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10 January 2012

Back to blogging in 2012

I’ve resolved to devote more time to my blog, so it seems like a race report of my first race of 2012 would be as good a place to start as any. The GAC Fat Ass 50k was Saturday, and it was my first 50k since October, and the first long run without any knee pain since the irritation started at mile 30 of the Vermont 50 back in September. I’ve been trying to take it easy since then, and it’s been hit or miss, with the pain picking up sometimes, then dissipating just as quickly. However, now that I’m officially registered for the Massanutten Mountain Trail 100 miler in in May, I really need to start focusing on my training. This past weekend served as a semi-official kick off (although I’ve already got a pretty good base), with the GAC 50k on Saturday, followed by a 10-miler on Sunday.

This was the first time I’ve done the GAC 50k, a course on a 10k loop in Topsfield, and I picked the right year to do it! With practically unheard of temperatures reaching just upwards of 50 degrees (in January, in New England!), it seems that almost everyone I heard from who was really going out for it had set a PR for the distance. Even me, although I was really trying to take it easy and keep the pressure off my knee, I still came in under 6 hours, which is better than I expected. The course itself was a nice break from the TARC races and Vulcan’s Fury that I’d been running up to this point, it reminded me of Pineland Farms, albeit with pavement, which Pineland doesn’t have. The loop started with some singletrack into the woods, then broke off to some gravel, then took on a nice wide singletrack through a field. Aside from two stretches of pavement, one uphill stretch in the middle of the loop, and another flat one at the end of the loop, the terrain was great, and the fields and the forest offset each other nicely. By far my favorite part of the loop was the section that broke off the fire road to turn up a hill into some beautiful singletrack with just a little bit of roots, into some great switchbacks, down the backside of the hill, across a bridge, then back up the next hill. Beautiful. And even though the iced-over marsh from the first loop had turned into a shoe-sucking mud swamp by the final loop, the most amazing thing about the course was that there were no rocks. I mean, not a single leap over a ridge, or a scramble up some boulders, or even a downhill with some randomly scattered ankle twisters. This was the big difference between the TARC races, my standard runs in the Fells, and this race, and that’s probably why I kept my knee in good shape.  That’s why, rather than heading out for a double loop on the Reservoir trail in the Fells on Sunday, I decided to take to the streets instead, running down to Harvard Business School and back. Amazingly enough, I ran the 50k in a pair of cheap New Balance all-terrain shoes, which I’d only taken out once before, for a short six miles in the Fells.

Great job to Topsfield’s GAC for putting on a race with over 125 “registered” runners for the 50k, with many, many, more showing up to run a few loops. I like the method too – you register by giving them your name, they give you a number, and when you complete a loop, you just yell out your number and they record your split.

Not bad, over 40 miles in two days. It’s good to be back!

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