Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A-OK 50k

  This race is definitely one of my favorites! Rewind to 2014 and I had just ran the Hot Chocolate 5k. A friend- Nikki tells me I can do a 25k at this little trail race in Oklahoma. Ignorance is bliss and so I agreed. Dang it was cold that day. 18 degrees but me and my friend Janet got through it together.  My 1st trail race was done and I was hooked on this sport that has become a huge part of who I am today.
  2015 I ran the 25k again and it was fun. Watching my friend Andrea win his 1st race ever as he dominated the 50k option was pretty cool! Someday I'll be as fast as that dude. Maybe it's the pasta he eats.........
  2016- I wasn't sure this race would fit my schedule or not after my injury last fall but my coach asked if I had a March race I'd like to do that was close. This race is near and dear to me being its what got me into trail running 2 years ago plus the race director is a really sweet lady. 83 and still does ultra marathons.  I hope I live that long and if so, I pray that I'll still be doing some races.  Race weekend was the same weekend I had planned to spend with my son. He's never been to a trail race before so I thought it was cool to show him a part of my life where I don't see family.  We drove up to Atoka,Oklahoma Saturday afternoon to check in and see the course condition.   2015 was a sloppy mess so I had to see what I was up against this year.  After checking in we had dinner and went to the hotel & crashed.
Race morning- It was just beautiful! The race starts at 8am and we showed up early so I could get my stuff where I needed it. The 50k is 2 25k loops so I just wanted more nutrition for the 2nd loop. My coaches instructions were to just have a solid training run and don't do anything stupid where I couldn't finish. My training leading up to this has been solid as I rebuild my base and try to find some speed for races later in the year. I just wanted even splits and anything around 7 hours was a win for me.  Loop 1- the 1st 3 miles is a series of rocky hills followed by a mile on jeep road then a mile out n back over various terrain before more jeep & gravel road. The loops end with just over a mile back through the hills. My plan was to just run and have fun. Take limited walk breaks on hills and maintain a steady pace hopefully finishing in 3:30.  My plan kinda went out the window when I hit the jeep road section and for my old slow butt, I was flying and having fun. Fly as in 9:30 to 10:15 miles.  That's like my normal pace training on roads but it felt great so I kept on.  I caught a friend at mile 10 or so and I ran with him to nearly the finish.  We slowed down to a 12:15 pace and took more walk breaks but it probably saved my legs.  I've always employed some walk strategy into my ultra's simply because I'm new to the sport and don't have the years of running that so many do but I'm quickly weaning off that. It's all mental now and once I started walking more, that kinda got in my head but I finished the loop in 2.58. I was way ahead of my scheduled splits so I made myself sit a few minutes before heading back out for the last 15 miles.
Loop 2- My head and legs just really took a crap on me.  I'm thinking it was all mental because I could still bomb the downhills but my mind kept trying to tell me to take walk breaks.  That's a struggle I've got to get past like now. I could still get in the 13's range pace but not what I wanted at all.  The afternoon got really hot and after mile 23 I skipped nutrition and only stopped at the aid stations to refill my water bottle as I used it on my head to keep cool.  The last 2 miles was a struggle until I heard my friends yelling at me.  Looking at my watch I had a huge PR for the 50k distance so I hustled it on in.  6:49 with my only other 50k time being 8:05 so I was happy.
  Takeaways- It was just a good solid training run and I hope my son better understands this sport that I love so much.  I had so much more in me and left some laying on the table but going into a 50 miler next month with super tight cutoffs, I know I can hustle and lay down some solid miles to eliminate that fear from my mind.  Props to my buddy Pepe- he's been running for years but never won a race until A-OK.  He won the 25k. So many other friends had great runs and it was cool seeing everyone out there handing out encouragement to others. I really love #TROT races but if you can't make one and need a small bare bones race in March and live close, I'd suggest driving up to Atoka,Oklahoma and doing this one! Til next time #RunStrong

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