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Going Ultra: HAT Run 50K Coming Right Up!

HAT RunThis winter has been very hard on my running. From late December to just this past week, the sidewalks and roadsides near my house in NH have been largely covered by ice and crusty snow, and running has been difficult to say the least. Even worse, the nasty conditions underfoot have made it almost impossible to run at night, which is the time that often works best for me given my rather hectic daytime obligations. The combination of poor conditions, returning to a busy work schedule after a much needed sabbatical, working on a big writing project, and chasing three kids around, one of whom is a toddler just about to walk, have sucked away my free time and pretty much killed my mileage of late. I’m OK with this as those other things are far more important right now, but for an avid runner, not being able to run can be frustrating, and there were a few points where I was really starting to doubt my ability to take part in my two planned events for this Spring – the HAT Run 50K and the Boston Marathon.

Quite honestly, I had decided a few months back to pull out of the HAT Run 50K. I went so far as to inform some friends who were also planning on running HAT that I wasn’t going to be there – it was hard, especially because one of the main reasons I wanted to run HAT was to meet these folks who I have become close with through The reality was that I didn’t think my mileage was sufficient to safely complete a 50K, and I was worried that if I got hurt attempting it I might jeopardize my chances of running Boston. I’d essentially been doing maintenance mileage (15-25/week) since completing two marathons last Fall, and had no idea what kind of shape I was in. I wasn’t sure how much of my fitness from last Fall (possibly the best of my life) had been retained over the course of this nasty northern New England winter.

On the plus side, running on crusty, uneven ice has kept my legs strong due to the irregular surface (basically it’s like trail running), and a lot of my miles have been done in pretty minimal shoes (e.g., Merrell Trail Glove). My thinking was that if I wasn’t going to run a lot of miles, I might as well focus on keeping my legs as strong as possible. Over the past month or so I did a fairly rapid ramp up of my long runs, and I was actually pretty surprised at how well they were going. Several weeks ago I got in a solid 15-miler at right around 8:00 pace and decided that maybe the 50K would be doable – I decided to back out of my plans to back out. I still haven’t run over 30 miles in a week in quite some time, but my burgeoning confidence that I’m not totally out of shape was further bolstered this last Sunday by a 20 mile run in the New Balance Minimus Trail (on dry roads, finally!) – the run went extremely well, and my legs are feeling quite good only two days later. Seems my shoe surgery on the Minimus Trail worked! This was the longest I have ever run in a shoe as minimal as the Minimus Trail, and it gave me the confidence to finally go ahead and make plane and hotel reservations – I will be in Havre de Grace, Maryland this Saturday running the HAT 50K with my friends Thomas, Steve, Andy, Jenny, Jeanne, Brodie and many others. What’s more, I’ll get the chance to finally meet Christopher McDougall, who will also be running the race (in Barefoot Ted’s Luna Huaraches, or so he tells me!). As for my big footwear decision, I’ll probably start the race in the Minimus Trail, and bring along the New Balance MT101 (a positive review is pending) in case I need to switch up at some point (don’t think I could handle 31 miles in the Merrell Trail Glove yet).

My plan is for the HAT Run to be my final big long run leading up to Boston, though I may try to squeeze in another 18 or so miler prior to toeing the line in Hopkinton. I have no idea what to expect from HAT, and my only goals are to go easy, have fun, and avoid hurting myself (or drowning in the river as predicted by my buddy Andy with his Photoshop job below). I’m sure I’ll write more about Boston in the coming weeks, so I’ll leave that be for now, but my plans for the remainder of the year are to take a marathon break for a bit. The time required to get in the necessary training mileage is too much for where I am in life right now, and I have a strong desire to see what I can accomplish at shorter distances – I may focus on 5k’s through the summer and go back to Smuttynose and run the Half-Marathon this Fall. Nothing certain, but I’m feeling the need for some speed 🙂

Pete River

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About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a biology teacher, track/soccer coach, and dad (x3) with a passion for running, soccer, and science. If you'd like to learn a little bit more about who I am and what I do, click here, or visit


  1. Way to tough it out Pete! I watched a video earlier of a muddy HAT and it looks like a blast. Enjoy it, but don’t fall too hard in that creek crossing.

