Sunday, February 21, 2010

My Sister's Fat Ass (not my term)

Yesterday was my sister Jean's 50th birthday. She belongs to a trail running club and there is a term for an informal organized winter running event called a Fat Ass, purportedly to be coined from the state of behind that people may experience during the wintry months. An off road circuit is marked and runners are invited to bring food and drink. Her course was 5.17 miles with the option of covering up to six laps. She had been planning it for months.

Last week it occurred to me to look into airfare rates and discovered that they were quite inexpensive and I had the week of so I decided I would go help celebrate. I flew out Thursday to Boston and drove up to her house in Lisbon, Maine. I went for a run there on Friday and was made a bit nervous by the raw wind. I thought it might make for an unpleasant outing if it were to continue the following day.

Saturday morning came and a caravan of cars began to stream up her long driveway at about 8AM. A lot of Lycra-clad thirty-somethings placed all kinds of goodies on the picnic table on her terrace and greeted one another. There was little wind and it was rather pleasant. A group of about twenty-five had gathered and were standing around chatting, waiting for the call to be given for us to head out.

Jean led the way and we all followed her out around the edges of the fields near and not so near her house. The trail was well-marked but if it weren't for the markings no one would know there was a trail. There was a variety of surfaces from mowed lawn, to clumpy meadow, to soggy bogs, frozen snowmobile trails, glare ice better suited to skates, crusty and slushy snow, mud, etc. and all of were in a different state on each lap.

The group that stuck with my sister would eventually be the ones that would go the farthest. Those in the middle were running slower and going shorter distances and there were walkers that were going to do one or two laps. I had the main group in sight for most of the first lap; they finished the first trip around about four minutes ahead of me. They were about ready to head out from the picnic table when I came in. I got to run with a few people for a few minutes here and there, but on the whole the running was a rather solitary experience, which it usually is for me anyway.

I had planned on doing three laps. I was conditioned to do fifteen miles or so. When I finished the third lap I could tell I would be able to do another so I headed out again after gobbling some brownies and Gatorade. I think a couple people did five laps and three finished all six. I woke up at 2:30AM (12:30 Colorado time) the following morning for my return trip to Boulder. I felt so good that I think if I had stayed I would have done the other two laps that next day. Instead I sat for hours and hours on planes and read "Born to Run". I think if I were to have read the book on the flight out there I would have felt compelled to do all six laps.

After getting back to Boulder and on a scale I thought that maybe the term came from the extra girth one may add from eating all the goodies. One would think that losing weight would be a given after running 21 miles plus the six the day before but I find it is easy to consume 4000 extra calories when I've really only earned the right to eat 3000 extra.

In Maine the restaurants cater to a clientele that expects to be filled up. I had a small order of onion rings on the way from Boston that easily would have been a satisfying side for six people. I ordered a clam roll from what appeared to me to be the place to be for the over-sixty crowd in Lewiston. I received an order of fried whole clams that was enough to fill four rolls. Sweet potato fries seem to be the rage there as well. Just those three dishes probably added 3000 extra calories.

Although the term for the event may conjure certain images or reactions the reality of twenty-five people coming together to run close to a collective four hundred miles can't be beat for honoring someones fiftieth birthday.


  1. I bet you could have done more! So glad you made it and got to meet the people I talk about. I haven't gotten around to writing my blog yet. It's like then it'll finally be done. Wish flights were always that cheap!

  2. Wow! You fly all the way across the county to run too. That is impressive.