Jan. 13th, 2013

bricks_and_bones: (martinis!)
Happy to announce that on January 5th I completed the GAC Fatass 50K ultramarathon in 6 hours 36 minutes! The course consisted of packed snow and ice trails through the state park where I like to run. (I have posted pictures and videos of these trails in previous posts.) Lots of singletrack and gravel paths. Ha -- my horrific warmup hill (which [personal profile] novelties has gone up before) had to be run FIVE TIMES. I wore a light Solomon running jacket over a polypro long sleeve shirt, medium-weight running tights, my calf sleeves (which I will review in a coming post), merino wool socks, ice spikes -- heavy but a MUST on those icy trails, imo -- and my old Brooks sneakers. (NOT THE ONES I RAN THE MARATHON IN. The pair I WISHED I had run the marathon in. :|) I had not one single issue with my feet. It got too warm for my hat and jacket, which I wore the first lap only. I carried a small water bottle for laps 2-6, though I didn't drink much on lap 6.

The weather was amazing: sunny skies, 35F+ or so temperature. Beautiful beautiful beautiful! At one point I thought I might be getting sunburned!

Here I am with Tom, my stalwart running buddy: (LOOKIT MY ANGELIC SMILE!)



Tom stuck with me for 1.5 laps of the 5-lap course. Each lap was 6.2 miles.

I was SHOCKED at the number of people who showed up! I had thought it a small local race. There were cars there from Alaska, Vermont, Maine -- all over the country. I pulled in late because I overslept -- the race started at 9 and I think I got there at 8:51 -- and there was hardly any parking. It was exciting though to see so many people. It was a very festive atmosphere.

Price of registration to the race was to bring something for the food/drink table, so I brought a blueberry blizzard coffee cake and 2 liters of Coke. Coke is my drink of choice in a distance race -- caffeine + sugar and the flavor soothes my stomach.

Marty and co. at the aid station, VERY WELL STOCKED:



The five laps were so very different from each other, and each was interesting.

Lap One was the Social Lap. I hung out with Tom and we chatted and caught up on what had gone on in our lives since we'd last seen each other in the fall. (Tom is one of the few people I know in real life whom I can have a conversation about the ridiculous ultrarunning abilities of Legolas, Gimli, and Aragorn in LOTR.) During lap one I also saw three of my friends out on the trails, and they cheered me on. This was wonderful because it is so rare in a trail race and SUPER rare in an ultra. It felt great!

Lap Two was also Social to some extent, though Tom bowed out halfway due to muscle soreness. He was awesome to come THAT far with me, really. I did catch up to some acquaintances from Gilly's -- Martha and Vicki -- and then more people who I did not know but who know Dan. So there were plenty of conversations to have and listen to during Lap 2. I finished lap 2 right on pace at under 2 hours 30 minutes -- right where I wanted to be.

A beautiful trailside rhododendron:



Lap Three I slowed down a bit to pace myself. I had just run a half marathon and while I wasn't really tired or sore I knew I still had 3 laps to go to finish. I was mostly alone on this lap though I did run into a couple from New Bedford for a short while who were marathon training. It was interesting -- they passed me at a good clip, but later I passed them at my slow and steady pace and ended up finishing the lap before them. Jim Logan's words still run true: this sport is SO not about speed. If you don't pace yourself on the trails you run out of gas pretty quick, especially with the monster hill on that course.

Lap Four: At the start of the lap I had run almost 19 miles and was feeling it. This lap was all about mentally preparing myself for the final lap. I passed a slender woman with long blond braids early in the lap -- she ended up being one of the 5 or so people I beat. XD She looked like she was hurting and it just reminded me to continue pacing myself as much as I could. This lap I ran with mostly GUYS. TALL, LEAN, GREYHOUND-LIKE MEN. They were all built like Dan and I felt like the only stocky person out there. In spite of the distance -- by the end of the lap I had nearly run a marathon -- I felt okay, physically. I knew I would finish the race.

Runners on a snowy trail:



Lap Five: THE LONELY LAP. I felt like I was on the Alaskan tundra and there were no other human beings for miles. Two or three times I came across this one couple who were wandering the trails; they seemed to know about the race and cheered me on when they saw me. It was encouraging. The sense of isolation and loneliness were strong; on top of that, it was beginning to get dark. I walked the major hills on this lap. I also focused almost 100% on JUST FINISHING. I didn't think anyone would be left at the finish line when I got there. By the time I reached it, there were maybe 6 or 7 people at the finish. They clapped and yay-ed me in! It is so different from a big marathon or race where there are cheering crowds. There was no t-shirt or award at the end: this kind of race isn't about recognition in that way, I suppose. There ARE bragging rights but it's not on display.

Lonely and quiet woods in winter:


I immediately ate chocolate chip cookies and drank more coke and ate a variety of other junk food. I had wanted to come in around 6 hours but my time of 6:36 was more than acceptable -- maybe even impressive: average pace = 12:44 minute miles. Interestingly, while I consumed about a pint of water per lap and was very hydrated, I didn't have to pee during the race or immediately after. This concerned me. If you're drinking you should be peeing and I was worried, but as they say, everything came out all right in the end. Interestingly, one of the most sore parts of my body was my shoulders and upper arms! This might have been because of keeping form for over 6 hours. It was unexpected, though. My quads and hamstrings were also very sore afterwards. NO LACTIC ACID troubles, though! That amazed me. Maybe eating a ton of carbs the week before the race helped get the right amount of sugar in my blood or something.

It took me 3 days to feel not-sore and I started my first recovery run yesterday -- yes, on the dreaded warmup hill. Lots of slow jogging and walking and BOY I could still feel the soreness in my hamstrings. My calves felt relatively good! So now I am heading out onto trails that are pretty muddy for my second little recovery run. Mostly I just need fresh air and to be in the woods for a little while.

Next long-distance goal: I need to run a marathon in June if I am to be ready for the 50K on PEI in August. WE SHALL SEE.

[[All photo credits go to Roger Perham, who stood out there for HOURS with his camera!]]

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