Monday, October 31, 2011

100 Mile Double Door County Fall 50...

Race Report from LPTRunner Aaron Schneider...

I grew up in Sturgeon Bay, the county seat of Door County.  Living in Milwaukee now I still consider the roads and trails in Door County has my home course… all of it!  I love it up there.  To me there is not a bad season to enjoy a trip up there, but obviously Fall is one of the best times to visit the Peninsula.  Naturally I fell in love with Door County’s Fall 50; a relay event that offer a solo 50 miler that starts before the waves of relay teams.

All runners start at the far northern end of the Peninsula in Gills Rock and follow the Green Bay shoreline all the way to the end of the fifty mile course in Sturgeon Bay.  From an ultra run perspective this event is filled with more energy than any other 50 miler I’ve seen.  Just a few miles into the race and your already greeted by honking cars of relay runners heading for the start of the their event… all of which are probably trying to figure out why someone would voluntary run the whole course by themselves.  Once your out into the think of the course you find the same conversations you’ll find at any other ultra: about what have you run lately, what injuries are you recovering from, etc.  But you’ll also hear everyone talking about the amazing scenery, and how often it changes along the course.  From majestic views of the water to cliffs covered with fall color, and the interesting character of each of the small towns we pass through.  Most of the runners have been up to Door County before and lots of them are attempting their first Fall 50.  It’s always great for me to hear what the folks from out of town are saying about the place I grew up.  Its fun for me to share some of the stories I know from over the years of living in Door County.

Unless you’re in the top 5% of the 50 mile race you’ll likely be caught by relay runners during the journey down the Peninsula.  The energy they bring with as they are blowing by you is actually not as distracting as you might think.  Many are very encouraging (and sometimes amazed) of the 50 mile solo runners.  Plus most of the relay teams are themed and add a little entertainment to the day.  The race director is focused on getting all of the runners off the course before dark, because the course uses county road the entire way; the vehicle traffic can make for dangerous condition after dark for large groups of runners.  Thankfully the course is fast.  The hills are all in the first half of the race and in general are fairly forgiving.  The one thing the trail runners need to be ready for is that the entire course is on paved surfaces.  It’s a different challenge that I personal like to keep doing from time to time.

Aid for the event is good.  Each of the exchange zones for the relay serves as an aid station.  All are quicker, in and out types of stations with the essentials and friendly volunteers.  Because runners are allowed to have a support vehicle anytime, anywhere on the course many of the runners that have access to a crew for the day will load up a cooler of there personal goodies and just use as needed.  This is a great course for family and friends to follow you; since your not darting in and out of a forest.

Coming into the 2011 event I had competed two Fall 50’s already.

I love this event so much that I decided to do it twice in the same weekend.  Well, there is a little background to that idea.  One, it was something that came up a year earlier as I was sitting in the post race tent joking with friends about ultra-distance running.  “You know some day someone is going to double up this event and run 100 miles” I said.  My friends didn’t think it was an idea that was out the realm of possibilities, but I also don’t think they thought I’d be the one to do it first.  Second, in 2011 I had two DNF’s at the 100 mile distance.  Knowing that I had put in the needed training and was, as I feel, only hindered by illness and high temps; I was still looking for a 100 mile race for 2011.  Finishing a 100 miles had become a bit of a monkey on my back.  I had learned so much for each of my DNFs and I was anxious to get back out there and try again, but I didn’t need to fly half way around the country to do my next event.  Really, I had wanted to double up the Fall 50 for about a year, but my original plan of finishing the Superior Sawtooth 100 and taking it easy at the Fall 50 was already out the window.  Thus, it was time to kick the planning for the “Fall 100” into high gear.  I have family up in the area and they already know what I need for the Fall 50 course.  What I really needed was someone to crew for me during the night.  I wanted to run the extra 50 miles prior to the start of the Fall 50.  One thing I’ve learned from my pervious attempts and from what I’ve learned from follow runners that have finished the 100 mile distance is that it’s okay to set your self up for success.  Each of my pervious attempts at the 100 distance had been unaided.  Something I took pride in, but ultimately I was jealous of those that had crew with them when the going got tough.  So, this time I was going to need a crew, I was going to use my home course and I was going to use the energy of all the other runners out there that day.  I really felt I had a good plan.  The only thing was that I had to talk someone into staying up all night.  This past summer I was lucky to have connected with a new running buddy, Ashley Kumlien.  She had become a well accomplished ultra distance runner over the past two and half years (including a run across the US).  After crewing for her at the North Face 50 miler I told her of my idea, and without any convincing she was in.  I don’t know if she had more confidence in me than I did, or if she secretly just wanted to see what it was like to be out there all night long, as she is already planning her first 100 run for early 2012.  Regardless, we make a great team!  And to sweeten the deal Ashley also signed up for the Fall 50.  Thus we’d be able to run the second leg of my 100 miles together.  Who gets a pacer for 50 miles!?!?!?!?!?!?!  Yeah! I know! Lucky guy!!

