Saturday, January 21, 2012

Frozen Sasquatch 50K

Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of running the 3rd Annual Frozen Sasquatch 50K (yes, this is a quite belated race report).  This is one of my favorite races for several reasons.  First, it's directed by my good friend Mike Dolin, secondly it's a great race to start the year on the buttery single track of Kanawha State Forest outside of Charleston, WV.  The first two years were indicative of the namesake -- Frozen -- this year it felt more like spring.  Here are my race reports from the previous two year for proof: 2010   2011.

The year 2011 was all about the AT-Journey for me.  Although I ran this race in 2011, I didn't really "race" it or any other races for the entire year as I prepared for and recovered from such a big effort.  To say that I've missed racing over the past year would be a vast understatement.  I was very excited for this return to racing, but I had reasonable expectations.  Although I had been running fairly well for about two months prior, I knew that I wouldn't have the speed to keep up with the guys at the very front.  Did I mention that I was super excited to be running a race?

Photo: Dan Todd

The race started out benignly enough and I was ushered along as the first man to hit the tight single track.  I led the way for the speedy peleton behind me up the first climb and onto the double track around mile-2.  I knew that they were going to leave me in their dust, but I enjoyed the few minutes of glory.  The lead pack stuck together for a bit -- chatting goals, making introductions, and enjoying the company on a beautiful day in the woods.  Before too many miles passed by, Michael Owen and his friend John Williams (in his first ultra) took the opportunity to break the race wide-open.  I was correct in my thinking that they were gone for good -- ultimately en route to smashing Eric Grossman's course record by 25-minutes (with the aid of the more generous condtions).  Very impressive times for sure.

I was running a "Ryan Hall race".  Not so much the new RH that obviously has honed his racing prowess (ie. Boston '11 and the recent OT's), but RH circa 2010 that was known more for running his own race and almost "time-trialing" the marathon.  A friend of mine was kind enough to give me a Garmin 405 that he was not getting any use out of.  This is not something that I thought I ever wanted, but after messing around with it some in the previous weeks, I thought it could be useful for at least being cognizant of my pacing.  I set the little trainer dude at 8:42 pace/mile which equated to a 4:30 finish and thought I'd see how close I could stay to that pace.  I looked at it a time or two during the first lap, but was definitely surprised to come through the first half in 2:08/2:09.  This was probably way too fast for my current fitness (considering the CR for the 25K was 2:07), but I thought I could do another lap in 2:11-2:15 without much difficulty.  This is where I was mistaken.  I didn't blow-up or consciously slow down, but lap two became an even-split nightmare.  What I forgot from not racing for a full year was that as the race progresses, you must increase the effort (read: pain) to keep the pace even close to even!  I kept the effort even and what I got was a big floppin' 2:26.  You can check out the fancy tech. watch info HERE.

Rounding the corner to the finish.  Photo: Dan Todd

So there it was, 4:35 and 4th place, but pure bliss to be back out on the trails RACING again.  It's fun to go your own pace for a while, but there's nothing like the race day magic to get the competitive juices flowing and to pull the best out of yourself.  I've missed the camaraderie of the sport and just being around "my people".  It's good to be back and I count myself privileged to be part of this great sport and community.


  1. Glad you are back to racing. See you in May! (Wish it would be sooner, but doubt it!!)

  2. Great read and great catching up with you again - this is becoming a yearly thing. I'm sure we'll bump into each other more often in the future though. Keep enjoying racing! Nice seeing those watch stats as well.

  3. yay! great report and I'm so bummed I missed FS and it's balmy spring like conditions! I've never ran in kanawa without snow and frozen snot on my face and gloves! I'm glad you're back too!!! hope to share the trails with you and the other kind WVMTR folks soon! love yall!


  4. Michael- Great seeing you again too. Good luck with everything in Lynchburg. You're going to love the community of ultrarunners there.

    Jenny- Yes, you missed an "easy" year. I'm sure Dolin was disappointed since you always forget some really good stuff at races. :) Come back next year . . . I'm sure the weather won't be so kind!

  5. So glad you were able to come and enjoy your people. I certainly enjoyed getting to spend some time with you and Kadra. It had been too long.

  6. Adam, it sounds like you are smoothly transitioning into race mode, and there should be enough of a base to build on. I sure am glad I won't have to compete with you in a 100-miler this year. But maybe in 2013?

    I was also bummed I missed the FS this year, but not as much after reading about the weather and the pace Michael and John were running. Trying to keep up would have been too painful and frustrating for me.

  7. Rick- You're one of my favorites of "my people". Tell Tammy I said hello and I hope the recovery/healing is going well.

    Gancho- You should definitely plan to come stateside for a 100-miler. It would be great to coordinate to do the same race and hang-out. Maybe Pine to Palm in '13? . . . I know that you are familiar with that area.