Salem Lake is about an hour's drive from Davidson, few runners I've talked to have ever heard of it. Situated just south of Highway 421 and due east of Highway 311, it is encircled by a wide, hard-packed dirt trail. Get it, dirty?
It's on this trail that the 11th Annual Salem Lakeshore Frosty Fifty 50k was held this past Saturday, January 9th, 2010 by the Twin City Track Club. DART member Todd Hartung and I drove up to Salem Lake that morning under dark skies and downright cold temperatures.
My hopes were to better my last year's time of 4:34:44 and maybe even put in a 50k PR, since I was feeling good. I had every intention of wearing my Vibram Fivefinger Treks but was honestly concerned that they wouldn't be warm enough to ward off frostbite, so I slipped on my trusty Inov-8 f-lite 230s. Todd ran last year but since he was battling a lingering case of plantar fasciitis this year he felt he'd be happy to finish the race this time around.
The course was a double out-and-back with each of the four legs right around 7.5 miles. The good thing was that it would be easy to leave a drop bag at the halfway point. The bad thing was that we'd be near the car, creating a temptation to call it an early day.
Todd and I took off at the tooting of the bugle (in lieu of a starter's gun) and quickly settled into some good conversation with some familiar runners such as Konrad Gannon and some folks we didn't know. I became engrossed in a conversation with a guy doing his first 50k and the next thing I knew we were at the first turnaround - much too fast. He stopped to take a bio break and I continued back to the start to complete my first full loop, realizing that I had broken Rule #1: No going out too fast. I finished the first half of the race in 2:06 and reached into my drop bag for a bottle of nutritional supplement, which I thought would give me a boost. That broke Rule #2: No trying new things during a race. Within five minutes after getting back onto the trail I felt weak, lightheaded, dizzy, and confused. Must have screwed up my blood sugar with that drink!
So with a glycogen-depleted body and wildly fluctuating blood sugar I did what I normally do when a race gets tough- break it down into manageable sections. Instead of thinking about overall pace and miles-per-minute I concentrated on making it to the next aid station, not so much for the nutrition but for the sense of making it to the next milestone.
The final five miles were the toughest because I wasn't seeing any other runners, or anyone else for that matter, so there was no one in sight in front of me to try to chase down or anyone behind to push me. Actually, that's not true. Someone passed me like they were on rails at the aid station with 3.5 miles to go and left me in the dust.
Although I was the victim of unintentional self-sabotage which undermined my best intentions I managed to cross the finish line in 4:22:24 (20th overall), shaving 12 minutes off last year's time and bettering my 50k PR by one minute. Todd followed up despite the plantar issue with a 4:42:48 (29th overall). There was hot chicken broth at the outdoor picnic area but even that wasn't enough to keep warm so we left shortly after finishing.
A special thanks go to the Twin City Track Club members and volunteers who put up with the cold temperatures for many hours for us runners.
Todd enjoying some post-race chicken broth.
Davidson Area Running Team