The Huff 50K Trail Run …. 2017 Edition

Saturday was the annual Huff 50K Trail Run.  Huff is known for bringing something new and unique each year.  The 2012 race brought epic flooding.  2016 brought 6 inches of fresh powder to the start and then added freezing rain atop the snow (and us) for the entirety of the race.  2017 will go down in history as one of the coldest years on record.  Temps at the start were below zero with wind chills, then plummeted further thru the day for an average of –13 to –15 “feels like” during the bulk of the race.  It was a long day for those who were able to finish and there was a large number of runners who had to drop out, or were not allowed to continue after the completion of the first loop, due to weather related concerns.

Huff logo

The Huff 50K offers a 1 loop “fun run” of approximately 11 miles, a 3 person 50K relay & a 50K trail run.  I’ve ran, and managed to complete, the 50K every year since 2013.  I’ve had good years & bad years.  Ones that were tough because I wasn’t up to par physically.  Ones that were brutal due to weather like 2016 & 2017.  I love this race and will continue to run it as long as I am able.  It’s a great way to end my racing season each year.  Its close to home.  And  love that we can pick up our packets the morning of the race!  Win, win, win!

This year, due to the cold temps, I left my phone in my check bag.  My iPhone has a very short battery life & the cold kills it almost instantly.  None of the photos you see in this post are mine.  Thanks to Tadd B, Stacey H & Sara P for sharing their photos so I could add something visual to this write-up!.

Pre-race with Tadd B & Pat H.  I’m the one in bright orange. 

IMG_5743

The race started at 8am for the 1 loop runners.  At 8:20 for the 50K runners.  The course is different for each race.  For the 50K race, there are 3 aid stations on each loop.  Located at miles 4, 8 & 14.  Then the warming tent at the start/finish which is also the half way point of the 50K can be used as an aid station.  Other than the aid stations, there are only a few road crossings.  This is not a race that you can cut short in very many places if an injury, illness or other issues result.  I heard some criticism from some who were not allowed to go out for a second loop of the 50K due to time & weather issues.  I can say from a safety standpoint, it was imperative to have runners off the trail by dark.  Then if we add in the weather concerns, the second loop of the 50K was cold. Really cold.  Plus the trails were drifting from the blowing wind & snow.  It was a bit of a challenge.   I had to have my face covered almost the entirety of that loop to avoid frostbite. Our bodies were burning extra energy to try to keep warm, in addition to the running, so fueling was a huge issue.  And the volunteers at the aid stations were FREEZING trying to support us.  More respect needs to be given to the race officials and volunteers for these races.  Nobody wants to cancel or shorten a race.  Its bad publicity, especially in this age of social media.  However, they are liable for each and every runner.  They have to do what they think is best for everyone, runners & volunteers included.

We had about 3” of snow on the ground.  Flurries during the race. Roads were iced over with a little snow on top.  It was a much better situation running wise than the deeper snow and freezing rain of 2016.  However, it was still a tough race.  Tough but beautiful.IMG_5751

IMG_5735  IMG_5736 IMG_5745

IMG_5734 IMG_5738 

IMG_5740

Lots of hills.  Lots of slipping and sliding.  Running for most of us was slow going.  I was amazed by the varying degrees of dress.  I was focused on keeping my face covered to avoid frost bite, yet there were people running in shorts, or less.  The conditions were dangerous.  I wouldn’t recommend running with exposed skin when the temps are below zero. 

Sara & I in the pines on loop 1.  One of my favorite areas. 

26169643_10156192795089238_8842673022514052564_n

Pure joy as we cross the half way mat (after I stopped to put on my yaktrax). 

IMG_5758 IMG_5761

And then the wind hit us.  Cold.  Strong.  Blowing us around.  Trying to cover the tracks of those before us.  Time to put our heads down and just run.  The yaktrax were a welcome addition to loop 2.  They helped A LOT in the areas that were packed down and in the slippery areas.  I wish I had worn them for the first loop but thought the snow was probably too deep for them to do much good.  I’ll definitely wear them for all snowy trail runs going forward.  My footing was a lot better after I put them on. 

