Frosty 50K 2007
Sunday, January 07 2007 @ 07:44 AM PST
Contributed by: joey
By Joey Anderson
This year will always be known as "The Not So Frosty 50K." It wasn't just not frosty, it was actually quite warm and felt more like Spring than early January. With the high predicted to be in the low 70's I was a little worried like everyone else about how the warmer temperature would affect me but it turned out not to be bad at all. As the day warmed up there was a nice breeze and the humidity of the morning dropped making it actually quite pleasant. It was especially nice to sit under the picnic shelter post race in shorts and t-shirt socializing.
This would be my fourth year running and in the past I always liked to race this one hard seeking a Pr. The relatively flat course with good footing is conducive to running a fast time. This year however I was not planning on racing. One of the biggest pleasures I get from running is sharing the experience with friends. Last year would be my friend Jenn's first ultra. I'm afraid I may have played a part in corrupting her mind and convincing her to cross over to the darkside. The timing was not right for me to run with her though as I was in the midst of trying to qualify for my first Boston Marathon and was taking a break from ultrarunning to concentrate on my training . Instead I would be racing a half-marathon at Ocean Isle Beach that weekend. And so it was planned that if possible I would make up for it and run with Jenn this year.
As race day neared I was beginning to have doubts if I would be able to run with her. I had considerable knee pain during and after Hellgate, bad enough that I went to the Dr. which is very rare for me. The knee had improved considerably during the past week and on Friday the Dr. said I could continue running and take it easy.. Well compared to 100 miler in the mountains a flat 50K would be easy wouldn't it? So we made the trip over to Winston-Salem eager to have a good run with a great group of friends. There is always a big crowd from MTC and NCRC as well as a few of my VHTRC folks here. As a bonus, just before the start I found Beth Simpson from Wisconsin and her partner Larry Hall. Beth is the lady I ran with for a while at Leadville and crossed over Hope Pass with.
I made note of a large crowd of very fast runners in attendance and was expecting a very competitive race up front. With the double out and back format, this is a good place to watch the front runners and also see friends several times throughout the day. Eric Grossman however blew the field away making it look easy in what I am sure was a course record time in 3:17. Eric had a tremendous year in 2006 and seems on the way to another great 2007. In the women s race, we had two world class ultraladies that both make their homes in the mountains of North Carolina, Anne Lundblad and Annette Bednosky. They were together early but Anne would eventually pull ahead for the win. It is good to see Annette continue to get stronger after recovering from injury, but especially to see her smile and great attitude. Having these two fast ladies makes it hard for the other local ladies to compete.
Jenn and I started off easy accompanied by Ben Dillon, friend and former President of the NCRC. Jenn was hoping to improve on last years time and Ben just planned to hang with us as long as he could. We caught up to Beth after a couple of miles and ran with her for a few miles. It was a rather uneventful day. It seems the best reports always seem to have lots of pain and suffering involved but there would be none of that today. Jenn was feeling good and we maintained a good steady pace all through the first lap. My knee was holding up fine and although I had hardly run at all the past month, I was moving along nicely. It's great to see friends and famiiar faces going back and forth in each direction giving encourgement along the way. It was especially nice to see Keith Woods in a race again. I was also surprised and happy to run a couple of mile with David Kirk. He was just out for a workout so I didn't know he would be there. I hadn't seen him or Pat in over a year.
We made the turn to begin the 2nd lap in about 2:40, just a little faster than Jenn's goal pace and still feeling fine but we knew the next lap would be a bit slower. Since last April she hasn't even run a half-marathon and has had limited long runs. I think she has some natural talent for this long stuff though because I know I would have been doing some walking if I wasn't runnning with her. It took me 3 times here before I ran as fast as her debut last year and I have yet to run a 50 miler as fast as she ran at Umstead last April.
So we headed off to begin the last lap and quickly decided we would walk the steep hill that started off each loop. Due to heavy rains in the days preceding, the course was altered slightly this year. The turn-around on the greenway was moved to just before the creek crossing and the difference was made up with a steep hill up the entrance road at the begining of each lap. After reaching the top we resumed our normal pace and headed around the lake again. We were still running well but the pace was a bit slower as our stride lengths shortend. Still no problems moving along and before too long we made the last turn with about 7.5 miles to go. As we came into the aid station I asked if she had taken in any calories when she said she was beginnig to feel tired. She hadn't so I encouraged her to take a gel now and another at the next one. That seemed to do the trick and we were able to still run the whole way other than walking up the hill at the dam all the way to the last aid station. One quick break here and off we went to the finish.
We already knew that her original goal of 5:30 wasn't going to happen but I felt we still had a shot at beating her time from last year so we ran on. Jenn told me if I wanted to try for 5:30 to go ahead but I assured her that the time meant nothing to me today and I would rather just stay with her. There are two hills in the last 3 miles so we planned to run all but the short distance over these and we were successful in doing so. There is a little bridge over a creek with about one mile to go that I think is one of the prettiest spots on the course. I sprinted ahead and waited so I could get a picture of Jenn crossing over. It felt good to stretch out my legs with the faster pace for a couple of minutes but it also felt really good to stop and wait for Jenn to catch up. Finally the finish line was in sight and it looked like she would get the pr at least although we couldn't remember exactly what last years time was. We crossed together in 5:40:45 which turned out to be exactly one minute faster than last year.
Hanging around under the picnic shelter socializing with friends put a big exclamation point on a great day. On to the next one.