Thursday, December 27, 2012

New Year's FA REVISED!!!


Because of trail conditions we are going to change the location of the FA 50 on Saturday. We are going to run from the Mackie Shelter instead of the Nordic Shelter. That’s the same one that we use for the John Dick Crusty 50 K (it’s on Hwy ZZ about 0.9 miles Northeast of Hwy 67 and 0.55 miles Northeast of the Scuppernong parking lot on the North side of the road for anyone that needs some clarification). If you get to the stop sign you went too far).

Same start time… 7:00 AM. Also if everyone that comes could kick in a few bucks to Tom Bunk to cover rental of the shelter that would be greatly appreciated.

Hope to see lots of people there!

Monday, December 17, 2012

New Year's FA


LPTRunner, Tom Bunk, has announced he will be hosting a 50K FA event on Saturday, December 29th. 

Because of trail conditions we are going to change the location of the FA 50 on Saturday. We are going to run from the Mackie Shelter instead of the Nordic Shelter. That’s the same one that we use for the John Dick Crusty 50 K (it’s on Hwy ZZ about 0.9 miles Northeast of Hwy 67 and 0.55 miles Northeast of the Scuppernong parking lot on the North side of the road for anyone that needs some clarification). If you get to the stop sign you went too far). 
 
Same start time… 7:00 AM. Also if everyone that comes could kick in a few bucks to Tom Bunk to cover rental of the shelter that would be greatly appreciated.

Everyone is welcome - Hope to see lots of people out there - Should be a great way to close out 2012!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Hellgate 2012!

Race Report from LPTRunner, Jodie Taylor...

OMFG!  Now that was pure torture. I am a proud Hellgate 2012 finisher of the “Baby” year. Last year, Horton called it the “Sissy” year because the weather was relatively nice, freezing temps at night with 40s-50s during the day. This year I heard him calling it the “Baby” year. I could not have prayed for better weather. 40s at night and 60s by afternoon, although it did feel a little warm mid-day. Shorts and short sleeves were definitely the proper attire the whole race. Also, to make it even “babier” there was no infamous river crossing at mile 4, just a little creek, where I barely got my shoes wet. However, despite all of the easier conditions, in no way did it offset the difficulty of the course itself.

The 1st four miles are smooth and runnable. They make you think, “I can do this…”  Then the climbing starts…and never stops. It goes on and on and on and on…because it’s sometime around 1am, it’s dark and all you can see is either right in front of your where your headlamp lights the way or where you still have to go by looking at the trail of headlamps ahead you up the mountain. It looks awesome until it registers in your brain, “What?! I have to go all the way up there?!”  I don’t know how else I could have prepared for those 1st 13 miles other than to hop on a treadmill, set it on the highest incline setting and run for 3 hours non-stop or else just move to the mountains. When I did reach “runnable” sections, I floored it because I knew I needed to make up a lot of lost time. I’m soooo slow on uphills.

However, I could only run for so long until the trail would suddenly turn into treacherous single track with GIANT loose rocks covered by leaves in the dark. I do NOT know how people (like Robert) run over these rocks as if they were pebbles. Last year when I was crewing, every time I saw Marcel at an aid station, he always had something crazy to tell me about the trail, words and pictures still don’t do it justice. He would say, “Jodie, OMG, the rocks are giant!” “Jodie, you would not believe what’s in there!” “Jodie, OMG! The hills!” “Jodie, OMG, they weren’t kidding when they called it the FOREVER Section!”  Now I painfully know what he was talking about.

Jose and I caught up to each other and ended up running the majority of the race together. Our strategy naturally fell into place. I led the pace on the downhillls, he led the pace on the uphills and whomever was in front at the time was the lucky one who got to lead us through the scary giant leaf covered rock sections. I really really really did not want to mess up my ankles at this race. I would not have been able to keep trying like I did at Big Horn.

Let me tell you, I have never cursed so much during a race as I did at Hellgate!

During the latter half of the race, we got to see Jeff and Lynn Mallach at the aid stations. It was great to have their support, especially when we were becoming very tired. They really boosted our moral and got us moving along.

I will say, I did start doubting myself during the Forever Section, the 2nd last section of the race. Time felt like it was ticking faster and I felt like I was moving slower and slower.

When we reached the last aid station, we had 1 hour and 55 min left to “run” six miles. Sure, no problem…except the 1st three are all uphill. We have to climb up the mountain to get to the other side. I told myself, I had to get to the top in 45 min and “drop the hammer” at the top, this is where Coach Robert told us we need to drop the hammer and pass everyone to the finish line. I knew the last 3 miles were very runnable (I remembered Marcel telling me he was running 7min miles down the mountain), but the question was would my legs still be able to carry me?  Usually at the end of races, my legs won’t do what I tell them. I’ve never “dropped the hammer” in an ultra. In fact, I must like to hold onto the hammer(s) because I’m so slow  and tired by the end.

When Jose and I reached the top, we did just that and flew to the bottom, passing everyone that passed us on the uphill. It felt great to run! Seriously, it did.

