When I mistakenly signed up for the Big A 50K, I knew I would probably not be able to complete the whole 50k. But I had this vision in my head, like the Gods would smile on me and somehow I would find it within myself to actually finish.
Of course my training told me in bold print that it could never be.......hey my longest run in the last two months was 10 miles and only an 8 miler in the last 4 weeks. I knew deep down that 31 miles would never happen so my realistic stretch goal was three laps(23 miles).
It seemed possible, I figured I could pull off three laps in about 5 1/2 hours plus. Taking into account my strong winter base of snowshoeing and my recent "faster" pace runs, it was plausible. So...23 or so miles would be a pretty good accomplishment for the day.
When I arrived at Mt Agamenticus, I stepped out of the truck, sucked in a deep breath of fresh cool air and felt confident that I was as prepared as I could be considering the level of fitness I was at. I had everything in order and couldn't think of one thing that would deter me from my goal.
After helping Bob and the New balance guys carry their gear up the trail, I settled into getting my stuff ready. I had everything I needed to run a 50K all I had to hope for was some extra energy, a bit of drive and a little luck to do it.
I brought three pairs of shoes not knowing the terrain at all and decided to start with my Cascadia 3s as they are a good all around trail shoe. This made sense because the start was about a mile on tar and dirt road.
I was comfortable right from the start and until we actually hit the trail I felt the cascadias were the best choice. As we climbed the first hill, I could feel a big difference .....I noticed right away the traction and push off loss compared to the 212s, I also felt a loss of traction on the smooth rock outcropping and the down hills.
I held my own in the first mile and actually passed some runners in the second and third. In the fourth mile I was leading a small bunch of runners and even though I had already missed a few turns, I felt confident because I could see the fresh prints of the runners in front of us.
One of the guys behind me yelled and said I missed a turn. I went back and followed the group. Soon we we bushwhacking up a hill and honestly I knew we were off track (even though we were following pink ribbons)
They looked old to me and come to find out they were. We stopped at the top of a hill next to a five gallon bucket upside down ( apparently a hunters perch)
We studied the map at least 3 times and all disagreed as to the direction we should go.....suddenly I saw a glimpse of two runners at the bottom of the hill and we high tailed it to them. We reached the trail they were on and caught up to them at an opening to a tar road......Hmnnn....a tar road?
About this time we figured we must have missed a turn, a bunch of runners came up the road, returning to the trail because they realized they were wrong too. By now our little group had grown to about 15 runners. They were talking and discussing(arguing) about where to go.
I just took off back down the trail because we were wasting so much time. A few of them followed me and I am not sure what happened to the rest of them. At this point I was expending way too much energy for the first loop as I was the leader and a small pack of runners kept pushing me faster. I suppose I could have let them pass but I was anxious and kind of pissed that we lost so much time.
Finally after back tracking a mile, I came to the turn off......it was so visible I am not sure how we all missed it. I turned and only five runners followed, I didn't see the others.....perhaps they were still back at the road "discussing" which way to go.
At about 8 miles I started fading and two of the guys behind me passed. I was able to stay close to them but could not actually catch up. It suddenly dawned on me that I hadn't been fueling every 45 minutes like I planned. Don't know how I let that happen but it explained my bonk.
I finally finished this lap (which ended up being 10 miles total) I was much more fatigued by now but decided to keep going after changing into the X-talon 212s. I knew there was no way to catch back up on the fueling and figured I would just see how the next lap felt.
The 212s did not bother me on the road portion (like I thought they would) and I could feel so much more traction in the woods. The first mountain hill sucked the life out of me and it was then that I wasn't sure if I would do another lap.
On the down hills I felt much more stable and was able to run faster then the first lap, slower on the up hills though ( no fault of the shoes). I did however manage to loose the trail a few times but not at the critical point this time. The last two miles I really had to push to keep running and just wanted to get back to the start.
I quit at 18 miles, not quite the 23 I wanted but these were tougher miles than I planned and I just didn't know the terrain enough to do a few miles then find a loop back. The truth was, I was just plain beat and didn't have the desire to attempt a third lap.
I really enjoyed this run and the terrain. I felt more competitive ( kinda mid range rather than back of the pack)
First lap I ran 29th and second lap 26th. I was only passed by 6 runners 4 of which were Trail monsters lapping me and the other two I was able to stay with after.
Overall I felt really good about my performance here.
1st lap 9.89 @2:16:00 (ascent 1834--descent1695)
2nd lap 8:10@2:07:09 (ascent 1524- descent 1426)
I did have a bit of difficulty following the trail, it seems we could have used a bit of Trail monster style trail markings at critical turns.