I signed up for the Green Jewel 50K this year on a whim, not really thinking about what the race would entail. The shirts from the previous year looked pretty cool, the parks the course runs through are pretty, I’d heard other runners say they liked it lots, so why not? Then as the race approached and I began to really think about it I began to worry. Not about the distance but about the surface. The entire course is pavement. Bike path sure, but pavement still. I ran a whole lot of trail last year, even a few 50Ks but only one road race. It was five miles long and my feet hurt afterward. What was I thinking? Sure, in some ways pavement is easier. It’s certainly faster to run on, your feet don’t slide all over the place or sink in and usually it’s flatter than trail. On the other hand it’s a lot more impact for your body to absorb and if your running form has problems you’ll be punished for it. What was I thinking?!?
I had worked on form a whole bunch the previous fall after a couple minor muscular difficulties. Still though, I run two thirds of my miles on trails. The longest training runs I used to do were 8 miles so I upped those to 10 or maybe 12. I signed up for the race so there’s no way I was backing out. I figured if I got into trouble I could just run on the grass next to the bike path. Plus also I’d learned more about during race fueling during longer races over winter and really wanted to test it out. I’d done some four or five hour runs sure but only a race really tests a new strategy and this was the perfect opportunity.
So how did it all work out? Well, I forgot my fuel belt but fortunately my good friend and running partner, Gabe, was with me for support and was able and willing to retrieve it for me and pass it to me a couple miles in. I ‘ate’ four Accel gels (20 grams of protein) during the first half of the race and 7 or 8 Hammer gels throughout. I expected if the race went well I might finish in four and a half hours. I ended up finishing in 4:09:30 as first place woman. I never knew I could run that fast for that long and it felt pretty amazing, especially after months of slogging through snow because I will NOT run on a dreadmill. My legs felt the best they’ve ever felt after a 50K. My feet were tender sure, but not really in pain. All in all I was ecstatic. If you’re a trail runner tempted to try a road marathon and Cleveland, Ohio isn’t far away I recommend you run this instead.
This post is going to run just a little bit longer because I have to share another new experience I had that day. I decided to try giving my legs an ice-bath post race since I’ve read that lots of elite marathoners, tri-athletes and so on use ice-baths to reduce inflammation and speed recovery. Did it help me? Sadly yes. If you’re asking ‘why sadly?’ then you have never tried an ice-bath. My wonderful aforementioned friend and training partner was there in a supervisory and lifeguarding capacity and recorded the first couple minutes on his iPhone. He can be hear giggling in the background as I ease myself into the tub, pushing ice cubes against the sides and screaming like a very unhappy small child. I think I’d stopped rocking by the time he ran out of video space. Will I do it again? Of course I will, I just won’t let it be recorded for posterity and the amusement of my friends who all got a huge kick out of that video.