Jose still had a little more to give, he made it across the finishline and I followed suit. We received our congrats from Horton, and our awesome Patagonia Hellgate 2012 100k++ finishers nano-fleece running hoodies and drymax socks. It was perfection! I finished somewhere close to last place, but I don’t care, I’m soooo happy and relieved I finished under the cut off time!

And a BIG CONGRATULATIONS to Robert, who came in 10th place overall and shaved a whole hour off of is best time! Amazing!  At dinner before the race, he said he wanted to PR but he was also contemplating trying to shave off 30 min to finish under 13 hours. He totaled all of his best splits and found that he would make it under 13 hours if he ran is best the whole race. Well, he did better than that! He must know the secret, the secret, the secret…Amazing job! Congrats to Jose, it was great to run with him again and or shall I say to experience the self-inflicted pain together. Angela is the toughest! Jose and I thought we had colds, but Angela, she bested us and came down with the worst cold ever and still ran more than half of the race!

Hellgate 2012 the baby year, that’s just fine with me!



Monday, November 26, 2012

A Wild Hair?!?!

Race Report from LPTRunner Troy Malinowski...

As this past Friday approached, I was looking at my training schedule of twenty-five miles and wondering where to run. The temperatures were supposes to be mild and I had a wild hair to use an event to get the miles in.

I searched the web and found the Tejas Trails WILD HARE trail runs scheduled and race day registration available. The event host 10K, 25K, 50K and 50M. I have heard that Joe puts on some good events, to include Bandera.

So, Saturday morning, I awoke early and still had the wild hair and drove two hours to the ranch in Warda. I was surprised when registration was inside someone’s kitchen and various runners awaiting the start sitting watching TV in the living room. I registered for the 50K, while contemplating the 50 mile.

Upon pre-race announcements, we learned the course was approximately a 7.8 mile loop. So we would be running four loops. At this time, the temperature was thirty-eight degrees and I was shivering in my shorts and short sleeve tech shirt, while many others looked to be wearing long johns. I believed a PR was possible, so I set up to pace for it.

At 0700, we were off. The first quarter mile was pasture into the woods on flat and sandy single-track to serpentine for the next three miles to the aid station. We were constantly running near someone on another portion of the trail, making it actually hard to know where you were later in the race. After the aid station, we ran through another portion of the pasture for about three quarters of a mile into a small gully winding a bit as we funneled into the corner of a field. The 10K runners continued directly back into the woods. We ran around the edge of the field, passing an operating oil rig and some tree lines before reentering the woods. This is where the most technical portion of the run began. During the next mile, we ran across wooden bridges, one curved along edge of gully into a steep and narrow climb. The climb was called the “Carpet Run”, as for the next two hundred yards, nearly straight up, was lined with carpet for traction and erosion prevention. And periodically small fifty yard patches of carpet spans thereafter. If you ever rode the wooden “Viper” roller coaster at Six Flags – Great America, this is what this portion was like. After leaving the coaster, we ran through camp ground area, field and into the barn prior to reaching the start/finish line to complete the loop.

At this time, I found that I was approximately seven minutes ahead of pace, so I slowed a bit to relax legs, which were feeling tight in the cool temperatures. I found my pace and was enjoying the run.

On Loop two, I ran front serpentine, through field and into gully pretty much alone, only seeing others on other trails, aid station or afar in field. About this time, I ran up on another runner and started talking to her as we climbed a hill. We continued to talk and proceeded into the Roller Coaster. As we came into view of the Barn, I found that I was about fifteen minutes ahead of pace. And then suddenly realized I DIDN’T PASS THE OIL RIG!! I missed the turn into the field.

What do I do now?? Run back and rerun the field? Continue running?

I continued running and tried to figure out. As I started third loop, I had a 50 Miler come up on me and set a good pace. We talked and he commented, “Just run the loop in the field twice as the trails intersect in the corner”, which I did. But mentally that hurt my run, as I was actually behind pace because of the missed loop and the sun was rising and heating up the air.

As I finished the third loop, I was about ten minutes behind pace and tried to push it. But thighs didn’t want to be pushed. I continued at a steady pace and finished strong, posting my second best 50K to date.

Joe and Tejas Trails put on a well organized event. A nice family like race, with many spectators and an enjoyable time.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Whispering to myself...

Race Report from LPTRunner Troy Malinowski...

Thinking of Tina and Cassie’s successful runs in the south, I decided I would run a southern race and use it as a motivator. 

As many know, it seems I never race, as I am usually training for the next goal or event. For the past two years, I have had a goal to become LPTR runner of the year breaking Julie’s 2010 completion of 942 miles. But life seems to take away the time needed to train and attend the many races needed. And my 143.17 miles so far this year was going to limit LPTR-ROTY this year again.

I am registered for a marathon and a half in January. I can train for that. And I could never start early enough for the Badgerland 24 Hour FX. But I have said for the past three years, I will not run it again.

With this all in mind, I signed up for the Whispering Pines 50K.

