It was warm in my hotel room at 4:46am when I slipped on my Brooks PureGrit shoes. “I won’t be taking these off again until I complete 50 miles.” I thought to myself. I looked out the window and saw frost twinkling on cars and trees. A cool crisp day, perfect for running!
I arrived at the starting line of the Tussey Mountainback 50 miler at 530am and prepped for what would be a good 7+ hours of running. I had not run in anything considered a Minimalist shoe for more than 23 miles. Worried I checked the Grits laces and walked back and forth in the cold parking lot to stay warm. Yep, feet feel great. I did do 147 miles of training since purchasing the Grits on Oct 1st, so I didn’t have much to worry about.
The gun shot at 7:04am and I was off.
The Tussey Mountainback is a great run. All dirt, gravel or paved roads. 95% is in the woods. And, being Oct 23rd, the Fall color was spectacular.
I started off fast, but slowed down to a comfortable 8 min mile pace. I was cruising. The feet felt great as I flew down the mountain roads while the Grits helped cushion and propel me forward. The wide toe box gave me extra insurance for awkward footing in rocky areas. I couldn’t be happier that after 16 miles my feet still felt 100%
At mile 16 you start a long steep decent after miles of climbing. The body was happy to be running fast and relaxed again, but sometimes long downs can do you in. Near mile 20 I felt my left forefoot throbbing in pain. I was doing a lot of foot-slapping on the last steep down so I was not surprised. I popped 4 painkillers, downed a cup of soda and Heed, munched on dry pretzels, relubed, and was off.
The next 6 miles were flat which helped me to relax a little and take some weight off the forefoot. Quickly the pain disappeared.
The miles flew by after hitting the Marathon mark and before I knew it I was cruising through the mile 37 aid station. Feet still felt great. Slight rubbing around the upper, but that’s most likely because my feet are so narrow that the NAV band does nothing. Without the NAV band the lacing cuts into the middle of the top of my feet. Slight chaffing too. But, besides that, after 37 miles my feet felt awesome.
I continued on, vomiting a little after eating too much at the last aid station. “Guess my Grits are holding up better then my stomach”, I thought.
Next was some steep rolling hills followed by several steep climbs. I ran and walked as quickly as my Grits could take me up and up and up and powered down the downs. My body was slowly slipping into exhaustion as I hit mile 44. With losing control I started foot-slapping again on the downs which caused shooting pain into the ball of my forefoot. I wish there was more padding there, but I was thankful for the cushion system … it’s truly awesome.
I brushed off the pain and tried to focus on running technique. This helped as I was able to adjust my form and stopped foot-slapping.
I pushed hard up the last climb at mile 46 and realized I had a chance for a new PR….but I’d have to run four sub 8 min miles. I started flying. The aggressive tread on the Grits helped push me as I flew over loose gravel.
The last mile I ran a 6:55 mile to beat my PR by 8 seconds! 7hr 24mins and 7 seconds.
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