Sunday, February 24, 2013

Febapple Frozen 50k Race Report

Been a while, eh? I haven't felt like writing, so I haven't forced myself. I had a great experience at my first 50k race yesterday, so I wanted write up a race report!

I was looking for a race to do as a bit of a test of my training before my 100 miler in April. I looked around for local races and when I found the NJ Trail Series was putting on the Febapple Frozen 50k, I found my race. I was able to persuade a running buddy, Jose, to attempt his first ultra by doing the race as well.

Up far too early, Jose and I drove the 2 hours to the race, picked up our bibs, and tried to relax before the race started. The course was a 10 mile loop, broken up into a 4 mile loop and a 6 mile loop, both with ended at the aid station/start line/finish line area. The area was covered in a thick layer of ice and I worried what this would mean for the race. We were here and I wasn't going home without finishing, so I just told myself to relax and have fun.
Jose and I right before the start
At 8 am, we were off! The first loop flew by, with a lot of the racers still close together. The 4 mile loop had a lot of technical sections with a smaller running path. The 6 mile loop had some wider sections, but also had the steepest downhill, which was essentially one giant icy death trap. I was ahead of Jose for a bit, but we caught up during the first 6 mile section on the first loop. He had already taken a bit of a tumble, but looked good.

The first lap flew and although I had to walk a lot of the sections and had a few near falls, I felt good! Going out for my second lap, I started to see more of the 50 milers, who had started an hour before us 50k runners. Not being a trail runner, I was a bit timid on the steeper and more technical downhills, especially when they were rocky, rooty, icy, and/or muddy. I was in awe seeing other runners glide down the hills with ease, looking like gazelles prancing down.

The second lap was a bit slower than my first (not shocking), but I felt pretty good. I was curious as to how Jose was doing and found him at the finish all bundled up. After taking a few tumbles (he was in the majority of the group who had some falls), he decided he was done for the day. I was bummed for him that he wasn't having a great day, but proud that he was honest with himself and knew that calling it early was smart. I felt eager to finish the third lap so we could head home!
Incredible half-frozen waterfall along the course. Glad Jose got a picture of it!
The third lap was my toughest, physically and mentally. I was alone nearly the entire first mini-lap and couldn't get into a good rhythm due to walking frequently due to hills or technical sections that slowed me down. Close to the end of this loop, I saw Phil, the RD to my 100 last summer. He was running the 50 miler and looked great! I was able to push myself to keep up with him until the lap ended and a bit of the last 6 mile section. I couldn't keep up, so we said bye, but it was nice to not be alone and catch up a bit.

The last 6 miles felt like they would never end and I knew I was cutting it close to my sub-7 hour goal. I pushed as much as I could and finished the course (which was 1.75 miles short) in 6 hours, 42 minutes, and 19 seconds. I knew I had to add on some more to make it an even 31 miles, so I took off on the first section of the 4 mile loop, which was mostly on roads. I was able to finish with a time of 6 hours, 59 minutes, and 34 seconds.
Me finishing on the icy finish! 
The race was really hard as it was muddy, slippery, icy, cold, and it was lightly raining the whole time. I'm really happy that I was able to finish and that today, my legs feel pretty good. I hope this bodes well for my 100 miler in just 9 short weeks!