Thursday, March 26, 2015

HAT RUN 50K 3/21/2015

I was told my ultra-runner membership had expired soon after my DNF at Ironmasters last year so I felt like rather than letting it go, it was time to punch that card again.  I chose the HAT 50K, in Havre de Grace, MD for my race back in November.  I'd volunteered at the 2014 HAT run and had an awesome time watching Adam and all the other runners and helping them refuel at an aid station.  Scoping out the course, it looked like a great race to tackle myself.

This winter had been a little rougher for training outdoors with the amount of ice on the trails and roads.  Even with my Ice Trekker crampons, I had a few un-enjoyable, difficult trail runs on the Wissahickon that I still believe would've fared much better if I'd had ice skates.

I'd had a few decent runs, although mostly much shorter than I'd prefer leading into this distance.  My longest run was 10 miles 2 weeks before the race and I felt pretty strong during and after.
My goal was sub-6 hours.  I was on pace to beat that at Ironmasters last year, a much tougher course, I think, so this should've been a breeze.  The biggest obstacle to that goal was probably my lack of significant, long training runs, despite a 25K race on Jan 3.  I got a little lazy with the training but ran outside when I could and tried to compensate with some bike rides on the trainer.

The weather was looking pretty good for the race: mid-40's, sunny.  A late season snow-storm came through Friday dropping 3-4 inches in the area, making for a soft first lap, as expected.  Not enough snow to make the course too difficult.

The start was unique to any races I've done so far: all the racers lined up across a field to await the start signal and with it, charged like a scene from Braveheart.  There's a good amount of running before we get into single-track but it was a great way to spread the course out and not cause too many pile-ups.  One 5K loop back to the start/finish area and aid station where I shed my vest and hat and then into a 13 mile loop for the second and repeat for the 3rd loop.
After one of 4 water crossings and killing it... sorta.  not really.
The first half of the race felt pretty good.  It started out pretty easy and my pace felt solid but gradually wore down after the first third.  I distinctly recall mile 15 being miserable and being the first of several lousy miles.  After that it was a lot of running when I could and hiking the hills.  By the second loop, the snow had mostly melted and the trail was a mud pit; not too bad, really, even a little fun, but not ideal for speed.

 As the miles ticked off, the pace crept up, the race dwindled and I crossed the finish at 6:44:31, a lot later than I'd hoped.  Despite the slow race, I felt pretty great during and afterwards.  I had a coffee, a protein shake and a little gel before the race.  I carried my handheld and my Nathan belt with 2 flasks during the race.  In one flask was Hammer Gel, the other Hammer Perpetuem, and in my handheld, I kept a fizz tablet or just plain water, refueling only my fizz bottle at the aid stations.  I was typically in and out of aid stations in a moment, just topping off my handheld, grabbing a handful of candy or fruit at the major aid station and heading back out quickly.  The aid stations were well stocked and staffed by great volunteers.  And the SWAG!  Look at this bounty:
Hat (duh), shirt, soft cooler and yes, that's an umbrella.
I had a great time.  I would certainly sign up for this one again and aim again for that sub 6-hour 50K.

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