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, 1 April 2012
Mad City 50k
Where to start? How about with this?
You can say what you like - it is all a matter or who shows up or any other truism that makes this win the actual small deal it is - but winning a plaque like this, to me, was a huge deal. I am so proud to become state champion of a sport that I love and am passionate about in the state I was born and raised in the city of UW Madison, my alma mater. What an unbelievable day.
But, the truth is, had all the best female 50k runners in Wisconsin showed up, I wouldn't have had a shot. I can't help thinking of my dad winning the national championship in lawn bowling. Sometimes you are just in the right place at the right time.
The race I am talking about was the Mad City 50k, put on by one of the more enjoyable characters in Wisconsin ultra running, Timo Yanacheck. Here's a photo from the start
There is also a 50k relay at the same time, so that may help explain why people are falling over themselves at the gun.
It is a series of 5 loops of 10k run through Vilas Park and The Arboretum around Lake Wingra in Madision. It is run on mostly streets and paved trails, though there are some opportunities to run on the dirt shoulder. There are two rather formidable hills, or at least they seemed formidable by the last lap, though I hardly noticed them the first.
For both the leading men and women, this was a close, exciting race. From near the beginning, I ran a little less than 8 min per mile pace with Rachel Arthur of Birmingham England, currently living in Memphis, TN. She was great company, and is a fellow science researcher, but when she told me her marathon PR was 3:05, I knew she wouldn't be company for long. And as I stopped to pee at 8km, she pulled ahead. Then at the 10k aid station, two other women passed me.
I am happy to say, I played it smart. I just ran the same pace all along, feeling comfortable, making a conscious effort to never work up a sweat (it was a cool day, in the lower 40's F). I was in such a good mood and actually enjoyed the company of various relay runners.
My 10k splits:
I pretty quickly repassed the two women who had just passed me. And suddenly, on the fourth lap, Rachel Arthur came back into view up ahead and I was getting closer and closer. As I told the relay runner, I was running with "who wins this race is entirely dependent on how much Rachel slows down". My new running friend happened to be from Wisconsin, so she became a huge source of encouragement for me on that lap, as I eventually pulled ahead to first place. Thank you, woman whose name I forgot!
On the last lap, my garmin said about 3:26 as I came through 26.2 miles. Just half a year ago, this would have been a PR! Shortly after this, my knee started bothering me, but Rachel was nowhere in sight now. I felt bad that Rachel seemed to be having a rough day- she is really a nice woman- or was it simply that a 50k is a really different animal than a marathon?
Until the end, I was afraid of another woman catching up since my left knee was making me run slower and slower, but when I rounded the corner, saw Vilas Park and then my wonderful husband, SR, I got tears in my eyes. "There is no one behind you, My Lady", he said and ran along side of me to snap some pictures, while all four kids and my mom waited in the car (too bad it was such a cold day!).
For those of you who haven't figured out my real first name yet...
I finished in 4:09:08. This was a 31 minute PR! (granted my previous PR was from a 6 hour race). After the finish, I told some joke that I thought was really funny. I was still laughing at my own joke here.
And here was perhaps the most awesome unexpected prize: being interviewed for Silent Sports magazine. (they have for years been one of my favorite sports publications and I could tell the reporter, Tom Held, and I shared a similar outlook on life. What day.)
The men's winner, Zach Bitter, set at course record of 3:03:10. Once again I am thankful I'm not a man.
So now my questions:
1. I keep discussing my weight, but how low will it need to go before I start getting slower instead of faster? I'm 105 lbs now, 5'6" (BMI 16.9) which in everybody's text book is considered unhealthy. But why do I feel like a flying wood nymph when I run? And if I am undernourished, how did I make it through a fast 50k? I feel a third confused, a third amazed and a third justified.
2. I just read in Runner's World that salt tabs are dangerous because they cause rapid fluid shifts. Is this common knowledge among ultra runners in the know? I am starting to think they may be partially to blame for my fainting in the shower incident at Syllamo. I only had one salt tab today and relied on mega amounts of heed (and my personal fave gatorade, which I supply myself). I think Heed tastes like weak liquid jello.
3. Can we all just agree that CCU is fully acceptable when running a fast, long race? I lost over a minute stopping to urinate on the first loop. I then did all my urination in the controlled, continuous fashion that avoids full or even crescent mooning.