So, as the event approached, I scheduled my trip. Well, that schedule went out the window quickly and next thing I knew the event was a day away.

I left Wisconsin and the temperature was thirty-seven degrees. I drove and southern Illinois and Missouri brought temps of fifty-six. I was thinking the temperatures will assist my running and deter the local runners with the cold temperatures. Then, as I am nearing the event, a rain storm moves across and suddenly the temperatures spike to seventy-seven. And it is humid.

I arrive, check in and as the sun rises, toe the line. We begin to run and I am attempting to find my place on the single track trail. I find it, but the heart rate is a little high. I tried to slow some, but am being pushed as we are still grouped together. After a short time, we all found our places and ran steady. After the second aid station, the trail serpentines and we continually passed each other within arm’s reach as we climbed a hill sideways. As we approached the third aid station, we came within one hundred yards and the trail turned away, then back, then away, then back and within 25 yards we ran away and did a wiggly loop for the next mile. We were within one hundred yards of the aid station seven times and not passing the station. After reaching the third aid station, we crossed the road and about 200 yards later were headed full throttle down a steep hill for the next three quarters of a mile and back into the start/finish area after completing the first ten miles.

The 50K was three loops that started with two big rolling hills (like Magic Carpet ride and the Wall, placed together) into single track to Aid Station 2 at three miles, then snake-like for next four miles into Aid Station 3 and downhill into single track for last three miles. And these ten miles in a straight line were 1.6 miles apart total.

After the first loop, I came in and thought it could be a PR day. But after hitting the hills on loop two, much of the energy was gone. And at about mile 16, I was starting to dread the day and being on the trail. I was thinking about Michael’s comment to my Glacial 50 report, {the trail was telling you to} “spend more time and I will be kinder to you”. At this time, Charley Pride’s “I don’t think she’s in love anymore” came on. And it was certain the trail didn’t love me at that time. And the feeling was mutual. As the temperatures rose into the mid-eighties, I just kept trying to move forward. At this point, I experienced a first; the inside of my nose was sweating. And as I finished the second loop, I had lost thirty minutes and the PR day definitely ended.

I started loop three energized to finish with the mind set of only ten miles to go. How many ten milers have we ran over the years? This was going to be easy, at least mentally. And off I went and tackled those two hills. As I approached the hills, Charley shuffled back onto the IPod and sang ”The Easy Part’s over now” and the hardest part was going to be those hills and they were. With the energized attitude gone, I drudged forward and lost another fifty minutes on the last loop.

The race was mentally a challenge in the heat. But overall, the event was well run and the aid stations great. The trail had challenges with little technical spots.

I am happy it’s accomplished. With this I have firmed up my 2012 LPTR-ROTY with the accomplishment of 1054 miles in 24 hours. And I’m glad as Charley sings “The snakes crawl at night”. But then again, maybe this would have taken time off my finishing time, as I would have been screaming down those trails.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Jim’s Fabulously Fun Efffin’ 50K Run


On Sunday it was close to 70 degrees in Milwaukee.

On Monday, it was not.

But the first running of “Jim’s Fabulously Fun Efffin’ 50K Run” in and around Devil’s Lake State Park was to be on Monday, not Sunday. Instead of 67 and sun, we had temperatures that seemed afraid to rise too far above 20 lest they’d be blown back down by the wicked high winds that also joined us for the run.

Jim even invited a few snowflakes for his effin’ 50K run. What’s a few more flakes; we were already a pretty flakey crew before the snowflakes joined us.

So how did our little group of flakes find ourselves running for eight-plus hours on the coldest day of autumn?

Most Mondays there is a group that does a long trail run in the Kettle Moraine. Led by Jim Blanchard, it’s a mix of people whose schedule leaves them with their Monday mornings free. Evidently they got to talking a few weeks ago and decided that on one of their Mondays they should enjoy a bit more than their usual adventure.

Why not make a road trip to Devil’s Lake and do a Fat Ass 50K run? No fees, no wimps, no whiners.

I got wind of it and decided that it would be an excellent way to commemorate Veterans Day. Brenda Bland from Madison decided the same. For awhile, it looked like we would have about a dozen runners joining us. But broken toes, cranky knees and a few scheduling conflicts reduced our ranks to five on race morning. I like to think of ourselves as the Fabulous Five: Jim Blanchard, Brenda Bland, Dawn Chavez, Deb Vomhof and me.

We started at the Parfrey’s Glen trailhead near Devil’s Lake where we jumped on the Ice Age Trail and headed toward the park. As we prepped in the parking lot we debated jackets, glove thickness and the sort. We all figured that we would be cold at first but soon warm up. I weighed the options: jacket or vest? Finally I decided to take both.

And I finished with both on and fully zipped.

Was my memory slipping? Hadn’t it been less than 24 hours since we last saw temps in the upper 60s? Didn’t we have the windows open on Sunday morning?

I thought about this as I tried to get fluid out of my hydration pack. “Hmmmm… the tube must be twisted, nothing is coming out.”