The wind made the temperature drop further but I was warm.  My clothing was perfect:  Athleta Polartec tights, Injinji over the calf compression socks, thin Under Armour Long Sleeve Infrared tech shirt, Nike Pro Hyper Warm Fleece Lined 1/2 Zip, Saucony Vita Run Vizipro jacket, ear band, hat, balaclava, lined gloves with a an extra pair of throw away gloves that had hand warmers inside.  I used the throw away gloves with hand warmers at the start for a several miles, then again on loop 2 after a lengthy stop at an aid station.  Only difference between loop 1 & loop 2 was that I had to keep my face covered the majority of the second loop due to the added wind. 

Best Aid Station Ever at Dock Lake.  Team Tritanium ran the aid station again with the Huff Couch.  Two fires were burning.  Smores, gluten free chicken noodle soup, homemade sweet bread, plus the usual ultra fare. 

IMG_5749  IMG_5737

But really the best part is always the finish.  My 5th Huff 50K is in the done column.  I hope to be back for #6 in 2018.  See the finishers medal and cool handmade soup mug below.  Lots of fun. 

IMG_5790  IMG_5728 

IMG_5755

Finisher stats:  50K – 118 Finishers, 57 DNFs; 1 Loop Fun Run:  139 Finishers, 5 DNFs.  Relay – 24 Finishing teams, 5  DNFs, 3 DQs. 

As always, a great race.  If you are going to run in the winter, I’d recommend layering up and minimizing exposed skin.  There will always be people running with very little on but honestly, that’s just not safe. Be smart & enjoy the beauty of the season.  Running is a great way to get out and enjoy the winter months and keep those Winter Blues away!

** Happy Running ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Advertisements

Huff 50K Race Report – 2015

Huff logo

My third Huff 50K is in the books!  As I mentioned on the TTF Facebook page yesterday, this is a race that just makes me proud to run.  Proud of myself for going back to a tough race year after year.  Proud of my run friends who brave the elements and trails, when they would rather be pounding pavement.  Proud of the other participants who are constantly encouraging and showing the newbies what trail running is all about.  Proud of the race organizers for delivering a great race over and over again.  The Huff 50K is a class act.  Pic below from top is the 2013, 2014 & 2015 belt buckles.  Maybe I should buy a belt?

IMG_9131

This event is at Chain O Lakes State Park in Albion, IN.  It offers a 50K, 50K Relay & a one loop option (10.8 miles).  Lots of choices.  The trails are well groomed, wider, not single track like many trials.  This is a great event for beginner trail runners and a great course to run side by side with a friend/partner.  Aid stations are spaced about 4 miles apart and there are bathrooms and/or port-o-potties at 4 of the 5 aid stations.  This is huge and not the case with all trail races.  I would recommend carrying your own water to manage hydration between aid stations.  Trail shoes are recommended by not required.  I like to use gaiters over my shoes to keep leaves and debris out of my shoes/socks but these are not a necessity either.  This is a very user friendly trail event.  No fancy equipment required.

There were a few changes for 2015 both at the organizational level and on the course.  I think everything went very smoothly.  My brain struggled with the new course, always trying to figure out which way we went last year, but I just followed the pink markers and it went well.  No idea if this course was easier than years past but this was our fastest year thus far at Huff (6:50 finish).  There were a lot more markers this year and even a few spots where they put up tape so that runners didn’t get off course inadvertently.  Nice touches that I really think helped the comfort level of the newer trail runners.  I never had an issue before at this event but I’m an “eyes to the ground” trail runner so that I can watch my footing and the trail markers.  The new course and markings allowed for more social running without fear of missing a turn off.  I think Huff is a social trail race.  So many people sign up because their friends are going, even if they have never ran trails before ….. and that’s why its FUN.  New course below.

   Huff_map_2015

Great aid stations.  If you haven’t ran an ultra or trail marathon before, you might want to do so just for the food.  There is candy, m&ms, twizzlers, cookies, fig newtons, pb&j quarters, potato chips, pretzels, soups, boiled potatoes with salt, coke, water, gatorade, lemon bars and one spot was even grilling hamburgers.  So much food.  I didn’t bother carrying any gels and my tummy thanked me for eating real food.  Spirits were particularly high on the first loop.   Myself, Tamyra & Julie getting ready to tackle the hill in the background.  Hills, smillz.

