Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Febapple Frozen Fifty Lives Up To Its Name!

This past Saturday, Feb 23 2013, I had the pleasure of joining over 250 runners at The Febapple Frozen Fifty, a NJ Trail Series race at the South Mountain Reserve in South Orange NJ. This outstanding challenge of a trail run can be summed this year as Icy, Rocky, Rainy, Muddy Fun!

The Febapple offered choices of a 50 mile, 50 K, 20 and 10 mile races. The course is a 10 mile loop, pinched in the middle, forming two smaller loops of 4 and 6 miles. The start/finish, with aid station, was located in the middle. Race directors Rick and Jennifer McNulty do a great job of organizing these trail races, providing separate start times for each distance and constant logging of every runner's loop times. Their aid stations are always bountifully stocked with all kinds of goodies. All their trail events/races are well organized, with the emphasis on the fun, the trails and the running community.

RDs Jennifer and Rick
I was using Febapple as a training race for a 50K I am running in two weeks in California (Way Too Cool 50K). I signed up for the 20 miler and planned to throw in an extra 4 to 6 miles. Got there early to pick up my swag (an awesome fleece vest with embroidered Febapple logo) and watched the 50K start. Rick mentioned that the 6 mi loop was quite icy, so I decided to do the 4 mi loop as a warm up. With 50 minutes until the 20 mile start, I had plenty of time. The temps were in the upper 30s and there was a constant misty drizzle that created an eerie fog from the snow and ice.

50Kers on their way
I started off slow, trying to keep a low heart rate. Being a newbie to using a HR monitor, I am still tinkering with it and obtaining baseline data. Due to some remaining hurricane Sandy damage, the first mile of the 4 mi loop was on paved road, then entered the trail with a long decent on rocky terrain. This section of the trail was in good shape, with no ice or snow, just a bit slick from the rain. It continues down and around. At the lowest point it turned and started to climb on a rocky covered access path. As the climb continued some ice and snow started to appear.

My pace was still casual, when I came upon a stopped 50K runner, who seemed quite confused. "I think I'm going in circles. How do I get out of here?" I told him to just follow the ribbon markers. A few minutes after that encounter, I started realizing things looks familiar. When my watched beeped showing 4 miles I knew something was wrong. Sure enough I too had gone in a circle, missing a well marked turn off the access path. (Guess I was enjoying the hill to much.) A bit of panic immediately jolted my pace to a fast push, scrambling to make up time. In my hast, I tripped on a very technical single track section and took my first of two falls. Things were not going as planned. By the time I got back to the start, I was at 6 miles and 15 minutes late for the start of my race. Headed back out on the 4 mile loop to officially start my race. I didn't catch up with too many 20 milers on the trails the rest of the day.

I kept a steady pace and tried to focus on relaxing, suppressing that racing mentality. 'Its all about time on my feet today', I kept telling myself. The second time through the 4 mile loop went better, though the uphills on ice were tricky trying to find footing.
Slow go! Crunchy snow better than ice.
Staring the 6 mile loop, I immediately remembered Rick's warning about it being very icy. This loop had much more ice and hard crusted snow, covering a majority of the 6 miles. The climbs were not as steep, but with more of the slippery white stuff, much more challenging. The legs were getting a workout, with lots of lateral motion and braking.
Forgot my ice skates
Got spikes?
The far side of this loop had another aid station. PB&J squares and some chicken noodle soup hit the spot. Heading back to the starting point, there were lots more slow climbs and slippery descents.  One section of narrow trail had some downed trees that needed to be overcome. Slipping on the ice and trying to maintain my balance, I hit my forehead on a tree branch. Wham! Those colorful stars sure looked so nice over the snow.

The 6 mile loop held a hidden jewel tucked away near the end. The best site of the course, a semi frozen wonder. I had to stop and admire.
Nature's Art
A 100 yards later, another amazing site.
Ice Castle
By the time I finished up this loop, I was pushing 16 miles and soaked from rain, which had not let up. I changed my tops and socks and started out for another 10 miles. This time around, due to the constant rain and runners tread, any part of the trail not covered in ice or rocks was now a muddy trough. So much for keeping the new socks dry. Splashing through the muck was somehow primitive and exhilarating.
Slop Fest!!!
Just beyond my 20 mile point, my right leg IT band and quad started to really complain. All that slipping, breaking and sideways movement was taking its payment. I tried to maintain an even pace, when not running on the ice, but was definitely slowing down. Some of the hill I started to walk, especially where slippery. Thought it best not to push it and hurt myself. This was a training run, after all.

I finished the day with 25 well fought miles and a total running time of 4:42, with an elevation gain/loss of 2800 ft (gotta love the GPS watch). Right on target for my last long training run before a 50K in 2 weeks.

The Febapple certainly lived up to the 'Frozen' part of its name sake. As with all the NJ Trail Series races, it was a great mix of challenging hills, technical single track, varying terrain conditions and beautiful displays of nature. Quite an enjoyable run! In addition to the swag, top 3 winners of each race were awarded apple-istic keepsakes. Thanks to all the great volunteers, and to Jennifer and Rick for an outstanding job putting on another successful Febapple Frozen Fifty.
Smiling volunteers dished out the goodies
Great swag!
Rick's got you covered.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome! Any chance you can share the Garmin data? I'm curious on the elevation profile. Thanks!


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