Gosh I’ve been delinquent in finishing this race review—so sorry! The Angela Ivory Memorial 50K/50-Miler was held on Saturday, January 20, 2018. This was the second year that I attended—and the second year that I had to leave early to attend the Angry Toddler’s friend’s birthday party. I’m not complaining whatsoever, because the party was a blast, and I got to ice skate with the Angry Toddler for the first time! I just feel like I still have this challenge to conquer at some point in my life.
I woke up at 7 a.m. EST on Saturday morning literally bargaining with myself to get out of bed. I just felt so warm and cozy, but I knew I needed to get in the miles for my 1,000-mile challenge, and I adore running at Killens Pond State Park where the race was held. I got out of bed, crept quietly downstairs, got dressed, grabbed my gear, and was out the door by about 7:20.
Hubs and the Angry Toddler left me a sign, which I always love!
It took roughly 25 minutes to get there, and when I arrived, I was greeted by at least ten cars lined up waiting to enter the park. This happened last year as well. I didn’t mind, but I knew I only had from ~8–10 a.m. EST to run before I had to leave for the party, so I was itching to start ASAP.
Finally a ranger opened the gates, and we all followed each other into the park. We set up the “aid station” on a central picnic table that included a ton of goodies like clementines, Doritos, cookies, water, and so on. We all said hi to each other, commented on how cold it was (~32 degrees F), and I eavesdropped as some folks caught up with each other/reminisced about other area races.
The race director, Gene, wasn’t there at the start, so around 8:30 a.m., a friendly veteran named AJ decided to officially start the race. Since this is a fat-ass race (free, no official timing or aid stations), we all took a group photo before we headed off. Some expressed concerns that they’d get lost along the trail, so AJ offered to run the first ~3-mile lap slowly so that others could follow and get the lay of the land. Since this was a 50K/50-miler, the 50K group would run about ten times around the trail loop. My Nike+ Run Club app showed that the loop was definitely less than 3 miles, so I guess if I were to do the 50K distance, I’d probably run more than ten loops just to make sure I really went the distance?!
Slowly doesn’t describe AJ’s pace in the least. I think he must have misspoken and said speedy instead, because I was literally the last runner in the pack, and I struggled to keep up. Granted, I’m a road runner who has always been in the middle to back of the pack, but sheesh! These runners looked like gazelles, and I looked like the lone hippo.
I think I had waited around too long in the cold without proper layers before the race, so my body felt stiff and frigid. I felt like I had no turnover power in my legs and like I was huffing and puffing.
I was fine with being the last one, but I was nervous that I’d miss the yellow trail markers. Another woman and I made a wrong turn once about three-quarters of the way around the first loop, but a friendly soul steered us in the right direction, and we were off again. I remember her from last year, as we got off track at about the same area with each other. You’d think we would’ve remembered or learned!
Near-fall #1 came a little bit before I finished the first loop. I literally flew into the air but somehow managed to land on my feet. Gazelle status achieved!
Repeat that at least two more times.
Oh, then comes the actual fall. That was somewhere in my second loop. I caught myself on my palms, quickly glanced backward to see if anyone saw, turned a lovely shade of dark red, and continued on my merry way. I wasn’t hurt at all, except for my pride. At that point, I went into trash-self-talk mode where I chastised myself for pretending to be a trail runner and for not knowing what the heck I was doing. I broke several trail running rules by using headphones and by using road shoes.
I tried to get out of my head by looking at the scenery and listening to the We’re Alive podcast. If you haven’t listened to it yet, you must!
All in all though, I was able to get in my 7 planned miles. It was a gorgeous morning, and you can’t beat the scenery. I had to do an out-and-back portion to get up to 7 miles total, so at one point I was running against the flow so to speak. I felt like every time I ran into a runner, I had to explain why it looked like I was going the wrong way haha. (“Not going the wrong way—have to get back for a birthday party!” I’d mutter.)
Before my last little jaunt though, I talked to the Gene the RD who apparently flies out from the west coast to put on this event. That boggles my mind! He is super nice and sets up a wipe-off board for folks to track their loops and such. He has a daughter named Rebecca and a son named Clayton, so I felt like we had a special bond.
I didn’t partake in the food/beverages during the race, but everyone brought a great spread of options. I think if I do it next year, I’ll bring a hand-held water bottle, a gallon jug of water, nuun, Gus, and maybe some trail mix or something sweet/salty that wouldn’t sit in my stomach like a lead ball. I’m not sure how else you figure out what to eat during an ultra, aside from trial and error during training. Here I am afterward sporting my Race Advisors headband and my The Running Lifestyle Show shirt.
If you’re looking for a race with no frills, very friendly folks, and don’t mind zero crowd support, no official aid stations, and no official bathrooms along the route, then this race is definitely for you. I didn’t feel unsafe at all, and in fact, I kind of relished feeling alone in the woods. It was quiet and serene (well, aside from the zombie noises from the We’re Alive podcast).
Here we are ice skating at the party afterward!