Sunday, January 5, 2014

PHUNT 50k (well, sort of) Fatass Race Report

I'm still sort of processing yesterday, but overall, it felt like a mixed-bag of a day.

I didn't sleep very well the night before, but I got up, finished packing, layered up a ton, then picked up my friends Annie and Jose, who were joining me on this crazy journey. We drove the hour to the race start, checked-in, picked up our bibs, and tried to not freak out about the race and temperatures. At the start at 9:15 am, the temperature was 3 degrees. After a short race briefing, we were off!
Annie, Jose, and me at the start!
The course had gotten about 3 inches of snow on it less than 48 hours before we came, but the snow wasn't icy and was fluffy. About 100 of us racers started off into the woods, snaking through the path, crossing over logs, small bridges, through streams, and up and down plenty of hills. While the snow wasn't icy, the fluffy nature of it meant that we slipped a bit with every step, making our miles not our speediest.

We got to the first aid station at around mile 6.5 and it felt almost like a fun party. Slews of runners, going crazy for chips, Double Stuff Oreos, Gatorade, and more, laughing the whole time. I saw a box that had contained beer and made a comment about how great a sip of beer would be. Another runner said they didn't have beer, but they did have whiskey and she was taking a swig. I'm not even a huge fan of whiskey, but when there's whiskey at an aid station, you drink it. It gave me a pep in my step and meant that I couldn't take myself or the race too seriously.
Photographic proof our our Oreos and whiskey
We moved along to the next part of the course, which was a loop. We found loads of runners that took the wrong way around it, so we kept having people running toward us on a small one-way path. We got worried about having made a wrong turn, but we were assured that we had been correct. We got to the next aid station around mile 12.5, loaded up on food, then moved along.

After finishing the loop, we were plugging along when another runner asked if we had seen a course marking in the last little bit. We realized that we hadn't. We had done a decent job of looking for them, but we clearly missed something. We got to the end of the path we were on, at a fork on the path, with no clear way to go. We tried to see if either of those ways was correct, but no markings could be found. We tried to go back to where we saw the last course marking, where we found a slew of more lost runners. We couldn't figure it out, so we ended up deciding to find the road along the course near us that would lead us back to the trail, meaning we ended up cutting part of the route. I hated knowing we were cutting because I felt like a cheater, but I didn't have any other choice.

We found our way back to the course markings a few miles up, then continued along. I started to panic about how few miles we had run and how freaking long we had been on the trails, which was demoralizing for me. I started to worry that we wouldn't make the 23 mile cutoff, so we pushed our pace as much as we could. We got to the aid station with about 10 minutes to spare, filled up on food, and agreed to keep going (a few people dropped there).
Annie at some point along the course. At least we had a pretty place to run!
Jose, Annie, and myself moved along and were obsessive in checking for course markings. We felt confident and I saw the light at the end of the tunnel that was this race when we realized we made a grave error; we had gotten back to the unaided water stop at mile 20, when we should have been at the one at mile 27. Another runner had also made the same mistake, but we luckily found a few cross country skiiers that told us the easiest way back to the start. At this point, with the sun slowly setting, we were happy just to get back, change clothes, and get warm. We did somehow find the course again, and at that point, the course EMS found us. He told us if we hopped back on the course, we'd have 5-6 miles left with only an hour before the sun set and the course officially closed. We opted to continue our shortcut. We finished 26.5 miles in just over 7 hours.

When I finished, I felt so mixed. I was beyond happy to be done because it had been a long, frustrating day. I loved running with my friends, but I was upset with how short of the 50k we were and how long we had been out there. I know the distance isn't something to be upset about because it was a tough day and we still did a ton, but I still feel slightly like we failed. Pretty silly, I know, but I didn't achieve the goal that I wanted to.

This morning, I have some minimal soreness in my one foot and one ankle, but other than that, I feel pretty darn good. Just makes me eager to push my training and get ready for my 8 hour race in early February!

1 comment:

  1. For a while I had a real streak of getting lost during ultra and trail races. I even once accidentally cut a 5K so badly that I finished first in 13:xx. Nice PR, disqualification aside, if I don't say so myself!

    I am finally starting to gain the situational awareness (i.e. not being distracted by shiny objects) needed to usually avoid getting lost. It sure is frustrating when it happens though.