Acorn 50K aka the Forlorn Pickle 50K
Wow, that was hard! Full race report for ultramarathon #10 from yesterday. Ignore if you choose to, but the suffering was real, albeit self-inflicted.
The PB and J 50k (name for obvious reasons) hosted by the Virginia Happy Trails Running Club at Prince William Forest Park started with lovely temps around 70 degrees and middling humidity. The race itself consisted of two 15.5 mile loops with three aid stations on each loop. The goals for the race were as always 1. Don’t hurt yourself 2. Don’t fall 3. Finish the race 4. Have fun. We can discuss the outcomes of these separately, but you can draw your own conclusions.
The 100+ runners [editor’s note: actually 81 this year] started a little after 8 am with a variety of paces. I started fairly easily since I knew this would be a huge effort for me. The trail itself was easy to moderately technical in places, allowing a mix of mountain goat climbing and release the Kraken bust it out trail running. This was reflected in my mile paces ranging from 9:05 to 16:45, depending on the loop and/or part of the course.
Of note, this course really should be called the Acorn 50k, because EVERYWHERE you looked there were acorns. They fell from the sky like thunder, rocketing onto windshields like bullets, and cracking skulls like a hammer.
Loop one was pretty much free and easy. I took my first of several acorn hits around mile 7, but suffered no lasting damage (that I could tell, minus the ouchie and bad word that I said). I took most of the hills at a steady jog, enjoyed some gatorade and the aforementioned sandwiches at the aid stations, and made a few friends along the way. Also of note, there were at least 6-7 miles of acorns that literally littered the trail, and even with trail shoes, it was like running on legos. The mud pits were a blessed distraction, but no major malfunctions, and I came into the turnaround in just under three hours. [editor’s note: Trevor was logged in at 2:55, and at this stage was in 19th place]
I changed into dry clothes and noodled around the final aid station for just long enough to take any thoughts of attacking the 6 hour barrier off the table and headed back out. Unfortunately, the break took a toll on me. I immediately had some drooping toes, and while saying hello about mile 17 to a runner headed back to the start, lost focus, missed a rock (or hit a rock) and took a very hard fall. I managed to tuck and roll, absorbing most of it on my left shoulder and back, but I torqued the muscles of my right back pretty significantly. At that point, I knew I was in some degree of trouble.
I managed to pick my way slowly through the next 5-6 miles, but was feeling pretty uncomfortable. I also started to fight some significant nausea from the carb replacement/gatorade, which also slowed me down. After climbing a long hill to the aid station at mile 23, I knew I needed to shift gears. I dumped all my gatorade and tried to find something that looked palatable to eat. Two bottles of water, green grapes, and glorious salty delicious pickles proved to be a temporary solution as I headed back out.
I managed to pick up the pace for about 2-3 miles through an easier part of the course, but around mile 26, the hammer came down hard again. I kept busting my previous abused right big toe on rock after rock AND took several more hits from acorns. I used my frustration as motivation and managed to hit the final aid station at mile 28 where I quite frankly, just sat down for at least ten minutes. I was pretty dizzy at this point, either through dehydration or poor nutrition, so was hoping to pull it together for the last push.
The very kind volunteers brought me several bottles of water, as I studied my nutritional options in hopes of not yorking on the volunteers. Gummi bears, no, cookies, no, potato chips, no, PB and J, hell no….finally, I spotted one forlorn pickle on the back of the table, which was like manna from heaven. That, along with a handful of grapes, was gonna have to power me through.
After watching several runners come and go, I decided it wasn’t going to get any better and headed out. Quite frankly, it was a blur from there, until I crested the final hill onto the road and realized I was done. I finished in 6:45, by far my slowest 50k every, but my first ultra completed since 2012.
It wasn’t pretty, but I got my 50k@fifty…it was sufficient. In any event, no major injuries except for my ego. I think I’ll leave this nonsense for the youngsters going forward. Marine Corps Marathon in 3 weeks, and then I let this body recover for a bit.
Congratulations to Trevor on powering through to finish this 50k at the age of 50! We expect to see him back in 2019 after the standard ultrarunner’s amnesia leads him to forget any pledges not to run this distance or race again.