“My bite valve is frozen!” said one of the Fabulous Five. Criminey! My tube wasn’t twisted it was frozen. I pulled my jacket over it and in a mile it warmed back to life. Unfortunately, later in the run I got a bit lazy (forgetful) about maintaining the line and it froze for good with about four miles to go.

Criminey.

But all a part of the adventure. The trail was gorgeous and gave us a little bit of everything: rocks and roots under a blanket of leaves, open fields, ridge lines, some easy running on two-lane ski trails in the woods and hard running on twisty single track. We crossed bridges, ran down roads, and even, to the dismay of a few, did a bit of boldering as the wind whipped at us on the exposed cliffs over Devil’s Lake.

It was a beautiful view if you had the guts to turn your head around and look at it while climbing. Most of us took Jim’s word for it though and waited until the top to see what we were hoping not to fall off into.

The view didn’t disappoint. When we got to the top we realized that we weren’t the only ones enjoying the day. A bald eagle was perched on a tree enjoying the view as well. He probably had a good laugh watching us muddle up the rock climb, quietly whimpering along the way.

Jim’s effin’ 50K course took us primarily on the Ice Age Trail through the park to another trailhead where we had supplies stashed. Some filled hydration bladders. Some emptied other bladders. And off we went.

Coming back into the park we began to discuss the wisdom of down-climbing the bolder field we ascended to get to the top of the bluffs. Brenda, who is more familiar with the park than the rest of us, suggested a detour that would take us down to a mile-long section of railroad track. We could jog along the tracks and rejoin the Ice Age past the rock field.

With light snowflakes making the rocks a bit more treacherous we grabbed on to the idea. That is until we were in the midst of the train tracks in a path of loose rock that was definitely not designed for foot traffic – running or otherwise. Run? Walk? Nothing seemed to work well. Undulating rocks. Nothing in the running magazines about how to traverse those. Add headwinds that made it nearly impossible for us to hear each other; but then there were words coming out of some people’s mouths that really weren’t worth hearing.

Or maybe that was just my own mouth. Effin’ 50K run… effin’ fun? Effin’… oh, never mind.

We waved to the railroad workers doing track maintenance (who returned our waves with looks generally reserved for those waving out the bus window that is taking them back to the asylum after their day trip to the city).

Back on the Ice Age and the last ten miles or so of the day. The hours on our feet were starting to catch up with us and we found ourselves walking more than running. Our banter became quieter.

And then Jim saw the sign that indicated only 4.2 miles back to Parfrey’s Glen. Back to the car. Back to the food. Back to the down jackets and big wool hats.

He was the proverbial horse closing in on the barn. I latched on behind Jim but lost him now and then has he leaped over fallen trees (which I stopped and stepped over) and zipped around sharp turns.

About a dozen times we thought that the parking lot was just around the next turn.

And it wasn’t.

But finally it was, and upon seeing it Jim hooted and hollered and crossed the invisible effin’ finish line in first place. I came in and soon after so did the rest. However, the one and only award of the day (a serving platter with “Devil’s Lake” emblazoned upon it) went to Dawn for her bravery in overcoming her fear and making the climb up the bolder field.

Job well done Dawn!

Actually, a fabulous effin’ run by everyone. An effin’ good way to spend Veteran’s Day.

Thanks for your sacrifice and service, vets!




Monday, October 29, 2012

Chicago 50/50 - 2012


Race report from LPTRunner, Mary Gorski...

What a difference a few rocks, roots, hills, pounding rain and chilly temps make.

Two weeks ago I did the Glacial 50K on the Ice Age Trail in Wisconsin’s Northern Kettle Moraine. The race course is about an hour’s drive from my house in Milwaukee.

This week, I drove a bit further to the south side of Chicago to run the Chicago 50/50. Like the Glacial 50, the course is on a trail. But instead of the rugged Ice Age, Chicago’s is a paved bike trail along the city’s lakefront starting just south of the Museum of Science and Industry.

Both races have a 50-kilometer and 50-mile option. This year, I opted for the kinder, gentler metric distance in each race.

Each event had lovely runners’ gifts: Glacial offered a fleece pullover; Chicago gave runners a long-sleeve tech tee.

This year both events had wind; LOTS of wind. At Glacial, the wind was combined with freezing rain and rapidly falling temperatures. The result was freezing runners and rapidly falling attitudes. We ran not to get a PR but to simply get to the heat of the finish building.

Yet as significant as the wind was at Glacial, it was even worse in Chicago. In some spots heading north it literally brought me to a standstill, my arms and legs flailing about as if I were a cartoon character trying to run but going absolutely nowhere. It seemed like Hurricane Sandy was getting some training on the Chicago course, preparing for her main event on the East Coast in a few days.

However, Chicago’s stop-me-in-my-tracks wind is my preference hands down over Glacial’s wicked one-two-punch of heavy cold rain and strong wind. At Glacial, the weather’s brutality was a constant. In Chicago, you got a break every five miles when you turned south on the three-loop course. “Uncle, uncle!” I yelled at one of the turn-arounds, as if to a bully who was waiting for me to yell the magic word before ceasing his abuse.

