I have this tendency to go big or go home sometimes.
So I know it was foolish of me to go into this race thinking I would go far, but I did anyway. Oops. Never said I was smart.
I just wanted to start the year with something exciting and when my new friends at TARC told me about this race I knew I had to do it. The idea behind Fatass races is they are minimally supported and relaxed. Not super formal. You just show up and run as many 10k loops as you’d like! The only “fee” to register is to bring some kind of food/fuel for the aid station (I brought bananas). My kind of race! They wrote your name down on a piece of paper and every time you completed a loop you’d pop by the station and they’d put a check next to your name. Simple, efficient! The GAC team put on a fantastic race and really made me feel welcome!
Being a newbie to trails I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew I wanted to try and run as close to a 50k as possible. I also knew that was insane since, you know, I hadn’t trained for this race at all. My game plan? Go really, really slow and see where the day took me. Also to be prepared to have to stop after a loop or two.
I started the race with Alyssa, Kim, and co. We chatted for the first mile or so before they got too fast for my blood! I didn’t mind, it was beautiful out and I happily moseyed along taking in the gorgeous course. I saw them at the aid station in between loops and I saw Kim a couple of other times on the course which was really nice!
The first loop was fantastic. I chatted with strangers and overheard hilarious conversations (“Never fuck your ex!!! WE’VE BEEN THROUGH THIS!!”). It got a little congested on the single track, but I think it was for the best because it forced me to walk in places I probably wouldn’t have walked that early in the day.
Suffice it to say I felt awesome after lap 1. When I got back to the aid station I ate a banana, refilled my water bottle, and happily went out for lap 2. Another thing I loved about this race is I never felt rushed. I was not racing the clock. I didn’t feel bad taking my sweet time at the aid station, going to the bathroom, and stretching between loops. It was just about surviving for as long as I could and that was really refreshing.
Lap 2 was kind of magical. I actually felt physically better during lap 2 (maybe I was warmed up?) and the field was very spread out so I spent a lot of time completely alone. I loved running through the snow. Sure, the icy parts weren’t the best, but it was kind of fun to pick my way around the ice. I’m completely astonished that I NEVER fell. I had some really, really close calls (I had some pretty swell airplane arm moves), but never bit it completely. Which is incredible considering my amazing track record in klutziness.
The loop race is psychologically reassuring because I grew more and more familiar with the course. I knew that when I got to the single track I was at least two miles in. When I got to the paved area 4. When I saw the cars I was almost back!
So as I finished my second loop I couldn’t help but think “Wow! I’m already back!”. This time I snagged a hard boiled egg (Much to Alyssa’s disdain ;)) and said goodbye to some of the folks who were done for the day. The beginning of loop 3 I was still feeling mentally present, physically jazzed, and still pleased as hell to be out there. Halfway through it I ran into Doug (another TARC friend) and we joined up for the rest of the lap. It was so nice to have a buddy to talk to! I think I met up with him at the perfect time because I was still feeling good and had been enjoying my time out there alone, but towards the end of loop 3 I was starting to feel the wear on my body. So it was nice to have a friend to take my mind off of it!
Once we came into loop 3 we both decided that we made it this far…we might as well go for four! That’s when one of the GAC folks told us that, if we wanted, after loop 4 he would show us a shorter loop that would give us a marathon for the day! That way we wouldn’t have to do the entire 50k, but we could still have a time recorded! Awesome. This promise of finishing a marathon was enough of a boost to get me out on the course for a fourth loop.
The first mile or so I was fine. My legs were starting to rebel, but it was nothing I hadn’t felt before. Again, I was so happy that Doug was there with me. I’m not sure I would have made it through the last lap without him! We walked a lot (which was fine by me!) and kept each other going.
Once we finished the lap I was giddy. We only had to do one more two mile loop and even though I was hurting I knew that we could do it! When we saw the aid station for the final time I was elated and so proud of the two of us for finishing that beast of a race. For me it was my first trail marathon and for Doug it was his first marathon ever. How incredible is that?!
In the end we finished in 5:28. That’s the longest I’ve ever been on my feet (by almost two hours!!) and I don’t regret a moment of it. I met so many kind, wonderful people and the bliss I felt at the end of the race carried me through the entire day. I can see why so many people fall in love with trail running. There’s really nothing like it. I felt like I was just playing in the woods for a few hours.
This was such a great way to start the year. It got me really jazzed about training for Eugene and about hitting the trails more often. It also made me wonder what I could pull off if I really trained. One of these days I will run a 50k and a 50 miler, and I can’t wait!
Another exciting thing? This race qualified me for the Marathon Maniacs! I’m now officially maniac number 6461. How cool is that?! Now I’m not alone in my marathon insanity 😉