|At the start...|
I had almost forgotten the familiar feeling…the anxiety before, the rush leading up to the start, the headlamps bobbing into the dark...the laughter and cursing excitement shared by all as they ran through the woods, leaving it all out there.
This was my first ultra after an intensely busy school year. I had decided sometime after the season had pretty much wrapped up last summer that I needed to start training again, running long again. In fact, since architecture school was SO intense, I needed it more than ever. Running kept me grounded, and I was really just not myself without those long afternoons in the woods. So after training all winter on the trails of the Milwaukee River and the Southern Kettle I had decided to of course sign on for Chippewa, one of my all-time favorite races and the course where I ran my first one in 2010. Then there was talk about another 50k, perfectly positioned 4 weeks before Chippewa…sold! The race fee was a donation toward the RACC (Racers Against Childhood Cancer) which Amanda K. put together with Nic Giebler. Pain has never been so cheap!
The last few weeks leading up to the NK50K Jodie Taylor and I began running the trails in the Northern Kettle to get more time on the hills and to learn the trails better. Deep snow, quiet woods and abundant ice was free for anyone who wanted a helping. In fact, if you didn’t get enough of the ice then, you got plenty on race day since the trail was about 70% covered in the stuff. During the first half it was pretty decent, cold enough to not have the water slick sitting on top. Still some pretty slick spots anywhere the pines were blocking out the sun, and I got a REAL good look on my back of one of those, thankfully no harm done.
The race started at 6:00 sharp, which was pretty amazing since Nic and a few others shuttled everyone from the southern tip to the northern. After a couple of group shots they gave the go ahead and everyone set out. I was glad to be able to run with Robert and Logan for the first few miles or so and catch up a bit with them.
Until Robert dropped me I was able to average 10 minute miles for the first 20 miles which I was extremely happy about with the ice everywhere. Only real bumps along the way were some leg cramps that came on about that time reminding me that I really didn’t get enough speed training in to sustain those speeds/effort for that long. Ran into Nic at Mauthe Lake and he had EVERYTHING you could need in his truck! Couple of S-caps later and I felt better. He informed my Logan was about a minute ahead but I never caught up to him. In fact pretty sure he lied Figured he could smell the barn and was stretching it out a little in the home stretch. Came in at 5:50, plenty tired and just glad it was over thrilled to get a race in finally!
The people organizing the race were great, it was low key and helluva lot of fun. In all honesty, I had a great time out there.
Next year the tentative date is the first Saturday in April. Although there was plenty of LPTR’s up there this time around, this is too close to pass up and is a perfect peak run/race/excuse/whatever before Chippewa…just putting it out there.
It’s been a few days now, I’m sore and finally feel like myself again…looking forward to Chippewa 50k!