The Cold: Holy shnikies was it cold! Even though I had just spent two weeks over the Holidays in frigid temps, waiting for the race to start when it was in the teens, sure made me think twice. I know all you people up North are thinking, "What's the big deal?" But we're just not used to it down here in the ATL. Average highs in early January tend to be in the forties or even low fifties here. So it was in the teens before the race and I don't think it warmed up much during or after.
The first bone chilling experience was the "shuttle" service from the off-site parking. It was a pick-up truck! You've never seen anything until you've seen 8 or 9 trailrunners freezing their asses off in the back of a pick-up truck in 18 degrees weather. Brrr! Once at the race start, everyone huddled around each other until it was time to get going. Things did warm up during the race, some where into the mid-20's. Someone say "heat wave"?
Luckily, I do better in cooler temps than warmer ones. I was one of the few, the proud, wearing shorts during the race. I think the blood capillaries in my knees are just now coming back. My compression sleeves on my calves were more for protection on my skin versus any compression benefit. Gloves, hat and proper layering up top kept me comfortable for the race.
The Company: At the starting line, we were all kind of staring at each other when someone happened to say "go!" It took a few seconds to register, so we heard a second "Go!" It was such a discreet way to start the race, that all of us almost missed it, but we finally got it going and took off. My first couple of miles, I ran with Spurgeon. Spurgeon was also in shorts, so we shared in that initial agony until our legs got numb. We maintained a pretty good pace and we were keeping the lead pack within a few dozen yards. I soon realized that I wasn't going to be able to keep this up. I told Spurgeon I was going to let up on the pace and he dropped me without any trouble.
I ran by myself for a while until somewhere towards the end of that first loop, John Dove and another runner caught up to me and we all ran together for a while. Eventually, it was just me and John as the other runner also moved on ahead. I would end up running with John for the next two and a half loops of the race. I was honored to run with John, as he is a longtime ultra-runner and fellow Ironman, and we had plenty to talk about. John kept me laughing with his jokes and we shared stories about his past adventures at ultra classics like Western States, Hard Rock, Vermont and Massanuten. We also talked about our dogs, families, cycling and triathlons. Running with John made a good chunk of my race just fly by. I lost him when he stopped to talked to Rob Apple and Susan Donnelly, while I ran on down the trail. I finished the last loop by myself, but I really enjoyed the miles shared. Good company!
The Shirt: So you run 31 miles and you'd think there would be some kind of special moment at the finish, right? Nope. I came in from my last loop, checked in with the time keeper and proceeded to take advantage of the mac n cheese some one brought, opened a can of PBR and caught up with some of the other runners that had finished before me. No fanfare, but that's OK. I was enjoying the food and even the PBR when someone handed me my race shirt. Yep, they had race shirts this year at the Fat Ass. Who would of thought? And you know what? It's easily one of my favorite race shirts I have ever gotten. Simple, discreet, but with a "phat" ass design. Check it out on the right. Pretty cool, huh?
The Moon Pie: Remember Moon Pies? Those chocolate covered, gooey marshmallow-filled cookie sandwiches that most people associate with RC Cola? Well, turns out they are pretty popular amongst several off the GUTS runners. Some of which have just been named to a new sponsored ultra team, Team Moon Pie. The folks at the Chattanooga Bakery, that make Moon Pies, sent a giant Moon Pie for all to enjoy.
This thing was the size of a pizza. Spurgeon delivered it and he placed it on the table that morning with a big, wicked grin on his face. That thing was just about wiped out several hours later as each finisher took a good chunk of the Moon Pie.
There you have it. The twenty.ten Fat Ass 50K. I didn't really mind the cold, I enjoyed the company, loved the shirt and took part of the giant Moon Pie. Happy Trails!
Photo credit: I stole the photos above from Janice Anderson's Facebook page and Beth Blackwell.