Saturday, January 09, 2010

Long Run in Powdery Snow = Slow

Ian, Erik and I headed down to Topsham, MA for the 12th Annual GAC Fat Ass 50k today. My plans were to run by feel, and I anticipated on getting at least 20 miles in, but hoped to do at least a marathon or the full 50k. I did pretty much the bare minimum of my goals, getting in 20.6 miles, but given the conditions (more on this later), this was just fine by me.

We arrived and immediately met up and got reacquainted with people we knew. George and Ann, who are also in Waterboro, were there. So was John O'Connor, and Michelle. And of course, several other members of the GAC crew. I view their running club as a neighboring, friendly tribe. They are super supportive and welcoming of our Trail Monster crew, and it's always nice to cheer them on at events here in Maine and elsewhere when we see them. Really good folks.

The run got underway at 9am and we were off. I had kind of hoped to run with Ian a bit, as we ran it together a couple of years ago. However, since then, he has gotten much faster and plus this was only my second run over 20 miles since June, so I knew I wouldn't have kept up with him anyway.

The first loop (each loop is 10k) went well, but I was really surprised at how loose the snow was. Given the temps in the mid-upper teens at the start (and would top out at 22 degrees F), the snow was very fine and powdery. Another runner would later say it was like running on sugar, which was very accurate. And as the day went on, you would think the trails would get packed down some with all the runners. In most sections, this wasn't really true. The snow simply got moved around. It was really tough. Snowshoes seriously would have been more appropriate. It was a great challenge though, and I enjoyed the extra effort.

I finished the first loop in about an hour and four minutes. Very slow, but not too bad given the conditions. I was feeling good, and given my breakfast of a large bowl of oatmeal, an orange and a banana, I wasn't really hungry just yet and my hand-held water bottle was still full so I checked in at the aid station and was immediately off.

Second loop went pretty well, but mid-way through I could tell I was starting to get tired. I continued running with a guy from South Africa named Blaise (pronounced like "Blaze"). Nice guy, and I enjoyed hearing his stories about the Comrades ultra and running in general on his home turf. John and I also ran together with some leapfrogging of each other thrown in.

Third loop was pretty slow going. I knew during this loop that I would finish this one up and tack on a few extra miles to get myself over 20 miles and call it a day. I was more than fine with this, given where I'm at in my training (i.e. lack of long runs). And, the level of difficulty with the snow was pretty darn big, so I was happy to get in a true long run in these conditions and do so relatively comfortably. It should serve as a good springboard for more long runs as I work on my base more here during the winter.

So, I finished the third loop with John, then I turned around and got in a couple of extra miles, and was happy to be done. Eric was now also done, and we chit-chatted with everyone while waiting for Ian, who ended up finishing with a marathon distance, which was awesome. Good day!

Didn't bring the video camera out with me, which was a good call due to all the wobbling while trying to run in that snow. Too bad, as it would have been fun to visually capture the trails. Next year...

Ran 20.6 miles @ 11:28/mile pace.
Trails, coated with fine, powdery snow.
Moderately hilly.
Mid-upper teens to lower 20s, sunny, windy.
Brooks Cascadia 3 (with screws), long pants, fleece jacket, long sleeved shirt, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.


Blaine Moore said...

Sounds fun, hopefully next year I can make it down there with you guys. Think you'll be up for another FA run in a couple weeks in Windham? I'm looking to put one together on the oil pipeline and at the Black Brook Preserve.

I did 9 miles with Erin, my sister, and one of her friends. It was on roads, though. Tomorrow we're going to do some hiking in the snow with my nephew and one of his buddies over by Castle Craig. Gotta get in 10 miles to meet my minimum for the day.

mindy said...

Way to power through considering the conditions. I remember how absolutely freezing cold it was last year. Killer training run for you!

trailgrrl said...

Great seeing you Jaime :) If you are interested there is a FA on the cape feb 6 check out the cape cod ultrarunning society webpage..the run is 2 15.5 figure 8loops along beach through dunes and a marsh trail...

Dan said...

The trail conditions were much worse than last year. I agree, snowshoes would have made it easier.