When I originally signed up for The Big A 50K, My intent was to run a lead up 50K to the Pineland 50K or 50 miler as I had planned on one or the other. My goal at the time was just to finish the big A as time was not really a factor plus this is fairly difficult terrain so running on time would probably set me up for dissapointment.
As it turned out, I did not get the distance running in this winter and spring so I only signed up for the 25k at Pineland. Because of this change, I felt it was a good oppourtunity to hit the big A with a race mentality and see what I could do.
My plan was to really push the first loop then see what happens after my body blows up. My hope was to do at least two laps but perhaps three if I felt good enough. I didn't really plan a pace but was hoping for at least 12 minute for the first loop and if I was lucky 13 minute miles for the second.
I knew this was a bit aggressive for this terrain, but I had nothing to lose because I only needed 16 tough miles to fit into my 25K training plans. Last year I ran 2:16:01 for the first loop but was off course and racked up about 9.5 miles instead of 8 miles. My second loop was 2:07:00 with a total time of 4:26:09
I figured I would be happy to at least beat the 4 hour mark this year. It was overcast and chilly when I arrived and my first thought was that this could be a good thing as far as heat goes but perhaps not so good with all the rock and ledge at Mnt A.
I am not sure why I did this, but I wore the Nathan vest fully packed and loaded on the first loop ...what was I thinking? It is only 8 miles then I would be back at the start where there is an adequately stocked aid station and all my gear in the truck. I guess I was still thinking long Pineland or perhaps I was going to need something out on the course....
There were only about 30 or so runners and the group took off quick putting me about 25 back. I figured I would be running mostly alone, until the leaders caught me on their second loop. Instead I found myself hanging with the pack and passing at least 3 runners on the first hill.
I settled in rather quickly except for the vest which was bugging me and I kept wishing I could shed the extra weight. Wearing the Inov8 295s seemed to give me a bit of an advantage on the wet rocks, which allowed me to really let go on the down hills which is where I did all my passing after the first hill.
Somewhere around 5 miles into the first loop I started feeling real good and I was still passing people. A little bit of worry came over me because I shouldn't be catching this many people and I wasn't really pushing the pace. I think the slippery conditions were causing a lot of caution.
The last 2 miles of the first loop was so much fun, I leap frogged with a woman runner who seemed detirmined to keep me behind her. After pocupine trail, I knew it was all down hill and I just let go, opened up the stride and ended up coming in1 minute ahead of her and surprised to find myself in tenth place. Of course the difference is that I was racing and was pretty sure everyone else was gearing their pace toward the 50K. Still, a 1:33:01 was very respectable for a midpacker.
I actually felt good, even after the 3/4 mile kick, so I dropped the vest off at the truck and looked forward to a second lap without the nusance. I didn't feel too spent until about mile 5 of the second loop and up until that point I was leapfrogging with Joe W for a couple miles. I passed him on two down hills but then he would catch back up and pass me back.
After mile 5, I never saw Joe again as I suspect he was warming up and speeding up. I did notice he had great form and a fairly short stride which I suspect worked well in this terrain. The last three miles of this loop were pretty slow and I was now walking the up hills and tripping my way down the other side. It was appearant that my legs were starting to feel the result of the speedier first loop.
This loop Porcupine trail lasted forever and I was experiencing some hip pain on the left side. It felt so good to crest porcupine knowing I had mostly a downhill to the finish. I came to the aid station at 1:43:03 for the second 8 miles.... still not bad for me.
I decided even though I felt I could pull off a third loop, I didn't see sense in it with the hip pain and low energy. I was comfortable taking my much speedier two loop time of more than one hour faster than last year and calling it a day.
1st loop 1:33:01 (11:38 pace)
2nd loop 1:43:03 (12:53 pace)
16 miles overall including stops 3:23:11