Coming into this event I had dropped my mileage back for the two weeks leading up. I guess you'd call that a taper, but really I was just trying to make sure that my ankle, which I had rolled few weeks ago, was sufficiently well rested before tackling a 50k on what was sure to be challenging terrain. No one really knew what to expect for conditions given the minimal snow fall we'd had so far this winter, but we knew it was going to be some mix of ice, snow and bare ground. Luckily everything was feeling good by Fat Ass morning, but I had no intention of racing today, just a nice long run with fiends. I rode up to Lisbon with Jeremy and Zak who were both planning to run the full distance, and Emma followed a little later since she was only planning to run 3 or 4 laps of the 5+ mile course. When we arrived there were quite a few people there already, and a steady stream of cars rolled in over the next few minutes. By 8:30 we had 38 people gathered for the start and a big table filled with all kinds of good food and drinks to serve as our aid station between laps.
|Photo of the course by Ryan Triffitt|
We let Val take the lead for the first half of the first lap, even though the course was well marked it just seemed right to have her show us the way. I bounced around the group as I paused to get a few video shots along the way (not sure if I'll get around to editing it...), and eventually settled in with Jeremy, Zak, Jamie, Jim and Dave, while Blaine and Nate were out in front. Since it was still just below freezing the trail conditions were pretty crusty where there was snow cover, icy in some spots, and where there was bare ground it was rock-hard and lumpy. It was clear that despite the flat terrain this course was going to be hard work.
As we finished the first lap Emma was ready and waiting to join us, she was worried about being able to keep up but I assured her that she wouldn't have any trouble with our pace. Our first pass through the aid station was a pretty quick one since we were just getting warmed up and still feeling very fresh. I just grabbed one of the homemade bars I brought and we moved on. Since I was carrying my Nathan pack with about 2 liters of Nuun I didn't need to grab any drinks at the aid station.
Trail conditions were dramatically different on lap 2, not surprising after 30+ people had run the course and the temperature was starting to warm up. What had been crusty snow had turned into sugary snow, ice was getting weaker and wet spots were showing up. Despite the variation in conditions we actually maintained a very consistent pace over the next three laps, although our stops in between got progressively longer.
We ran, we talked, we laughed, we post-holed, slipped, fell, farted, joked, threw snowballs, threw a wiffle ball (I nailed Jamie between the shoulder blades with an amazing throw into a headwind), and high-fived our friends coming the other way. Of course, as the day went on there were fewer and fewer runners out on the course, and even our group started to get smaller due to blisters and smashed-up knees and plans to "only" run 15 or 20 miles.
By lap 3 there were significant wet areas on the course that couldn't be avoided so our feet were constantly getting re-wetted and chilled. Although some parts of the course were getting well packed, most of it just seemed to be getting churned up with the additional foot traffic. By lap 5 our group was reduced to Emma, Jeremy and myself. Very reminiscent of our 100 Mile Wilderness adventure last year. By now we were definitely starting to grow a bit weary, and the additional effort required to try and maintain our pace caused us to get fairly quiet at times, but it was still great to be running in each others company. We also caught up to Nate on this lap and had a little back forth with him for a few miles. Blaine was still somewhere out ahead, but far enough that we never saw him on any of the out and back sections.
Emma hadn't planned to run more than 20 miles today since the longest she's run n the past few months was 17 miles, and since it was on roads it didn't take her much more than 2 hours. Today was not surprisingly taking a lot longer due to the trail conditions, but she was feeling good and made a last minute decision to join Jeremy and I on our 6th and final lap which would bring her up to 25+ miles. I was glad to have her keeping us company and psyched that she was feeling good enough to keep going longer than expected, especially on a day when the conditions got the better of some people.
On this last lap Jerry fired up his helicopter and was giving rides those who had already finished which was fun for us to watch as we made our way around. The highlight of the day was getting an aerial escort as we ran the final 1/4 mile to the finish.
|Photo by Jamie Anderson|
Lap 1 - 52:00 + 1:00
Lap 2 - 51:00 + 3:00
Lap 3 - 51:00 + 4:00
Lap 4 - 51:00 + 6:00
Lap 5 - 53:00 + 5:00
Lap 6 - 55:00
Big thanks to our hosts Valerie, Rick, Linda and Jerry for making this another incredible TMR event.
distance: 30.45 miles
pace: 10:55 (including stops)
conditions: messy, snow, ice, dirt, nastiness
weather: mid 30's, mostly cloudy, windy (but not too windy for helicopter rides)
gear: Inov-8 Oroc 280, wool socks, shorts, long sleeve shirt, t-shirt, 2x gloves, hat, Nathan HPL #020