Thursday, October 13, 2011

Do the Ultra Shuffle: Glacial 50 Mile

Race Report from LPTRunner Marty Kanter-Cronin...

I’m slow, empirically speaking. No, really I am. I am not even a speed bump on Kevin Grabowski’s butt when it comes to 50 mile race times. When I can measure the differences between me and the winner in HOURS, face it. I am slow. Now before you start arguing with me, trying to state any extenuating circumstances, age, experience, trying to bolster my ego, blah blah blah, let me just say that numbers are cold hard facts. Last time I looked there was no place in the race results for excuses.

In a 50 mile race, I want to be at the middle average line, say less than 10 hours (course dependent). I think I can do that. On paper, extrapolating out times based on past results at other distances, I should be able to run faster. Unfortunately for me races are never run on paper; the desire to do something and the ability to do it are quite different things. And it’s not that I want to beat more runners, it’s about suffering less. More efficient equates to faster times, but more importantly for me less pain and more fun. I love trail running, and I know that I am going to suffer in a 50 miler, but after about 10 hours I’ve had about enough thank you very much. 

And really I just want to get done before Joel and Ron drink all the Hamms.

OK, so the Glacial 50 mile race. I don’t need to tell you about the course, most of you have run it, volunteered it, and trained on it. It’s beautiful, simply. The race organizers and volunteers: Robert, et al: the best, simply.

My Glacial race.  I actually love the fact that I am not that good at the 50 mile distance, I have so much room for improvement. Christine once said to me “I don’t think anything slower than a 12 minute mile is running”, and she’s right. Slower than that is walking, or shuffling. So at Glacial it was run run run run until I hit about 25 miles and then it was run walk shuffle curse run shuffle walk kinda run shuffle trip curse finally more running more cursing more shuffling.

I do ultra’s, but right now I don’t always do ultra running. Sometimes I do the ultra shuffle, with a side of ultra cursing.

And yet I still do them, because I love them. So while it was a great day for a trail run (walk shuffle), I was feeling dead-legged from doing my first four 50 mile races in 90 days (the definition of insanity: doing something over and over expecting different results). My mental attitude and self talk was negative all day (as Marcel once told me: “hey you signed up for it”).

I nearly dropped out of Glacial three times, but someone always kept me going. The first time, an aid station worker more or less TOLD me to get back on the trail. This was at mile 21. Then again at mile 25, the turn around, I thought of dropping. This time I pulled myself back into it. Then at mile 29.5, Jodie T was my savior. She pulled me out of the AS.

At mile 36.7, Marcel was dropping, having issues with an IT, and it was my turn to get Jodie going. I could tell she really wanted to be was done. Peer groups can spur us into all kinds of actions. A teeter totter of mental states and small things can push us up or down; make us quit or go on.

Those of us who have run with Julie Treder know her trademark laugh. She seems to laugh off the pain, push it all, discomfort, ego right off with a healthy dose of humor. I thought of that attitude at this stage, mostly because Julie was there at the Butler Aid station, trying to get me going. It worked (thank you Julie!), I got out, dragging Jodie with me.

I tried for a while to keep Julie’s humor in the situation. After a while I lost it so instead I found anger. I cursed. I decided to get really really MAD. From mile 36.7 to 43, I ran 12.5 minute miles, running and not shuffling almost all of it.

Arriving at mile 43, Hwy 67, I was gassed. Angela and Krishna were there, as well as Pat Gorman. I told Pat  I was trying to break 11 hours when I saw him at an earlier AS, and here at Hwy 67, he told me: “you better get going if you are gonna break that 11”. I said I think I have to give up that plan. He said that was a good idea. Angela and Krishna were great, taking care of me, giving me Code Red Mountain Dew and some shade. Angela put a bag of ice in my hat and told me to keep it there. I did, and for an hour as I ran, the ice melted and ran down my back (thank you Krishna and Angela!).

Somewhere in that next 7 miles, though the shuffling cursing walking and running, I realized I still had a shot at a PR. I ran 11:16:26 at Marquette back in August, and while 11 hours was out of the question 11 hours and small change was not. When I got to the point of where I had about 2.5 miles left, I looked at my watch (which I rarely wear, for a reason) and I figured a 12.5 minute pace would get me there.

At that magical point of ONE mile left, I had 10 minutes (needless to say the ultra cursing took on a new dimension). Joel once said to me “you gotta hang your hat on something” so I dug in deep, and managed a 9 minute and change last mile getting a PR by about 35 seconds (11:15:51), depending on where Robert has me crossing the finish line.

They say it takes a village to raise a child (or an idiot), and I doubt I would be successful in any respect without my running “village” the whole LPTR gang.

And extra thanks to the following people (in no order), for making my shuffle a success.

-       Jodie T. Girl, we keep doing these things and doing them together. Thanks again for being my partner for much of the day, leap frogging and spurring each other into action. I would not have finished without your help.
-       Angela. For advice, for being there. Knowing you were waiting for me made the difference at times. I hate to disappoint people. I admire your toughness, and tried to find some of it though-out the day.
-       Aid Station workers. Jeff M at the first stop. Julie T. For taking care of me at Butler Lake AS twice, both in and out. Krishna, who tried to get me out of the Ultra-Death-Stare by chatting me up. The guy I don’t know, who pushed me back out at mile 21.
-       Kevin G. - K-man, it was great to be with you, riding up together, sharing a room with you, Jose, Jodie and Marcel (you gotta stop hogging the covers though).

Where I lacked in running elegance I made up for with a lack of speed. It weren’t pretty, and it sure weren’t fast.  Sometimes doing it when it’s hard and it hurts is what defines our character (or the edges of our sanity). To succeed when we shouldn’t; to persist when we have every reason to quit.

OY! Get this: the Glacial Course is now both my 50K and 50 mile PR. Go figure.  I look forward to seeing it again next year.

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