My sister and I trained for about 6 months - all winter for this Ice Age 50 Mile race. We hit every long run, pretty much followed the schedule she found online for us to a T.. The longest weeks we ran around 70 miles. the 2 longest weeks were Tuesday 4 miles, Wednesday 12 Miles, Thursday 6 miles, Saturday 35 Miles (One of the weeks we did 35 on the road, the other week we did a 50k on trails, The Earth Day 50k) followed by a 12 mile run on Sunday. It was challenging. Knowing however that 35 was the longest run we had done at one time and we would still have 15 more miles to go all on trails on race day was disturbing. I tried to push those thoughts out of my head though, knowing that for my first marathon I ran 20 miles and still had 6 to go, and knowing that our schedule had worked for many others. Race day was getting close, a week before the race during taper period I was feeling pretty fat and grumpy... My sister was checking the weather every day, I didn't actually know where the race was till about 2 days before race day, I kind of relied on her for all that since the race was her idea... She said that the weather said rain the whole week of the race and on race day. This was not good news, mud is not my friend, especially for 50 miles. Thankfully the weather changed. We headed out Friday around 3:30 to get our Packets at White Water Fishery. We had never been to a Fishery... It was cool. We got our shirts and were pleased that they only said 50 miles, not 50 miles/50k... Then we waited for a table at the Fishery, had a awesome Wisconsin Coffee Stout while we waited, then dined on amazing fresh Salmon, pasta and french bread. It was very good.
We headed 20 minuets to the hotel (Hampton in) checked in, got our gear ready and were asleep by 9:30 (too late I think since we had to be up at 4:15 at the latest). It was hard to fall asleep, it was like being a kid again on Christmas eve... but no presents... Finally I did fall asleep but woke up around 3:45 pretty much wide awake. I went down for coffee and some annoying guys were sitting around the breakfast table - they had been up all night drinking and were clearly annoying the desk lady for the hotel... They kept trying to talk to the racers as they walked by... it was kinda stupid, they should have gone back to their room.. A bunch of serious athletes who had been training for 5-6 months for this day and a group of drunk guys who had never gone to sleep the night before was not a good combination.
My sisters Cosine Stormy picked us up at 4:40 and we headed to the start, both my sister and I scanning our brains trying to think of something we forgot... Stormy had wanted to get to the race an hour early because they said "parking was limited". It was true, lots of people were already their, and the first lot was almost full at 5am, we got a great spot, and enjoyed having the car so close to everything, although I was pretty grumpy about having to go so early to start with, in the end it was a good call.
At the start we got our drop bags in the proper piles and milled around, getting ready... I ate a 200 calorie breakfast bar and part of a half rotten banana (complements of my sister). Anticipation was building, I studied the map a little... waited... finally it was time to line up, I had my camel back about 3/4 way full, 5 gels, wireless head phones... Run keeper was started and paused ready for me to move. They recognized the runners who had run the race 20+ years in a row (wow), sang the national anthem and we were off. The trails were beautiful. No mud, soft dirt, great temperature... perfect. The first 10ish mile look was pretty easy (compared to was was to come) We walked up the hills, and had a decent pace. We crossed the finish heading the other direction, and I tried to push the thoughts I was having about having to run 40 more miles before I got to cross this again away. The next section of trails was 10 miles out, and 10 miles back. It was rough and rocky and full of "mountains". We continued to walk up the hills and push forward. I started feeling tired at mile 15 and mentally threw rocks at the little devil in my head telling me I had 35 miles to go. He left and I continued trotting down the trail after taking 3 ibprofins. The aid stations and volunteers were awesome. I ate a lot of food. PB&J squares, chips, oreo cookies, mt. dew, coke, ginger-ale, water, sports drinks, gummy bears, boiled potatoes and salt.. stuff like that. I think I fueled pretty well, and hydrated well for the whole race. I fell twice, the first time I of course landed right on my previously fractured wrist, that kept my mind off my other aches and pains for a while, the other time I rolled, and when I stopped rolling my calf rewarded me with a major cramp... My sister fell once, It's un usual that i fall more than her... The 20 miles of trails were very technical, but also very beautiful. One section that was pretty rock and hill free was a long stretch with pine trees, the kind that only have branches near the top, providing us a canopy above, and a pine needle cushioned worn path below, it was awesome. Other parts of the trails had hills with switch backs, rough down hill stretches with many rocks to pick our way around or over. We talked to a lot of people along the way, thats always one of the fun parts of races. No ones watches were working properly, mine was about 2 miles off, so many hills and turns the GPS could not keep track of us.
