Sunday, 14 February 2016

Oracle Trail 25K

I know I did shorter training runs in the deep freeze during the last 2 winters, but this was definitely the longest run, and possibly the coldest as well.  I recall -30something, I'm pretty sure I would remember if I had run in -40something.

Here's a rundown of All The Clothes I was wearing:

upstairs: tank top, synthetic l/s base, wool l/s base, fleece.
downstairs: underwear, wool long johns, tights, skirt.
accessories: wool ski socks, headband, fleece balaclava, mittens w/hand warmers. (I should have worn my cashmere mittens, which are the warmest EVER, but alas, they really clashed with my outfit. ha.)

I'm singing Let It Go, the most appropriate song for the weather.
We got to Durham Forest 75 min before race start, picked up our race kits, then what to do?  The thermometer in my car read -27. I had gotten a great parking spot, but since there was no indoor shelter, we could not stand around outside, even with parkas and boots on, and I definitely wasn't going to run the car for 75 min!  So I drove into Uxbridge proper and found a Coffee Time, which had 1 large table of gross old men regulars, who gave us the stinkeye as we used the bathroom (which was relatively clean and at least warm) and finished putting on our gear.

Got to the start just as Rhonda was yelling "3-2-1 GO!" and we were off.  It was hard to recognize friends in all their gear.  The trails were in fantastic condition, hard packed powder, a huge improvement from the wet slush that was at the practice run a month ago.  I had my mouth covered to start, I don't know why I even try to do this, I always end up quickly feeling like I'm suffocating.  I am now a believer in merino wool long johns, they weren't bulky under my tightest Old Navy tights, and kept my quads from stinging and my butt from going numb!

A photo posted by Patty Scott (@runningskirtsnmanis) on

The Real Food Experiment 

After fueling practically every really long trail run/ultra on pop, candy, chips, pretzels and cookies (and feeling fueled but totally crappy afterwards), I decided to try eating healthier real food.  I just got the book Feed Zone Portables from the library on Thursday, and the recipes look inviting, but I stuck with my onigiri for Oracle.  I made the HUGE mistake of putting my hydration vest in the trunk of my car for the entire 90 min drive to Uxbridge and leaving it in the trunk when we went into Coffee Time.  I thought the secret to keeping my water unfrozen was to drink frequently, but with the time in the trunk, the tops were already frozen by race start.  I ate about half of a frozen onigiri, and even though I put my hand warmers in the pocket with my food, they were already getting more frozen and I knew I wouldn't be able to eat them, which meant that I had to rely on aid stations for refueling.  I ate Skittles, Oreos, chips and pretzels, washed down with 1 slushy cup of ginger ale, 1 cup of not-frozen water (surprisingly) and 1 steaming cup of chicken broth (heavenly!).  So I'm still on the lookout for some healthier options for real food that would taste good even when frozen.  I ate nothing but peanut butter M&Ms on my epic 35K long run and in hindsight, I totally should have brought some, I like them frozen (in fact I store the bag in the freezer) and at least I would have been properly fueled.  As for water, I purchased a Nathan VaporAiress hydration pack a couple days ago, and it seems like it's easier to keep a bladder + hose defrosted.

As usual, we were taking up the rear.  I really hate people breathing down my neck when running singletrack, so I just let them all pass and when there's no one left, we can run in peace!  Plus you can take a tree break without having to worry about someone seeing your behind.  We stopped several times to admire the breathtaking scenery.

I feel like Clay put this flag in the tree.  amirite?

Photo by Anna.

The course was very well marked with orange flags.  The second half was hillier than the first.  Maybe our brains were frozen, but we forgot to take a selfie during the race.  When we emerged from the woods after 4 very cold but extremely fun hours, Steven, Rhonda, Clay and a few others had chili for us.  I wanted a shot of whiskey and Clay pulled the Fireball from his pocket, but alas, I had to drive home.  We got a hand knitted scarf for swag and Steven presented each of us with a bottle of wine "for staying out in the cold for the longest" - a very nice way of saying we were DFL.

Finisher scarf, DFL wine, chocolate covered Oreos, sugar scrub.  Fantastic swag!
I would like to congratulate Rhonda on organizing a top notch race, her first as a race director.  And I would especially like to thank the volunteers at the aid stations, they were helpful, friendly and cheerful even though they were standing around freezing.

Distance: 26.85K (I started my Garmin a bit early, plus I saw 26.5K on Steven's Garmin Connect info months ago).  Automatic PB as this was my first 25K race.
Garmin time: 4:01:45 (stopped at aid stations, as usual)

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