Going south, jackets were unzipped, gloves came off (because of warmth, not to punch fellow runners), conversations became lighter (with the wind at our backs we could finally hear each other speak). The wind gave us a little power assist from behind. This was nice. This I could do.

Of course, once runners made it to the start-finish area they had to return to the north-bound course two more times (in the 50K; the 50-mile had four out-and-back loops). “Just get to the turn-around, just get to the turn-around, just get to the turn-around…” This was our mantra as we moved forward on loops two and three.

The “we” for most of yesterday’s run was my friend Jay and me. After a bit of a hiatus from running, Jay has jumped back into the sport full steam ahead. Last week he ran a marathon so I figured that he’d be taking it easy this week. But when he pulled alongside me in the first mile he was doing a pace a bit quicker than I originally planned for myself. “Might as well stay together for at least a loop; I can back off on the next one,” I thought to myself.

So what does Jay say to me as we come in at the end of that first loop? “I’m going to let you go on the next loop; the pace is a little quick for me. I’m feeling last week’s marathon.”

I was starting to feel last week’s marathon as well even though I hadn’t actually run it. Must have been sympathy pains.

Back and forth we went during the next two loops, frequently coming together to grumble about the wind and encourage each other to just “make it to the turn-around; once the wind is at our backs it will be ok…”

Heading out on the last loop my legs felt like lead weights. Shoe inserts that normally added comfort to my feet developed an obnoxious squeak. I was getting a little grumpy as I once again was stopped in my tracks by the wind.

But then I looked at my watch. Driving to Chicago that morning I thought that 5:30 would be a good time to shoot for. It was about 50 minutes faster than my Glacial time two weeks earlier, but on a paved, flat course, I thought the time drop was realistic. With less than ten miles to go I realized that I could probably walk a good chunk of the third loop and still meet that 5:30 goal. And once I said “uncle” at the turn-around, releasing the wind’s brutal punch, perhaps my legs would perk up and I would be the proverbial horse heading to the barn.

In this case, the barn was a pop-up tent with Beth Onines’ legendary beans and rice for a post-race feast.

Finally, the last turn-around. I filled myself with high octane ultra-fuel: cola and Oreos. Sugar, caffeine and the wind at my back for the final five mile stretch: my legs perked up and I ran in for the finish, crossing the line just a hair over five hours (5:02 or 03; I forgot to hit my watch and Chicago does things the old fashioned way – the only chips you’ll find there are on the snack table; no instant computer chip timing).

Jay was just a few minutes behind me; giving me enough time to get my camera out for a finish photo.

The sun was still shinning, both of us seemed to be without injury, and the beans and rice were fabulous as always. We congratulated each other on our runs and then headed back to our respective states.

On the way home I celebrated the fabulous day with a visit to the Container Store in north suburban Chicago. Nothing like a brand new scrubbie holder for the kitchen sink to commemorate a good run.

As for the competitive side of the race, it looked like there were some strong performances in 50K and 50-mile divisions. Chicago has a fantastic course for fast times, in fact, the world 50-mile record was set there in 1984.

Results will be at the race website at: http://www.chicagoultra.org

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Glacial Trail 50 Mile Report...

Race Report from LPTRunner Joel Lammers...

I originally signed up for the 50K but decided to run the 50 mile because Ron Bero said he was going to run the 50 mile. The morning of the race, Ron showed up but made the decision to switch to the 50K. I really couldn’t blame him. Steady rain, wind and temps in the low 50’s do not make for an enjoyable run through the Northern Kettle Moraine. My goal was to break 8 hrs. but that was before I knew what the weather conditions would be.

Robert gave the pre-race speech, led us to the starting line and we were off. The first 5 miles it was dark and it was difficult to see the rocks & roots with the rain drops reflecting off the beam of your head light. I went out easy making it to State Rd. 67 (7 mi) in about 65 minutes. Even though it was raining the trail was in very good shape. In fact, it was nice & soft to run on. I continued my steady pace and made it out to Butler Lake (13.5 mi) in just over 2 hrs. Sal helped me lube up some private areas that were chaffing and I made my way to Mauthie Lake (20.5) which I made in just over 3 hrs. The trail was really taking on water but was still very runnable. I slopped into the 25 mile turn around at about 3:45 which was 5 minutes ahead of my planed time. During the run I was eating a GU every 30 minutes along with snacking at the aid stations. I was drinking Succeed & Heed in my bottle and water & Coke at the aid stations. Due to the cool weather, hydration was never a problem. The relentless rain continued.

I headed back still able to maintain a steady pace and I was still feeling good. I wanted to cruise to Butler Lake and then really start pushing myself if I had anything left. I hit the 50K turn around point and the trail turned into a muddy cow path. Rumor has it that when Todd Egnarski was running the 50K, he took extra steps and worked up the trail on purpose. The next 10 miles were muddy and very hard to run in some areas, especially the flat areas where the water pooled. My pace slowed due to the conditions. I hit the State Rd. 67 (43 miles) with 67 minutes left to make my goal. Fortunately the rest of the way was mostly hilly & rocky so the trail was wet but light on mud. I had a little left so I was able to make a respectable push to the finish. I made my goal by 3 minutes. I was wet, cold, muddy, tired and glad to be finished.