The views on the top of the hills were awesome, some with lakes, barns, trees... Some of the valleys with meadows and lakes, some forest with sparkling ponds. They really were some of the most beautiful trails I have run through (Not counting mountain trails of course). At the end of the 10 miles we headed back, it seemed like we had not just run those trails, It was hard to see even a quarter of the trails we were running on because most of the time I was watching for rocks and roots, so going back the way we came was like running down a compleatly new train pretty much.
The second out and back was similar to the 1st, maybe a little easer, i'm not really sure. I had been looking forward to getting to mile 35 because after that it would be my farthest. After mile 30 it seemed to take hours to get to mile 35. I can't say much of what I saw after mile 35, it's kind of a blur, I ran, I walked, I ate, I drank - repeat. I almost cried a few times over I don't know what. I had some people entourage me along the way which helped a lot. One guy that I had talked to perviously caught up to me and said I was doing great, I said thanks, and he said Seriously, I mean it, I have been in your shoes before (first 50m) and this is the best part (we were 5ish miles from the finish) He broke the last 5 miles of the race down for me, said that I was not running with my legs anymore, but with my heart.... I was focussing on the Prize (the finish) and the mini prizes (the aid stations) all I had to do was run and push myself forward during the flat parts, walk up the hills, and get to that next aid station to refuel. the 3rd to last aid station was at a horse trail place, one of the guys I had been running with for a while caught up to me their, and we ran for a while together after that, he was having IT band problems, and talked me out of thinking we had a long way to go (seeing the mile marker 43.3 seemed awful, but a little over 6 miles to the end was not so bad... it was 4 miles to the next aid station, the longest 4 miles of my life. Finally I arrived, and after that station it was only .9 miles to the next. At that aid station I was all alone one guy at the station said "Only 1.5 miles left, thats no problem" I promptly sat down and said "no, that is a problem" He tried not to laugh and said that it was only 6 laps around the track... I don't know what i said but i feel like it didn't make much sense... I thanked them, and headed out again. I heard a couple people arrive at the aid station after me, which spurred me on, I didn't want anyone else to pass me on the last 1.5. One girl did pass me, but thats ok, the 2 guys behind me kept me going, they were close and no way would I walk now. I ran the last 1 mile up all the hills, people were waiting here and their to cheer us on, that helped me keep moving. When I saw the start I took off, one heavy tight leg after the other, but 2 guys close on my heals. I crossed the finish line in under 11 hours 10 hours 55 minuets or something like that - I guess if you finish in under 11 its like qualifying for Boston in the trail runners world because that means that you can enter in the Western Trails 100 mile race... so I would have had 1 hours and 5 minuets still to do that. My sister and Stormy had gone to get their protein shakes, and were walking to the finish as I stood looking around in bewilderment after getting my belt buckle. I did not feel well, running 50 miles was not agreeable to my body. The pain was not so bad, but I just felt sick. Very sick and could not eat.... I was sad I didn't even want a beer.
After about 40 minuets we headed back the hotel with every intention of staying up and swimming.. that didn't happen, I was asleep pretty much before my sister got out of the shower. We woke up a few times, I was still feeling sick, we discussed getting food around 8pm or so, but kept falling back asleep so didn't get anything till 10:30pm all that was open was Mcdonalds... everything tasted like card board, but I ate and did feel better. We slept again from 11pm - 7am..
I feel much better now. Had a great breakfast, oatmeal, seasoned potatoes, eggs, bisket and gravy... and it didn't taste like card board. Debi hurt her foot, she can barley walk, so I"m driving home because her car is stick shift...
Thats it. I made it. It was a cool race, a tough goal, but all in all a good experience.