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Wise Running

Train smart, eat well, and enjoy the run.

Tag Archives: trailrunning

Race Report: Atlanta Fat Ass 50K

It takes guts to run a 50K.
It takes G.U.T.S. to host the Atlanta Fat Ass 50K.

Thank you to the Georgia Ultrarunning and Trailrunning Society (G.U.T.S.) for putting on a great race.  The Atlanta Fat Ass 50K is a time for their local group to get together, have fun, do some running, and have a chili cook-off.  The race is free to members, so I was happy to pay $15 for annual dues and get to participate in the run and the chili.  🙂

Now you know why it takes G.U.T.S to host the race.  Why would it take guts to run it?

The Fat Ass 50K was:

  • my first trail race
  • my first ultra-marathon race
    (ultra = running race longer than 26.2 miles)
  • my first trail run over 13 miles
  • my first run of any kind longer than 5.5 hours

First Trail Race? 

Yep.  I have run cross country races.  All of them were mostly on grass.  Very few roots or rocks.  All of them were only five kilometers long (3.1 miles).  I have run on trails many times, but never as a regular thing.

my fat ass

Apparently, I was not as happy as the runner in front of me!

Don’t get me wrong, I love the Zen experience of a run through the woods.  It is life-affirming and relaxing.  In the end, however, I think God designed me to be a road runner.  My legs are much happier running on a nice smooth blacktop.  Most people have the opposite experience.  It’s not you; it’s me.  I’m just weird that way.

I absolutely loved the trail that G.U.T.S. selected.  It is gorgeous.  It has a nice variety of runscapes:  a few gravel roads, some very nice trails along the creek, and a good sized technical section including rocks to climb over and some steep inclines, including a long set of stairs.

Will I do trail races in the future?  Yes.  I will start adding them in this year.

First Ultra-Marathon? 

Yep.  The marathon was my main focus for several years.  I would do shorter races, but everything was planned around the marathon.  My goal was to get to the end of 26.2 miles with nothing left in the tank.  I was aimed at squeezing every ounce of speed possible.  If I felt fresh at the end, it means I was not trying.  With this mindset, I thought of ultra-marathons as a distraction from my training.  They took too much time to fully recover.  It just was not on my to-do list.

Will I do ultra races in the future?  Yes, but my next one will be a road race.

First Trail Run Over 13 Miles?

As I said earlier, I am not naturally a trail-runner.  If you are wise, you are wondering how I could prepare for this race with a long run of 13 miles.  Let me explain:  I did not prepare to race this race.  I signed up for a fun run.  Coming off a couple of Ironmans, I knew I could do the distance.  I knew it would be MUCH slower than I have ever raced on purpose.  I ran more trails in the month before, but I knew I was not prepared to “race” in any form or fashion.  I did prepare, but only enough to finish.

First Run of 5.5 Hours?

Yep.  Since I had never run longer than a marathon (26.2 miles), my slowest marathon was also the longest run I have ever completed.  I finished the Knoxville Marathon in 2010 in 5:25.  During the Fat Ass 50K, I had lots of flashbacks to that race.  In both races, I ended up doing a lot of walking.  In both races, I underestimated my fuel needs.  At Knoxville, I suffered through some very stiff winds and cold rain while I walked.  At the Fat Ass 50K, we dealt with temperature in the 20’s for the first couple of hours before it warming up just a bit.

How did I do?

It was my first 50K, so I knew that just finishing means that I would earn a PR (personal record).  That was the only goal.  I had guesstimated that I might average 12 minute miles.  That was based on averaging 11 minutes per mile while on the trail.  I expected to take about 30 minutes of breaks over the entire race.  Things went as planned until I made a fueling error on the 3rd of 6 loops.  That and a GI issue made the fourth loop quite a challenge.  By mile 21, I was in survival mode.  I was okay with walking a bit more.  My breaks got longer.  I finished with an average pace about 1 minute slower than my guesstimate of 12 minutes.  I also took a wrong turn at one point that added half a mile to my run.  If I had intended to really race this one, I would have been very upset with myself.  On this fun run, however, I was able to relax and laugh at myself.

Final Time:  6:40:20  (a personal record – Woohoo!)

Final Thought

I traveled to the race with Muna and several friends from the Rocky Top Multisport Club.  I knew Muna was out there setting her PR for her first 50K too.   I thought about her throughout the race and her presence motivated me when I needed it.

fat ass

Don’t look for me. I took the picture.

Although I did not run with the group during the race, we did have a group dinner the night before.  I knew there was group support and jocularity before and after the race.  All of this adds so much to the race experience.

Life is a team sport.  I am glad to have awesome people on my team.

Enjoy the Run!

 

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