This past weekend, I ran my first ever FATS 50K. Except it really wasn't the FATS 50K because the course wasn't actually run the FATS 50K course.
Let me start over...
David Nance recent took over the long lived FATS 50K which has been part of Terri Hayes Ultras on Trails Series and was faced with something that no one would have expected. The trail system that FATS lives on is other words known as Fork Area Trail System was shut down over night due to the recent Government Shut down. In a last minute attempt David was able to move the course and ensure that the race still took place.
The event, now known as the "Not-so-FATS 50k" would now be held on private land and would be made up of 8 laps to round out the 31 mile course.
Not what I was expecting but, it would be 31 miles of training as I get closer and closer to Pinhoti less than a month from now. I made the drive up Saturday afternoon and met up with Bo, Andy, Doug and Tiana for a pre-race dinner at Mellow Mushroom. I'm always a sucker for the Big Dog Cheese Dip! Great conversation about the Foothills Trail 77 Mile "race" which I need to get on my schedule for sometime in the first of the year!!!
An early bedtime and an earlier wake up (due to the race being move to Aiken, 30 Minutes north-east from Augusta) got us all on the road heading up to the course. A few missed turns and we were back on track pulling into a private drive way, up a long clay road and out into a vast field which was covered in a thick blanket of white fog.
I checked in as number 42 and broke several safety pins trying to pin my bib to my shorts. I complained to the RD as any Ultra Runner in their right mind would, but my complaints were ignored as I threatened to sue. Oh well, I know how little Ultra RD's actually make!
A few chuckles here, a couple of meet and greets there and we were ready to line up and get the morning started. A simple 3,2,1 got us on our way.
The course started out in front or our "host family's" home and rounded their horse pens as we set off into the fog The sand got deep quickly and most runners shot to the outside edges of the trail to find firm ground. The sand would get thicker and thicker as the day wore on. As we blindly ran through the horse pastures we kept the flag on our right-hand side changing from wet-grass to deep sand, to gravel, back to sand, to perfectly laid and packed trail before we came up to our first short climb up a power-line break which was covered in mesh grass netting which had not completely taken root yet. We joked as we ran up the hill the first time about getting traction, but it really did get bad as the day went on. Hopefully we didn't do too much damage to that hill!
A quick down hill brought us to the bottom of the only second hill on the course which was made up of packed sand. Later on in the day Kelley Wells and her kids would be standing at the top with their Cow-bells cheering us to "charge up that hill!!!" Can't wait to hear that at Pinhoti!!!!
My goal for the day was to get 20 miles in at an 8:30-8:45 pace and then mix up the last 10 miles with some short stents of walking into my routine over the course of the last 11 miles. I stuck to my plan pretty dead on and my body held up great through out the day. I finished in 4:46:05 which was exactly where I wanted to be.
It was great day. The weather got a little hot as the fog finally burnt off. I didn't take any Salt during the race and may have skimped a little on my fluid intake because I did not want to stop at the aid station every lap. I was at a lost for word when I finished and had a hard time asking Kelley for a Mountain Dew even though I could think it in my head. But after a quick rinse with a little ice-water and a long gasp... I regained control of all my faculties.
The body felt great and had a spring in my step as I walked back to my truck to change and grab some well earned adult beverages! Doug gave me the best tasting muffin I've ever had and I rejoined the group hiding in what little shade we could all find.
Once I was fed and rehydrated I said my good byes and started the long haul back home. Even though I still have not run on the FATS course, I'm glad that I was able to get up to Augusta... I mean Aiken, for the 2013 Not-so-FATS 50K. Good times!