I didn’t want this thing to be a simple show up and mutter my way through 100 road miles.  I still wanted to challenge myself and my crew.  We had a good plan and I not only knew we’d finish the journey together, I wanted us to have a finishing time that we could be proud of.  So I did the math. Since I was putting together my own race for the first 50 miles, I got to pick the starting time.  I decided to go with 8:00pm the night before the start of the Fall 50.  And the goal time would be 22 hours for the full 100 miles.  We would set out from right at the finish line of the Fall 50 and run to the start line in Gills Rock.

The run started out in Sunset Park with just Ashley and my parents and there were a few guys hanging around the finish area setting up stuff for tomorrow’s post race events.  After a few quick pictures, it was 8:00pm on the dot and I was off.  Into the dark night.  My parents headed home and rested, as they would have to meet Ashley and me in Gills Rock at 6:30am the next morning.  The roads were fairly quiet that night.  For the most part it was just me, Ashley in the SAG vehicle, and a clear starry sky.  No moon light though, still the stars made up for the darkness and not being able to see the fall colors we were running past.
Ashley kept track of my progress and made sure I was still hitting my scheduled times.  She would go out between four and six miles ahead of me.  As I’d arrive she’d already have the mini-aid station on wheels ready.  The pace was quick and I wanted to keep going, but since I was ahead of my times Ashley was smart to advise me to eat more and get of my feet for a minute or two.  A plan that would prove very beneficial later in the run.

Later in the night after the bars had closed it become completely quiet on the streets.  All we saw were the local sheriff portal cars checking on us.  By this time the local radio station had also heard of my run up the Peninsula during the middle of the night.  Ashley was updating me on the awesome music the radio station was playing and how they thought we were totally insane for running out there all night long.

I reached Gills Rock and the start of the Fall 50 in 9hrs, 45mins (5:45am).  Not quite was fast as I thought I might go, but perfect for what I still had head of me.  There was about an hour before Ashley and I would have to make our way to the starting line.  So after finding some dry clothes, I did what any good ultra distance runner would do at this point… I napped.  A good 30 minutes actually.  When my eyes opened there was just the hint of sunrise.  Was I ready?  Only one way to find out; put on a pair of running shoes and stand on my legs.  Honestly I was surprised how good they felt.  Perhaps it was the adrenaline or something, but I couldn’t wait to get going.  I think I was actually too excited to get to the starting line.  Ashley was still in the process of putting together her stuff to start her 50 mile run on no sleep.  Some of this was a blur as my parents had arrived and we were updating them on what we would need first.  I’m pretty sure Ashley and I were the last to make the group of about 100 runners that were doing the Fall 50.  We exchanged a couple quick hellos with two of my running friends, Christine Crawford and Amanda Musacchio, and than we were off.  I was almost surprised how fresh I felt.  Perhaps it was the nap, or the dry clean clothes or just the excitement that this was all just happening but I was in really good spirits.

To me it felt like we were off to a good pace, but I’m sure Ashley was wishing we could pick it up a bit.  This was her first Fall 50 experience and this fast course was made for her.  She had put in lots of road miles over the past two years and I know was inching to improve on her 7hr,59min fifty mile PR.  I am grateful and lucky that she choose to stay with me that day.  Miles 50 to 70 seemed to click off fairly quickly.  But once we hit a long stretch in Peninsula State Park where we got separated from our crew vehicle things got a little interesting.  I was used to seeing them every four miles at this point.  It would be a very long 7 miles from the entrance to the park to the exit.  We had planned to see them once during that stretch, but didn’t.  Thankfully Ashley had her phone with her and coordinated our crew to meet us near the exit of the State Park.  At this point I was really spent.  It would take me a good 10 minutes to recover.  One thing new during this run was the Advocare Protein shakes that Ashley was making me drink.  I had taken protein during my other ultra events, but not to this level.  They were small doses at each stop, but none more important than the one at the exit of the State Park.  With that break and the new fuel in my belly I was out on the course again.   It was to the point that I just wanted to keep moving forward.  I had started to lose time from the pace I wanted to keep.  So the more moving forward I did, even if it was walking, the better I felt in my head (although at this point, my legs were starting to ask for longer breaks).

