Sunday, March 9, 2014

Forget the PR Race Director 50K: March 9th, 2014

I am super far behind on my race blog.  I hope I can remember the details of this awesome day.  Every year I volunteer for Forget the PR 50K.  The awesome race director, Rob Powell, let's the volunteers come out a few weeks before the actual event and allows us to run the course and get our finisher buckles.  This is an amazing and unheard of thing for someone to do for the volunteers.  He also pays for pizza and beer after the volunteers are finished running.  There is limited but sufficient course markings and also a roaming aid station.  This year there were some amazing people that came out to set up not one, not two, but three aid stations for us volunteer racers!!  I can't thank them enough for giving up their Sunday afternoon to come out and wait for us slow pokes to come around the trail loop.

Pre-race instructions, Brrr..
So this year we had a horrible winter.  I was worried the trails at Mohican wood be just as unrunnable as the trails in Michigan.  The night before this run I was driving to Mohican when the temps dropped into the low 20s, it started storming, and a wintery mix blanketed the highway.  Great, I thought, more treacherous trails to fight.  I was glad I decided against camping and that I brought my icetrekkers (traction) as I found out there was still snow on the trails.  I woke up on the morning of the run and had to scrape a bunch of ice off my car and since it was still in the 20s with my hand completely frozen from scraping snow.  I arrived at the start / finish area in Mohican Adventures campground and said hello to a few familiar faces.  I ran into my new friends Scott and Amy Love.  I knew Scott had never done an ultra before but asked him if he was going to do the 25K or the 50K.  He said he will do the 25K and see how he feels before making a decision to do the full 50K.  Some volunteer runners were in shorts.  I know the weather was suppose to get into the mid to high 30s that day but I am glad I wore my underarmor heat gear pants because it was cold at the start.

Pre-race group photo, time to roll!
We learned the southern trails were closed due to the gas company killing more of the beautiful state forest. We also learned the Lyons Falls loop was a complete sheet of ice; therefore, too dangerous to go on and do the hand over fist root climb. This was a bummer because these are awesome parts of the FPR course but there was not much we could do about it.  Rob routed us up big ass hill, over to fire tower via the road, down to covered bridge, then along the river back toward campground A. Then we were to take the mountain bike trail back to Mohican Adventures and looped through the campground trails which is about 15.5 miles. We we're suppose to do this loop twice for our modified FPR course.  I thought that was cool since we could be back at the cars at the half way point if I needed to shed some layers and I actually knew where I was going for a change!  So we took off and of course I went out with the lead group and was going way faster then I should of.  I did this to try and get warm because it was just absolutely freezing out when we started.  It did not take long for my body temperature to rise since I was climbing the hills of Mohican! After big ass hill I eased up and let the lead group get a ways ahead of me as I settled into a nice pace.
Big Ass Hill with some snow!

I was in decent shape since I had been training all winter for IT 100 but I was not used to the hills yet.  I felt great for the first 5 miles and then got some Gatorade from the first mobile aid station at the fire tower.  Then I met Robb Gannon who is a local ultra runner and we ran pretty hard for the remaining portion of the first loop. Robb is a cool and funny guy and our good conversation made the miles fly by.  We got back to the start finish in about 3 hours and 15 minutes.  This was a great pace for me, especially on the hilly and still snowy / icy trails of Mohican.  The trails were starting to thaw during the course of our run.  I shed some upper layers even though it was still pretty cold out.  We grabbed some food and took off for loop number two. I felt great at the start of our second loop. We passed Amy and Scott coming in off their first loop and they were both looking strong.  I was wondering if Scott was gonna go for it and do the second loop, making this his first ultra ever.  When we got to about mile 20 I was starting to lose some steam on the hills. Robb jumped ahead of me and he was charging up hills and really kicking butt.  I stayed with him and fought through the being drained feeling.  I also tripped and fell twice!!  Luckily there was snow to cushion my fall.

Rob Powell giving me my 3rd FPR 50K buckle!
We got to the last aid station at mile 25 or so and we both ate some food and talked with the volunteers for a little while. Then we set out on the section along the river which had thawed out and was starting to get muddy.  Then when we hit the mountain bike trail we were both out of steam.  We did some walk run, walk run patterns.  I took my icetrekkers off since there was not much snow anymore. As we were running down one of the switchbacks on the mountain bike trail Robb slipped and his butt landed right on the pointy end of a rock.  I could tell he was in some serious pain but he got up and hobbled for a little while until he could run again. We only had a few miles to go but when you injure yourself and are tired it can be a rough combination.  So we were both a little beat up but having a blast as we finally got back to the finish line.  Robb and I both pushed each other and had a great run.  I was satisfied that I did so well after not getting much training in on the trails over the winter.  I felt it would really help me get ready for IT 100 in April.  We went down to Trails End Pizza for beer and food and it was nice seeing everyone there.  I learned that Scott went out for the second loop!  I waited around for awhile because I wanted to congratulate him on his first ultra. Unfortunately they did not make it back before I left. I had to work the next day and had a 3.25 hour drive home.  Once again Rob Powell has out done himself in showing us a great time on the trails of the Mohican State Forest.