Saturday, January 11, 2014

Charleston Fatass 50

Well, January is off to a strong start!  On New Year's Day I finished up my vacation with a great 20 miler in DC- a steady 9:00 pace for 15 miles and a speedier 8:15 pace for the last five.  After driving home on the 2nd, I ran a three-mile progression on the 3rd before heading up to Charleston for the Fatass 50 Mile on January 4th.  I stayed over with my friend Masumi and his girlfriend Katie, who live only four miles from the start of the run.  Masumi would be running with me, while Katie was kind enough to offer us aid from her car as she met up with us at different points.

We headed out at 5:30 am, waiting in the car until nearly 6 as it was windy and barely more than 20 degrees- actually far worse than the weather in DC while I was there!  My plan was to maintain about a 10:00 overall pace for as long as I could, hopefully all 50 miles.  There were probably about 20 runners, but only a handful of us were planning on running the full 50 miles.  At 6 am we were off!  I began running with Masumi and Robert, a very fast local who only had time for an easy 20 mile training run.  The first few miles took us into a trail in the dark, where our overall pace was about 10:00, but we soon sped up.  Next came the first (and biggest) of many bridges that day- it was horribly windy and cold, and I was grateful to be wearing my fleece, hat, and gloves.  I was having a good time chatting with Masumi and Robert, who was pushing the pace a bit closer to 9:00 than 10:00, but I felt great so I rolled with it!

After heading back across the bridge we got back to the start and met up with Katie at about 14.5 miles.  I dropped off my headlamp and took a quick bathroom stop.  We also came across the run organizer, Brett, who was driving around with his daughter offering aid as well- the Honey Stingers he gave me over the next few hours were a huge help!

As this was only the second time I'd been to Charleston, my sense of direction wasn't the best.  I mainly just followed the arrows painted on the road, so I can't describe the route very well.  We headed over another bridge, and I waited for Masumi at a bathroom stop.  After 20 miles Robert had to leave, and I continued on with Masumi.  Around 25 miles in, I started pulling ahead of Masumi, although I hadn't increased my ~9:30 pace.  I slowed down a bit and found out his I.T. band was beginning to hurt.  We met up with Katie around 27 miles, and took a short break so Masumi could use my stick to roll out his leg a bit.  The next stretch would be a long, low bridge up to the 50k point, and Masumi decided to see how he felt at that point, to decide whether to continue.

I pulled ahead of Masumi on the bridge (which seemed to last forever), and met up with Katie and Brett on the other side.  I waited a few minutes for Masumi, but as I suspected he would be stopping at 50k I made the turn around and headed back.  When I passed him he confirmed he would be stopping, and with that I was apparently the only person running 50 miles!  I knew once I got back over the bridge I'd only have about 16 miles left, so I felt pretty good about the situation.  I had been pausing my Garmin at stops, and with my overall running time was on track to finish in under 8 hours.

Brett had given me some basic directions, but I was glad to see him and his daughter every few miles to confirm I had it right- after 6+ hours of running in a strange city I couldn't trust my ability to stay on course!  I was told that due to the high tide a small section of beach running was cut off, so I'd probably have to make up a bit of distance at the end to make it an even 50 miles.  After a few more miles (maybe around the 40 mile mark), I saw Katie and Masumi again.  He had showered and changed, and they were now both supporting me to the finish.  Around 44 miles in I suddenly started to feel light headed.  I had been hydrating and eating so I still don't know exactly what the issue was. I stopped to talk to Katie, Masumi, and Brett, who told me the next few miles would take me out onto a causeway and back.  Given the wind on the causeway and my dizziness, I decided to modify the course a bit, just in case that combination pushed me into traffic!  Brett was fine with this as no one else was running the 50 mile course.  In any case with less than 6 miles to go I was absolutely not stopping.

The next few miles were pretty funny.  We were on side streets with almost no traffic, so Katie drove along with me- looking like a bit of a creeper at 6 mph!  But I really appreciated her concern and wanting to look out for me.  At about 47 miles I told Katie and Masumi the route I would take around the neighborhood for the last three miles, and they drove off to wait for me there.  I was still feeling a bit dizzy, but having no trouble running the same ~9:30 pace as before!

As I came up on Katie and Masumi, I realized I was short a few tenths of a mile, so I turned around to re-run the last block (as Masumi was about to take a picture of me finishing- must have looked pretty silly!).  Finally I sprinted in to stop my watch at exactly 50 miles- just over 7:51 on my watch.  However, to count this as an "event" rather than just training, I'm calling the time 8:43, which was the elapsed time since the 6 am start.  After all, in a race no one will call a time out so I can take a break! The elapsed time was a bit past my goal of 10:00 pace, but I'm not concerned.  I was able to run consistently throughout the day, and while in a race I would have also stopped for a bathroom break, I would not have stopped to wait for a friend, so the breaks would have been shorter and less frequent. Overall I was super happy with this run!  I had a great time despite the cold and wind, and I felt great and ran consistently.  Definitely feeling confident with less than a month until Delirium!