Monday, January 11, 2010

Hauling Ass ....What Did I Expect?

One thing I didn't have to worry about at GAC's fatass 50k on Saturday was getting pulled over for speeding by the trail police. As a matter of fact, I was in grave danger of being mistaken for a bystander as the front runners passed me during my second loop (they were on their third) Five runners managed to lap me and it was darn embarrassing as they must have thought for sure I was a spectator.

Now, don't get me wrong, as I am not complaining about the race or even my performance. I am merely stating a facts that I must learn to admit to myself. I have to come to terms with my condition, my livestyle and my reasons for leaving the road and hitting the trails. If it were for speed and easy running, I fear I have surely made a wrong turn.

In terms of an adequate workout to start my new year and give me an understanding of where my fitness level is, I suspect I found the perfect conditions at this race. My battle plan was to kick off a fairly easy two loops and then if time permitted and I felt good enough, pound out a third. A three hour run would be a fantastic start for the new year.

There are so many good things about Saturday, I Don't know where to begin. First of all I finally met up with Dan, running Rob, Kevin, Michelle and a couple others I can't can't seem to get their names out of my head at this time. What a great bunch of runners.

Kevin, I had already met and run with at Pineland and I didn't actually meet Michelle to the point of shaking hands and saying hi. Besides that George and Ann was there, Ian, Erik and Jamie (Fellow Trail monsters) plus a couple of others guys from maine that I didn't know.

I was pretty well prepared and even though it felt quite cold waiting for the start, I knew I had the right amount of layers. I decided to wear a new light weight backpack that I purchased for long trail running in the winter to replace my Nathan pack. I only wore it this day to get the feel of it. I also had the new ice spikes in my shoes to see how well they performed.

As I walked around on the plowed areas (and ran a short warmup) I could feel the traction of the new spikes on the ice underneath. There is no doubt that I got the feel of very stable traction that allowed me to push off strongly.

The race started and George was kind enough to hold back and run the first mile or so with me. I must admit he is a great guy and enjoyable to talk to. Unfortunately he is much too fast for me so the conversation was short.

Right off the bat, I realized that the spikes would be pretty much useless as the snow was mealy and running on 5 inches of cornmeal. Absolutely no traction and the feet would give no early warning signs of which way they were going to slide. Seriously, snowshoes would have been much better.

Though mostly single track (even in wide areas because of the virgin snow off the trail), many people seemed much better prepared and I got passed a lot. By mile three, I had serious doubts about doing three loops. Once I hit mile four which was the single track switch back kind of trail and the hilly part of this 10k, my body was complaining big time.

I swear my feet moved as far sideways as they did forward. As I struggled in mile four, I became discouraged and I questioned my goal of attempting a 50 miler in May. I came to the conclusion that one loop was surely going to be enough for me this day.
It kept crossing my mind, if I can barely finish one relatively flat but difficult 10K, how can I reasonably think I can run a 50 miler?

What should have taken me a little over an hour ended up being almost an hour and a half. I felt beaten and taddered as I headed for the food table and finished my measly 10K. God, it felt more like 30K..... I was so glad this run was over, all I wanted was to jump in my truck and limp away (with my head hanging low).

As I grabbed for a gaterade, I recognized running Rob and introduced myself. I have to say he was much taller and in better shape than I visioned. I think his writing does not show an accurate picture as he also talked with great confidence. His attiude and matter of fact discussion about the first loop made me realize that a person is only beaten when their mind says so.

He ran the same loop as I did, yet he was willing to attempt a second. It got me thinking, hey I drove one and a half hours to get here, I had to at least run longer than I drove. I don't know what got into me, but I ran back to my truck, threw my backpack inside, sucked down a gel pack and headed for loop two.

When I came back to the food table, I realized how packed it was with every goody one can imagine. I grabbed a couple potatoe wedges and a brownie then went on my way. The attidude adjustment worked as I actually was enjoying lap two.

I instilled some changes that helped a lot. First of all I shortened my stride and centered my body weight so I didn't push off with my toe so much. Also I slowed the pace down just a bit. Not having the backpack somehow felt much lighter, though I seriously doubt it weighed more than a few pounds.

This second loop felt so much different.....not really easier as the conditions actually were much worse after all the traffic, but I guess I just accepted them more and time was not a factor. I kept telling myself I could turn around when ever I wanted but once I crossed the three mile mark it was a mute point.

In mile four the front runner passed me on his third loop. He sure didn't look as tired as I felt. Actually he was running like we were on pavement. Quite impressive, as were the next three front runner that passed me. I didn't know if they were all doing the full 50k but I suspected they could if they wanted.

In mile five and six I settled in to a somewhat of a rhythm and actually reeled in and passed three other runners. Then during the last half mile I picked up the pace and caught a pack of four runners right at the finish.

I was beat and sore, but I felt accomplished as I was able to continue and prove to myself that I do have something deep down to help me when things get tough. In the end I ran close to the three hours I was planning, just not as far in miles.

My first loop was 1:24:54 and it felt like hell, the second loop was 1:28:02 and even though the conditions had deteriated considerably I felt much better during the run, was able to catch and pass some other runners and also was able to pick it up to a decent kick during the last half mile.

On the way home, I realized that my last run of over two and a half hours was way back in August, so my overall time of 2:52:56 for the 20K was a great start to the new year. Funny how a person's prospective can change in such a short time.

As far as the new ice spikes, I am still on the fence. They did work much better than the sheet metal screws on smooth ice but I also lost 5 of the 24 in my shoes during this one run. So because of the much higher cost and the fact that on most surfaces the sheet metal screws seem pretty comparable, I don't think I would buy more of them unless I was racing on glare ice.

Overal 12.45 miles (20K) @ 2:52:56 (13:59 pace)
142 average Heart rate with a max of 158


Laurel said...

Nice job out there! You're right, it's all about attitude. I had planned to go, but had work left over from Friday that I had to get done. I'm heading out for my long one this afternoon instead.

Sparkplug said...

Kevin, sounds like the conditions were super tough, so good work getting in two laps! Good physically as well as mentally, as you said!

Dan said...

Kevin, It was great to meet you. I'm glad you hung in there and did the second loop. Those were some of the worse trail conditions I have ever run in.

George said...

Kevin, Nice to see you at the GAC Fat Ass. Way to hang in there and get a good workout in. I did 4 laps to finish in 5 1/2 hours, so our paces weren't much different. Keep your focus on the Pineland's 50 Miler. Hope to see you Val's Fat Ass.


Ann said...

Hi Kevin,

Glad to hear my brownies have super power :)! It was nice to see you...great job!