Salem Lakeshore Frosty 50K
January 6, 2007
My first experience with the Frosty 50K was iwhile I was training for my first marathon. I lived in Winston Salem to attend MBA school at Wake Forest and did the majority of my training around Salem Lake. My final “long” run of 20 miles occurred on the same day as the 2002 Frosty 50K. I remember as I ran through the 2 inches of snow that these people must be crazy for running five 10K’s….
Now I am about to begin my first Frosty 50K and fourth ultramarathon. This was the year of the “Not So Frosty” Frosty 50K as temperatures at the start were in the high 50s and expected to be close to 70 by the afternoon. Nonetheless, the weather was beautiful for running and the warmer temps were a bit of a respite “normal” January weather. Since July 2006, I had completed three ultras, all at different distances and therefore all PRs! My 2007 plans call for my first attempt at 100 miles at Massanutten in May so I had a deliberate race schedule geared to get me ready for the big day. My only hope with the Frosty 50K was to beat my previous 50K time of 5:34. Although my running was a little lackluster coming off the holidays, I still felt like I could do it. I drove up that morning with my friend John Teague and thought this would be a great way to start off 2007. John had major knee surgery in 2006 and this was his second ultra in his “comeback” (first being Masochist in November). At the start I saw familiar faces Mark Long, Eric Grossman, Joey Anderson and Byron Backer. I also was introduced to Jay Finkle, whose name I knew from many of the VA and NC races.
With the temps expected to be warmer later, my strategy was to push the pace early and build a cushion so that I could “take it easy” when things heated up. I recalled this strategy worked for many at the 2006 Western States. While our conditions would be nowhere near as brutal, the concept still seemed to make sense. The course is a double out and back and was slightly altered due to high water levels which resulted in a one mile out and back on the road (yuck!) at the start of each loop. I started out strong and moved ahead at a steady pace. On the return from the road out and back, I heard words of encouragement from many of my race friends. I felt good and my heart rate was in check as we headed into the trails. I recalled how bad one particular hill was here back when I was training for that first marathon and was amazed how miniscule it was. Given the course of GEER and Masochist as well as the regular hill repeats, I definitely felt how much stronger I was. I continued on and enjoyed recalling various sections of the trail. I ran mostly alone at this point but kept Jay Finkle in sight. I heard him say he wanted to run a 4:30 and I hoped to run around 2:20 for the first loop. I passed through the first two aid stations and was soon on the first back portion. I could feel the temperatures climbing and my heart rate was at about 75% of max and I felt good. I came to the end of the first loop in 2:17 but was feeling a bit fatigued. The faster pace coupled with the extra holiday baggage were taking its toll. At this point I knew the PR was likely in the bag and felt like I could probably break 5 hours so off I went.
I continued to move well although I did slow the pace some so that I would have something left at the end. Around mile 20 or so, I felt my Achilles tightening up and my leg was really throbbing. At his point I had only stopped briefly at the aid stations and had done no walking. I decided to stop and stretch my calf and Achilles really good. This loosened it up well and I started off again. I had to walk briefly for about 10 minutes about 3 miles later but then had no more problems. Given the time I had taken I knew that braking 5 hours would be tight. I pushed as hard as I could and hit the tape at 5:02, an improvement in my 50K PR of 32 minutes! While I didn’t break 5 hours, I was very happy with my result
I had a lot of fun at this race and would like to try it under normal (cold) conditions to see how I fare. Maybe next year.