My pace slowed but we were still making good progress toward the finish.  I just wanted to get this down to a 10 mile run.  In my mind I was breaking up the race into smaller parts.  But this was also the point in the race that the last of the relay teams had caught and passed me.  Now there were only a few solo 50 mile runners out there and Ashley and I.  No more cheering from the relay teams.  With 12 to go we did the math and figured I’d have to average 9min miles to come in at a finishing time of 22 hours.  This was also the point when my feet finally started to win the battle with my brain and heart.  As much as I wanted to suppress the pain in my feet; it was no good.  My feet were winning.  Ashley tried desperately to keep me focused on the run and not on the pain.  I was just trying to get to the 10 mile to go marker, I had lost the big picture.  I had accepting that I wasn’t going to make it to the finish by 22 hours, and I had figured that there wasn’t going to be anyone expecting me to finish (although I knew I would; I just told everyone I’d be there much sooner than I was actually going to be there).

I made it to mile 90.  Now I was just focused on running.  Forcing myself to pick a point in the distance and run to it.  I could tell it had become a very long day for Ashley at this point.  Our patience for each other had grown a little thin, but we still found time to make fun of each other.  And I gave Ashley plenty of material.  Seeing how my feet were so sore, I adopted a new running form.  Boy, was that thing pretty (and tough on my quads).  I’m not sure of all the jokes told in the last few miles but I do remember I was glad I was around good friends.  With four miles left my friend Phil who was in the relay came and found us on the course.  This lifted my spirits quiet a bit.  I guess Ashley was right, I did have more left in the tank.  I found a new, quicker pace for a few miles.  Being that I was now a good 20 minute behind the pace I wanted it had started to get dark.  I was doing everything I could to finish before it was completely dark, and I was doing everything I could to keep from having to put that darn reflective vest on (thankfully Ashley was wearing hers).  Besides now in the distance about a mile away I could see street lights, we had made it the edge of Sturgeon Bay!

The finish line area can be a bit crowded so we had my parents go ahead for the last few miles and meet us at the finish line.  We had no idea how many people would still be left from the relay, but since the post race tent is basically the best post race party I’ve ever seen; I guess I figured they’d have a hard time finding parking in that area.
We were now within ear-shot of the PA system at the finish line.  Although the official time limit had pasted (max of 6pm, or 11hrs for the Fall 50), there was still a clock running and there was still hundreds of people hanging around the finish.  Being that it’s my hometown and with all the added attention of hearing about this guy running 100 miles on the Fall 50 course; I think the excitement grew over the duration of the day and lots of folks were excited to see me finish.  A van with flashing lights from the radio station came and escorted me in from the last half mile, the race director made an announcement that we were reaching the finish line, and crowds of people came out to see this unique event come to it’s finish.  I came down the finishing shoot to cheers deserving more of someone that had set the course recorded or something.  I couldn’t believe the number of people there to see the finish.  It was a dream achieved, and a moment that inspired many. 

Grand total: 22hrs,28mins. It wouldn’t have been the same without the amazing support of Ashley and my parents. And I am grateful they were there at the finish along with two of my other closest friends.  Usually these ultra distance events are in far off remote places.  Quiet events, you know.  And that was something I enjoyed about them.  But this day a lot of people go to share in the joy of completely 100 miles.  In a way they were all part of the successful journey.

What next?  I don’t know exactly but it’s going to be hard to top this.  Right now I need another adventure and wheels are already turning in my head.  Who’s coming with me?? J

Editor's Note:  Link to Off the Couch Blog Article:

Link to Door County Pulse Article:

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Door County Fall 50

LPTRunner Christine Crawford's race report...

Sean Ryan, the RD for the Fall 50 owed me a free entry for winning the event a few years ago. I tried to make good on it in 2009 and 2010 but wasn’t able to run due to health reasons. I decided to cash in this year since my husband wanted to get away for a weekend in Door County, it worked out well.

I packed 2 small drop bags that I never used. The aid stations were sufficient. The bus ride to the start was filled with lots of chatter, mostly Bruce and I! We discussed the fact that his training wasn’t as strong as he would like it to have been and that I shouldn’t be on the bus to the start. 

 The solo runners started at 7am sharp! This was my fourth running of the Fall 50. I let lots of girls run ahead of me without giving chase. I was of the mindset that I was not racing this event so I found a gear and locked in. At this point, I still hadn't run more than 15 consecutive miles without taking walk breaks and haven’t run any pavement. 

That translated into sore quads at mile 18 which is where Kevin Grabowski and his family saw me first. They were up visiting his grandma. Kevin asked if I was feeling good (as Alison and the girls cheered me on) and I said from the waist up I felt great but that I already had sore quads and I wasn't hammering the speed and I was running on the soft shoulder so how could this be? He laughed and said it was because I had zero training for this kind of event. He said keep moving and he'd find me later. 

