Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Jen's 2005 HUFF Report

The HUFF (Huntington Ultra Frigid Fifty) 50k in Huntington Indiana was on Saturday. It's a beautiful 3-lap trail race around Roush Lake and the Huntington dam area.

ran it last year in fairly nice weather and on a dry course in 8 hours, 24 minutes. I was hoping to be under 8 hours for this year's race, and really wanted to be near 7 hours if the weather cooperated.

We have had crappy cold, snowy, wet weather around here for the past week, so noone knew what to expect for raceday. It turned out to be about 23F, light winds, no blowing snow. Very nice for a long distance run. But the course was another story: 4-6 inches of snow that caused unstable footing on most of the course. Oh well, what can you do, except toe the starting line and go.

The cannon went off (yes, a real, very loud cannon), and within the first quarter mile, my shoe came untied. Not a good sign! I started up again, and talked with some other runners around me. It was like a choo choo train, the course only had one semi-runnable lane, and everyone just fell into line one behind another.

We crossed the dam (3 mile mark), and guess what? My sock started rolling under my foot. A blister starting that early was another bad sign, so I sat alongside the road and again took off my shoe... I got water at the 4 mile stop and got back into line. Everyone really stayed about the same pace for the next couple miles.

The course was different than last year, due to a new shooting range at the park. I was very surprised that 2 of the most challenging things on the old course were now gone, a wide creek that always meant wet shoes, and the big hill right after it. I won't complain about either being gone, as we went on the road a bit, and it was nice to have a little traction for about 3/4 mile... I met some nice runners, including one guy from my area who might be nice to train with sometimes.

I got some pretzels at the 7.5 mile water stop, and chugged along some more. People were starting to spread out now, and when we got to the bridge before 9 miles, I only had a couple people near me.

I finished the first lap (10.8 miles) with a lady running with her boxer dog. Lap 1, approximately 2:15. I stopped at the tent to drop some extra clothes and use the restroom before starting lap 2. Again, I talked to some nice runners, and looked around quite a bit. The lap was pretty uneventful. I felt good, and kept eating and drinking various things, as well as taking my salt tabs every hour. Jolly Ranchers and gummy baears were my friends!

The wind was picking up a little as I crossed the bridge,a nd I had a little headwind going back to the campground. It was just past 5 hours when I came around again. Again, the available bathroom called, and I answered.

I hit the trails again to start lap 3, knowing fully that I was going to finish, and realizing that, even with the horrid footing all day, I had a chance of breaking 8 hours if I really concentrated.

My last lap was steady, and I still felt good. I got more candy and even passed someone at the 4 mile rest area. I kept chugging, setting pace goals for each mile. I met every one of these goals, and kept knocking off miles. By the time I reached the bridge the last time, my adrenaline was already pumping. With 2 miles to go, I knew I was going to be able to break 8 hours, but now I also realized that my 3rd lap could possibly be faster than my second! I had picked up the pace after nearly a marathon!

In the last mile, someone came up behind me and scared me by calling me by name. It was my friends Sam and Karen, who I hadn't seen all day. I had originally hoped to run some of this race with them, as Karen and I are very close to the same pace at practically every distance we run. Seeing friends getting close to finishing their first 50k and still running strong motivated me, and I actually picked up the pace in the last mile and a half!

I chugged in and rounded the last few corners with more energy than anyone should have after 32 miles. My fiancee John was at the finish line with my blanket and a big smile. He knew I had met my goal as the clock read 7:52:05 when my chip beeped!!!! My body wasn't ready for the sudden stop, and he had to hold me up.

I went into the tent and turned in my paper and chip and rejoiced: this year they had the medals at the finish line!!! I put mine on and waddled to the soup tent.

The soups at the finish line of this race are worth every minute of effort, and I had used the thought of the wonderful spicy corn chowder to keep myself motivated a couple times during the day. I had warm spicy corn soup, drink, my honey, a 32 minute PR (think about that, I cut off an average of a minute per mile!) and my medal. What more could I ask for???? I had no cramps, no deficiencies, no walls, no problems for the entire race. Truly amazing, considering I was out there almost 8 hours! I was thrilled with my day...

Now the amazing part: It is only 48 hours since the race, and I can walk stairs normally and even hopped on the exercise bike for a few minutes this afternoon to stretch out... I am already planning for another 50k PR at this race next year...

First posted on The Original Live Journal Runners Club on December 19, 2005.

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