Thank you Robert for putting on a wonderful event and I especially thank all the volunteers who worked in less than ideal conditions.


The End.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

My Wild Adventures at Wild Duluth 2012...

Race Report from LPTRunner Angela Barbera...

As I was standing on the podium bathed in the applause and accepting my slate grey cap award for winning the competitive Super (not senior) Masters Woman Champion division I reflected upon the past 20+ hours and determined yes, to enjoy this moment was worth it all !!
Wild Duluth 2012 was rerouted this year due to the damage suffered in the Jay Cooke State Park. I read about the twists and turns in the race packet paying close attention to the description of a confusing intersection – whatever direction it is approached from, remember to run straight through it. The RD Andy Holak made sure to describe the intersection pre-race advising us that it would be marked – remember to run straight through it. I understood exactly what I needed do – therefore when I came upon the intersection around 13 miles after carefully reviewing the signs and flagging I made a sharp right. Up a single track trail, to the right again, and then up a steep hill called Spirit Mtn – only to be shocked to find that I had reached the Spirit Mtn Aid Station 31mile turnaround. Back, back, back to circle the confusing intersection and discuss with my cohorts that certainly straight was not the correct direction. Our group of seven were now bringing up the rear.
The day was beautiful, the volunteers great, I enjoyed the new course. It was technical and included some rock jumping. Talked with old friends made some new friends – was the recipient of some great stories from John T - had a wonderful time. By 47miles I had made up the time lost in the morning and was hoping to beat my time from last year. I only need to get back to the finish that was 15 miles away in 5 hours to make the goal. My stomach was starting to grumble but I figured I could get it done!
I probably should have grabbed some soup at the aid station – but oops, did not! My stomach finally won a couple of miles later and the contents were expelled from my body. I felt better almost immediately but woozily continued to follow the blue blazes on the trees with my headlamp. About 5 minutes later I found myself alone and confused about where I was and how I got there. There were a lot of paths, however no flagging or blue blazes in sight. On the positive side it certainly woke me out of slumber. The next 30 or so minutes were spent trying to find the path and determine the best option. I did not want to be “that runner” and not even sure how I would even be found if someone went looking for me in several hours. Finally I came across a white blaze on a tree and it was marked as a trail spur to the main SHT trail. I affectionately patted the tree and was considering kissing it. I found my way back to the SHT and luckily there was a flag so I could determine what direction I needed to continue in. After another hour or so or so I finally reached the aid station and upon my inquiry was told I was not the last runner and could continue on. My stomach was back to fighting with me and the volunteers generously offered me a piece of their pizza – however I knew that would not work. I grabbed half a banana and some coke and continued on.
Soon I paired up with my new friend Gary confident that he was my angel and I would not get lost and subsequently ripped apart by the coyotes in the wild that night. A couple of miles later the banana along with my shoes were expelled from my stomach – making me feel like a new woman. With only 6 or so miles to go I knew I would not need any additional food or drink to make it in, and that we would finish and we did!!
The finish was not pretty but a finish is a finish and looking back on it now I can say I truly enjoyed the entire day. Friends, trails, scenery, and a good chili at the end…can life get any better? A great weekend!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Glacial 50/50: Where's a hot flash when you need one?


Race Report from LPTRunner Mary Gorski...

“Where’s a hot flash when you need one?”

This is what I was thinking at about mile 25 of today’s Glacial 50K. I haven’t been so cold at a run since I was wading through frigid, waist-deep water – while it was snowing – at last December’s HUFF 50K.

Rain was predicted for today. Saturday night it stormed in Milwaukee, about an hour south of the course.

I expected rain. But when we walked from the house to the car it was actually warm pre-dawn. Wearing ¾ tights, I grabbed a pair of shorts to change into before the start. Our car thermometer showed 60 degrees as we headed out of Milwaukee.

“A perfect day for a run!” I thought, as did Jay Hodde, who stayed with us the night before his 50-mile attempt.

And it was a perfect day for a run... if you stayed in Milwaukee. But Greenbush (race headquarters) had reportedly received two inches of rain in just the first hours of its 50-mile and 50-kilometer races. Temps were in the 40s, not 60s.

“I had no idea it had been raining up here,” said a friend who drove up from Milwaukee to see the end of the race. 

Thanks for the reminder Tom.

It was appropriate that RD Robert Wehner gave out fleece pullovers as participant gifts. We received them when we signed in and I fantasized about mine for many miles. I also fantasized about hot tubs, hot cocoa, and simply the concept of “hot” itself. Three weeks earlier I had been in warm and humid India and after a couple of weeks of incessant sweating, I told myself that I would never complain about the cold again.

Oh how quickly one forgets.

