Picture stolen from Nick
The Fool's 50K is a trail race in northern Ohio, held entirely within the confines of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. There is both a 25 K and a 50K, as the 50K runners complete the 25K loop twice.
I went into this race with the goal of improving my time at a 50K. My latest (last years) 50K times have been around 8.5 hours. So, my rough goal this year was to run around 8 hours. Running a sub 8 was a really GOOD goal. But the weather forecast made me leery of setting the bar too high. Lloyd Thomas, race director, had also cautioned that this is a hard trail race. The cut off is nine hours-pretty generous.
At the start, at Pine Hollow, there was ALOT of runners! The 25K option brings out many trail runners who don't happen to be ultra runners. I caught up with a whole bunch of friends before the start of the race.
And then we were off! And the mud began almost immediately! The first downhill on the cross country trail afforded slick mud to slide through. It was fun with the crowd. I elbowed Bob Drake "excuse me, sir you have mud on your calf. You might want to wipe that off at the nearest aid station".
I got to chat with ultra runner extraordinaire Roy Heger as he tried to pull me down the hill we were climbing. A few words with Roy, then he kicked it into gear, and was gone. In fact, I was having a very good time running with friends.
My goal for this first loop was to get as much mileage in as possible before the looming rain hit. As I ran, and the Garmin clicked, I was amazed to see some 12 and 13 (and even an 11 minute) mile out there. I shuffled up smaller slopes that I would previously would walked, and ran right through the mud. After all, it was not going to get less muddy.
Suzanne and Michael caught up with me on the Ledges, and we shared a few miles together. The rain started as we hit the AS around mile 12, and I stopped to pull on my windbreaker, and Suzanne and Michael pulled ahead. I had the muddy Salt Run trail to contend with, and I used most of it to visualize what I needed to do at the 15 mile mark at my vehicle-change shirt, drink Boost, pick up jellybeans and Zune, put on visor, and use inhaler!
The trail runs right up next to the road, and Shaun Pope, young stud ultra runner, was hanging out there, cheering us on. He told me we had less than one mile to go back to the start, so I was encouraged.
I emerged from the woods, to run across a soft, muddy, very slanted hillside. I made a beeline for my vehicle-ripped off my shift, changed, used the inhaler, grabbed my jelly beans and Zune, grabbed the visor and Boost, and took off for the AS. My split was 3.31 and I was really happy with that. I made a quick stop at the Porty-Pottie-you know it's cold outside when the PortoPottie feels like a nice warm place, and took off again. I heard Tanya Cady yell at me about a PR, and that really made me feel good. I have friends who know enough about my running patterns, and times, that they know I'm running well.
Meanwhile, I'm starting out on the cross country trail, the temperature is cold, it's windy, and it's rainin-not heavily, but much more than before. I slip the headphones on, and crank up the tunes. Having the music is a definite mood enhancer, and I keep slogging through the mud, running all that I can, trying not to slip too much.
As I am running across the grass to the Happy Days AS, the "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" comes on, and I just burst out laughing. Yes, it's not so much a "running" song, but it is a song of NE Ohio, and the driving rain and cold just made it very appro pro for this portion of the trail.
As I am going through the Ledges, I notice my Garmin is only recording 15 miles-WTF? I must have hit the button when I was changing shirts and putting my windbreaker back on. Oh well, not that important, but I would have liked to have my splits for the second half.
I spent a few miles on this loop with Tim, from Pittsburgh. It was nice to have someone to run with, but I was conscious that I was dropping back to his pace, so I did make the move to get on up the trail.
I hit the last AS, and shortly afterward, I looked at my watch. 2.09 pm. Well, shucks. 2.30 pm was 7 hours, and I still have 3.4 miles to go---and Salt Run, the muddy up and down trail.
I didn't let it get me down, I just kept moving. I turned up the radio, as it was, and passed two people in the last few miles. I kept looking for the spot I saw Shaun at-at that point I knew it would be less than one mile---and I wanted to be done.
FINALLY I hit that spot, but it seemed like the trail went on forever. The trail was so muddy, that on the uphills, I was pretty much off the trail, on the site, tromping through leaves and briars, because that was where I could get footing.
I came out of the woods, got immediately uphill, for better footing, then crested the small rise-and saw the time clock 7:45 Ohmygod!!!!!!! I am actually astonished. I immediately start running, as fast as I can, to the finish.
I'm so amazed it's a sub 8 hour. I am incredibly happy with this time. As muddy as the course was,I still posted a sub 8 hour. So this training thing seems to be working for me! And maybe, weighing 16 lbs less, had something to do with it also.
Very pleased with the running effort. I think I've made some progress. Feeling very positive about the future!