Fat Ass 50K
Bradley Palmer State Park
Saturday, January 7, 2012
Time: 4:41 (9:02 pace)
5 laps of a 10K rolling trail loop
Marathon #67 (~3:56)
Results: coming soon!
Continuing a fall-into-winter thirst for all things “social running”, my pal Billy, owner of the South Boston Running Emporium, got my eye trained on a Fat Ass trail race put on by Giles Athletic Club, a club north of Boston known as GAC.
A week later, now only a few days before the event, Larry, another friend, this one owner and CEO of Larryland in Madtown USA, said he was going and dared me to go.
Knowing that Billy and Larry would be there, and with a promise that other friends would too, I decided to give it a go. With temperatures expected to be unseasonably awesome, I was thrilled at another opportunity to run trails before the real brunt of winter storms in.
Fat Ass it was.
To the uninitiated, a Fat Ass might be a funny term that garners a chuckle. In the ultra-running community, mostly of the trail variety, a Fat Ass is a popular type of race that is typically 50K, or 31 miles, in distance and is a sort of throwback to races of yesteryear. With no entry fee, no fancy medals, usually no cheering section, and sometimes not even a clock, these races are a no frills way to gather a bunch of like-minded trail runners for a romp in the woods in the middle of winter. This particular romp was marked and timed and has been successful enough to be considered a 14th Annual! In exchange for that you are expected to bring something for the aid table.
Fat Ass, my kind of race!
Having decided to do the Fat Ass in Bradley Palmer only two days prior, I didn’t exactly treat this like a race. For me it would be just a continuation of my off-season mantra of running whenever and however the mood struck, with all things focused on fun. I wasn’t keen on running hard; my goal was to have fun, run with friends old and new, and maybe notch another marathon, if not 50K!
That in mind, my focus was to find someone to run with. If I could do that, I told myself, I would likely go all the way or at least to marathon distance; if I could not find happy conversation, I would likely just do a few laps and call it a day. I didn’t want to get sucked into running hard, not when I had run a marathon only 6 days prior with the New Year’s Boston Marathon run.
The course at Bradley Palmer State Park was set up with 5 loops of a 10K (6.2 miles) circuit. The circuit was filled with varied trail types. From fire roads, single track, jaunts across grassy fields, and a short stretch on a paved road, the course rolled pretty well but not enough to be considered hard. Single track was non-technical with only a few stretches where you really had to watch your footing. Although it was staffed with a few frozen (at first) stream crossings and frozen mud (at first!) sections, the course was relatively dry and in good shape.
For race start, I settled into the middle of the pack with the CEO of Larryland and Issy. Behind me was Henry and Billy and Mike and many other friends. Ahead were more serious types. The only thing I was serious about was finding someone to chat the miles away with.
The first lap went quickly. Just as I was settling in to an easy rhythm, chatting with Larry and Issy, Issy slipped a pair of ear buds in her ears and got to work quickly moving up in the field. As I watched her pull away, I was a little disappointed at first because I had thought Larry and Issy would run together, and I figured I’d join them! Issy would go on to win the women’s race. And Larry, well, Larry, as I learned, likes to run alone. He’s not the chatter that I am. We had different goals on the day, so no worries, but still no one for me to run with.
Two miles into the first loop, while I was still running with Larry, I hooked up with girl from Cambridge. We got into good conversation until, oops, I ran off course, with this girl and Larry following me. Sorry guys. We backtracked and rejoined the race. In doing so, our little group of three got broken up. I used this as an excuse to catch up to the runners ahead of me.
Motoring along single track trail on a long uphill section, I closed the gap on those ahead of me, made a pass here, another there, and finally came upon a familiar runner. “Henry”, I shouted ahead, “nice to see you.” Henry and I talked for a few minutes before, bam, up came a root and down I went, the ground meeting me quickly but not enough for a tuck of the shoulder and a roll to avoid injury. Talking while running is dangerous. Even so, I was determined to find someone to pass the miles with. Lap 1 came and went in 54:39.
Not long into Lap 2, I spotted not far up a guy in a light blue shirt that I recognized to be a race shirt from the Rhode Island 6 Hour, an event I did nearly two months prior. On a fire road connecting two single track sections, I caught up to him and asked about the RI 6 Hour. The conversation was so strong that I knew I found my companion for the rest of the day. My new friend Jay and I completed Lap 2 in 51:51.
Over the next two laps (Lap 3 – 56:52, Lap 4 – 1:03:50), Jay and chatted about running, his upcoming wedding, and his brave leap into the coaching ranks with his business called EFS. Although our legs were getting heavy, the conversation stayed strong. It was just what I was looking for and made the miles breeze by as the temperatures rose. And as the temperatures rose, the course grew filled with more and more mud to the point where some sections were downright sloppy.
Upon completing each lap, we took our time at the aid table by refilling our bottles and getting in calories. I stayed mostly to the three B’s: breads, bars, and bananas. A salt tablet on alternate laps and a few large gulps of Gatorade pushed me onward. Personal favorite was the banana bread. The homemade fig bars were solid, too. You can’t beat the spread at a Fat Ass aid table. If you were adventurous enough, you could have had grilled cheese sandwiches, any cookie you can think of, boiled potatoes including the sweet variety, and much more.
By the last lap, I knew we had this in the bank. We were both hydrating and fueling well enough. We both had an up and down period but, for the distance, felt pretty good. If nothing else, we were still heavily engrossed in conversation, which was a good sign for us both even though slowed us down some. No matter to me, I wasn’t there for pace. I was there for exactly what we were doing – running, chatting, and having fun. The miles passed quickly.
Lap 5 (54:12) and the finish came with the clock reading 4:41:25.
Issy won the women’s race in 4:31, while Larry labored in Larryland for 4:48. Our victory beers tasted good.
5 laps of a 10K rolling trail loop
1 – 54:39
2 – 51:51
3 – 56:52
4 – 1:03:50
5 – 54:12