IMG_9113

We ran the first loop in 3 hrs 15 minutes, which was my goal.  Then I thought we could hit the second loop in 3:30 but I was off a bit, took us 3:35, which is still good in my book.  That second loop gets really LONG.  It’s almost like you cross the mat at halfway and they add a couple bricks to each leg.  The hills suddenly seem steeper and each mile drags on a bit more.  But we just kept moving thru each mile (marked signs at EVERY mile!) and toward the next aid station.  It worked.  We didn’t rush.  This isn’t really a race for us but more of an experience.  So if someone need to walk or potty, we stopped.  We probably spent too much time at a couple aid stations but oh well.  Over all, we kept moving!   And we tried to keep it fun.  When Julie’s hubby started texting her (probably wondering if we were done yet!  Ummm, no we were not done!), I insisted we stop and take a selfie to send him.  Hi, Joe!   I was getting ready to stick out my tongue but we snapped the picture first with my crazy face.  That’s about right, I was feeling kinda crazy that far into the race.  I think we were probably around mile 28 at this point.  The craziness had definitely set in.  Tamyra, Me, Julie.

IMG_9141

I’m very thankful that Julie came back for her second Huff this year.  I know she didn’t love it last year.  She doesn’t love trail running at all but we still do a couple trail marathons each year.  Totally my fault. It always seems like a good idea at the time.  Smile  And this was Tamyra’s first ultra.  Her third marathon distance event (or longer) since November 7th in Indy when she ran her VERY FIRST marathon.  She took a leap of faith and followed us to Tulsa for the Rt 66 Marathon, and then to Huff.   2 marathons and 1 ultra in a 6 week span.  She’s definitely a tough chick and I’m proud to call her a friend!  Great job,Tamyra!!!

The swag.  Huff always provides good stuff.  This year we got a cotton tee, a Huff Santa Hat, a portable charger & a key chain with a thermometer.  Then here is a close up of the belt buckle that was received at the finish.  Most 50Ks don’t offer a belt buckle, but rather a finishers medal.  So it’s a nice touch for Huff to give the buckle and that’s probably why this is one of the largest 50Ks in the US.

IMG_9127 IMG_9142

IMG_9128

Huff is a great race.  I highly recommend it.  Grab some friends and run a loop OR two.  Next year, Huff will be on December 17, 2016.  Then the 2017 race will be returning to the first Saturday after Christmas. 

Side Note:  If you’re in the woods, State/National Park or not, DO NOT litter.  A general rule of hiking, backpacking and trail running is that if you pack it in, you pack it out.  I saw A LOT of litter & debris on the trails this year.  Very disappointing.  Someone has to clean that up or Huff could get fined, get belittled by other races or worse yet, lose their permit to run at Chain O Lakes.  Please respect your environment.  Don’t drop GU packs, kleenex, hand warmers, cups of noodles, or your SWEATSHIRT on the trail cuz you are tired of carrying it.  The aid stations are close enough together that it isn’t a stretch to hold onto your trash for a little bit longer and dispose of it property.  Please.  Respect your trails or they will be gone.  Help protect the trails for all of us, our kids, and our grandkids to come. Thank you!

IMG_9114

2013 Huff Race Report, must have neglected to write one for 2014.  Ooops.  Smile

** Happy Trails ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

Huff 50K – Just Two Loops

As the end of the year is closing in and most are tallying their 2013 races, miles and accomplishments, I am still staring down one more REALLY.BIG.THING.  The Huff 50K is on Saturday, December 28th.  Yes, that’s two days away.  Yes, I’m scared.  Yes, this will be the farthest I’ve ever ran at one time.   Yes, this will probably be the hardest thing I’ve done to date.

image

I’ve wanted to participate in this race since it was moved to Chain O’Lakes State Park in Albion, Indiana for the 2011 event.  This very close to my hometown.  It’s very close to where my parents currently live.  It’s basically “home” to me and I love any added reason to go home and spend time with the family.  However, in 2011, I took most of December off to try to pacify a nasty flare-up of Plantar Fasciitis.  Then in 2012, I was in recovery mode.  I tore a tendon in my foot (thanks to the Plantar Fasciitis) at the beginning of June and as a result spent all summer rehabbing.  By the fall racing season, I wasn’t racing anywhere but happy to begin rebuilding my body and mileage base.  Once December rolled around, I was in no way ready to tackle 31 miles, nor was my foot strong enough to make any attempt at a technical trail run. 

One year later, I’m very focused on running smart.  Listening to my body.  Knowing my limits.  Enjoying each and every run.  It’s been a long year of nice, slow running  …. not so much by choice but because my body wouldn’t go fast.   I ran smart this year.

run smart

Source

As a result of smart running, regular Chiro treatments, a decrease of mileage and the addition of strength work with CrossFit, I am healthy.  I am more flexible than I’ve been in years.  I am not only regaining my speed but getting a hold of the fact that I’m going to be faster in 2014 than I’ve been in a long time.  I have hope.  I feel inspired.  I feel ready to tackle new challenges.  I am ready to tackle the Huff 50K, in a mere 2 days.