Two miles later I made up my mind I was dropping because now my calves hurt. However, I didn't have plans to meet Scott until mile 36. Shoot. So I started walking for a few seconds then would shuffle. Ouch! I've never had dead, sore legs this soon! Well I made it to the marathon mark in 3:44. Not bad I thought but wished my legs would cooperate. I was in the zone and missed the next rest stop. I had hardly enough water and no gels but I didn't want either of them anyway. In the mean time I passed 2 girls. I maintained my walking and running pace and completed a 4:25 50K. Based on my fitness level, I was pleasantly surprised.

Around that time I happened upon Kevin and the girls as they were walking the dog. I stopped and walked with them. The girls said they could run faster and I agreed. I told Kevin that mentally and fitness-wise I felt great but my leg muscles hurt so bad that I was done. I asked him to call Scott to tell Scott I was early pulling into mile 36 and could he come and get me because I was dropping. I had no idea how I was going to run another 5 miles so instead I walked until I saw a girl up ahead so I ran to her then walked with her so I wasn't alone. 

Turns out it was last year’s winner and she was throwing up. She didn't look good but had a crew. I was going to hang with her but she convinced me to try and jog so I did. I made it to the rest stop and Scott just drove up. He asked what was wrong so I told him my legs were dead and it hurt to run. He said "just muscle pain?” I said yes. He said "I think you should finish what you started". He said walk and move forward. I agreed to walk/jog another 4 miles to get to mile 40 because that sounded like a nice round number to drop at. He told me he'd check on me at mile 38 and pick me up at mile 40. Well he stuck with the first promise but he wasn't at mile 40! Wise-guy! He was at mile 42 aid station. He gave me some coke and pushed me out of there.

I saw Kevin one last time at mile 45 aid station. Kevin knew I'd claw my way to the finish so he showed up to congratulate me and snap a photo. Five miles to the finish but nothing left in the legs so I walked the next mile then decided to suck it up and get this thing over with so I could enjoy the rest of the day with my husband. Scott road by my side for a mile then drove to the finish. I completed the Fall 50 in 7:33. Not bad! Well that's about it. Now my legs are toast! We came back later for the awards and the party. I still think this is a top notch event so give it a try.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Wild Duluth 100K – 2011

Race Report from LPTRunner Julie Treder:

This was my third year of going back to Wild Duluth.  The trail and race just keeps calling me back.  This year, though, there were new eyes and new legs from the LPTR crew to join in the fun – Sam, Angela, and Tony.

Duluth is a beautiful city… and this race helps you to witness the sights of the town at its best – from above.  The 100K starts at 6AM, so the runners get to experience a few of the early miles in the dark.  Luckily, a good chunk of those early miles are either on pavement or going uphill.  Helps to lessen the danger of taking a tumble… speaking from experience.

Heading uphill, you get these awesome views of the city… all lit up.  Run a little longer and you get another awesome view… sunrise.  You can’t beat that!!  This year, not only were we welcoming the sun to view its rise… we were welcoming it to gets it warmth.  It was a pretty chilly start, so any extra warmth we could get, we wanted!

Julie and Sam
The aid stations are phenomenal at this race… and they are manned by the same crew THE WHOLE RACE.  These people are just wonderful.  Here I was complaining about how cold I was at the start of the race… but I’m moving.  The aid station volunteers were helping us runners out, never complaining a bit.  They served lots of delicious food (so I heard from Sam!) and offered out much support.

Being an out-n-back course, we got to see not only the return of all the 100Kers… we also got to see the 50K runners coming at us.  What a great way to pass the time, cheering on all the racers. 

The race is all on the Superior Hiking Trail, so that means it is TECHNICAL.  There are rocks, there are roots, there are bridges, there is mud… all to keep you on your toes (if you’re lucky!!).  There were lots of leaves on the ground for the race, making things a bit tougher… but also helping to buffer the fall, when you went down.  (Notice how I said “when” and not “if”…)

I keep coming back to this race because of the great job the race directors do (thanks to the Holaks!!), the wonderful volunteers, the very familiar faces from some of the other races I’ve been fortunate enough to do (it felt like a VoyageurQuest reunion!), the amazing views of Duluth in both the daytime and the nighttime, the beautiful scenes as you look out at Lake Superior, and the amazing Superior Hiking Trail that you can never take for granted.  If you want a well-run race during a great time of the year… put Wild Duluth on your calendar next year!!


Tony Cesario

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Breaking up is hard to do...

LPTRunner Marcel Uttech's Glacial 50 Mile Race Report...

You never see it coming, or maybe you do but you don’t acknowledge it for what it is-the beginning of the end. I was at Glacial 50 mile and had no reason to think that I would be unable to finish. I was actually really confident although my weekly mileage had dropped to around 15 miles a week for the past 2 -3 weeks. Big mistake I guess...and then I ran a 10k the weekend before and really strained myself good-had bad shin splints for like 3 days, tore up my hip flexors a bit too. 10ks hurt, I needed to get back to ultras…
The thought comes to mind, "You can’t fake a 50".

