Thursday, October 10, 2013

Birkie Trail Marathon


Race Report from LPTRunner Joe Fitzgibbon...

On Saturday I made it back to the start line of my favorite marathon.  I love running the Birkie.  Here’s why
1.     Tough - With 4500 ft of elevation in 26 miles, it is not too different from running 4 consecutive black loops at Lapham.
2.     Small - The race is growing in popularity.  Now in its 4th year, there were around 130 runners at the start (and 109 that would cross the finish).
3.     Point to point - I just like a straight line course.  Start in Hayward, first one to Cable wins.
4.     Beautiful - I wish I could spend more time in the Chequamegon Forest.
5.     Well run - Good aid stations, bike patrol on the course, multiple events plus a kid’s race, great food and beer at the end.

In short, I had a great race for the shape I am in.  I ran this race faster in 2011.  This year I got a late start on training due to a foot injury in spring.  I ran the race in 4:51 with a very even pace.  Here are the highlights;

What worked / what went well
Pacing - I started the race with the mindset that I was racing a 10k – and the starting line is 20 miles down the trail.  It worked for me.  I held as even a pace as I ever have in a marathon or ultra.

Ice Bath – I am a believer.  6 minutes of soaking in a tub full of ice after the race, and my ankles felt springy again.

What didn’t go well / what to improve for next year
Hill Training - Didn't get nearly enough.  I ran about 9 black loops total in the weeks leading up to the race. More would have been better.   Next year I plan to run 40 in the 18 week span between Ice Age and Birkie.  

The Taper - Like always, I screwed it up.  I just have a hard time passing up a ride, or run, or Spartan-fit class.

Lucky breaks
Weather - Starting line temperatures were in the 40’s and there was cloud cover most of the day.

Chafing - It started mid race and not every aid station had petroleum jelly.  Fortunately I found a tube of brand-name healing ointment on the trail around mile 17 (dropped by some unfortunate faster runner).

Door prize - I won a subscription to a reputable trail running themed magazine!

Favorite Moments
The last 6 miles - I am going to paraphrase a quote from one of the LPTRs, and I really believe this.  "We put in all the hours of training just for that brief feeling of invincibility that you sometimes get late in a race."  I got that feeling this time and it was AWESOME!

Crossing the finish - My daughters were waiting for me, and we all crossed the finish together.

The feeling of competition - anticipation at the start, the lift you get when someone cheers for you at an aid station, utter exhaustion lying on the ground 10 minutes after the finish, and the reborn fervor for next year as you mind turns over ideas to do it better next time.


Not catching my wife - She ran the half marathon again.  Last time I caught her at mile 24.  This year she beat me to the finish.  Nice work Sarah!

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