Several volunteers noted that there was little kidding around with runners at the aid stations. We were all business as we tried to get in and out quickly, not because we cared about setting a personal best, but because we wanted to get to the end while we could still feel our limbs.

The rain occasionally calmed, but never stopped. As we headed back north, the winds picked up as well, plastering saturated shirts and jackets against our cold bodies, sapping out any heat that was still remaining.

Even my shoulders were cold. I’ve received the cold shoulder from others, but I never actually experienced my very own body giving me the cold shoulder treatment.

So obviously the cold was my most significant memory of this year’s Glacial 50/50. And since I am prone to a bit of embellishment (exaggeration?) it probably wasn’t all that bad. Actually, the first half was sometimes quite pleasant. So I am only exaggerating about half (a third?) of the race.

But it is no exaggeration that it was a good event. Robert warned us that there wouldn’t be as many signs on the course this year and that we would have to pay attention to the Ice Age yellow trail markers ourselves. But it was fairly easy. Not too many lost souls today.

The Ice Age Trail in Wisconsin’s Northern Kettle Moraine usually drains faster than my bathtub after a Draino treatment. But today it was a soupy mess of mud. Fallen leaves on rocks looked like poorly applied, and slippery, decoupage.  Yet surprisingly, a lot of the trees managed to hang on to their fall-colored leaves even in the midst of the rain and wind.

Before my teeth started to rattle, I thought that the woods were quite pretty. And even after I started to shiver, I still thought that they were pretty but it was the kind of pretty that I felt like enjoying from inside the car, with a cup of coffee in my hands and a blanket on my lap.

Coming to the finish my plan was to just keep running and go into the Greenbush community building. I didn’t care about a finishers’ medal. All I cared about was heat and dry clothes. Evidently the volunteers felt the same way because the finishers’ table was under the awning by the building’s door. The finish line was still at the roadway but well-wishers cheered us from afar, protected from the rain. And even protected, they looked cold.

I never broke stride as I made my way past the table, put my arm up for the volunteer to do a ring-toss style medal delivery around it, and headed inside, straight toward the hot vat of chili. Thank you Sally Wehner for having it ready and waiting. Just putting my cold hands around the outside of the crockpot brought an indescribable happiness.  

My finish time was slower than some years, faster than others. To be honest, I don’t know the exact time since I didn’t have the small motor skills to push up my sleeve and get to my watch. My hands were uncooperative until I got to that chili vat.

Several people had slower than usual times, but not the winners. Unfortunately, I don’t know his name but I heard that the 50K winner crossed the line in about 3:51. He hardly had time to get cold on the course. The 50-mile winner was in the community building while I was still eating my chili – and he only had an hour head start on the 50K runners.

Results will be at the Badgerland Striders website in the next few days.

Many thanks Robert and Sally Wehner for a great race, as well as the volunteers that braved the cold and rain. I thought that I was cold, but I am sure that many of them were doing worse.

Congrats to the finishers in both events, especially my LPTR and TP buddies. A big AGGGGGGHHHHHH to Todd Egnarski, and a special congrats to Jim Blanchard and Dawn Chavez who finished the 50K together after each taking some unintended time away from running.

If I keep mentioning names, I’m bound to miss someone, so enough. 

As for Jay, today wasn’t his for a 50-mile finish, but it was great to have the excuse of the race to spend some time visiting with him and Corey.

No more words; time to go back to my hot cocoa and see if I can stay awake through the Packer game.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

There and Back Again: A Runners Tale


Report from LPTRunner Marty Kanter-Cronin...

I am a house on fire. A microwave of flesh and bone, cooking inside out. I’m barely holding lunch in a rope knot twisted stomach. I’ve never tossed it during a run, and I’d really prefer not to break that streak right now.  I teeter on a taut line. Struggling not to fall and shatter. There is no one there to pick up my pieces. I’ve been at it for nearly 43 miles. Running out of the Eagle section of the Ice Age trail, past hwy 59 and headed south, I exit the open prairie where it was an unseasonable 80 degrees. Finally in the cool shade of the forest. The next 3 miles will take me an hour, as I try to get my system righted. The question is on my mind as I shuffle along, one asked of me many times over the past several weeks.

Why?

Why would anyone want to run from one end of the Southern Kettle Moraine to the other, and back again?

The question comes in two forms. The first is rhetorical; not really expecting an answer. Usually coming from a non-runner, it has the element of challenge as in “Why would anyone want to do that?”  For these people, a return volley “Why not?” is usually sufficient to end the conversation. They are not going to understand a real answer any way. The second kind of why is from many wanting an answer. Are you training for something? Are you running for charity? Is this a “Fastest Known Time” attempt?

It’s not all that complicated, really. I just wanted to see if I could. It really is that simple. It really is that fragile. To test myself, mentally, physically, spiritually.

So why the Kettle?  To quote Edmund Hillary, when repeatedly asked why climb Everest: “Because it’s there”. Because it’s out there, and someone has to do it. And I have to do it. An itchy feeling that just must be scratched; a thing to haunt your dreams and keep you up at night; a stone in your shoe that will not shake out. It is a good thing Everest is not in my back yard. Never mind that its already been climbed; I would have to do it too.