In all reality, I should have dropped down to the 50k. I was running this like a 50k, hitting the turnaround at like 4:44...pretty fast for me. My hip flexor on my right leg started talking at mile 21, and that should have been the writing on the wall to slow it down some. Not sure if that would made any difference or not, but at around mile 25 the IT band was joining in on the conversation, getting more and more irritated the longer I ran.

I was down to a hobble at mile 28 for all the down hills, and then by mile 31 I was hurting no matter what. I kept thinking back to this race last year, where I severely sprained my ankle at mile 4.5 and then ran the rest of the race and REALLY did a number on both legs. My right ankle took almost 8 months to recover from, and it is still not 100%. I ended up with bruscittis (spelling?) on my left lower leg right behind the achilles tendon, which became so inflamed I couldn’t even walk on it...hours of PT afterwards, rehabbing that thing back to be able to run...hours of pool walking, soaking, icing, etc. So all this is going through my head while the other part of my brain is trying to talk me into going on, finishing no matter what...even if I have to f@#$ng crawl in...

Saw Brad shortly before the turnaround. “Come get me,” he says…with a knowing smile…I thought about that, and realize there is no way I am getting anyone. I was shocked to come up on him at mile 27 or so, as he tells me he is dropping. He is thoroughly bummed, and I could see the strained look that I am sure I was wearing later. He says this is the first 50 mile he is unable to finish…I thought a lot about that over the next few miles.

I knew I couldn’t make the cut off anymore by mile 37. I was averaging 22 min miles with 13 to go. I thought about Hellgate, and how much I wanted to do that race. I thought about running in general, and how much an IT band issue can screw that up...I knew how the whole IT band works, the more inflamed it gets the more damage you are doing. I called it. Glacial and I were breaking up… 

I came over the hill to the aid stations at mile 37 and Julie Treder was standing there, I did the motion of one slitting their own throat...she frowned, me too. I explained my situation, feeling guilty the whole time like I was cheating on a midterm… As I told the person checking in the runners that I was dropping, it was almost surreal...I was still undecided! Oh man my stubborness is unbelievable! I saw Marty and Jodie there, both looked beat down. I told Jodie all she had to do was average 20 min miles and she was home. She nodded, already knowing that she was going back out. Marty looked like he just wanted this thing to be done! Ha ha oh man we all know that feeling! 

So off they went, and I plopped down on the grass. I was angry with myself for not going on, going through all the ‘what ifs’...still contemplating going back out...even though I KNEW it would have done me a lot more harm. I was injured, plain and simple. You see, what bothers me the most is the not knowing...well how MUCH harm? Would I still have healed up in time for Hellgate? I don't know...and I never will. I don't even know if I will even get accepted INTO Hellgate. That's the love of this game, you just never know what is going to happen out there, or when, or sometimes even why. It is truly the great unknown out on the trails. 

I went for a run Thursday in the rain, doing a slow black loop to feel everything out at IT pain, hip flexor a little sore. Overall it felt great. Glacial, we will be seeing you again next year. I learned some valuable lessons at this race. “Training is SO key”…and “Don’t get comfortable, cause that’s when things get uncomfortable…”

Congrats to all the finishers out there this year, this is a hard course in its own right. That's what brings me back...tough love.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Reflections on my first 50K – Glacial Trail 2011

Race Report from LPTRunner Joseph Fitzgibbon...

As Sarah and I were driving up to Sunday’s race, we experienced a little bit of déjà vu.  Sarah started reminding me about the time I ran the Green Bay ½ marathon in 2009.  The similarities were more than I had realized.

·       Then: Driving to a race on a clear, comfortably cool spring pre-dawn morning.
o   Now: Driving to a race on a clear, comfortably cool fall pre-dawn morning.
·       Then: Headed north on hwy 151 going to Green Bay. 
o   Now: Headed north on hwy 151 going to Greenbush.
·       Then: Ready to run 13 miles, the longest race of my life. 
o   Now: Ready to run 31 miles, the longest race of my life!

Three years ago a good friend challenged me to run the Green Bay marathon with him.  At the time, I was running on a treadmill a few times a week.  I remember commenting that, “running 26 miles would be insane”.  So after much persistence and given the provision that I could run half the marathon, I accepted.

Flash forward, and here I am on my way to run almost 2 ½ times that distance….with hills….and rocks, and roots and more rocks.  Wow!

