Photo from Mount Royal, Frisco, Colorado.

"That is happiness; to be disolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep." - Willa Cather

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Ice Age Trail 50

I did it! And by that, I mean I did half of it.

But running 26 miles of hills must be a sign that I am almost completely recovered from the IT band injury.

Just 2 days prior to the IAT 50 miler, I decided I'd give it a whirl. Basically, Alicia Hudelson had been bullying me via Facebook messages to run it. Yes, the last time you all heard from me, I managed a measly 9 miles at the Chippewa 50k. So why, two weeks later, would I attempt a 50 miler? Well, the coolest thing happened: a little over a week ago, I went to a massage therapist who kneeded out the knot in my left quad over a half an hour. An hour later, my entire upper left leg was in burning pain and turned dark blue (the front and back). The next day I was sore, but could actually run normally again. We spent this past week in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. at an ophthalmology conference (ARVO) and I ran about 13 miles a day every day without a hint of pain (on pancake flat routes, of course)! I had no idea what the upper limit was, so, since my mom had agreed to babysit Mattias and SR was taking The Lorax back to La Crosse, the conditions for running were nothing short of ideal.

The start, north of La Grange, is about a 45 minute drive south of my parents' house. I had not tapered, did not eat much the day before and was not mentally or physically prepared to run 50 miles. But my drop bags were prepared, as was my running belt. The morning of the race, I was energetic and, in my humble opinion, looking good. I slept well the night before, but had to pull over our minivan "Busboos" twice on the drive there as I scampered into some bushes with stomach issues.

 The start: wow 350 racers for a 50 miler!! And on one website I had been listed among the female contenders to win. Who knew. Maybe this would be my day.

Female Parts

The first 9 miles are on hilly cross-country ski trails. My stomach was working against me. Not many places to hide; I had to give intstructions to the people passing me: "Don't look!". I came out of this section having run between 8 and 8:30 minute per mile pace and on pace to run around 7h30min. I knew the race would get more technical, but I made the decision at that point that if my ITB forced me to a pace that would take me over 8 hours, I would drop. Sounds ambitious, but either this was going to be a big 50 mile PR or I was saving my lags for another race.


When you are injured, drugs are tempting. A guy I ran with had been struggling this year with ITB problems and said he had hyrdrocortisone injections waiting for him in both drop bags and someone willing to inject him at these aid stations. Is this just common practice nowadays for a physician to prescribe hydrocortisone to get an athlete through a race? As Triumph the dog from Conan might say "that is a great idea... for me to poop on." Yeah, like if that physician's goal is to have his patient prolong his recovery and risk more injury, then, yeah, that is great practice.

Rock & Roll

I came through the half marathon in 1:51. I was making good time and really enjoying myself. The course is so beautiful. Even as a Wisconsinite, who should be used to this stuff, I found myself saying out loud many times how gorgeous the course was - and it is!! Esker lookouts, pine needle trails, wildflowers. The "rock & roll" part was a woman who very insistantly passed me and my running buddy and then tripped over a rock and took a fall right in front of us. But later it would be my turn, as the ITB started to tighten... I did a root and roll. Oh and, by the way, headphones were not allowed, so sorry in advance about the lack of running song!


By mile 15, my left quad was feeling a little tight. I had a gu and the tightness went away. I found it interesting the number of people who recommmended sugar or calories as the best pain killer. There might be something to this. But 20 miles, the tightness was back and the downhills were uncomfortable. I made the decision to drop- at some point- reminding myself there was a long season still ahead and goal races should be saved for the uninjured me. I was passed by a woman from Ohio who was very nice and who I had run with in the beginning (wish I knew her name). And then the leaders started coming through on their way back from the 22 mile turn around. Zach Bitter, who had won the Mad City 50k was in the lead. The two leading women were not women I recognized. Turns out it was Denise Bourassa and Melanie Peters (who would go on to take first and second, respectively. I could not believe that there were 8 women ahead of me despite me being on pace to beat last year's winning time! What competition! At mile 24, I started walking the downhill and this is when I decided to drop at the next aid station. I ran/hobbled to mile 26 with a guy from Juneau, AK and a guy from Madison.

Only at a race like IAT can you have such an awesome day and only finish half of the race.

