Turkey Swamp 50K Recap

Remember how I said a 50K isn’t a real ultramarathon and I felt silly calling it that?  Well, forget that, I’m an ultramarathoner!

Let’s start at the beginning and I promise to get to the good stuff quickly.

The weather was perfect.  At the start temps were in the high 50s!  Talk about luck being on my side.  50s in August?!

The course…oh my god, the course.  I ran 12.5 x 2.5 mile loops, with the first loop being 3 miles.  That’s already over 31 miles.  And the 2.5 mile loop wasn’t so much 2.5 miles.  I knew going into this race that there was a strong possibility of running over 31 miles.  Turns out all the 50Kers ran about 32.4 miles.

The course consisted of…

1.  a dirt road – no issues there

2.  trail running through the woods – I was OK with this too; everything was well marked so my fears of getting lost were put to rest.  The trail had some tree stumps in areas which required some fancy footwork.  Bonus – I didn’t fall once!

3.  grass running – about 50% of the loop was grass running (a la Laura Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie, although I wasn’t nearly having that much fun).  The grass was long, the ground was uneven, and it was slow going…like running in sand.  I detested this part of the loop.

After each loop you had to cross over the timing mat in order to count your loops.  More on this later…

After the first loop I knew it was going to take me awhile to finish.

loop 2 or 3, heading towards the timing mat

The race for the most part was uneventful.  Loop after loop passed and I felt alright.  My legs were more tired than normal because of all the extra effort on the grass portions.  There was just so. much. grass.

Around Mile 24 or 25 (?) I asked Matt (my awesome 1-man support team) to find out from the race timers how many loops I had left.  Doing the math from my Garmin, I figured 2 full loops and then the 1/2 loop to the finish line.

I already knew the course measured long.  The guy that won the 50K told me (as he lapped me again) that I should “be prepared” to run at least 32 miles.

So imagine my surprise when I find out that I only have 1.5 loops left (after mentally preparing for 2.5 loops).  OK, well I guess my Garmin is measuring short?  While everyone else’s Garmin is measuring long?

Me:  “Really?! Are you sure?  Oh my god, that is the best news I ever heard!!!”
Matt:  “Yes, that’s what the race timers told me” (not sure of his exact words but it went something like that).

I cannot tell you how happy I was.  I bid adieu to the grass and finished my last full loop with a huge smile on my face.

As I neared the timing mat (about to start my 1/2 loop to the finish) Matt’s face didn’t look so happy.  Turns out the race timers were counting wrong and everyone got the awful news that they had to run 1 more FULL loop.

I wish I could say I handled this well.  I was pissed.  F-bombs flew.  How could they mess up?  Mentally it was a HUGE blow.  1 more FULL loop + the 1/2 loop to the finish.  F$%k!

I was exhausted and I was starting to get hungry.  I walked for a bit to regain some composure and forged onward for some more grass running.

Somewhere out in the grass field my Garmin clocked 31 miles in 5:38.

I crossed the finish line in 5:54, running 32.4 miles, 10:57 average pace (Garmin stats).  I’m slightly annoyed that 5:54 will be associated with a 50K even though it wasn’t a 50K.  But that’s how these races go and I need to get used to it.

so happy to finally stop running

After I crossed the finish line the race official shoved a small trophy in my hand and says “you were 3rd female, congratulations”.  What?!  It was hard to tell where everyone was but I thought I was bringing up the rear of the 50K for sure.  There were some speedy men and women out there.

Full disclosure:  the field was very small (see pic below) and I counted 7 women total, including myself.  Official results haven’t been posted yet but I do know 1 woman dropped down to the marathon distance (there were 3 other races besides the 50K).  So 3rd place out of 6 isn’t so impressive but I’ll take it!

the 50K was a lonely race


with my 1-man support crew – thanks Matt!

This race was definitely my toughest – tougher than Boston in the heat.  I completely underestimated how much trail (and grass) running slows you down.  I definitely need a lot more experience running “real” trails before my next trail race… which isn’t anytime soon. For now, I am going to savor my mandatory rest week and enjoy the post-race high!

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  1. says

    Be happy with that trophy! You are amazing! I am so proud of you. So glad that you had perfect weather. Hope your legs are feeling okay!!!! XOXO

  2. says

    You are my hero! Way to not give up! You are officially an ULTRA MARATHONER! I did a race this year (“half-marathon”) that was one mile short! Boy, were we pissed. I think going over a distance is better than under?

  3. says

    Kristy!! Congrats!! I’m so glad the weather cooperated with you for the race, even if the race timing did not! Sounds like you had a great experience and that’s the most important! You look so calm and breezy in your photos, I would have never guessed you just finished 39258729375 miles. :)
    Kelly recently posted…One Down & Mile RepeatsMy Profile

  4. says

    Congrats on your ultramarathon AND age group award! I have no problem with age group awards due to small fields :) I’d be pissed with finding out I had one more lap to go so close to the end, too. I say you call it a 52k or a 50k+. And I can’t even imagine running the same loop 12 times (well, other than at track).
    Amanda recently posted…TranscontinentalMy Profile

  5. Ruth says

    Kristy–you are such an inspiration to me. So many times this summer I have been so hot and so tired and I’m seconds from walking the last few miles home, but I think about all your posts preparing for this and I get motivated to push on and finish my run. Please keep the posts coming! Any my best to Matt as well, who is just an awesome partner!

  6. says

    CONGRATULATIONS!!!! Wow, what a great day for you :) No falls, 3rd female….and probably most impressive, your gutting it out after that blow of realizing you had more mileage remaining than you thought.

    The trail training I’ve been doing is defniitely harder training than road training for sure. This past weekend was a big mileage weekend (w/ 20 miler on trails; 10.5 on roads) so I am thrilled at a dip in mileage this weekend.

    Way to go!!! So happy for you :)
    Lisa recently posted…OverdueMy Profile

  7. says

    You did a fantastic job and third place is third place! That’s amazing! I don’t know how you handled all those loops, and I agree running on grass is horrible. As far as not liking the time of the extended distance being associated with the 50K – why do you think I’m running another 50 miler :)?
    Alyssa recently posted…Cake is my number one priorityMy Profile

  8. says

    How did I miss this post? I’ve been wondering when your ultra is/was and now I know! Congrats and welcome to the club! I’ll say, having done 2 looped Ultras and one point to point, the p-to-p are so much more enjoyable!! I started to dread parts of the loop after 3 or 4 laps! Great job and enjoy your rest!!


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