Tag: runitfast

Dirk’s Fat Ass 50 K – because you need better friends

Dirk’s Fat Ass 50 K – because you need better friends

It was on this day, the first day of January in the year of our Lord, 2018, that the 12th running of Dirk’s Fat Ass 50K took place.  Each year, a figure of legend, “Old Man Dirk”, challenges runners to crawl out of bed at an ungodly hour on New Year’s Day to spend their last day of holiday vacation battling uncertain weather and ill-advised hang overs for the glory of running 31 miles, with no prize, and no ultrasignup statistics.  Some say that Dirk is immune to cold and fear, that he is Buri, the primeval man of Norse mythology who had no parents but rather was created “by a cow named Audhumla. As she licked the salt blocks of Ginnagagap, [into] the shape of a man”.  Others say he is one of the White Walkers, and still others say he’s a dang swell guy who makes swank chicken and dumplings and serves the running community by being a great pacer at the middle-half marathon.

But I digress.

On this day, the temperatures were 6 F.  Yes.  6.  The winds were howling and the fear of hypothermia was real.  And yet, the runners came.  A rag tag group of Divas, Cows, “RIF”ers, Boro2Squarerers, and Nemos – no men (free of all running affiliations).  They showed up  in blankets, mismatched spandex, and wore cowls.  There were 26 brave souls who toed the line and only 2 who finished the full 50K.  A Badwater master and a Bull-headed man (my hubs)!

The course is simple.  Runners start from the home aid station located at the General Bragg Trail Head of the Murfreesboro Greenway.  They run a figure-eight loop that takes them for a 4ish mile quest through the hallowed Stones River Battlefield, back to the Bragg Trail Head, and then a 6ish mile out and back to Cannonsburgh Village along the smoky Stones River.  Complete the full figure-eight and you have a completed a 10ish mile Dirk.  Do it three times, and you have a 50K.  The course is mostly flat and all paved.  What makes the run difficult to complete is not the distance, but the sweet siren song of the Bragg Trail Head aid station.

Each year, runners pay no fee to enter Dirk’s Fat Ass 50K.  The only thing required is a culinary sacrifice made to Dirk himself.  He demands cakes, pies, chilies, donuts, beer, and bourbon.  This buffet is laid out in tribute to the runners’ suffering and available to participants each time they pass the aid station – which if you complete the whole distance is 7 times.  Dirk also summons forth a fire from the bowels of the Earth to create a fire pit which warms the haggard runners.  When you pass the Bragg Trail Head, the Siren’s of “Warmth, Comfort, and Rest” call to you.  And many will answer the call.  Each year, only a few finish the distance, but all appreciate the challenge and the fellowship around the fire.

This year, two runners silenced the Sirens and completed the run.  The Badwater master ran with smooth stride and fire in his eyes.  He wore a mantel of frost and knew no fear of elements or exhaustion.  He ran with purpose and killer instinct.  He ran with some bitchin’ sexy spandex tights that made the Sirens take pause.  The Bull-headed runner could not quite keep pace with the Badwater master but was completely oblivious to the Sirens, focusing mainly on cookies and puppies.  He ran with a “here to unheard of” singular focus, layered with a strange patina of ice and sweat, and imbued with a fierce desire to finish the distance after 2 previous failed attempts.  Men of legendary stature.

Is any of this true?  Meh . . . trueish.  And besides, it doesn’t matter.  All that matters is that on New Year’s Day, 26 runners braved the cold to find fellowship in frost and fire.  So next year . . . will you be with us and earn your way into running legend?

Put on my Blue Knit Shoes

Put on my Blue Knit Shoes

Time for a another gear review.  In the interests of full disclosure, I am NOT an ambassador or otherwise connected with the Altra Brand, but I DO like their shoes.  Today’s review will feature the Altra Escalante road shoe.  I decided to check out the Altra Brand after my first 100 mile race.  I wore Hokas for my training and for the race and I love the padding which protects my feet after miles of pounding on the roads.  On the down side, even when I sized up, the toe box of the Hokas was too narrow, and my feet swelled so bad that I was tempted to cut the toe box out of the shoe by mile 75.  I saw several runners on the course with this latest “fashion idea” but something galled me about destroying a $130 pair of shoes.  Enter the Altra which has a very wide toe box design to allow plenty of room for your toes to wiggle and move.

Design – the shoes are light weight with a knit upper to allow for a sock like fit/feel.  I love this because it makes the shoes very breathable so my feet don’t feel soaked after miles on the asphalt.  Another staple of the Altra brand, beyond the wide toe box, is a zero drop.  Zero drop shoes are shoes “that allow the foot to sit level to the ground without a slope from the heel to the forefoot (check out this Runner’s World article for more information on Zero drop pros/cons).”  For me, the zero drop prompts me to run more “fore footed” and helps me focus on feedback from my feet to promote better form.  The shoes are also very light, coming in at 8.2 oz for the men and 6.5 oz for the women.

Ride – the wide toe box and zero drop give the illusion of a more barefoot running experience.  I wear these shoes and feel fast and “zippy”.  It feels like I’m fast at toe off and can pick up speed quickly.  There is a caution that comes with the shoe design, if you are not used to zero drop or more minimalist style shoes, ease into these kicks.  I have run in more minimalist shoes in the past with no problem but I know folks who have complained that with a more forefoot strike, as promoted by these shoes, they can get achy calves and Achilles.  So if you can’t resist this new shoe technology, at least take it slow.  I have had stiff calves the next morning after longer runs with these shoes.  I’ve worn my Escalantes for both half-marathon and marathon distances with no problems.

Overall 5 out of 5 stars. I love this shoe.  My husband got a pair and I saw how much fun he had on weeknight runs, so naturally I had shoe envy and had to get a pair for myself.  Pros, smooth ride, light weight, makes you want to fly on a run.  These shoes also feel great for scaling hills!  I think I get more from this shoe than what was intended by the designers.  I can take these on long road runs and not feel the fatigue and get both tempo runs and longer slower runs from the same shoe.  No hesitation in wearing these for races (e.g. The Dragonfly Jackal Marathon).  Cons – The shoe runs a bit big because of the roomy toe box – I normally wear a 9.5 which is VERY roomy in these shoes but not so much that I trip.  I could however have done a 9.  Make sure to get fit correctly.  The price is also a bit less sexy with shoes retailing at $130.  I have already put about a 100 miles on my shoes and they still feel/look new so we will see how well the wear for the price.  Lastly, I wear these for 5K to Marathon distance but would not use them for track work.  For me, the wider toe box doesn’t let me dig in in the same way as a racing flat or spike for track work, sprints, or repeats.