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.

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