I opted for the 50K at yesterday's URINEO FA. I arrived at Mill Creek Park a little after six. To my surprise, there was at at 10-12 vehicles already parked there! In fact, a group of six or eight runners were just heading out. I waved them on, since I wasn't ready-I had to change shoes, add shirts, and arrange items at the Aid Station-aka my vehicle.
I donned two long-sleeved shirts and a windshirt. I knew it was too much clothing, but it was only twenty degrees at the start! I also was wearing a fleece balaclava. I was trying to protect my air passages. After so many hours outside in the cold, my wheezing will start up (it doesn't seem to matter if I use my inhalers or not).
I got under way quickly. It was dark, so I made my way out cautiously. In fact, I missed the first trail turn, and the trail dumped me out on the road! So I ran down the road-after all I knew what I was doing. I turned off my light since I didn't want the park rangers to see me (didn't know if I was there legally or not!)
I heard two loud runners and then spotted Slim and Bob running my way. I yell hi and we all stop and chat. They've already been out since 5AM; Bob is sporting a nice bloody cut on his hand. He's taken a fall and got 'first blood' of the day. They are heading back to greet the 7am runners. I keep going, knowing the 7am runners will catch up to me soooner or later.
Although it's cold, I'm enjoying the run. I've run in Mill Creek Park a number of times, and know where I am going. I pass Volney Rogers field, with its tennis courts and football fields, and start down a long gradual downhill, and
WHAM!! I catch a root and take a full body slam down. I've literally knocked the air of myself. I rip off my balaclava and light and roll to a sitting position. I feel like throwing up. My knee is hurting horribly. I finally get by the tossing cooky feeling and roll over to my feet. Nothing is broke. Is my knee sprained? It still hurts. I start limping down the trail. Oh well, walk for a bit and see what happens. I'm cursing myself because I'm only two or so miles into the run! Gradually the knee goes into a throb. But now I'm being cautious on downhills, which I normally take with a good amount of confidence.
Slim, Dave, and Lloyd run by at some point and we get a hi out. Dave and Lloyd are both in MMT this year!
We are running the loop from the Lily Pond to the Covered Bridge and then back. I wore the Garmin, and it showed 31.52 miles for the 4 loops I ran. On the second lap I picked up my camera, and ran a bit of this run with Bob and did some talking. When we got near the Covered Bridge, we had some of the NEO Trail Runners on the other side of the creek and got some talking going on. I readied my camera for a group photo-and found the camera non-functioning due to the cold-batteries not working! Yes, it was still that cold!
Rich opted to turn and run with Bob and I, as we hadn't talked much in a long time. Also, Jeff and Frank had caught up to us, so we had merry little group of runners along for a while.
About the end of loop two, the other runners have gotten ahead of me. I'm hitting a bonk. My hip flexors are hurting alot-maybe I've been overdoing the weights,and I'm suddenly out of energy. Luckily, I'm back at the vehicle soon, and I get a bunch of food and some ibuprofen in. I get back on the trail, and catch up with Rich and Bob in a few miles. They're walking (which is almost a jog for me) and we end up walking most of this lap.
This is a valuable to me, because I think I am walking faster than usual. (I need to look at my Garmin data) And I think the walking was good, because I didn't feel as fatigued as I normally do starting loop 4.
Bob and Rich (and almost everyone else) were done with their 50Ks, while I still had another loop to go. This didn't bother me at all, so I think I've developed a little more running toughness. Sure, I would have loved to been done and drinking a little home brew, but I was out on a 50K run today, and that's what I was going to get in. So I ate quickly, and headed out on lap 4.
I picked up my Zune for this, since I knew I would be alone, and put on a running playlist. I also started eating chocolate espresso beans, which did huge things for my mood!! And fatigue factor. I still felt good out there on the trail, although the sunlight was turning down setting now.
As I crossed the Covered Bridge, I noticed a family trying to take the "timer photo" so I stopped and asked if I could help them. They were very happy to get their family Christmas picture (they were a cute couple with a baby) so I felt good about that unplanned two minute stop.
I just kept counting down the various little points on my last loop. I ran into Slim on the Monkey Trails-he was almost done with his 50 Miler! So after the Monkey Trails, I just had the Stone Bridge, Volney Rogers Field, and then the steel staircase, and then I was just about home free!!!
I clicked off at the Lily Pond at 9.29.59, at 31.52 miles. I don't stop the watch at all, and I would guestimate I spent at least 15 minutes at the AS, so not a bad time.
The trail was in very good shape. It was frozen, and still had a layer of leaves, which meant, if you had screwed shoes, they would dig in. And in some areas, the leaves gave some good traction. There were very small patches of ice (unlike the spring FA, where there are long areas of ice) but very mangeable.
Since I was the last in, and everyone still had a few minutes of free time, five of us adjourned to Jib Jab's Hot Dog Stand (or something like that) for hotdogs and fries!MMMmmm good post ultra food!!