Tuscarora Trails 50K (a new local fat-ass)

If you’ve been a reader for a while, you might remember that I did a Fat Ass 50K last August in the farthest reaches of Perry County. It was rough, but beautiful. Well, the same nutty RD (race director) put on a new Fat Ass this weekend in the same area. This was advertised as being a bit easier than the last one, so that sounded promising.

Our ragtag gang decided to run the race together again, with a couple of additions. We decided this weeks ago, though, when it seemed like the race was really far away and we’d have time to get some training under our belts. Mother Nature didn’t get the memo, and she kept the local trails covered in snow and ice for eons, so most of us were pretty under-trained. Luckily the RD took pity on the poor souls like us and devised a couple of early exit points on the trail. With this knowledge, we all decided to line up at the start. Anne and I decided we’d complete the 20ish mile option of the race, while our other “teammates” decided to push forward through the entire 50K.

The original route was still a bit ice covered and the RD was forced to re-route the course less than a week before the race. This is an RD’s nightmare. Re-routing a course and coming up with the same number of miles is tough. Don did a great job under pressure and produced a really wonderful course. He is to be commended!

He couldn't avoid the snow completely!
He couldn’t avoid the snow completely!

We lined up at the start in 32 degree weather with the promise of warmer temperatures. I decided to dress for the coming weather, and prayed that it really would get as warm as “they” were forecasting. The first few miles were littered with little ankle-twisting rocks. We didn’t get off to a fast start, but the fact that there was almost no snow or ice was so exhilarating that no one seemed to care.

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The weather did not disappoint. I slowly started to shed my gear. First I took off my gloves. Shortly after that I ditched my long sleeves. A bit later I took off my arm sleeves. Those went on and off a few more times, depending on which side of the mountain we were on. I used to make fun of those sleeves, but now I am a believer. They are awesome.

#teamawesome before Anne and I headed back.
#teamawesome before Anne and I headed back.

The trails were not too technical. We were on a lot of fire roads and gentle, easy trails. It was a really nice way to get back into the groove of running. Under clear blue skies and warm temperatures, I was super happy. THIS is what running is all about. It was awesome.

DIRT, sweet dirt!
DIRT, sweet dirt!

I was running in my home county, even though I wasn’t very familiar with this section of it. I was surprised to see a bright orange flag as we approached one of the aid stations. It was blowing in the wind, so I straightened it out. It was a flag from my alma mater! Granted, I have never been a huge fan of my school, but sometimes a girl gets nostalgic when frolicking in the woods.

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The 20ish mile route Anne and I chose ended up being about 23 miles. It was the perfect distance. The final 2.8 miles were those little ankle-twisters again, and by then we were pretty tired (from being under-trained) so we took it easy. It was just such a lovely day that we didn’t care how much our pace slowed.

For being woefully out of shape, I thoroughly enjoyed the day. I knew that I could have finished the 50K distance, but I also knew that it wasn’t the smartest idea. I tend to get injured easily, so I didn’t want to push it too much. I was already upping my long run by a significant chunk, so it was already a bit risky. I felt great, though, and was really happy that my overall pace hadn’t slowed all that much, and that I could still power up the hills pretty well.

If you live in the general vicinity of Harrisburg and want to check out a good (free) ultra, check out the Tuscarora Trails 50K. You will not be disappointed!

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