This was supposed to be the summer I took on my first 1/2 Iron Tri -- swim 1.2, bike 56, run 13.1, but like everything else it was canceled due to Covid.
I've been riding with a great group of people for the past 3 months. Many of them are veterans of the Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard. They asked me to join their fundraising bike team for the Foster 100. The Foster 100 raises money for service dogs for veterans. The Covid rules for the event were to accumulate 100 miles in the week of Septemeber 7 - 13. Since my tri was cancelled I signed up.
In the meanwhile a local RD said the first 5 people who shared his race and liked it on Facebook would be given a complimentary entry. Done! Free 5k entry into Running the Ave on 9/13!
And as if this wasn't enough I had been to the Poconos and run on one of my favorite trails on the weekend of 8/29. I remembered sometime later during the week to check when the Water Gap 50k is that is run on that trail. September 12th.... Hmmm...
I texted my good friend and shenanigans partner Cathy looking for corroboration that this was indeed doable (even though my longest run to date was 12 miles.) We formulated a plan to get the bike miles done early in the week, rest up the rest of the week for the 50k, run the 50k Saturday, and (she didn't know about the 5k - lol) walk/jog the 5k.
I biked 27 miles on Monday morning with my good friend Nicole. It was a great route. And then I met the bike group for another 28 that evening.
The next morning I biked to and from work to add another 21 miles.
My original plan had me biking either on Wednesday or Thursday to finish the miles but I wanted to be done! I sent a text to one of the ride leaders for that night's group ride and said I was coming. My legs were tired so I kept rotating to the back of the pace line. All was great until the guy at the front of the pace line did not see a tree that had fallen on the side of the shoulder of the road until the last minute. It was dusk and the tree was in the shade. Everyone threw on their brakes and we folded like an accordion. All of the riders except me escaped unscathed. My tire was on the inside of the rider in front of me and the downed tree was in front and to the right of me. All I remember was looking the tree straight in the eye and thinking this is going to be interesting.
Tree 1, Gwen 0
But on a good note I didn't get hurt at all except my shoulder/neck felt like I had been in a small car wreck the neck day. I hopped back on my bike and completed the rest of the ride to finish of the 100 miles by Tuesday night. (Bike is good too. Had it checked at bike shop. Phew!)
I met a local run group on some trails Wednesday night and did a quick 3 miles. One of the guys that I met said he was running the WG50k as well - Ed. The 3 miles felt amazingly easy after the 2 hard days on the bike! My coach-- ie. shenanigans encourager -- then told me she'd take my sneakers away until Saturday if I tried to run again. Forced rest - boo!
Nicole agreed to come with me for the 50k. We drove up on Friday night and had a great dinner at a local brewery al fresco. I slept like a champ until my alarm rudely went off at 4:45.
We dressed, ate and drove the hour to the start. The RD had scheduled everything. 3 participants at a time would pick up packets and then 3 at a time would be sent off on the trail based on your Ultrasignup predicted finish time. I knew my Ultrasignup prediction was way off at 7:xx hours. I picked up my packet and used the porta potty. And then relaxed in the car until my start time of 7:21.
The participants were intense. Superman was next to us - focused and serious. A guy in front of use was using his stick violently on every part of his legs. Ed was applying sunscreen to every part of him as if his life depended on it. I meanwhile sipped on my water and relaxed.
Nicole got out of the car because she was too nervous to just sit there. Funny to have your spectator more nervous than you. At 7:10 I got out of the car and added a few more snacks to my tiny Camelbak. (Angie, Jenster, Vanessa and Abby would be so happy that I was carrying some sort of hydration!) I wandered over to the start where they were calling us up 3 at a time.
The RD gave us a little talk -- follow the pink flags. There are 3 aid stations (5 total - 3 on the way out and turn around and hit the first 2 on the way back). Lots of flags at the turn. And then he sent us off.
The guy flew out of the start like a jack rabbit and I had to laugh. That's exactly what I did at my 1st and only other 50k. I thought, "You'll pay, my pretty!"
