Saturday, August 24, 2013

Race Report: Moebius-Green Monster Trail 50K

So the plan was no ultra-marathons until mid-October when I head to the mountains of West Virginia...in fact, no racing at all in the month of August. Well, that all changed when yesterday, I just "felt" like running a 50K. Just so happens, that a local one that I hadn't done before was today and the weather was looking really good.

I contacted the race director, Stephen Godale to see if was too late to get in and it wasn't. Same entry fee as well. So after work yesterday, I went to packet pickup at Sunny Lake Park in Aurora, OH and dropped off my check and registration form signing my life away. I had never talked to Stephen before, a well-accomplished (and fast) ultra-runner who lives a few miles away from the park. As soon as I walked into the boathouse at the park and saw the old-school pencil-n-paper scoring system for split and finishing times, I knew I was in the right place. I love ultras that are pure, simple, low-cost, and put on a quality event that takes care of the runners. No need for all the fluff like big races and marathons...keep it simple. So simple is this race that Stephen hand-made the finishers awards. Take a tree limb, slice it up like zucchini slices, draw some art and attach it to the sanded "slice" and BAM! ... finishers award. My first impression upon leaving the park yesterday was very good. It was beautiful there and I was anxious to see a new area to me...only 30min from my house, too.

After my ritualistic race morning routine of espresso and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, I headed out to Sunny Lake Park. It was a cool-n-crisp 52F out and the dew coated everything and the mist was rising from every lake I passed. Mr. Moon was still high up in the sky and would keep us company for the morning hours until he set late morning.
Sunrise over Sunny Lake
Arriving at the park, familiar faces were already swarming and I readied my new UltrAspire pack. I have found over the last few ultras that I really, really like my hands free. Before, I always carried one handheld during races and wore a Nathan single-bottle waist-pack. Gone are the days when I'd wear a water bladder on my back. I found that it really wears on my shoulders so I no longer use them. The UltrAspire Impulse pack is unique in a few ways. For one, there is no buckle across my mid-section which is actually common on other UltrAspire packs...to minimize chafing and the pressure from the buckle. Instead, it hooks flat near my left hip bone. Also, the two bottles move independent of each other in the back as my hips move back and forth when I run. That makes it a snugger fit and hopefully less chafing. In this photo of me post-race, you can see what I mean. They are held together by a D-ring of sorts and also has bungie cord back there for storing a light jacket. There are also a few storage areas around the waist. Anyway, after one adjustment about a mile into the race, it was perfect and remained perfect all day. I love it...and loved having plenty of fluids at all times at my disposal thus cutting way down on aid station stops.

After a super quick brief by Stephen at 6:55am, we were off and running at 7am over a newly paved hiking trail. We didn't stay on there long and before you knew it, we were in the woods. This race is five 10K (6.2 mile) loops...equaling 50 kilometers or 31.2 miles. My plan was to really take it easy and run the first loop slowest then negative split every loop thereafter. I did just that...for the first three loops. Things were going well! During that 4th loop, I wouldn't say that the wheels came off but I did slow a bit. The previous loops were 61 to 62 minutes in length and that 4th loop brought me in around 68 minutes. No big deal, though...I knew I was going to still have a great time and I wasn't having any physical issues of any kind...just tired.

The course is probably one of the easier 50Ks I've done. No giant hills but a few that warrant a fast-paced hike up them vs. running them. Most of the course is in the woods over single track trail with lots of roots and the occasional rock. The course is rolling with gentle climbs and descents. From time to time, we popped out of the woods onto grassy plains and footing got a little tricky. Underneath that grass, the ground wasn't level quite often so care had to be taken to not twist an ankle. We also hopped up on the asphalt trail a few times that circles the lake before diving right back into the woods a short time later. It is certainly a very runnable and fast course. It would be a mess with lots of rain but we're in a stretch right now of little rain so the course was bone dry...even cracked, often.

During the 5th loop, I got my mojo back but I did walk a few times to chat with a few people. The infamous Fred Davis was out there today and I tell ya what, Fred is funny! He is a super-accomplished ultra-runner that has long ago retired out of Cleveland. It was great to talk to him but I'm pretty sure he had no clue who he was talking to. I also talked to another friend who was running her longest run EVER today. She was doing 3 loops and if memory serves me right, her longest run before today was a 25K (15.6 miles) and 3 loops today gave her 18.6. Way to go, Celeste!!!

In the end, I finished in 5 hours, 37 minutes, 35 seconds and couldn't be happier. The temperature had risen to 77F and not a spec of a cloud in the sky. That's 2 hours and 15 minutes faster than my 50K of Misery in mid-July! I'll take it! At the finish, Stephen handed me my sweet finishers award and after chatting with another fellow runner for a bit, I hit the road. Of course, I had to capture a few photos before that. Gotta document, ya know! I loved the course and park so much that I'm going to take my family out there tonight to walk around the lake and have a picnic-dinner on a few blankets. It is really nice and very well maintained by the county.

So yea...I didn't plan on this race. I just "felt" like running one and am so glad I did. Stephen put on a fabulous race and he had a great team of volunteers like Dan B.'s team that headed up the aid station exactly one half of the way around the loop. There isn't a thing I'd change and not a complaint do I have. I loved it. I especially like I how I feel after race...except for my taste buds. I tried to enjoy a few guacomole chips and my favorite red pepper hummus and everything tasted wrong! I just need to give it a few more hours and keep my water intake up.

I highly recommend this race for the first-timer and veterans alike. To Stephen...THANK YOU!!! I'm very thankful I had the opportunity to run your race this year and meet you. You can be sure that you'll see me again.

PHOTO FINISH! Photo courtesy of fellow 50K finisher, George Themelis



Run Happy, friends!!

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