Photo from the 2014 Ice Age Trail 50 Miler by Ali Engin. Permission to use header photo must be obtained through Ali Elgin.

"It's better to feel pain than nothing at all. The opposite of love's indifference." - The Lumineers

Sunday, 13 April 2008

We did it!

And there was some doubt that we would actually do the 50k race. The night before the snow just kept coming down. As my mom and SR and I drove up there (of course with The Bois), we were all wondering if we would actually do this. Is it normal for humans to run 31 miles through windy snow-covered hills?

We went to pick up our packets and the trails looked treacherous. The snow was accumulating quickly.


We tried to keep our spirits up. We went out to a greasy fish fry at a main street diner. To finish off the meal we had the most decadent piece of pie you can imagine, loaded with cream cheese, caramel and pecans. It had be given a name along the lines of "Cheecarapeca." You can call a pie anything, I guess, if tastes like that. So 2000 calories later, we went back to the family-run motel.

It was strange, but I was getting really excited. Somehow we both slept really well.

The next morning, SR looked out the window and said "Should we really do this?". There were at least 4 inches of snow on the ground and the winds were strong. But as I went across the parking lot to get a gas station coffee, I saw 5 very fit people with running clothes on getting into their car. We had half figured everyone else would drop out because of the weather. I saw their smiles and knew we were going to do it, too.

When we got there about 90% of the people who had signed up had checked in. Ultra runners are so cool.

I realized it was going to be a beautiful day.

The race director talked about listening for the sand cranes. And his nephew played The Star Spangled Banner on the saxophone. Then we were off.

I lined up at the back of the pack, not knowing the consequences of this. The first mile or so was all walking because there were so many people on such a thin, snowed in trail. I wanted so badly to run my heart out, but it was impossible. Oh well, I figured I would have 30 miles to make up for it.

It turned out to be a lot of fun to run in a group. I even got a mini Danish quiz from a guy who reported he had run a trail race naked before. He told me about lots of different ultras in the Midwest. The group forced me to walk up the hills. They kept telling me I'd run out of energy. I disagreed and eventually ran ahead. Just before the half way point I was really tired. There is a total of 4700 feet of elevation change in the whole race. And it seems like a lot more when your slipping every which way through the snow.

Just before I reached the turn around, I saw the leaders heading back. And there was SR in 4th. He looked happy, though I thought a bit pale. He stopped for a kiss and everyone around us watched.

At the turn around, my mom was waiting in the car for me to breastfeed The Bois. Unfortunately the boobs were bone dry. But The Bois was sleeping peacefully. And she had formula along.

After taking a nice break and eating these amazing chocolate cookies, I left for the second half. I felt much better. I had developed a strategy by this point: No walking up hills and just a quick sip of orange drink and a few peanut M&M's at each aid station. The whole way back I was passing people. I felt really good. I was smiling without realizing it. And then I put on my music. Life was great. Except the snow was SO slippery. I regretted not having trail running shoes. My old Sauconys say "TR" on them which may mean Trail or Track for all I know. I fell a total of 10 times. Once down a hill, almost sliding into a pond.

I wore my grandma's driving gloves, which worked great because they were totally waterproof. I didn't wear the yak trax and I didn't have a fanny pack. I didn't feel I was lacking anything.

With about 2 miles left, I got passed by a strong-looking girl. I thought I'd just let her have it. My legs were hurting badly. But then I put on some Danish rap music and got a second wind. I was almost sprinting. I have now idea how I did it, but I kept it up. I passed the girl and then passed another woman and a few men.

The end finally came. My legs were very sore, but I felt great. I would love to run races like this for the rest of my life.

It was wonderful to see SR and my mom and The Bois. And then Meghan from Meghan's Crooked Trails blog came up to me and introduced herself. It was so cool to have a friend there, albeit through blogs. She did awesome, taking 3rd overall for the women. I'm sure I'll get asked, so I'll go ahead and tell you I took 7th for the women.

We had veggie chili and cookies and I breastfed The Bois. The boobs were back in business.

SR and I can't wait for our next ultra. In fact we've been obsessing about it a bit.

So maybe the answer is it isn't normal for humans to run 31 miles in those conditions. But it sure was fun.

Thanks so much to everyone for the encouraging comments! Heather, I'm touched by your comment and wish you happy running and exercise during your pregnancy and most of all a healthy child!

Running song of the Day: Oxygen by Cerys Matthews

4 comments:

Meghan said...

Hello Sea Legs Family (the 4 of you that I met),

Congratulations, Sea Legs and SR, on an awesome ultra-debut! Not many people can say they've done what you have, and especially under such conditions. I suspect we might see you two playing on trails some more?

Sea Legs (and SR) are deserving of some major props for this: Sea Legs was *with child* only 2 months ago. Now she's a breastfeeding mama, 2 months post delivery, running 50k's. And SR's a sleep deprived dad, doing the same thing. Ohmygoodness this is awesome.

Congrats again, and The Bois is even more darling in person.

Meghan

olga said...

Girl, I love you:) Of course there is nothing normal in running 31 miles in the snow on trails...for those normal folks. But who the heck wants to be normal??!! So happy happy to see this post, a description, and especially "we're obsessed about it"! You hit it home, guys! Yay! And congrats on an awesome time, 2 months post-delivery. May you run in glory forever:)

Lisa said...

SeaLegsGirl, if you are concerned about fitting into "Normal", well, it's a fine time to realize you are extraordinary!!!!! You are all Rock Stars! Great job!

Danni said...

I confess that I lurk and read your blog and must say that 1) I'm jealous that you met meghan and 2) I'm totally speechless at your ability to bounce back from childbirth and hammer out a 50k without (it sounds like) a whole lot of effort. The obvious conclusion is that you're an alien :-)