My plan was to run 4 minutes and walk a minute. I kept that up all of 2 miles when I came across a guy doing run/walk and asked his strategy. He said run 4 minutes and walk 2 minutes. Being as he started in front of me (and therefore had a better Ultrasignup projected finish) I altered my run/walk to 4/1:30. I followed that loosely but in the end I went with more a 5/1:30.
The first few miles I eased into my pace. Runs were somewhere in the mid 9 range. There were a few steep hills that I walked up. I thought I knew what I was running pretty much the whole way -- loose gravel, cinder multi use trail -- and then we got to this single track section. Wow! Did not see that coming. Lots of little staircases and sloped trails hanging off the side of the mountain. There went my pacing strategy. Lol.
Nicole found me around mile 6.
Somewhere after mile 9 the trail flattens back out and I could resume my pacing. The mountains and fields were just spectacular! I tried to make sure to keep looking up to enjoy the spectacular day.
For fueling I did one gel an hour. I had Nuun in my Camelbak. The aid stations were supposed to only have water and Tailwind but they did have Gu as well. Score! It really made a difference as there was no dilly dallying at the aid stations. I skipped the first aid station at mile 5, grabbed a Gu at mile 10 and then hit a porta potty at mile 15 as well as refilled my Camelbak and grabbed another Gu. The turnaround was just after the mile 15 aid station.
Nicole was bee bopping along the trail. Meeting me to say hi and grab some pictures. It was so nice to see a friendly face.
I like out and backs because once you are farthest from your car the only way out is to run back. The countdown began.
About a mile after I left the mile 15 aid station I saw a guy who had passed me earlier. He was in trouble. I asked him if he needed any food, but he said no, he was just going to walk it in. (Oh dear God! Another 15 miles! That's a long walk!)
I started picking off people left and right. Gave words of encouragement and was way too cheerful! Lol. I couldn't believe how amazing I felt for being so undertrained.
I passed a guy at mile 20-21 and said we only had another 10 miles to go and that we could do anything for another 10 miles! (At the finish line I realized how long ago I had said that and that he was probably cursing me!)
After mile 24 I was starting to get tired. In my head I just thought get to that single track section and you get to walk. Ha! It was hard making my legs go up and down all of those stairs!!
Afterwards I got back on my run/walk schedule. Two guys passed me at mile 29.5 during a walk break. One said "Have a nice day." I thought does he think he isn't going to see me again??
No more than a 1/4 mile later there was another steep hill that we all were walking. I was surprised when they didn't start running again when it crested and mused that they must be walking until they crested the tiny hill in front of us. I jogged past them crested the tiny hill and then bombed down the back side. To get to the finish line you had to run through a few parking lots and through a grass field. I ran as fast as my little legs would run after 30 miles. As I ran into the chute my timer hit 31 miles.
5:29:42. 10:38 pace
I took my shoes off. Told Nicole I would pay her to go get the enormous jug of water from the car and then went and sat in the river.
It was a really great day!
This was Ed's first race ever!
We drove home that afternoon after grabbing some lunch with Ed. I felt super dehydrated - note self: drink more!
I slept like a champ again on Saturday and woke up Sunday a little creaky and sore. I stretched and ate and headed out to the 5k.
I saw tons of friends - 2 had run a virtual 50 miler the day before. Only one (pictured below) of them was dumb enough to run the 5k like me.
I decided to just run the race and see how my legs felt. 12 minute miles??
Once again we went off in waves. I followed the people in front of me and looked down at my watch and saw 8:30s. Ummmm.... My legs felt stiff and heavy but nothing hurt. My hip popped and everything felt a little better. I continued on expecting to blow up at any minute. Mile one: 8:36. The 2nd mile goes through a park. It was delightful as there is a lot of shade. I still felt great. Mile 2: 8:15. The 3rd mile has the tiniest of uphills before rolling back onto the main street. I thought about walking but just slowed my steps a little bit. Apparently once we were on the main drag I picked it back up. Mile 3: 8:11. We made a U-Turn around a cone to the finish line. I thought it's go time! My legs said no. .1 @ 7:31 pace. Finished with a 25:55, 1st in my AG. About 2 minutes off my PR but it's got to be a PR the day after a 50k.
So there you have it a bike, run, run duathlon of almost full Iron distance.
Duplicate pix. Sorry!
Edited by ocrunnergirl