So here’s the race report:

We got to the Greenbush fire station just in time to hear the last of the pre-race instructions for the 50 mile race, and to see the 50-milers set off into the wilderness of the northern Kettles.  That left me an hour to pin on my race number, eat a banana, drink the last of my coffee and think about the day to come.   The hour passed quickly, and before I know it I am standing at the start line next to Joel and Cobbie.  Not wanting to think about how hard this might be, I comment to Cobbie, “31 miles until my next beer.”  Cobbie’s reply, “Next beer, so your first beer was….”  And with that, we are off.

The first 7 miles to the Hwy 67 aid station are a breeze.  The temps are cool, the pace is manageable, the forest is full of fall colors, and the trail is full of rocks.  I fell once, about 25 minutes into the race (tripped on a downed branch).  Fortunately, the fall came on an uphill at low speed with a soft landing.  I am back on my feet in seconds.  No blood, nothing hurts.  Great!  Got that out of the way!

With 102 runners on a narrow trail, I figure I would have a better chance of running my own pace if I get through the first aid station quickly.  Sarah is already at the hwy 67 aid station when I arrive.  A few words of encouragement, a refill of my bottles, and I am back out on the trail.

From the Hwy 67 aid station to Butler Lake is 6.3 miles.    This part of the race passes pretty uneventfully.  I got into a pretty good rhythm and really just enjoyed the beauty of the trail.  One nice thing about this race course; there is some variety in the terrain and running surface.  Sure, it is mostly single-track through hardwoods where there are a lot if hills and rocks.  There are also some nice pine sections with a soft carpet of needles, and the occasional open section where you can feel the warmth of the sun.  As I am taking it all in, I feel grateful the challenges that have been thrown my way….never would have had this experience on the treadmill.

I arrive at Butler Lake ahead of Sarah.  Still feeling fine, I fill my water bottles and decide to see how quickly I can do the 4.4 miles out and back to Butler Lake.  Less than a minute after I leave the aid station, I start to see the front runners coming back down the trail.  I think, “Should be seeing Joel any minute now.”  And just then he passes by, looking strong and somewhere around 8th position.

When I get back to Butler Lake, Sarah is there waiting for me.  She fills my bottles, and helps me rifle through my drop bag.  I get a dry pair of socks and a dry shirt, some more salt tabs, a kiss for good luck, and I am on my way back to Hwy 67.

This is the point in the race where I started to feel fatigued.  It kind of crept up on me.  Around mile 22, I caught myself checking my watch more often.  I was still running up hill and down but it started to feel harder.  I figure, this is normal.  Most of my long runs have been about 20 miles, so I am moving into the uncharted territory.

Arriving at the last aid station was the highlight of the race.  Jeff Mallach calls out “Welcome Back!”  My wife tells me I am looking fresh and roughly on pace for a 6-hour finish.  Angela hands me a popsicle – WOW that was good!  I think to myself, this is about as good as I could expect to feel at this point in the race.  Linger a while taking in the moment, and then I am off for the final push.

The last 7 miles were fantastic.  My quads were starting to get tired, so I took more caution on the downhills.  Still running most of the terrain, I get right back into a rhythm.  That’s when I did it, my fantastic rookie mistake!  I pass the bathrooms at the Greenbush Loop Trails, and all of a sudden the trail gets much wider, flatter, softer and full of very leisurely hikers.  I turn around looking for a yellow blaze….and it is PINK!  (To the RD’s credit, the trail was very well marked.  When I got back to the missed turn, the marking was right there.)  No big deal, I get back on the Ice Age trail very intent on not missing the blue connector trail to Greenbush.

A short while later I arrive at the finish line.  Sarah is there to give me a high five, a hug, and a “way to go!”  So I finished in 6:16, which was 51st of 102 starters – right dead in the middle of the pack. 

A few minutes later I take full advantage of the post race amenities, including a through hosing off in front of the fire station, a bowl of chili and one of the best tasting beers I have ever had.  I would have liked to stay for a while longer to see the 50-milers come in, but we promised the girls we would go pick pumpkins in the afternoon.

On the ride home, I declare that 50K is my new favorite race distance.  Sarah’s reply….sounds like déjà vu.

Thanks to my friends at LPTR for the encouragement, advice, and the weekly runs that make training so much fun.  Thanks to Angela for the popcycle, Jeff for the warm welcome, and thanks to Steve for getting me off the treadmill.  Thanks Mona and Greg, and especially to Sarah for all the support and giving me time to train.  Can’t wait for the Ice Age 50K!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Raining Gold: Glacial 50 Mile...

Race Report from LPTRunner Jodie Taylor...

Another Ultra weekend! Pure comedy the whole ride up till the moment I fell asleep. The boys (Marcel, Jose, Marty and Kevin) had me constantly laughing all through dinner until it was bedtime. If you had recently read Marty’s race report, please note: we weren’t all sharing one bed with Marcel hogging the covers. I just wanted to clarify in case there was any misinterpretation…hahahaha! Luckily for all of us, Jose curbed his snoring.

