Wednesday, December 20, 2017

I Believe {Bigfoot 50K Recap}

“How long do you think you will be out there?” my husband asked me the morning of the race.

As I talked to him on the phone, a flurry of activity was going on in the room at the lodge. The air thick with pre-race nerves.

“Hopefully, less than 8 hours,” I replied.

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Bigfoot! I know him!

Running the Bigfoot 50K was a “last minute” decision for me in that I registered for it without time for a complete training cycle. I had ran a 50K in June but switched to the half marathon distance at Fort4Fitness.

I did my best to build off my fitness and got in some solid long runs. However, church and family commitments meant that cutback weeks were CUTBACK weeks. I didn’t know how that would translate on race day.

I always knew that I could drop down to the 10-mile distance at the race, which was at Salt Fork State Park in Eastern Ohio, but I always felt drawn to the longer event. Maybe it was because most of the Ignite Team, an ultra group in northeast Indiana of which I'm a part, was doing it and, hello, FOMO but I think it was because I knew I wanted the challenge. Needed it.

When I I lined up at the start on the chilly morning in early December, I was verge of tears because, yo, there is crying in trail running. Once we got started, all the fear and worry seemed to fade.

The race was three loops of about 10.5 miles. For the first few miles of the first loop, I found myself in a strong pack led by none other than one of my Ignite teammates. It was nice having someone set the pace and determine the trail hills. But by the start of the big hill, the Bigfoot hill, I found myself bouncing between other runners. I would run with a person for a bit and then find myself on my own for smidge.

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I came in from the first loop in about 2:10 and it gave me a good gauge of how to pace the remaining loops. I figured if I could do 2:20 for the second and 2:30 for the third, I could finish around 7 hours. The eight hours that I quoted to Mark out of fear seemed more like a worst case scenario than a probability.

And funny enough, my loop splits were on point with that prediction. During the second loop, I got behind a few runners who seem to seamlessly transition between running and walking for no particular reason. With mine for a bit, figuring that it would keep me control, but after a while I decided to pass the pair. Looking back, I'm guessing they took the early start, which gave them nine hours to finish but took them out of the running for age group awards.

From there I fell in line with Eddie the Yeti, who is a far nicer person than me. I got a little too close to him and nearly pulled off a shoe. Instead of getting frustrated with me, he and I ran together, and it was a privilege to get to hear part of his story. He had found running 15 years ago and, for all intents and purposes, it saved him from life in the fast lane.

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There was a peace in the second loop because there was no doubt that I could complete the race. I just had to stay positive and focused, which has been a goal for 2017. And I learned the hard way in that loop to keep eyes - and mind on the trail. About mile 18.5, I started to think about food and beer a little too much and fell. My knee felt off for a few minutes but it was fine once it stretched out.

Between the second and third loop, I decided to change – taking off my jacket and long sleeve and putting on a different shirt. It cost me about 5 minutes but it was nice to be dry.

Beyond that lengthy stop, I minimized my time at the aid stations. I filled the bottles in my my new Nathan Howe hydration pack but relied mostly on Honey Stinger gels and chews that I had brought. Except for the pickles. I did like the pickles!

I started the third loop with an elapsed time of 4:35 and knew the last loop would be a grind. I focused on positive self talk and moving forward. My youngest had been saying “Mommy Superman” on repeat that morning when I was talking to my husband, and I just repeated that in my head. I knew that he was not actually calling me Superman but instead excited that he had found the action figure but you take what you can get. Especially when he thinks it is fun to say “Spit in your face.”

I kept a good eye on splits during the loop, hoping that I could eke out the sub seven finish. I was a little unsure as I approached the last uphill section of the loop. It was technical - rocky and rooty - and seemingly forever but, in truth, more than a half-mile. Once I got to the pavement, the parking lot of the lodge, I knew it would be close but doable if I could run it in.

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I never thought I would say this but I really had a ton of fun out there. I loved being to see my fellow Ignite teammates on the course and just be.

STATS
Race: Bigfoot 50K
Location: Salt Fork State Park, Lore City, Ohio
Course distance: 31.5 miles
Course elevation gain: 3,832 feet
Finish time: 6:59:28
Average pace: 13:30
Age group place: 6/10 (39 and younger)
Gender place: 14/45
Fuel: Six packs Honey Stinger chews, two Honey Stinger gels, a handful of chips, pickles and Nuun
Essential gear: Brooks Pure Project jacket, Nathan Howe vest, Sugoi subzero tights

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