Sunday, May 13, 2012

Ice Age Race Recap

It was a perfect day for a run  The temps at the starting line were in the low 50s and expected to reach mid 70s.  It was a cloudy day, so sunglasses were not needed.  This added to my already growing excitement as I waited for the start to begin. I love the starting lines of trail races - it is usually a very narrow opening that the runners pass through and a man on a ladder with a blow horn of some type. After the starting signal, all 300 some runners need to pass through this area. I think it is so cool that there never seems to be a congestion problem. Ultra runners tend to be so friendly - to get all those people thru the tiny opening takes patience and kindness.  Nobody seems to be in a rush to be the first person out!

Section 1 was on a cross country trail so it was groomed nicely and was very runnable.  I had some moments when I felt like I was running very smoothly and didn't have to worry about footing. I ran with a pretty big crowd at this time and that was fun.  People were happy to give advice and share their stories.  The scenery was amazing - towering pines, flower-filled meadows, and grassy prairies. After about five miles, the crowd thinned.  People were finding their paces.  I ran in a group of about 4.  I really enjoyed this part of the race - everything felt good and I was in a great state mentally.  The Nordic Ski trail continued on for 10 miles.  At one point I was "in the flow" when the trail gods decided to remind me that I needed to pay attention.  They sent up a root and sent my flying into a full somersault!  That hurt!  But I shook myself off, got up, and laughed out loud.  I fall, I always do!  This part of the course was nice, but lots and lots and lots of rolling hills.  I just followed everyone else's lead and walked some of the hills. Very supportive aid stations here.  And of course, it was always fun to come out of the woods and see my sister, the best crewperson ever!  She was always there with a first aid kit and my duffel bag and a smile!!

Section 2 started with a turn onto Confusion Corner and then the Ice Age Trail.  WOW!  What a shift in terrain. It was crazy. Here is how the website describes it "For those of you who like a change in the scenery, trail direction, elevation and grade along with vegetation, the Ice Age Trail delivers.  Expect rocks and roots on steep climbs and descents as you scramble up and over eskers.  Enjoy very runnable stretches through pine forested areas, meadows and by wetlands." There were so many hills, one after another.  It took a lot of mental energy to keep going.  This route was an out and back course. It was so much fun to see the really fast runners coming back as I was going out, and even more fun to cheer on the runners going out when I was coming back.  At this point in the race I was running well and was 8th among the women.  My it bands started hurting a bit at mile 15, but the changing terrain and ibuprofen kept them in check!  I came to halfway point feeling pretty good.  I tried eating, but nothing tasted right.  I made sure that I drank a lot at every aid station - Heed and water and sometimes a "defizzed" pop.  I also started with S-caps at about this point.

Section 3 came along and I started to fall apart.  I fell a second time and this one was just ugly!  A face plant in the dirt, no arms breaking the fall.  Luckily, no blood!  My right hip flexor and hamstring just were not firing.  I felt like I had no pull for getting up hills and going downhill was not any better.  I started getting down during this time, too.  No, a better word would be "crabby!" (or insert a better non - G-rated word!)  I was whiny about the hills, I was tired of picking over rocks, I was hot, and I was feeling a bit exhausted.  A couple of times I even considered taking a DNF.  But then I thought about all the people I would let down (mostly me!) and would keep going.  I decided at that point that when I got into the next aid station at mile 37 I was going to change my shoes, my shirt, and my attitude!  Well, the first two were easy. Changing the attitude was hard.  My heart was still racing and I couldn't get it to calm down.  I spent 10 minutes at this aid station drinking and resting and whining. I told my sister I just could not go back out there.  She kept cheering me on and lying about how great I was doing.  I knew I would go back out, I just really needed extra encouragement.  Well, I slowly walked out of the aid station and began the next out and back - 7 miles!  BEST 7 miles of the whole race.  I felt so strong - my legs were working, my arms were pumping, my breathing was great!!!!  I came into the next aid station and told the volunteers how fun that was.  Only three aid stations to go and I would be done!  6 miles!!!!  At that station I met three men who invited me to finish with them.  They were nice and kept up a great conversation.  Those miles flew by.  At the last aid station I forced myself to answer the call of nature - which I had not done all day. And the guys even waited for me!  (BTW - male ultrarunners are very lucky - they just walk to the edge of the trail to pee, we females have to face the risk of poison ivy and wild animals as we look for a place out of view!)  The last .8 miles was open meadow so we picked up the pace.  The guys encouraged me to go ahead and finish before them.  We all finished within seconds of each other. I owe them a huge thank you for what they did for me the last 6 miles of the run!

  As I came across the finish line I saw my sister.  I ran to her and hugged her and cried. There were so many emotions at that time and crying released them all!!!  She brought me a chair and bags of ice and we watched the other runners. It was such a cool event - all the runners and families milling about, visiting, sharing a beer and a story.  Loved it!
     This was not an easy race by all means and I am very sore today. My quads are tender and my it bands are trashed. Mentally it was even tougher.  That is a long time to stay focused!  One of my friends asked me what I thought of all that time.  You would think I could solve some pretty big problems with all that time to myself.  But here is what I am thinking "Rock, rock, root, hill, rock, root, rock, rock, rock, hill." Will I do it again?  You betcha!  I learned so much about myself and also found out I have a lot to learn.  I will be back!  Oh yeah - thank you to the race director and volunteers that made this race happen!

Well wishes from friends and all the fun FB messages
Pre-race video- I am a dork
Hanging with Rachel and the Piggly Wiggly stop
Getting even with the trash-talking man
Meeting so many wonderfully interesting people
Receiving the belt buckle for completing the race in less than 12 hrs
Coming home to my family and all three kids telling me that they are proud of me!


  1. AWESOME! That is incredible! I am glad you are ok and weren't hurt during those! You are a trooper!!! Congratulations :)

    1. Thanks!!! It was a great experience! Laying on the couch today - good thing that is Mother's Day!!

  2. I cannot believe you just ran 50 miles...I truly can't believe it. How does one do that??
    You are absolutely AMAZING!!!

    LOVED the video btw...not sure how I missed that one either;)

    1. Just kept telling myself "Now the other foot..."

  3. Congratulations!  that was one tough run especially with the hard falls you took! I am looking forward to my ultra....50k first....then maybe go hardcore like you! Awesome! Awesome! Awesome!

  4. BIIIIG Congtratulations it´s absolutely awesome!

  5. Woo-hoo! Fabulous, falls and all! That is just amazing - love the final miles!

  6. Congrats on finishing the 50 mile race in under 12 hours and with a somersault, too!