4:00am all of the phone alarms are going off in the room! 2 dual core processor motorolas and a few iphones and ipads; there were lots of commotion and milling around. It’s funny to see boys be very particular about what they are wearing, however it is understandable since you want to be as comfortable as possible for 50 miles, no matter how short or long it takes you.

Um…Robert wasn’t kidding when he said it was going to be dark. I brought my headlamp but had decided beforehand to use my flashlight. I will definitely use my headlamp next year! As usual, I was in the bathroom right before the start, but made it out on time. I started running with the group, but immediately slowed down because I promised myself this time I’d run my own race. When I run with people, I end up running their pace instead of my own. I don’t even know what my “pace” is. This is my first year of ultras, thus I’m still learning and am all over the place with times. And sometimes life gets in the way and fun runs get put on the side burner, but NOT the back burner.

So I kept telling myself, “Jodie, today your run will be slow and steady.” I wanted to be able to still jog after mile 40. I crashed at mile 40 during Sawtooth. So my goal this time was to still be able to jog beyond 40 miles. Time was not my main concern, except to finish on time.

I kept repeating to myself “slow and steady” don’t get caught up in someone else’s pace. I do find that the first half people are definitely racing, jostling for position. I go up hills slowly but down them fast, if they are relatively safe. And I always find people wanting to pass me up the hill but then they are slower down the hill, so the sling shot begins. Some people don’t care and laugh about it with me, others I can sense they get annoyed. But during the last quarter I find everyone encouraging each other, even if they are still racing to pass you, they are super supportive; because we all go through that mental struggle at some point in time.

I prefer point to point races or 1 big loop, however out and back isn’t so bad. As I was getting closer to the halfway point, I was wondering when I was going to see Kevin. He did have #1 pinned to him and we did confirm at dinner that you have to finish as the number given to you. Thanks to Christine he was receiving #1. Lucky for me, I got 54! Lo and behold, there was Kevin, the first runner on his way back! Then I saw Christine, then I saw Craig, then I saw Brad, then I saw Marcel, then I saw Jose! Seeing everyone gave me a huge energy boost. Then, as I was taking a picture, this lady comes running into focus and yells to me “3rd woman!” My response is, “great job!” Meanwhile, I’m thinking, “why is she yelling to me that she’s 3rd woman? Is it like Kevin and his 1st male mug?” Oh duh Jodie, she’s telling me that I’m the 3rd woman so far. What?! That’s ridiculous! I started close to last because I was running out of the bathroom when everyone was lined up and I don’t remember passing that many people. So now I’m thinking, wow, I’m actually making good time. I could finish this race a couple of hours before the cut off time…NOT!

I saw Marty at the halfway point. He did not look like he was feeling well. I lingered for a little bit, then wished him well and got back on my way. I was still feeling pretty good and enjoying myself. Got to the next aid station to fill up on pickles…yummy! Here comes Marty out of nowhere! Wow Marty, way to kick it up a notch again! So we set off together, just like Sawtooth. He was a little out of it for a bit and we were doing the math figuring out what time we needed to get to the next aid station. We convinced ourselves we could do it. Soon Marty was getting his second wind, and my wind was fizzling out. I strained the popliteus muscle (the one behind the knee) prior to the race but figured I’d be fine. Yes, I like to self-diagnose and pretend like I know all of the muscles in the body. Anyway, now my calf feels like a rock! Not a muscle cramp that comes and goes with a little potassium kick. Just a solid rock! I guess I was compensating for the muscle strain behind the knee and now I was paying for it. I told Marty if he gets his second wind, not to wait for me and I really meant it. So he kept going as I slowed down. We were getting close to the next aid station and over the hill I see Marcel limping…OH NO! We hobble into the aid station together and he’s making the decision to DNF. I know it was an extremely hard decision to make, because he’s not a quitter. But there’s a fine line between when it’s OK to push through the pain and when it’s Not ok to push through the pain. And he doesn’t have the luxury of going to work the next day and sitting at a desk to rest, his work is physical labor, so he needs to make smart decisions.

So now I’m thinking, I should drop too. But Marcel says, “Jodie all you have to do are 20 min. miles and you’ll finish on time, keep going.” So I gulp down some Code Red Mountain Dew, look at Marty and say “Let’s go.” Marty gives me, “the look” and then we set off back onto the trail. We start doing the math again, I dislike word problems very much, but we figured we could make it to the last aid station in an hour and a half. Code Red was kicking in and I was jogging and jogging, ignoring the rock in my calf. But soon the caffeine kick wore off and I was falling behind again. Marty with his second wind kept going, which I’m glad he listened to me.

