31 December 2018

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Perfect capture of a low key trail ultra race, the starting line less than one minute from the actual start of the race.
I really entered this race with the completely wrong attitude, but at least I knew that before I even started the race. I was clearly undertrained having taken it easy after completing the Chattanooga 100 Miler just four weeks earlier. Instead of training, I had been indulging in vegan junk food and sweets over the holidays more than I'd care to admit. Nevertheless, I was tempted to toe the line just to run this new course that had been created to allow the Recover From The Holidays 50K race to move for just this year while its original established location, the Huntsville Cross Country Park, was undergoing a complete overhaul and redesign by the city.

I didn't want to miss out, but I had also just started to map out my new training schedule for the new year and it didn't really call for a 50K that Monday, so I decided to just run by feel and if I ever felt like calling it a day, I would not feel guilty. That's not usually my attitude, but when race is just 5 minutes from your house, it's easy to bail. The decision to allow yourself to cut a race short is an almost guaranteed way for failure and you need to be okay with that beforehand.

Toeing the start line anyway allowed me to catch up and run with lots of friends with very little race pressure. The course layout is such that runners will get back to the start finish area every 3 miles, so it was easy to place your own little aid station there as you would see it 10 times during the full duration of the race. The race started with the flat half (or about a mile) of the 3 mile loop before they starting counting 10 laps to make sure we all got the full 31 miles. 

Unlike the original course, this course was deceivingly challenging as the second half of the course  (second half of each loop) contained about .5 miles of uphill running, some sections steeper than others. With every lap around the course, I found myself walking more and more of that climb and by the 7th loop, I walked nearly all of it. While some of that was related to the fact that I had made up my mind that this would be my final lap, the terrain certainly made it easy for me to call it a day. On top of it, temperatures were already in the 60s at the race start, which was highly unusual for this time of year even in the southeast. It was clear that I wasn't the only one noticing that as an additional challenge.

When it was all said and done for me, I had completed 22 miles at a decent pace. I was content with the way things had played out and happy to hang out and cheer on other runners as they continued their races to finish this rather challenging 50K course.

Next up, Mountain Mist 50K. See you on the trails!

Snapshot from one of the earlier loops.

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