Cape Cod Frozen Fat Ass Race Recap
My goal for 2013 is to run more trails. The unfortunate part about it is that I’m terrible at it. I grew up in NYC, concrete and roads I get, dirt paths and rocks… might as well be Mars to me. However when a friend mentioned The Cape Cod Frozen Fat Ass a free casual trail race along the beach with a bunch of ultra marathoners (my fellow running addicts who are able to run further than me), I couldn’t help but get excited.
The race actually consists of two official distances 25K (HalfAss) and 50K (FatAss) and then everything in between! Unfortunately getting to the race involved a 4:30 wake up with a 90-100 minute drive. Luckily I got to go with a fellow running addicted friend so after some coffee (Thank you!) and rubbing of my eyelids, the drive down was actually fun!
The race is put on annually by the Cape Cod Ultra Running society, and being a free race and all, is very informal. There was a little mix up in start time (some place posted 7:30AM even though it should have been 7AM) so we didn’t get to start until 7:30. Waiting in 18 degree weather isn’t pleasant. Luckily they had a little room where we got to pick up numbers (yup we got numbers!) and a pot luck table. I made whole wheat pumpkin bread which could have used more sugar (I ran out of sugar haha while making it). Luckily there were plenty of chocolate, cookies, muffins, pretzels, boiled potatoes, bananas and orange slices and anything else you can dream off. The race organizers also provided a hot and delicious clam chowder and turkey soup! You can tell I was too busy stuffing my face when I forget to take food photos.
Anyways at 7:33 after some shaking and debating of wind direction we were off!
The course is a figure 8 that consists of a 5ish mile loop and a 10ish mile loop. I saw ish because it’s not precise but in total adds up to 15.5 miles for a 25K. If you do the 50K you get to do the loop twice!
The first 2.5 miles are on the beach and it took me a good mile to figure out a style. Do I run on the rocky part of the sand, the softer dunes of dry sand to the left or the wet packed sand from the low tide to the right. From the scatter of runners, I could tell that everyone else was trying out different approaches. After a few struggles, I found a good steady comfortable pace of about 8:30 minute miles to the right on the wet sand. Sadly that sand also had some rocks to work with every once in a while to keep me alert
Half way through the 5 mile loop we made a turn and got to run on a more packed dirt trail behind the sand dunes. That was a lot more pleasant. I was eyeballing another runner in an orange jacket who looked like he knew the trail to make sure I didn’t get lost. The race was well-marked and easy to follow but I have a great history of getting lost no matter what so the orange jacket was my light. At this point I was on an average of 8:50 minute miles and I realized I was ahead of most of the pack. Than again I was only running half the distance.
The 10 mile second loop was just as beautiful and unique as the first 5 mile loop. Notice anything weird? I’m not wearing any headphones!! The trail and the experience was too exciting and fun that I didn’t need to distract myself with music or podcasts.
I lost my guy in the orange jacket as he ran ahead of me and was constantly paranoid that I was lost. Although there really was just one trail there, I would have had to work really hard to get lost.
Did I mention how beautiful it was? I kept following the tracks of faster runners way ahead of me to reassure myself I wasn’t lost.
Running within the sand dunes continued for about 5-6 miles. Some parts felt like running in molasses as the sand was soft and tried to hold me. The harder I pushed, the slower I ran. Eventually I learned to try to run lightly as I can to avoid sinking but mostly I just learned to be patient as those parts took a while
Other parts had hard frozen sand and I had to avoid some ice patches. I was feeling pretty good when around 10 miles I had a good 9 minute pace going.
And then the last 4-5 miles started. If you go on the race website, it clearly states This is not a race for wussies. The last 4-5 miles in rocky soft sand with wind against you reminded me when I was happy to only have to do this once. When my Garmee beeped 13.1 miles, at 1:59 I think i mentally checked out (after patting myself on the back for getting a sub 2 half on the beach). Last 2.5 miles I was skipping from side to not being about to make up my mind of where/how/why to run this stretch. My ankles kept rolling over the little pebbles. I was cursing like a sailor every minute of it!
And then before I knew it, the misery was over. I was crossing the finish line of a guy taking my time with a clipboard. Garmee told me I was at 2:26 in 15.79 miles and 9:17 pace. I was content with that. While I was glad to be done with my 25K, I still had 5 more miles to run for my 20 miler this week. I thought about doing the first loop again but my knees felt shaky and I decided to run around my familiar road territory instead. That worked for about 3 miles until I got bored bumped into Katharina and did 2 more miles on the 10 mile trail loop with her. Running on a scenic trail with a friend was a lot more fun than doing circles on the road alone.
I had mild regrets about not running the 50K but I got over it pretty fast when I was stuffing my face with soup and inside Katharina’s warm car. Overall this race was fantastic. I met a bunch of awesome people, got to run on the beach in the middle of New England winter and just had a fabulous time. I can’t wait for next year! I may not be an ultra runner yet but I am fully in love with the community.