After I didn’t finish the Algonquin 50K earlier this month, I was disappointed, but not crushed. I definitely planned to sign up for next year, but I didn’t plan to run the distance on my own.
But when my friend Nicole asked if I wanted to run a 50K with her the following weekend, I decided to do it. The run would be at Trap Pond State Park and on a sunny day.
Several runners who did not finish the Algonquin 50K on Feb. 13 — and there were many of us who didn’t finish, nearly one in four who started the race — got together this past Sunday morning, Feb. 21, for a run at Trap Pond. The Bob Trail there is a loop of a little more than 4.5 miles, and when we finished a loop, we could stop at an aid station that was filled with items runners had brought and that was manned by Bob, our friend and husband of one of the 50K runners. He also ran the first loop.
It was cold out, but the cold didn’t bother me at all because the course was dry. Any water on the course — a few patches of ice — was frozen and easy to avoid. Toward the end, there was a small amount of mud on the course that had thawed from its previously frozen state, which I certainly noticed after the previous weekend. But these tiny mud spots were nothing at all like the mud and water we had experienced the previous weekend. The trail at Trap Pond is also less technical than the trails at Algonquin, and a section of it looked to be somewhat-recently covered with crushed stone — I think this project was worked on in the summer, when a portion of the trail was closed during the Tour de Salisbury.
I completed the entire distance with my friends Nicole and Carla. We kept up two-minute-run, one-minute-walk intervals for the entire way, which I appreciated. There was no pressure to keep up a certain pace or meet cutoff times. It wasn’t a race; it was a run. We passed the time by talking and enjoying each other’s company. It was also nice to enjoy nature, a beautiful day, and most importantly, a dry course. There was also no requirement for runners to run a 50K — they could come out for as many or as few loops as they were interested in.
I kept my watch running the entire time. While we were moving, our times for each mile were pretty consistent, getting slower toward the end but not drastically so. The stops at the aid stations and at the bathroom added on some time, which I was completely fine with. At one point when we got to the bathroom (it was also nice to have a clean indoor bathroom!), it was being cleaned, so we had to walk around while we waited for that. I logged all distance, whether I was walking to and from the bathroom or walking to my car to get something at our aid station.
I was surprised that my legs started feeling a little sore around Mile 12 or 13. It wasn’t bad — just something I noticed. That actually seemed to improve a little, but then in the last full loop and afterward, my legs were noticeably more tired and heavy. We ran six full loops and then did an out-and-back to complete the distance. Our three watches had different mileage during the run, but by the time we finished, Nicole’s had caught up to mine and ours were basically the same.
The Algonquin 50K is known, among other things, for its Smith Island Cake, but at this 50K, we had a different treat — pie that Nicole brought from The Ugly Pie. There were eight pint-sized options. I tried three different kinds of pie during aid station stops — Creme Brulee, Cannoli and Apple Crumb, which I’d had before. They were all great, and I have a major sweet tooth. I also enjoyed salted potatoes and really found myself craving that salt. I also ran with a hydration pack filled with water and had Clif Shot Bloks along the way. After finishing, I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that Carla made and some more food (and a coffee smoothie) on the way home.
The three of us ran the first four loops with another friend, Chris, and Karen, another friend, joined us for the last 10 miles. Her legs were fresh, so even though it seemed like she was speeding up, I think that was helpful because it kept us moving and got us to the finish a little bit faster.
We really were out there all day. My watch logged 31.1 miles in 8 hours, 29 minutes and one second. We’d started at 7:12 a.m.
I have finished one other 50K, the Algonquin 50K in 2017, and that took me 7:48:46, so Sunday’s run was my longest continuous time of being out running. I’ve also run a 50K distance at the Pemberton 24 twice, but that included rest and sleeping in between, so while definitely a challenge, that’s different.
There were four of us who ran the 50K distance Sunday: Nicole, Carla and me, plus Lisa, who finished ahead of us. Carla made handmade finisher awards for us, which was a really nice touch to a fun run.
It’s nice to know I can go out and run a 50K if I want to, even if it’s not a race. It was definitely important for me to have the company of my friends as well as the aid station to look forward to; this long of a run isn’t something I would have wanted to do alone. And although I still would have felt good about myself as a runner whether or not I completed this run, I liked having the opportunity to try the distance again this season.
I did sign up for the Algonquin 50K because I wanted to run a 50K, and I was glad to have the opportunity to run the distance with friends on a much prettier day in a drier environment — and, after being pulled for time the week before, in a non-race environment. It was also great to not have to worry about the cold, the water, wet feet and legs in freezing temperatures, and hypothermia.
The race environment is something I can focus on for next year’s Algonquin 50K, and I will know that I’ll need to make the cutoff times if I want to continue. I still plan to sign up for next year’s Algonquin 50K, and I am watching for the registration date to be posted. I’m coming for you, sub-8:00 Algonquin 50K 2022!
Mile 1: 13:08
Mile 2: 13:17
Mile 3: 14:55
Mile 4: 14:23
Mile 5: 20:53
Mile 6: 14:08
Mile 7: 14:12
Mile 8: 14:32
Mile 9: 14:02
Mile 10: 19:36
Mile 11: 13:58
Mile 12: 14:57
Mile 13: 15:06
Mile 14: 22:32
Mile 15: 14:14
Mile 16: 14:54
Mile 17: 15:57
Mile 18: 15:16
Mile 19: 22:03
Mile 20: 16:04
Mile 21: 15:03
Mile 22: 15:46
Mile 23: 15:21
Mile 24: 21:54
Mile 25: 15:49
Mile 26: 16:22
Mile 27: 16:22
Mile 28: 21:53
Mile 29: 16:52
Mile 30: 17:44
Mile 31: 15:59
Last part (.1): 1:34 / 15:51 pace
Final Time: 31.1 miles, 8:29:01.6, 16:22 pace