Health & Fitness.

Recover From The Holidays 50K Race Report

All photos taken by Gregg Gelmis, a local athlete/photographer who donates his time to so many of our local races. I will be adding several of these to our race wall – for sure!

I totally wrote this WEEKS ago and only realized I never published it when I went to write about my next race and couldn’t find this entry to link. I SUCK AT BLOGGING.

The Course Everyone Hates But Me

I started running this local 3-mile cross country course over the summer with Tuesday night runs sponsored by our track club. By the time the summer and those Tuesday runs were over, I had proclaimed no less than a million times, “I HATE THIS COURSE.” I mean, there were no 3 miles in this town I hated running more than that course. HATE. HATE. HATE. Surface changed too much, one hella hill that made me feel like I was dying, and a zig-zag part at the end that made me want to punch people.


However, once I ran it in the colder weather this winter, I realized that I just hated that course in the summer. I did 4 loops a few weeks ago when it was cold and liked it just fine!

Of course, doing it 10 times for a 50K is another story. And that’s what the 50K I just finished involved. That 3-mile cross country course done TEN TIMES. And most everyone I know either hates it, or if they haven’t run it before they know someone who does hate it. TEN LOOPS! IT’S SO BORING! That’s what they all say.

But, I’ll be honest. I didn’t find it boring at all. I found the last 50K I did boring because there are 2+ mile stretches where you’re running on the same bit of trail, same surface, same elevation. And even though in that 50K I only did each of those stretches three times, they still nearly killed me.

Even though this 3-mile course was something I saw 10 times on Monday, I didn’t really get bored. The course itself changes surfaces (woods, grass, gravel etc) and the elevation changes (Up, Down, Up, Down, Up, DOWN DOWN DOWN DOWN, Flat, UP UP UP UP.) often enough that I actually had several little goals on each loop to pass the time.

I didn’t have any of the mental barriers I had at the last 50K. I didn’t enter any dark periods of doubt and misery.

And because the course is a lot of out and back, I actually got to see a lot of people almost every step of the way. Part of the struggle during the last 50K was feeling so alone during parts of it. But Monday? I was always only a few minutes away from seeing another friendly face, which made the course that much more enjoyable.

Of course – having Donnie there the entire way helped too. He signed up for it the last minute, just to help me finish because I was worried I wouldn’t be able to. While he’s not a cheerleader type, he was still a constant force there – trying to pull me faster. I know I would have struggled more mentally without him, and he definitely pulled me physically.

I walked less on Monday than I have at any other marathon or ultra-marathon this year. I think that’s why I set a new personal record (PR), almost even beating my first trail marathon time!

Perfect Weather Is Perfect

I do not like being cold. I’ve always said you’ll never see me move to a warm climate without some HUGE things pulling me there. I hate being cold SO VERY MUCH. And I don’t mind being hot and sweaty, I actually kind of like it.

But when it comes to running? Just the opposite. As long as it’s above freezing? I’ll be sporting my Lululemon running skirt and a shirt-sleeve shirt with arm warmers. If it’s windy I might wear a jacket, but my legs are always fine. In the summer? I HATE RUNNING WITH EVERY OUNCE OF MY SOUL.

The weather was cooler Monday than it was for either of my previous marathons or my previous 50K. And the sun rarely made an appearance. I kept my gloves and ear wrap on the entire time. It was perfect in every way and I’m almost certain that’s the biggest contributing factor to how good I felt the whole day. I don’t think I could have done 6 loops of running everything but one chunk of the hill, if it had been even 5 degrees warmer. Or if the sun had been out. I would have been zapped a lot faster.

Obviously, you can’t special order weather. But if you could? Overcast and 38 was the perfect recipe for running for 7 hours.

The Food Of The Gods

I know I’ve only been doing this distance running thing for about a year, but I’m continued to be surprised by…well…surprises.

No matter how much you think you have figured out about fuel, clothing, training, nutrition and footwear — you’ll still often find yourself facing an unexpected challenge. Or you’ll find the expected challenge never showed up.

When I had surprising nausea at my marathon, I found comfort in some soft-chew peppermints that a guy dressed as Santa was handing out. I had no idea if the mint actually settled my stomach, or if Kris Kringle brought his own magic to the even – but whatever the cause? That mint hit the spot.

So – well in advance of Monday’s 50K? I stocked up on those damn peppermints. And even though no article or website or coach ever recommended them to me? I took about a dozen with me to the race. AND THEY WERE THE MOST WONDERFUL THINGS EVER. My stomach did get uneasy a bit, but the mints kept the real nausea at bay. I think my body just doesn’t handle skipping meals well. I mean, I fuel a lot during the run, obviously. But I basically skip one or two sit-down meals while I’m out there and my stomach revolts that along with the constant movement for 7 hours. I just get queasy and those mints kept me stable.

Made A Plan

I also went into this race with an actual plan. I was going to run everything, even the mild uphills, except the steepest part of the one hell-hill…for SIX LOOPS. I’d only walk that one steep part in the middle of that one hill for the first six loops. And then the plan was that with every loop after that? I’d let myself walk one piece more. So, by the time I was doing the last few loops? I was looking forward to finishing them just so I’d have more time to walk the next one.

Sounds crazy, but it worked for me.

Then we had Nikki come do the last lap with us. And let me tell you, going into Mom mode to help HER through those three miles? BEST. THING. EVER. It was easy to make it when I was trying to encourage her along the way!

All in all? I liked this 50K better than the last one. Will I like it as much next year without Donnie doing it with me? We’ll see!

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