Monday, April 4, 2011

Spring Service, The Fat Ass Phenomenon, and Rest Days

Lloyd Hall - Start of the Philly 100
"No Fees, No Awards, No Aid, No Wimps, No Whining"

For those of you wondering, this is the official slogan of what are affectionately known as "Fat Ass" events.  I am somewhat sheltered in my little corner of the "running world"...and just kind of do my have been previously unaware of such events.  Well that all changed this past weekend.

With Spring rapidly burgeoning, I decided to knock out some volunteer/service time at a local race.  This would cover me for any potential ultras this season.  My brief internet scan of ultras came up with the Philadelphia 100 endurance run.  I have never really been to Philly and I thought it would be fun to take a day trip down there (about a 3 hour drive).  I emailed the race director and asked her if there was room to help out at an aid station...and she told me something along the lines of, "well there's no real aid stations, but you can help out at the main start/finish station by watching peoples stuff and helping if they need anything".   I remember thinking what kind of 100 miler doesn't have aid stations?  This is when I discovered Fat Ass events.

For those of use that make the plunge into ultrarunning, we all know well how expensive race fees can get.  Add to that the cost of travel, hotel rooms, food...and suddenly an already expensive $250 race costs over $600.  The upside is that you get well manned aid stations, great help through the race, medical stations, t-shirts, swag bags, and belt buckes (or other awards).   In an effort to sort of "stick it to the man" and make it more simply "about the running", several folks banded together and created Fat Ass events.  Long story short, a Fat Ass event is a FREE ultra run that is set up by runners for runners.  There is no aid, you bring your own support, food, and crew...and run however you want to.  You keep your own time, and everything is based on the honor system.  Bascially, it's a organized group long-run.  A truly awesome idea.

This was what the Philly 100 was.  I drove down on Saturday morning and made my way to the start of the 8.5 mile Schuylkill Loop.  This loop is done 12 times in order to finish the 100 miler.  I sat there all day as runners came in finishing various loops and gave them whatever support I could.  I had an absolute blast.  I chatted away with other runners, met two grand-slammers, and even met a runner who last year completed the grand slam AND badwater.  That's some craziness.  On the drive home I couldn't help but think what a great idea these Fat Ass events truly are.  A group of people that love utrarunning, get together, and simply have fun with it.  I am a firm believer in this sort of mentality.  Sure it's nice to do the "official" races, of which many I'm sure I will do, but I am certainly going to start keeping my eye open for any local Fat Ass events.

On a side note, This whole experience has made me realize the value and importance of rest days.  My current training program has me resting every Friday...with a cross-training day on Mondays (which I now call my cycling day).  This is an aggressive schedule for me as I had previously rested two days a week.  Needless to say, Fridays are a beautiful thing.  I have come to love Fridays so very much.  The days that I can truly be a potato...because I've earned it, and because my body needs it.  What I've come to realize is just how important these rest days are.  I don't care if you are thru-hiking the PCT or training to be an olympic marathoner, you need a rest day in there once in a while.  This past weekend, because of my service at Philly, I decided to do my Saturday long run on Friday.  Then, when I did get home Saturday evening, I decided to do my Sunday 8 miler that night so that I could take Sunday off instead. On Sunday morning I got asked to join a group on a 25 mile cycling trip.  Who was I to pass up my first group ride on my hot set of new wheels?  I decided to swap my cross-train Monday to Sunday...and push my rest day ahead another day.   So I sit here now on Monday, having gone 9 straight days without a break, and my body is tired.  Usually I'm excited about my rest days, but today all I can think about is how I have to run again tomorrow.  

Moral of this story: Take and enjoy your rest days regularly...and don't put them off too long.

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