Tuesday, July 10, 2012

TNF Endurance Mid-Atlantic 50K - June 2, 2012

A Muddy Course on a Sunny Day
High water on the Potomac
Mud. Heavy rains Friday night produced miles of deep mud and standing water on The North Face Washington DC Endurance Challenge course on Saturday.  Stretches of single track trail could be renamed single lane canals, as they are filled not only with inches-deep mud but standing water on top of the slick mud.  Numerous runners wind up with mud on their legs, shorts, shirts, arms or hands from falling, slipping or trying to save themselves from falling into the mud.

 Although the first eight miles of the course, run mostly on the Potomac Heritage Trail, is swampy, the remainder of the course is reasonably dry, partly due to it being away from the river.  Since the course is out and back however, the last eight miles repeat the swampy portion.  But the return is marginally better, as sunshine helps reduce, but not eliminate, the mud during the afternoon return.

Booty Call I
The woman is on the knife edge between safety and a slide back into the muddy creek. She is partially up the steep, slippery far slope of the narrow stream.  The male runner behind her begins to reach out to help push her up the slope, but as his hand approaches her, he hesitiates.  A runner on the bank above her reaches out a hand.  She grasps it and is pulled to safety.

A couple of minutes later I tell her what happened behind her.

"I wouldn't have objected," she replies.  "Better than sliding back down into the mud."

And a few steps later she slips and falls into the mud on the trail.

"Snap the pic, already."
Jennifer W. is running the 50 mile race as part of our training for the Black Hills 100K later in June.  The 50 milers started two hours prior to the 50K runners.  They run the same out and back portion of the course (plus a small spur), but they run three loops of the 6.9 mile portion of the course in Great Falls Park, while the 50K runners do only one.

I'm on the lookout for Jennifer as I run the loop. It twists and doubles back on itself, with two out-and-back spurs.  Just after the first one, I spot Jennifer coming the opposite direction.  We exchange greetings and I insist on taking a picture. As I fiddle with the cell phone. Jennifer grows impatient. "Would you hurry up," she urges, "I don't have all day."  I snap and we head off in opposite directions.

But within five minutes or so she has caught up with me, even though I'm going a shorter distance and she's already run two hours  and nine miles more than me, to say nothing of having had to rise at 3 a.m. to get to the 5 a.m. start.

Fogged lens overlooking Mather Gorge
We run together for the remainder of the loop.  I have trouble keeping up with her.  As I leave her at the Great Falls aid station to head back to the start-finish, she is sitting on the ground putting duct tape on her blistering toes before heading back into the loop for her third pass.  The duct tape will aid the blistering, but the duct  tape will trap moisture and cost her three toenails.

Booty Call II
"Don't you like my booty?," the woman asks me. So many wrong ways to answer that question.

"Your booty is fine," I stammer.

"I wondered why you didn't touch it," she continued.

She and I are about four miles from the finish, headed up a moderately steep single-track slope.

She had been in front of me as we headed up the slope.  She had started to slide back and I put my hand on the fuel belt on her waist to steady her.  Now I was being questioned for not putting my hand on her rump.

"I used your belt to help you," I honestly reply.  And because I don't know what else to say.

The Roundup
Shirt, arm warmers and bib from TNF50K
I finish the 50K in 7:10:01, a pace of 14:18 per mile.  Jennifer finishes the 50 miles in 11:35:44, or a 13:55 pace. Put bluntly, she ran a faster pace over 50 miles than I did for only 50K, or 31.1 miles.  Furthermore, the Chinese food that we had the night before with a couple of other runners did not sit well with her digestive system on Saturday.

1 comment:

  1. Good work, Ken --- esp. re delicate booty issue (hi Sandy!) ... ^z