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

Monday, 30 April 2012

Chippewa 50k 2012

I stripped down, in my normal clod-like stripper fashion, into my sports bra and shorts, and stood up on a grassy noll in front of the starters of yesterday's Chippewa 50k. What should I wear? Or rather, "you have three minutes to decides, SLG, are you going to run this race fast or slow?" Alicia Hudelson nuzzled her way into the starting pack bare shouldered and my question was answered. I was going to get rid of the long-sleeved shirt and go for it.

Alicia, who we had shared fine chocolates and jokes with in our Edgewater Motel room the night before, had created an algorithm of the women's finishing times based on a very complex set of factors. SR and I found it extremely entertaining. As much as I adored the spreasheet, I refused to tell her if I was going to attempt to run fast. When she had mentioned on my blog that she had to add another fudge factor into the Chippewa equation after Syllamo, I thought she was joking.

I have been injured since the Mad City 50k 4 weeks ago and since 3 Days of Syllamo 3 weeks before that. I haven't been able to run more than a few miles without tightness in my ITB. The problem stems from a serious tear in my left quadriceps. I hadn't run for 6 days, though, prior to yesterday... and I am an optimist by nature. Yet, I knew it was stupid to race. But when we were two miles in and I felt nothing except a growing inner warmth and the feeling of flight up down and around the twists of the trails, I was transported - to my version of heaven. My speed and happiness increased. By 10k, I was on track to running around 4:35, which would have been good enough for a course record. If my left quad could take it, I had no doubt the rest of my body could hold the pace. I was close to passing the first female, Christine Crawford.

 But then my left foot started to go lame. I tripped twice over things I would normally be able to step over. And then the pain came in my left knee and gluteal insertions. By mile 9, I had to walk. I walked to the mile 10 aid station where Helen "roll it out" Lavin and Karen Schoenrock awaited. One could never ask for more at an aid station than these two smiling faces (and some snacks). Helen was prepared for me with a foam roller. What does she not think of? Oh and a long-sleeved shirt. "Roll it out, put this on, and get going!" Despite the fact that I look up to Helen in every way, this was not good advice. I rolled that mangled mess of a muscle out and, heck, it felt better - for a mile - and then I started crying. It KILLED. I turned around, greeted the runners who were behind me. I was happy to see Maria, who I had met the night before, fellow lover of Sonic Youth and NB minimalist trail shoes, and to finally meet Julie Treder. It is hard not to keep smiling, when people who have no real reason to - pull for you, care about you.

Rice is great when you're hungry and you want 2,000 of something. - Mitch Hedberg

Then I was wrapped up in my own misery. "I will never run again because I have a sarcoma (or maybe a metastasis) in my left thigh and to make matters even worse, I ate about 10,000 calories last night of Indian food to get ready for 31 miles - and I've only made it 10. Plus I'm cold. This sucks." I made it back to Helen and Karen at just about the time SR flew through on the way back, in first place, way ahead of pace for a course record. He had no time to talk. There were four fast men in running jerseys and stockings on their arms ready to pass if he were to flounder or even slow.

 "Why don't you ride with me back to the start?" says a mysterious 60 something man. I would soon learn this was Tony Ovesen, who just ran Zumbro 50 miler on a broken foot. I hope I am like him when I am 65. He laughed when I said that and said he was so bored with life that he was going to move to Germany. He really must be bored... And he was wearing these Hokas (as were Alicia H and Chris Scotch!)
Back at the start/finish, I hung with the supporters and volunteers. God, some of these people are incredibly cool. Following their loved ones hither and thither. And volunteers who love the sport enough to cook for the participants. This is what makes the world of ultra running a wonderful world unto its own. Randy Fulton, the race director, was ecstatic at the prospect of course records. The two of us went out to a spot 3 miles from the finish to wait for SR. I mentioned en passant that SR was probably cramping. "WHAT'S his name?" "Raymond?" "Brad?" "Raisin"? It was beyond hilarity. I said SR's name 5 times or more and Randy just could not believe anyone would have a name like that.

"Oh, he's coming!" I shouted. "Here comes... The Dane!" announces Randy. SR had tears in his eyes and was wincing and gasping in pain. He was cramping. I started screaming - shouting him on- "You have the course record - by 15 minutes - you HAVE to keep going" he kept going, though very slowly for him. We gathered at the finish and I ran out to run with him. I wanted to push him on the rear up the hill because he was in so much pain. He was easily on track for the course record. I just kept screaming in excitment. This was almost more fun than racing myself! He had tears in his eyes again, I would later learn, because I was there to do it with him." He crossed the finish line in 3:51:27. 8 minutes faster than Brian Peterson's record from last year.

Here is what Randy wrote on Facebook:

1. Rasmussen Goes - CHAMPION - 3:51:27! Running in road shoes and a 79cent water bottle from a Walmart. Go figure.

(okay, so I actually changed the name to what Randy tweeted, but he did get it right on Facebook :)

Then four guys came in shortly after him, all beating Brian's time from last year. The third place guy, Jake Hegge, is a 20 year old from UW La Crosse who just dropped out of the track team to have more time to run long on trails. One should mention, the conditions were perfect for trail running yesterday. In the women's race, Christine Crawford won with a course record of 4:35 something despite a sprained ankle from mile 8! Alicia Hudelson
Above Alicia with a tank top that proclaims she is bringing it and the accomplished ultra runner fiancé, Divesh, there to hold back the competition.


took second and beat her own carefully-calculated expectations with an awesome time of 4:58 and beating the 3rd place woman by mere seconds. I was so proud of her. Seriously, to know this woman is to love her.