  2. Great post Pete! I so wish I were doing the HAT with all of you guys and gals, but there’s always next year right? Have fun and don’t get hurt! SOunds like a mantra to me…

  3. Hahaha I LOVE the Photoshop work… I didn’t even see you at first, it’s like Where’s Waldo! Have fun with the HAT, sounds like a great race! Also, weird thing I just stumbled on (that actually caused me to comment for the first time although I’ve been reading for a few months)… I just found this website that is swiping a bunch of your posts (and presumably other people’s posts too because they look to be mixed in with other crap), not sure if that is of concern to you but here’s the post I came across while Googling and recognized as yours:

  4. Glad to hear that your shoe surgery worked and you were able to enjoy a long run in the Minimus Trail. Have fun at HAT!

  5. The Running Gator says:

    This seemed like one of the most optimistic posts in a while (not saying that they are usually negative by any means), it’s just that you sound excited and reminded me of why we run. It helped me because I have a 50k coming up and have been nervous about it, and I am debating doing it in the vibram classics.
    By the way maybe you should say that the picture is of you taking an ice bath because of how fast you finished! Good Luck!

    • Pete Larson says:

      Thanks – I’m actually more excited for this than I’ve been for a race in a
      long time. Sometimes good to step back and appreciate why we love to run!

  6. Shellyrm says:

    Glad to read that you are back in for the Hat. I’ll see you there!

  7. Good luck at the HAT and congrats again for the Boston Qual!!!

  8. Robert Osfield says:

    Good luck 😉

    I don’t think your lack of big mileage need do you too much harm, you’ve already built a pretty good base so you’ll have a good amount of strength endurance built in to your legs, and even with a lower mileage you’ll have maintained this. 50K is only a couple more hours on your feet than you did for you final 20 mile, so should be able to go in enjoy it, knowing it’s a big challenge but within your grasp.

    Last year I did my first marathon, and then followed that with 30 mile mountainous trail race, and then four months later a 41 mile ultra. I struggled with a calf injury in prep for the 41 miler and had to make do with cycling and walking to keep fit, and was only able to build my running mileage up really slowly, with my longest training run for two months being the 15 miles I did 10 days before the race. Thanks to the injury I was poorly prepared running wise, but still my residue fitness was enough for me to complete the challenge, albeit in lots of pain due to calf cramps!

    Given my lack of prep, what I expected on the 41 miler was to hit the wall and really suffer with exhaustion. I was rather too concerned as I ended up eating too much foot in the first two hours and then suffered with gastric stress for the next 3 hours, and struggled to even consume water. In the end I only ate a fraction of the food Intended, and yet I still didn’t hit any problems with exhaustion, I was suprisingly fresh at the end. I hindsight I should have taken it easy on the food, eating 100 calories per hour would have been plenty. Had I taken it easier on the food then there is chance that I would have consumed more water and electrolytes and perhaps fended off the cramps.

    I say all this as something you might be able to learn from. Don’t fret about eating lots to keep your energy levels up, 30 miles is something you can do probably do without consuming any energy drinks or food on route. Water you’ll need, but again don’t over do it, drink by thirst. Finally I’ll add go out there to enjoy it, it’s not a race like a marathon, it’s an adventure, a chance to push back your physical boundaries, meet new people and explore a new part of the country side.

  9. PaulDavisTheFirst says:

    alright pete! we’ll be wearing the same shoes and have the same backups. i’ll have on a zoot sweat/visor thing, and probably a nathan water bottle pack on my lower back. hope we get to say hello somewhere out there.

    • Pete Larson says:

      Probably orange Minimus for me – I’ll be hanging with a big crew from
      dailymile. Sure we’ll meet up!

  10. Kyle - Natural Runner says:

    Hey Pete, Kyle from Wisconsin here. We met at the Running Injury Conference in WV. Just curious, what shoe are you planning on wearing for Boston?

    • Pete Larson says:

      Kyle – good to hear from you! Probably leaning toward the Saucony Kinvara
      again, but I may switch up at last minute. We’ll see…


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