I was lucky to get off the mountain this morning at 5am...heavy snow and wind has moved into our area and driving was touch and go. But, only 10 miles out, the roads were clear and dry and I was on my way to the 2011 Frosty 50K at Salem Lake Park in Winston-Salem, NC.
This fun, local event is a long-time fixture on the ultra scene and this year's version came in windy with temps in the low 30's. I went off the back at the start, breaking in a new pair of Brooks Trance, and letting things sort out while I managed another sinus and chest infection. Coughing seemed minimized so I turned up the wick a bit and went to work on the first leg of this double out and back course.
I made it through the first dirt portion then only the greenway section. At one low point a stream was running over the path and cold icy feet were the result. I made it to the first turnaround at 1:15, which allowed me to benchmark the 1/4 point in the race...I was on 5 hour pace.
It's fun to watch competitors come at you on the out and back sections. The lead runner was way out front, followed by the second place runner in a new 2011 Brooks team outfit (love to see the Brooks runners do business). The runner in third was wearing micro-split shorts...shoes...and nothing else. I didn't see him in the second half. He must have dropped or put some clothes on!
By this point I was flowing easy and made it to the start/turnaround/halfway point in 2:30. Still holding the 5 hour pace so I took a quick PB&J and went out again. The miles were coming harder at this point and I was digging by the final section of leg three...but that said I held pace to make the turnaround in 3:45. From there is was hang on and suffer and head for the finish.
There were a few injured riders walking on the course. One big fellow, maybe 6'5" was gimping along and when I went by he said "Glory to God." In 28 years of racing I never had that exchange before. But I had no complaints with that, and I'll chime in with a Glory to God, who has allowed old master man to run a good pace.
It was dig and grind the last 30 minutes, as I attempted to hold form and speed. I knew I was slowing, but it wasn't by much. I made the turn down the last stretch and popped a 5:01:45. Now that's pretty consistent over 31 miles. My time was only 4 minutes off my 50K PR (set at Croom in FL in 2007) and was 10 minutes faster than my 2010 Frosty 50K time.
It was too cold and windy to hang out at the finish, so I bolted for the car, warm clothes and a place to rest. I'm thankful for every race and when good finishes are part of it, it's frosting on the cake.
It surely was a Glory to God day all the way around.