The Southern Kettle. To run there, and back again. All of it.  From Rice Lake to Hwy C, and then turn around, and do it again. 31.5 miles each way, 63 miles total. Simple rules: Do it solo, self-supported. No aid stations, no drop bags, no water stashed on the trail. Everything I needed I would carry with me.

There is elegance to the start of a local adventure. Minimal planning, no plane tickets, no shuttles, no set up. I am flush with excitement, starting at 4 am on a Saturday, the dark carrying its own kind of magic. I carry 2 liters of water and a pile of food. Probably too much, but that is part of the trial of the day. It is one of those axioms hard to defeat: if you have the room in your pack, you will fill it. I have over 5000 calories. 15 pounds or so, with headlamp and some other gear.

So I carry everything. Some of it’s a guess, you never know what the weather or your food needs are going to be. Many folks wanted to come and support me, and I appreciated the thoughts and gestures very much. It shows what great supportive community exists in Ultra running. But I wasn’t counting on anyone but me for any of my needs, simply because counting on myself was the point. In the coming months, many other adventures lay waiting, and most of the time, I won’t have that support anywhere to be found.

There is that mental support too, when you know you are coming to an aid station, or your crew. Once I got started, the only thing I could count on was me, so it’s good I like my own company. Interestingly, I actually still had that mental boost when I knew I was coming to a familiar spot. A road crossing, a landmark, anything. I would arrive, and the thought on my mind was “Wow, here I am! I made it to there!”

Mostly, though, I was just running. At first alone with my thoughts; run and think and run and think. Thinking thinking, thinking until suddenly you stop thinking. You let the animal out of the cage. You don’t think you just act. The mental energy burned away. Foot, rock, root, tree, turn, up, down, jump, move, look. Stop and look. Be there. Cresting Bald Bluff, sunrise just started. See what a glorious day it is to be alive.  I wasn’t thinking about where I had to be, what time it was, or how fast I was running. I was running. Moving through the forest, with a capable speed. It was just plain good to be here. It felt just right.

The section from Emma to Hwy 67. Usually too hot in the summer, or too fly infested, in the fall it is glorious. Everything was blooming in the prairie. Flowers, full, leaves, red and yellow and brown. Waves waves and waves of blowing, moving sea of tall grass.

There.

Hwy 67, Road X, Piper Road, Scuppernong, Pine Woods. The miles flow. I reach Hwy C, and Robyn is waiting for me. It was a nice surprise, unexpected. A kiss, a photo. I’m off.

Time to go back again.

As the miles pile on, it gets hard, then easy. Highs, lows. Thoughts of doubt, of my own ability. Euphoria. I remember two places in particular. After hitting 54 miles around Hwy H on the return, I realized “This is the farthest I have ever been!” I had such a high, I ran the next three miles under a 9 minute pace. I was floating on a cloud. Soon after, about 5 miles from the finish, between Duffin and Hwy 12 I hit a low low low. I was in that place where the brain is just saying stop. It passes.

There were times, as there always are, when I had everything I needed, but nothing I wanted. Times when food wasn’t going down to stay down, and I could have used something different. I dealt with it. Digging deep, working without a shovel, you find the resolve to keep going. Dig deep, setting heart and soul on fire, sometimes the only things that burn. Give me silence, water, hope. Give me struggle, iron, volcanoes. The poet Neruda.

In the end I used less than half of what I carried. My 15-pound pack could have been closer to 10 pounds, had I given it more thought. But, that was part of the point. What do I need? How much do I really need? I mean how much stuff have I ever gotten at an aid station? It seemed to me, not all that much. If I could figure out how to carry what I need, what kind of range would suddenly open up to me as a runner? What possibilities? Your imagination is the only limit to the possible adventures.

Running and Ultra running events primarily focus on time and competition, and I love Ultra events. The community, the atmosphere, the competition. It is the glue that holds many ultra people together. Races are always going to be a part of my ultra life, whether participating or volunteering. But to limit myself to that one facet of running is to leave out some great possibilities. Open it up. It can also be done for the thing itself. And any act done for itself should have elements of style, elements of fun, elements of challenge to it. (And not too many rules).

So I am reaching the 15-hour mark. Yet, for this run, elapsed time was never really much of a factor. It was about range, self-sufficiency. Fast and efficient was just one element instead of the only one. No one asked Edmund Hilary how fast he got to the top of Everest, just that he got there at all.

After Hwy 12, with about 4 miles to go, twilight was setting in. The timeless time of October light. I ran out the sun, from east to west. Another feeling rises up. I wasn’t hungry, tired, or anything. I was just ready to be back again.

Robyn and a good friend of ours, Cheri are waiting for me. Headlights on, and cheering loudly. A nice surprise. Watermelon, and an Izze soda quench the fire in my belly.

Deep breath.

So, I made it there. And then, I made it back again.