What to expect during a 50K trail race in the middle of winter?  I have no idea.  I imagine it to be hard.  Like really hard.  I imagine my friend Kasey will want to dump me because I’ll be whining too much.  I imagine us walking up all the hills and running the straights and flats.  I imagine amazing foods, candy and soups at the aid stations.  I’m imagine my tummy will not approve.  I imagine beautiful scenery, lots of friends and hills.  Lots of hills.  Then probably some more hills. 

I anticipate mud and fun.  I anticipate that someone will be able to help me assemble myself properly and put on the new gaiters which I took out of the package just yesterday.  I anticipate my friends all around at the start then us quickly floating apart as we all hit our own stride as the start gets underway.  I anticipate cold, wet feet.  I anticipate new blisters.  I anticipate fatigued legs.

I know that I will be running 31 miles.  I know that the race will be “just two loops”.  I know the mantra I will use throughout the race.  I know that I will have at least one water crossing where my feet will get wet.  I know that I’ll have a drop bag at the half way point although I’m not really sure what to put in it.  I know that the trail will be technical.  I know the trail may be confusing.  I know that I’ll be following the pink/magenta ribbons and arrows.  I know that I will finish. 

Just two loops and I’ll be done.  Just two loops.  JUST.TWO.LOOPS.

So on Saturday as you are huffing and puffing thru your run, please whisper into the wind “just two loops” to give me that added push to get thru whatever Huff gives me. 

** Just Two Loops ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Kankakee River State Park, Over the River & Thru the Woods ….

I’m on a mission to run every trail in our area before the Huff 50K on December 28th.  Why?  Because it’s fun!!  Plus, I’d like to hope that one of these trails will give me a tiny bit of preparedness for the event.    Okay, probably not but at least I can say that I was out there, running real trails, and making an effort to prepare for possibly the most difficult thing that I’ve attempted so far.  I also know from a previous trail adventure involving the Grand Canyon and a group of pretty ladies that one of the most important things you can do beforehand is to prepare the feet/ankles and break in the shoes before show time.  Let it suffice to say that I think my shoes are officially broken in, if being dirty counts.   Now can someone just recommend a pair of insulated tights that will cover these LONG legs?? 

dirty trail shoes

So last Saturday, I met up with a few runners from the Kankakee River Running Club to run some backwoods trails at the Kankakee River State Park.   I say “backwoods” cuz well, you won’t find them unless you are lost following someone who knows where to look.  After running out of the parking lot, across a grassy area and then ducking under a gate, we found the semblance of trails.  Very rough trails. 

Kankakee River State Pk_ Trails_Nov 2013  Kankakee River State Pk_ Trails2_Nov 2013 

However, most of the time we were running thru area like this:

Kankakee River State Pk_ woods_Nov 2013   Kankakee River State Pk_ woods2_Nov 2013

We saw lots of cool things and the Kankakee runners were kind enough to stop and let me take a few billion photos.  I am a bridge lover and LOVE to find random bridges in the middle of nowhere.  I also like stairs.  A lot.  Who loves stairs while they run?  Me!!

Kankakee River State Pk_bridge & stairs_Nov 2013  Kankakee River State Pk_stairs_Nov 2013

We also passed the river several times and even found a teepee!  See Mike S, lounging on the frozen ground in the teepee.  And thanks to Jodie & Amie for stopping for a photo!

Kankakee River State Pk_ River_Nov 2013 Kankakee River State Pk_ Mike-TeePee_Nov 2013 Kankakee River State Pk_ Jodi-Amie_Me_Nov 2013

And my favorite part of the day, besides hanging out with new runners, was definitely when we lost the trail and had to climb thru a fence to continue the run.  So.Much.Fun. 

Kankakee River State Pk_ Fence_Nov 2013

I had an amazing day out at the Kankakee River State Park.  I loved the backwoods section as much as the beautiful paved trail that runs directly next to river.  More info on the easy to follow paved trail HERE

I encourage you to get out in the “off season” and make your next run an adventure.  No need to pound the same trail, every single day, change things up.  Have fun.  Leave the watch at home.  Enjoy the moment!

** Run the Trails ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **