Waking up at 4 am, hurryingly breast feeding El Guapo, and trying to pump what little milk I had left to a mom who was, for some reason oblidged once again to watch the boys the entire morning, I probably should have asked myself "Why am I running this race?". Plus my left foot still hurt from the marathon last weekend. I couldn't get the internet to work, so I didn't have the exact address for the start. Despite the start of the race being only an hour north from my parents' house, I had never been to the area of Greenbush, WI before and relied solely on a Garmin device to get me to the approximate place of the start.
SR was in the midst of his 60 hour weekend ER shift and it felt so odd without him there. We have never run an ultra without each other before. Even if we haven't both run, we've at least both been there. So I ventured out alone at 5 am, in the pitch black, listening to the fuzzy fm waves of WUWM.
You have probably heard it is back luck to cross the path of a black cat. What about hitting a tabby cat with your burgundy 2001 Ford Windstar minivan going 65 on a highway? (though to be honest, my first thought was "thank God, I didn't get hurt" and my second "Thank God it wasn't a dog". But someone, somewhere might have loved that cat and I have felt bad since.
I made it to the Fire Station start and the first person I saw was Helen Lavin. Wow! She was visiting from California to watch her man, Chris Scotch run the 50k. Too bad she wouldn't be running; she was tapering for Hellgate. I love seeing this couple. They sort of epitomize the ultra community in the Midwest for me and I am so happy to know them. Plus Helen and I got to talk yoga and I laughed over the fact we ran in the exact same trail shoes. Yep, the minimal New Balance trail shoes.
This race, like the other two Wisconsin trail races I know, is run on a section of the Ice Age Trail, which winds its way over much of the state. The other two races are the Chippewa 50k and the Ice Age Trail 50k/50 mile. They are all the exact opposite of Danish ultra experiences. Rather than being run on a repeated flat asphalt loop, they are out and back, technical, hilly, single track trails in gorgeous varied terrain (and as you can guess, I far and away prefer the Wisconsin version of ultras - DON'T take these races for granted, Americans!!!).
What a long lead in basically to say, despite the odd, lonely mood of the morning, I ran the ultra of my life thus far.
As in Skovloeberen, I power-walked all the hills, ran my own race starting very slowly. I passed and passed people from mile 9 on. I ran almost an exactly even split and may have had a negative split if it hadn't gotten so warm and I run out of sports drink in my bottle in one of the 7 mile stretches between aid stations. Plus, I had three falls over rocks or roots on the way back. I even landed on my shoulder after one (I hope someone took a picutre I can post later).
Suddenly, Helen Lavin announces to me with a mere 5 miles to go that I am in second for the women!!! Wow. And I felt awesome. I was on track to run in just around 5 hours, but didn't know if my legs would hold to it. But through to the end, I was able to run the flat stretches in under 8 minutes a mile (and had this moment where I thought - this must be what it feels likes to be Devon Crosby Helms - of course, she would have won, though and run much faster...).
I came in in 5:02:46. 2nd/36 female (though it would have actually been good enough for the win the last two years - this time a girl named Cassie Scallon was there who ran it in either 4:50 or 4:15 - it is embarrassing that on the way home I thought to myself I might have misheard and the results aren't up yet. Cassie was a real nice girl and a local Wisconsinite. Edit: she ran it in 4:15 and won the whole race --- yes, for men and women!!). I was handed a personalized hand-made mug as a prize, which broke within 10 minutes. At which point, it was reinforced - there is no such thing as luck, there is only putting your mug in the wrong place :).)
Though I am tempted to go on and on about how awesome this race went for me, it is perhaps a bit too self-indulgent, even for me. But what an awesome day on the trails. I honestly don't think running the PR marathon the weekend before ended up being a hindrance and may have even helped. Had the Glacial Trail been a road race, though, I wouldn't have even finished it due to leg and foot problems, plus it would have been very inaptly named.
Here is their website . I give the race 5 out of 5 stars. Racing rarely gets better than this!
P.S. I peed in a bush yesterday and not in my shorts. Sorry.
Other tidbits of potential interest:
1. Throughout the race, I ingested the following:
6 electrolyte tabs
1 medium sized special dark chocolate Hershey bar
6 peanut butter m & m's
Little Debbie Swiss Roll (ahhh... nothing reminds me more of Switzerland (he he))
4 bottles of Heed
4 cups of Heed
2 cups of Mountain Dew
1 cup ginger ale?
big handful of salt
After I crossed the finish line, I drank two cans of diet soda. I then rushed home and, despite all of this, I was still 4 lbs down on my fluid! It is amazingly hard to keep up with fluid losses and had it not been for the electrolyte tabs holding the fluid intravascular, I probably would have hit the wall.
2. At some point I stepped down REALLY hard on a rock with my left heel and I am willing to bet big money that there is a hairline fracure there which could be seen on MRI or bonescan, but would I ever get it checked? No way, not unless it starts hurting worse. Happily, it feels better today.
3. Finally, thanks to the comment by anon, here is a link to the story about the woman who gave birth following the Chicago Marathon (way to go, Amber!) ---this brings up a fascinating question: Did she induce labor or was it simply, coincidentally "the right time" (39 weeks)? Current dogma in Obstetrics is, of course, you can't induce labor on your own; you need prostaglandin medication at high doses to achieve that. Brings up a lot of questions...