Tuesday, January 12, 2010

RACE REPORT: GAC Fat Ass 50k, or 'Let Me Down Easy DNF'

Saturday I learned that where you can prepare to run a specific distance, often, you cannot prepare for the trail conditions that will be present on race day.

Earlier in December, Breakheart Dan and I ventured out to Bradley Palmer to run the course. This is what the trail looked like on that day:

Very runnable and conducive to cruising and working a run-walk strategy.

Yesterday course conditions were slightly more taxing:


(Flat, but virtually no traction)

(Conga line through the snow!)

(Fairly self explanatory - like wandering through sand dunes)

(All things considered, the winter landscape was beautiful)

Let me be clear, I am not upset or depressed that I dropped after just 20k on a day where I had hoped to get in all 50k, in fact, the second 10k was mostly on my own and quite a lesson in mental toughness. It was a great learning experience and provided another training run of multiple hours on my feet.

The day began quickly, as I was ready, packed and prepared for the race, getting there in time to register and get geared up, but a couple conversations with old friends I haven't seen for months left me miserably behind schedule. I didn't even have time to locate kZ and Breakheart Dan prior to the race, and as I rushed back to the start/finish area with my drop bag, I realized the clock had already started!

Kahtoolas fastened, water and Nuun combined, and I was off into the wilds.

I was a little peeved that I missed the actual start, but then I realized that this, after all, was a Fat Ass Race, which, as Breakheart Dan puts it, means 'No fees, no frills, no whimps!' I put the initial crisis away, only to realize that the snow was really quite unpleasant for running, and where it was runnable, I had some serious questions about getting into a rhythm and how I might conserve energy.

Long story short, Runnin' Rob never found a rhythm, and by the second loop I knew I was loosing far too much time to take a reasonable shot at 50k. I felt like I could have run a third loop at the price of injury and possible frost bite (I found holes in my gloves during the second loop, which explained the inability to keep my digits warm!).

It was just one of those days. Over the first 10k I felt like I had no pace, I drained my water bottle by mile 4, and the arch of my right foot started aching because of all the uneven footing and snow divets. The second loop was a glorified speed hike as I could not find too many places with great traction, and when I did run, the hyperflexion of my right foot made the arch hurt worse. The fifth mile of the loop presented probably the most challenging section of the course as far as finding any even packed snow or traction, and was like running in soft sand or mashed potatoes - lots of work for little gain.

On the positive side, I shared the trail with the legendary Gilly of G.A.C. for a little while, I met a few more of the other hardy trail runners who ventured out, and have to give special thanks to Alison Phelan of Wicked R.C. for sticking around with me for the latter 5k of the first loop. Just another example of how awesome the trail running community and trail running events can be. You often meet great people willing to share a story or two along the trail. Maybe misery just loves company!

Maybe I am getting more mellow with age, but most things went wrong Saturday. Nevertheless, after dwelling on dropping and my first DNF, I ate a couple cookies, and was cool with it! :-) I managed to bump into kZ and Mr. Bill, got to finally meet Kevin the 'Pathfinder' from Maine, and just generally enjoyed the festivities before I completely lost all feeling in my fingers.

20k speed hike in 2 hours, 55 minutes before crying uncle.

There will be other 50ks, in fact, I see another on the horizon, but more about that later!

I also registered for the Hyannis Marathon on Febraury 28th... not sure why. I think I was just bored at work one day and signed up... is that normal? :-)

Happy Trails!

1 comment:

Dan said...

Hey Rob, a good effort on a tough day. I talked to many runners that day who dropped down from their original distance expectations. Since it's a Fat A$$ and not an official race, you didn't DNF.

My plantar fascia flared up during the race and stayed sore for a few days. Glad I quit when I did.