On a Learning Curve

Life may not be easy, but it's always an adventure.

Frozen Heart, Frozen Feet


I don’t like being muddy. Or being wet and muddy. Or being wet, muddy, cold, and sore. But those are the adjectives that described me after Saturday’s Frozen Heart 50k.

Here’s a picture of me and my dad before we set off on our first-ever trail run. Note that we are not muddy or wet. See how happy we are? It’s important to acknowledge how we always set off optimistically. You see, this is the fourth race we’ve run together in the past 12 months; only one of those races was warm and sunny.

Frozen Heart

Here’s another smiley picture for you. We’ve reached the 5-mile aid station, and we’re foolishly thinking that the worst parts of the run are behind us. Why am I lifting my vest? We had to prove that we had paid actual money to be on the trail and weren’t just regular crazy people out for a snowy, muddy jog in the middle of a rocky, root-y nature path around St. Mary’s Lake.

Frozen Heart 2014

Coincidentally, my race number is significant. Saturday was my dad’s 65th birthday and the reason for our adventure race. He wanted to celebrate his milestone birthday with a race on his actual birthday, and we chose the Frozen Heart 50k since it was cheap, close to my home, and offered three distance options. My sister was supposed to join us, but 20 inches of snow was blanketing her street.

There are no more pictures of us running on Saturday, and I was too exhausted to remember to take pictures later in the day. By the time we hit Mile 8, someone wanted to quit. Someone else pointed out that there was no use quitting since we’d still have to walk the rest of the trail back to the finish. When we finally finished one lap, we were covered in mud from our knees to our toes. Our hands were frozen since we’d both dipped our gloves in pools of mud, our socks were full of mud, and our toes looked like frozen grapes. We opted to run just one loop, which brought our total distance to 10.76 miles in just over 2 hours.

We averaged a 12-minute pace. In retrospect, we could have shaved 2 minutes off our finish time if we hadn’t stopped at the aid station. We also could have run up every single hill, too. Someone kept falling in the last few miles; that really slowed us down as well. Then there’s the debate over running straight through the puddles as opposed to zigzagging and running around them off-trail.

The important thing is we finished together. It was impossible to run side-by-side since much of the course required moving in single-file fashion, but we accomplished our goal. Will we ever run another trail race? Probably not. Was it the best way to celebrate a milestone birthday? Well, that’s debatable, too. Was it a good way to feel 65 years old? According to my dad, it was, but I don’t think he meant this in a positive way. Did we make some great memories? Absolutely. Happy 65th, Daddy!

Editor’s Note: Want to see the rest of the course? Follow this link to a fellow trail runner’s blog post on Saturday’s run. Check out all the yummy food and nice volunteers. I forgot to mention them in my original post. (I think I got sidetracked by the lactic acid in my calves, glutes, and quads.)


3 thoughts on “Frozen Heart, Frozen Feet

  1. Don’t let that be your impression of trail racing. Try Rosaryville on a nice autumn day and pick a shorter option. I’ve done more trail than road races and that was BY FAR the WORST terrain I have ever traversed (and I did it 3 times–so feel at least 3 times as old as you right now).

  2. I did one loop of this race too, and it was a tough course! That’s awesome that you and your dad race together! If you are only doing one trail race, at least you choose one with serious bragging rights.

  3. Pingback: Stupid Things I Did Last Week | On a Learning Curve

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