I have no willpower. Seriously. Especially when it comes to running. Iliana asked me if I wanted to do the Seneca Trail 50k: "It's only $20." And into my training plan. And it was trails. And it sounded fun. And it was running!
So of course I signed up.
The race was cold at the start - just around freezing. I was shivering in a pair of running tights, gloves, my long sleeved running zip up, hat, and yes, hand warmers. We shivered around a registration area utilizing free heat sheets and hand warmers, and the RD encouraged us to use bag balm on our feet - "because your feet will be wet the whole time." Um, I guess I missed the wet factor when skimming the course description...
We started off on a slippery asphalt path, and I slowed down, worrying about ice. I'm a big fraidy cat when it comes to ice, but luckily, it was fairly minimal throughout the race. Most of the race was on trails which were often quite slippery due to snow and mud.
I found myself enjoying the snow and the sunshine, and warmed up after about two miles. I kept my eyes on the path, unwilling to slip down into the creek (which yes, I almost did on more than one occasion), but the scenery was quite lovely (though winter-like). I was not pushing it, as I didn't wish to race this (Umstead 100 is just in three weeks, eeek!) but pushed myself mentally to keep up with certain people and not fall behind.
The trails were fairly flat with some rolling small hills. They were mostly single track and highly enjoyable. There were a few spots with creek crossings - including one where you had to hold onto a rope. That first creek crossing was a bit of a shock - I had no idea there would be creek crossings (mostly ankle high water, but occasionally, mid-calf). I couldn't help laughing as I crossed - there was just no way to avoid the water, so I tried to embrace. Squish, squish, for the next few minutes after exiting the creek.
The race volunteers were cheerful and had great aid stations (featuring delicious homemade oatmeal cookies!) and cute signs. The aid station at 28 had the theme of "Goldfish" and signs throughout the race talked about goldfish (like "Believe in the Goldfish") and when we finally got to "The Aquarium" we got to chow down on goldfish, yummy homemade treats, pretzels, oh and so many wonderful treats!
It's nice how mellow a 50k feels, especially a "local" one like this. 50 milers are fun but you're aware that there's a lot of work ahead. 50ks feel quick, I guess because I will sometimes do 50k or more as a training run. This was a fun training run with great trails, nice volunteers, and a chance to meet new running friends (and exchange running stories).
I ran the final 10 miles or so with Bekkie and Joe of the Silk City Striders, and chatted with them about the Vermont 100, Massanutten attempts, ultrarunning, life, the usual.
I felt great, running strong at the end. I finished, and immediately was presented with more delicious oatmeal cookies (Yes, ultrarunning will get you fat for the aid stations can more than replenish your lost calories!). We walked to a meat-heavy picnic (RDs, can't you be more like Ann Trason and make your race vegetarian-friendly? The post-Dick Collins 50 Miler BBQ was the absolute best post-race food I ever enjoyed...), ate more oatmeal cookies (Did I ever mention oatmeal cookies, especially good ones, are my fave cookie ever?), and left having met new friends, a great run under my belt, and a feeling of euphoria over my body.