Friday, November 1, 2013

Fire on the Mountain: Lessons Learned

I ran the Fire on the Mountain 50K on Sunday.  As I posted earlier this week (here), I had some struggles in the race, so here in no particular order are some of my take-aways:

1. Don't drop unless continuing would create or exacerbate an injury.  In other words, if you can locomote forward, just keep doing it.  It doesn't always keep getting worse.  Were it not for my running companion, who encouraged me strongly (with an implied threat of bodily harm), I probably would have bailed at the half-way mark, when I was feeling quite low physically and mentally.  But I kept on going, and the second half actually was easier than the first.

2.  "Muscle Memory" is a poor theory on which to base running a race when you are seriously undertrained. 

3.  To me, the race ran long...meaning that each interval between aid stations felt much longer than expected.  Case in point: the first aid station was 5.5 miles in, but it felt like 7 or 8.  I chalk this up to simply running slower, as in the famous formula:

     distance = rate x time

And solving for time:

     time = distance/rate

Thus we see that over a fixed distance one's rate (pace) is the variable upon which elapsed time rests.  Or stated another way: Running slowly takes longer.  Duh.

4.  Despite being in the heart of a the vast near-wilderness that is western Maryland, I saw a grand total of zero vertebrate animals while running (except for runners and other humans).  No birds, no squirrels, no deer, no turkeys, no bear.  Nada.  Possible reason: the woods were too noisy and the critters vamoosed.  Conditions were dry with the trails covered by fallen leaves.  Also there was a 10 mph breeze out of the west, which also created some noise.

5.  Having a running companion is wonderful, especially if when you hit a rough patch.

6.  An iced vanilla frappe and a burger at the finish line tasted heavenly.

7.  I found myself a solidly back-of-the pack runner on Sunday, a position I am unfamiliar with. Most of my running career I've been a fairly successful recreational runner, usually finishing in the top third.  I gotta get used to being at that end of the pack, it's the new normal.

8.  This race did not have awards by age category (as most standard road races do), but if they did, I would have won the 60+ age group.  Go figure.

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