SR is in the shape of his life and it was such a chance opportunity that I got to witness the best running performance of his life to date. On the drive home, we both got tears in our eyes, talking about the magic that just happened, the magic that can continue to happen when we are in it together and there to support each other.

17 comments:

Danni said...

Yay SR! There is nothing more frustrating than trying to race when injured. Bad decision but an easy mistake to make (many times for some of us!)

Olga King said...

Congrats to SR and his training. Sorry about your grief with injuries, I really understand the misery and have no good help (because I'd be first to break rules of resting and treating it).

Fast Bastard said...

All right. I think I said that I "almost got tears in my eyes" with 2 miles to go. I'm going to be known at this Raisin guy who cries for hours during races.

Alicia said...

I'm really sorry about your ITB problems, and sorry that I didn't get to see the answer to the exciting question of whether you or Christine was going to win if you were both feeling up-to-speed. I had a ton of fun hanging out with you guys though and I hope we get to do it again soon. Your ITB is going to bounce back with enough massage, and the rest that your body got while waiting for your ITB to heal is going to make you even faster.

Also, for the record, I only beat three of the people on my list; the rest didn't show up. (in other words, I was still kind of right:))

There's kind of a nice ring to "that Raisin guy who cries for hours"...

cherelli said...

Wow SLG, what an amazing race by SR, very impressive. Sorry you were injured still - but I guess it's a plus you got to be with SR at the finish of his race :) As far as IVF goes - fertility drugs are first given to stimulate the ovaries to produce many follicles therefore many eggs (for some reason this is the part I'm most leery of). Eggs are then removed and incubated. Then there are medications like antibiotics to prevent infection and HcG or progesterone to help the uterus lining. Sperm is then gathered, washed...and eventually placed with the eggs to hopefully fertilise in the incubator. fertilised embryos are then transferred (1 or 2)...with more progesterone then given in the 2ww. My reluctance with this is way at the start, overriding the body's normal hormones, I know it may sound weird but the unnaturalness of it, forcing the body to do what it won't do on it's own, really gets to me? When it comes to bearing children I've always seen it as a natural "go or no-go"...IVF is like a weird, synthetic middle ground which doesn't jive with me...anyway, just thought I'd respond to your comment here, totally irrelevant to your race!!! REST up your leg, cross-train at will, and you'll be back running lightning fast again sooner than later :)

Maria said...

This post is funny as hell. A tragi-comedy.

You would think their breakup would make merch more valuable, but I bought my Sonic Youth tshirt on clearance sale.

Like your weepy husband, I also cried during the last few miles of the race. I lost my iPod in New Orleans (possible new-country song title??) so was trying to sing Neil Young to myself. Not sure if it was "Heart of Gold"'s lyrics, my burning quads or my terrible singing voice, but SOMETHING brought tears to my eyes.

Glad to meet you and Raisin.

maria said...

P.S. I was listening to Mitch Hedberg tonight, probably while you were writing this post. What the shit.

(You can tell I've had too much moo-wine when I start commenting on the internets.)

("moo-wine" = wine with a drawing of a cow on the label = guaranteed delicious)

Kirsten said...

ITB is a really annoying injury, I was shleppping around with this for months! Osteopathy my dear, ostopathy - the origin of this kind of injury is somewhere in your pelvis or back!
And you could probably do with the 10,000 Indian food calories - but not a word about that.....

sea legs girl said...

Kirsten! While I agree that the pelvis/SI joint may be the issue in many runners, in my case it is my torn quadriceps. If you had seen the large bruise over the muscle and could feel the big knot there now, you would not be in doubt. Work on my pelvis, which I get done once a week, helps undo the damage I do by exercising off balance due to that injured muscle. Thank you for always offering real, caring advice though - as opposed to the "you are wrong, once again, SLG!" of some readers :)

sea legs girl said...

Alicia and Maria. It was serious fun hanging out with you guys. Alicia, you know it might have been close between the two of us, too. I will never know if I started too fast. Maria - Mitch Hedberg, I wish he were still around :(. Hope you made it back safely to CO. Congrats on a very fast finish!

sea legs girl said...

Alicia and Maria. It was serious fun hanging out with you guys. Alicia, you know it might have been close between the two of us, too. I will never know if I started too fast. Maria - Mitch Hedberg, I wish he were still around :(. Hope you made it back safely to CO. Congrats on a very fast finish!

SteveQ said...

I saw Alicia yesterday, but didn't know she'd won, so couldn't congratulate her. It'll be fun to read SR's rebuttal of all you say, but course records are a rare treat (I think I've had 3 or 4, in much smaller and shorter races). My fave new running song is "Go Right Ahead" by the Hives - a little too hard-edged for you, I think.

SteveQ said...

I meant congratulate her on finishing second, not winning. Oops.

I miss Mitch.

Kirsten said...

Yeah, you do worry me a bit now and then. But I did say, not a word about that.... :-)

SteveQ said...

"How Do I Know" by Here We Go Magic might be the running song of the month.

SteveQ said...

Running song of the week:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MqaMEMIBPIw

dvs said...

For some reason, I just got to read this - I suppose on the 1-year anniversary of last year's Chippewa. ;) Nice post, I think I know this Raisin guy...

As far as your comment about Alicia - "To know this girl is to love her". Tell me about that! :)