Here, at about mile 18 is Sandi Nypaver, last year's winner, being closely chased by this year's winner, Denise Bourassa.
Denise ended up winning by a wide margin in 7:13. Sandi was third, clearly affected by the fast early pace, finishing about 15 minutes slower than last year.


As long as I almost have the entire Red Hot Chili Peppers album here, I had better keep going. Yes, sex is what got me these two.

I was a proud mom on mother's day biking around La Crosse with my babies. On days like yesterday, I sit and look at them completely dumbfounded .. how did this miracle end up happening? I went through most of high school, all of colllege and all of med school without menstruating - had written off the idea of ever getting pregnant- and then...

I will leave you with some pictures from Fla. I love writing Fla.

Like, oh my God(!), why does my belly always pooch out like this? I'm not being  (only) vain, I have more been worrying lately that I have ovarian cancer or something since people keep asking me if I'm pregnant. (I'm not) But then all last night and today, I ENTIRELY evacuated my GI tract due to a TERRIBLE bout of either E. coli or Salmonella, probably from fresh veggies and suddenly my belly was flat. (I also ran 17 miles in the midst of it). Despite having gained weight recently - up to 108 lbs, I hit my lifetime low with all of the dehydration: 101.6 lbs- but I figured this was good training for the very hot summer ultras. On a slightly related note, I have made some major changes to my diet, including a lot more protein from fish and I think this also has helped my leg to heal. 
This was the view from the penthouse hotel room we were given because the guests who were supposed to get it didn't show up.

So what is next, you ask:
Morris Challenge 5k this Saturday
½ marathon (Med City) May 27th
Got Energy Olympic distance tri June 10th
Grandma's marathon June 16th (thanks again, Alicia and see you there Divesh... and Steve Q?)


Marathon Mom said...

Probably the smart decision to stop, why reinjure yourself when things are starting to go better :) Sometimes the smart (and right) decision is the toughest, I know I made a similar decision last weekend.

See you in Med City, glad you are only running the half so you can't beat me in the full, speedy ;)

sea legs girl said...

Ah, cool! I hope we see each other at the start. If we see each other at the finish, I have probably had a pretty bad race! It's not too late for me to switch to the marathon, by the way - still haven't officially signed up yet ;).

Danni said...

Is it like why starving Ehtiopian children have big bellies? :p. you are totally insane, just wanted to get that out there. Glad you are eating protein though and had a nice run. I did Ice Age on a whim before I knew really about how to run an ultra and dropped at mile 37 or so. I need to go back someday.

Alicia said...

How could you not be looking good in pink compression socks? Very nice!

People have mid-race hydrocortisone injections? Sign me up please;)

How is getting to a low weight even remotely good training for hot summer ultras?? That strikes me as something to train to avoid at hot summer ultras, not something to train *for*... I hit my (adult) lifetime low weight at mile 60 of Leadville and got a lecture from the doctor about how I was going to have kidney failure if I kept running. I quit.

Anyway, I'm really glad you had fun so I don't have to feel guilty:)

SteveQ said...

Unlikely you'll see me at Grandma's. You'll have to sign up for my birthday 10K on Aug. 4 to be sure of seeing me.

Brianne said...

Re: tummy problems. If you feel like it's just bloating, you might want to look at your diet... I don't know if you're still eating like this, but I remember at one point you were eating a lot of oatmeal and drinking diet root beer, both of which will contribute to tummy bloatiness. (Yes, in my world, that's a word;) If you feel like it's an actual 'pooch' then you might want to investigate diastasis recti. I myself have felt after having my second baby that my belly button just doesn't feel nor look the same. It is looser and looks a bit saggy. I started reading about d.r. on various fitness sites and it seems to be a common ailment that is not very well known to most women. I see countless super thin and fit women at the gym who have puzzling 'pooches.' The thing is, going back to crunches and sit-ups like most of us exercisers are prone to do soon after baby, is actually counter-productive and can make the condition worse. What I believe to be d.r. right at my belly button isn't terrible enough to give me a pooch because, fortunately, it is only 2-3 fingers widths and doesn't extend above or beyond the navel, but it's annoying enough to me that I'm considering looking up the d.r. specific exercises to try to close it. From what I've read it can often be fixed without surgery, even years after one's last pregnancy. Anyway, just some thoughts, and I seriously doubt you have ovarian cancer! (Though I know because a friend of mine who has battled it the past 6 years that abdominal bloating is often the first and only symptom.)