fatigue once or twice. My toes were wet and cold, but thanks to Smartwool I had neither frostbite nor blister. I love running gear!
I finished the lap with my gamin telling me I had run 30.5 miles. I popped out onto the parking lot with only two cars- mine and someone else's. I thought it might have been someone who was running the race, but I was too mind fogged to think to look for telltale bumperstickers, 26.2 ovals, or other signs.
I ran down to the entrance like I was told, turned around and came back to the car. The effort that had me at 13-15 minute miles on the trail had me at about 10 while on the roads, at the every end of the race. I really do wonder how I would have done without the snow fall.
I finished the race in 7:42:27 (BTW, Farra- sorry I miss reported 7:44).
Average pace: 14:45
Calories burned: ~4000 (maybe more)
I later learned that of the ~40 people who came to do the race, only four finished the 31 miles. Of those four, I finished first. I know at least one of them started early, did at least two of of the laps in snowshoes, tramping down and marking the trail for the rest of us. So much kudos and thanks to Jeff L, definitely the unsung hero of the race!
Also many thanks to Farra for being the driving force, RD and organizer. You did great, and I hope to see this race happen again! And Bruce, for being Aid station volunteer extraordinaire, and bringing tents and everything. And those of you who actually managed to read this all the way to the end! :)
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