Friday, August 1, 2014

Allegheny Front Trail Race 50k 7/27/2014

Since returning to running at the end of April I have slowly increased mileage and time on my feet. Heeding advice from Dr. Dan  to build the base and run slow has served me well and it is now time to test my recovery. A few weeks ago Pat Krott and I decided to run the Allegheny Front Trail Race which skirts the Moshannon State Park. Since I work 2nd shift I was able to get a couple hour nap before the road trip half way across the state. Joining me on the the trip was Pat "Ultra Dude" Krott and Allison Jeric-Carroll. I was able to get a bit of a nap (half hour maybe) on the way since Pat drove. Pat and I were aiming for PR's at this distance and Allison was not sure if she was going to run due to an illness (She ended up not running).

As we pull up registrations is just opening and we start to prepare for our run and right away I can see this is a pretty low budget event and become a bit concerned as to what will be at the aid stations. I make the decision to go with my Ultimate Direction belt so I can carry extra gels and a Clif Bar. As 7 AM nears the race director starts to review the course and moves us to the starting line.

Photos by Allison Jeric Carrol
And we are off!
Photo by Allsion Jeric Carrol


The race consists of black top, gravel road and single track trail. We begin the run on the road which most of us seemed to start too fast but it did thin out the pack before we hit the single track trails. As we entered the trail I was happy to see how soft the ground was, and by the end of the race realized this, in my opinion, was the best part of the 50k. Unfortunately the section was a short out and back that had us passing each other on the single track ( terrible idea, should have done it at the end). I was moving along what felt like a comfortable pace, but I knew I was moving too fast this early but I went with it. I settled in to a pace and just enjoyed the run only really thinking about foot fall and breathing. The single track was not bad, mostly flat till about mile 16 or so but around mile 15 my stomach started turning and I felt like vomiting so I spent a bit of extra time at the aid station at mile 16. From mile 17-20 or 21  was a steady grassy up hill. It was not steep but with the way I was feeling it seemed endless. Most of this section was also exposed to the sun which made things a bit more difficult. I ended up hiking most of the hill and throwing up a few times on my way up, I could not even keep down gels or water at this point. At one point the trail coming down the with the leaders crossed into the trail I was on and had seen Pat for the first time during the race he looked strong, he asked how I was and I said something like shitty, he said well the 3 miles section you are on now is the worst part of it.

I finally got to the top and tried some pop at the aid station, which I did keep down for a while. I had about 10 miles left so I got moving and pushed on. Going back down the hill I had just climbed should have been amazing but it was tough given my condition. I got to the section where I had seen Pat earlier and had seen a runner laying on the ground and he looked in rough shape, I asked if he was ok, he said yea, so I moved on. I got to the next aid station and had some watermelon which hit the spot at that moment and the volunteer said 6 miles left. I said ok just a 10k to go and pushed on. Very shortly after leaving that aid station I pucked again, ugh, so I hiked for a bit and glanced at my watch, knowing my goal was slipping away I had to push on.

I was running on some fairly smooth single track and moving at a decent pace but feeling terrible. I started to stumble a bit so I slowed my pace to avoid injury but by this point I just wanted to be done and get something to drink that would stay down. Ahead I see someone hiking towards me so I slow down. She asks if I knew if anyone was close behind me and I answer I had no idea, she replied well your almost done, only 2 miles left. This lifted my spirits, and I started moving faster. Finally through the trees I start to see buildings so my pace quickens as the trail opens up I see and hear Pat and Allison and I cross the line of my 2nd Ultra. As I came across I hear 6:48, I beat my goal then find out Pat beat his as well.

Photo by Allison

I had to deal with a few issues I had not faced in ultra running to this point to in that aspect it was great training.The trail was not bad, except for grassy hill climb. The race seemed poorly run, but the aid station volunteers were amazing. Hind sight: if I would have dealt with stomach issues better I am sure I would have been a lot faster, if I had started slower I likely could have finished faster and even though I didnt feel well I spent far too much time at the last 2 aid stations.