The alarm went off promptly at 8:30 which meant time to get up and get ready for Alger Alp 50k. Already knowing what the forecast was for the day, I decided to look out the window to verify my suspicion, yes it was raining. What a great morning for running.
Soon the weather was about to change. Within the hour of me waking up and walking out the door, I watched it go from rain to snow. I was a little surprised as there was no snow in the forecast but was delighted to see it snowing as running in the snow is more fun then running in the cold rain. Upon arriving at the start the roads were lightly covered in snow and the weather was showing no signs of slowing up. I got my bib, chatted with some friends and attempted to stay warm and dry before the start of the race.
We were off into the white wilderness not knowing exactly how the day would turn out. Knowing the course really helped as I settled into a pace to sustain me for another 5 laps. The snow on the first lap did not slow me down much but I was anticipating the later laps to be more hazardous after all the foot traffic. The fresh powder on the first two laps were comforting to run on. As the laps went on, trails through the snow formed on the logging road section. They were nice to run on.
At the end of the first lap, coming around the backside of the lake, I suddenly heard a crack and felt all this snow fall on me. The runner I was running with at the time, froze as did I. We had no idea what to do. The thoughts racing through my head when it happened were; run, stop, fetal position. You have absolutely no time to react. A tree branch had broken loose and fell right at the edge of the lake. We were very lucky that it was a small branch and that it had missed both of us. This was the first time that a branch had broken off from a tree over my head. All of this snow was burdening the trees and shrubs along the trails which caused them to lean over the trail and many to crack.
By the time the third lap rolled around the snow was beginning to slow up and turn to some light rain/mist. The sky too was beginning to get brighter! At this point of the race, my gloves were soaking wet causing my hands to go numb. At the beginning of the third lap I struggling to decide if i should take off my sopping wet gloves that were not keeping my hands warm any more and bear the cold or to leave them on in hopes that they may help a little. Just as you turn off the trail leaving the park, I decided to take the gloves off and leave them there at the intersection since you return there to finish the loop back to the start. This was probably one of the smartest ideas I made all race. As my hands were so cold, I pulled out an old trick. I slowed to a walk and slid my hands down along my hips to warm them up. I have done this many times in the past and it has worked beautifully to warm up my hands. This is something to keep in mind if your hands ever get cold.
My hands were so numb at the end of the third and fourth lap, I made it my mission to find a way to warm my hands up. I noticed the grill was going and quickly ran over to it and asked politely if i could place my hands over the grill. The answer was yes and so I did. My hands were less than a inch from the grill and it felt like it was off; that is how numb my hands were. Not good at all when running as you need them to carry your water and eat food. After several minutes I acquired feeling in my hands again. While getting my hands warm, I changed my shirt and jacket as it had stopped raining and was drying out. As I was leaving the aid station on my fifth lap, Candice offered me a pair of her gloves and some hand warmers for the next lap. I could not turn down the generosity of the race director and a really close friend. Thanks Candice.
On my fifth loop things were getting sloppy and icy as snow was packed down from all the foot traffic and muddy as all the snow was melting. The melting of 3-4 inches of snow can do havoc with a trail, especially with 50+ people running on them. I slowed down on this lap as I helped a fellow 50k runner, a newcomer to the sport, through his fourth lap. It was fun to help him out. It was also nice that the sun was beginning to peek through the clouds. After getting him back to the aid station, I set off for my final lap. This lap was uneventful except for the fact that there was finally a view from the top. Yippee!
Finishing the race was a great accomplishment for me. This was my longest run since running H.U.R.T. 100. I had been suffering through one injury after another and it felt good to be back out there running again. My body (IT Band) was telling me it was not necessarily ready, but mentally I was ready for a new chapter!
Thank you Candice and all the volunteers who helped put on this race, I had a blast!