Tuesday, September 18, 2012

North Face Enurance Challenge Madison, WI 50 Miles

Before I start saying anything about this race I want to thank both of my pacers and all of my crew, I could have never done this without you all.

I will start right away on Saturday morning, race morning. It was a very cold low 40 degree morning in the Kettle Moraine State Park but excitement was very high among the competitors. I had this set as my "A" race for the year and I really wanted to PR at this event. Training was solid throughout the year and I had tapered well so I was ready to just let loose at this event, I was ready to crash and burn if thats what it came to but I wanted to put it all on the trail. Knowing that runners, especially ultra runners are their own worst enemy on the trails I had 2 solid pacers and a great smiling crew chief to cheer me up at all the aid stations. Waking up at 3 am for a race that starts at 5 is never easy because it gets your emotions going really early in the day. I was freezing when we got out to the car so I had on 3/4 tights, a long sleeve shirt, and a great running jacket for clothing, Skora Bases on my feet for the start. We all huddled near space heaters placed by the start line and waited for the man himself, Dean Karnazes to come out and give us all a little pep talk before the start. He is a very cool guy by the way but more on that later.

We take off and I am surprised that no one takes off like a bat out of heck, I mean it was 5 in the morning and pitch black so I get the being cautious thing. I took off at a good pace and I was confident that I had prepared well. I really noticed a change in temperature once I got into the trail, I was over dressed and had 6 miles till I would be hitting the aid station. I unzipped the jacket, exposed my wrists to stay cool and most importantly picked someone to run with. I had been running next to a girl that won the girls division of Land Between the Lakes 50 miler, my first 50 mile race, so I knew she was a great runner and I would PR if I could stick by her as long as possible. We ended up running together into the first aid station and I made my move from there, early in the race I know but I wanted this one bad, and decided that I needed to stay in front of her and pick up some more runners. Really I felt great, my shoes were climbing well and flying down the hills with ease.

As soon as the sun came up and there was light I was into some of the crazy hot fields in the park. There was a lot of moisture on the grass which soaked my shoes early on but really they breath well. I didnt see crew for aid station 2 or 3 so I was just continuing to push my pace in great anticipation for my crew to rock. I had two water bottles in my hands loaded with 2 gels in each and S Caps in my back pocket. I managed to get down one gel after the 3rd aid station but that was it until I hit my crew at the 4th aid station and got a slim fast down. I just couldnt handle gels in my stomach so I obviously need to learn my body more nutrition wise but today was not the day for that, I wanted to be fast.

From aid station 4 to aid 5 was 7.1 miles, a long hilly, sandy, wet stretch. I was able to pick up a pacer at the end of all that to turn around and to it again. I am lucky enough to have a dad who is a rock star runner and he pushed me really to my limit for this section, we chased down some runners and also flew on some down hills. I was feeling my calorie deficit bad and I needed something, basically a miracle at aid station 6. My crew was awesome and Amy already had bottles ready for me, I asked her to throw an elixer tab, basically a lemon lime electrolyte mix in the bottle and let everything rock. I walked out of this aid station with my buddy Dennis and wouldnt ya know he is great at pushing potential as well. I was being pulled along through some of the biggest hills on the course and I was loving it. On the outside I probably didnt look that way but on the inside I was so happy to be running all day.
As Dennis and I came into the aid station my awesome crew chief said " Hey, there's Dean. Go get him" with a big smile on her face. So I took my dad out and we cranked it up to a whole new level. I was dead at this point, nothing left in my legs and only about 250 calories taken in so far. We hammered as much as we could through the course and caught Dean. We talked for a bit and than I had to continue the push to the last aid station before the finish. Once we arrived at the last aid station after a brutal hill climb I saw a guy that was in the lead, I felt so down, I thought he was already finished and waiting for another runner. Come to find out later he made it 46 miles and dropped, it will happen to anyone, if you think you feel good in an ultra just wait a minute..... you wont anymore. My dad led me into the station screaming fast and I headed out with Dennis for the last 4 mile stretch. This was a big time sandy stretch but there was a huge prize at the end, a finishing time.
To be honest the best decision that I made all race was to not have a watch on or ask time at all. I ran a race, I didnt run a time I ran the race the way races are ment to be run. If I could suggest one thing to anyone racing that would be it. Cut out the GPS cut out the watch totally, enjoy your time on the course and race the runners around you.

I came out of the woods for the last mile with a group of three guys in front of me, none of which were running the 50 mile race but still rabbits to catch. I was pushing to drop my pacer and to also catch the crew just in front of me. I ran my legs off that last mile and it paid off. There was one sharp right turn and than about a 50 yard stretch and the finish, my dad was standing right at the turn and I thought I heard him say "push it in you will be under 8 hours" so naturally I kicked hard and to my surprise there was no finishing clock anywhere to be found. I crossed the line and collapsed, I had left it all out on the trail and I was happy with my run.

We had to wait around for a while to see the results so I tried talking to some of the reps and what not to kill time. My dad came up and told me the results and I was shocked, I wanted to see it for myself to believe that I had broken the 8 hour mark. It felt amazing to push that hard and have success in the race.

                                          If you ever get a chance to meet Dean, do it he is amazing.

Never wear a watch when you race, its a great training tool and nothing else. (Thanks for that info Travis)
Eat more calories during the race.
Write a word on the bottom of your shoe that only you know about, it will drive you to achieve great things.

18th overall, 3rd in my age group

Run Real

1 comment:

  1. I ditched any type of distance tracking device for my last ultra as well! Like you said, just run the race :)