This is when I start talking to myself…a lot…and out loud. I’m also starting to see a lot snakes and I thought I heard a wooly mammoth…and now I’m thinking, oh my gosh, did my dream come true? Did I run into a parallel universe and now I’m running in the northern kettle when the wooly mammoths are living? Yes, I did dream that I was in a parallel universe running glacial…prior to this race. Ok maybe it was a cow. But where were the cows? I don’t know. I didn’t think I was that delirious yet.

I finally get to the last aid station only 10 min after the time Marty and I had slated. Yay! More familiar faces, Krishna, Ty and Angela! At this point I have 2 hours and 10 min left to make the cut off time and I’m thinking I’m not going to make it. But Angela tells me, “you look great! You’ll make it!”

Off I go again, now with more voices in my head, Marcel “20 min miles, 20 min miles”, Marty “we can do this!” and Angela “you look great! You’ll make it!” So for the next 7 miles these thoughts rotated in my mind constantly along with, me talking to myself “Jodie, it’s ok if you don’t finish; NO it’s not! You’ve come this far, you can’t stop now! But it’s ok if I finish past the cut off time; No it’s not! You can’t make everyone wait for you even longer!” It’s amazing how you can easily talk yourself in and out of something.

But I keep going and now I’m all, 20 min miles, 20 min miles, wait…have I gone a mile? I don’t have a fancy Garmin watch. My watch only tells me the time…I think I’ve gone a mile in 20 min. Wait…I think I need to do another equation because I think I have to be faster than 20 miles now. Well, whatever math I did, I guesstimated I’d finish 10 min. before the cut off time.

But the pain and fatigue have set it in and now I’m eating my words, like I often do. I once commented that race walkers look really funny. Uh…what am I doing…race walking…wait no, I’m eating my words…hahaha! Yup! Race walking never felt better!

A few more people catch up to me with stories to help me pass the time and offer encouragement as they went on their way.

Finally, the last 2 miles!!! Now I’m back to jogging! I finally see the road with cones. Never have I been so excited to run on the road. Here I am eating more of my words. I tell people “Oh I don’t like road running, I quit the road” and at that moment in time, I was loving the road!

The finish line is in sight, I start running…well, I felt like I was running but probably looked like a turtle trying to run. Yay! I made it! And I finished 12 min sooner than I had guesstimated! Ha! It was so great to see everyone at the finish line! I wasn’t looking for a PR or special time, I knew I wasn’t fully prepared for this race, I just wanted to have fun and finish on time. Um…and next time I need to find better feathers. I can’t believe I picked up such scraggily feathers and put them in my braids! I clearly wasn’t paying attention!

I can honestly say, the first 25 miles I felt awesome. I met some nice people along the way. The trail was beautiful. It truly was “raining gold” as Marcel described. Thank you Robert for laying down the gold carpet, not only did we receive better than red carpet treatment from Robert, but we also received excellent attention at the aid stations from the volunteers. It’s super uplifting to see familiar faces at aid stations helping us out, Jeff, Julie, Lorraine, Krishna, Ty, Angela, I know I’m missing names…sorry! But thank you to everyone! 

I can’t wait for the next race!

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.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Rocks, Heat and the Glacial 50

Race Report from LPTRunner Troy Malinowski!...

To paraphrase Rocky Dennis, “Three things I hate in life are “Rocks, Heat and the Glacial 50”.

ROCKS!!!! Do I need to say more? My toes are feeling the pain, only no post-race surgery this time as the Dance with Dirt event removed the nails. But within nine miles of Glacial, I could have sworn I dislocated something in my foot, as each step throbbed.

By the time I reached Butler Lake, the pain was affecting my mind, as I came up to the aid station, I filled up on water and saw Ron’s daughter. Having just been passed by Cassie on her return trip, I said “Hi, Cassie” (to Emma Grace, remember mind wasn’t there as usual) as she looked at me glazed eyed ……. “Oh, I’m sorry Emily” …….. I mean Nancy Grace (oh, wait I didn’t say that to EmmaGrace, that’s what I said as I kicked that rock at Mile 7 …. Sorry for the cursing, but then how the heck is she still on DWTS???) ……. And then upset, she stated firmly “It’s EmmaGrace, but I like your gloves”.

So, I refreshed and took off again, but the heat was starting to rise. After making the turn and running back to Butler lake, I was delighted to get ice in my hydration pack and have EmmaGrace shout “You are still rocking those pink gloves” What motivation!! I ran strong through the prairie, but after kicking the rock at Mile 21 / 41, my toes couldn’t take it anymore, as I had to stop and put all my weight onto my left foot while standing on my right foot to try to “adjust” the bones back into place. While the ice from Butler Lake was great, the heat was taking its toll. I made my way back into Green Bush slowly.

So, we have mentioned the rocks and heat. The last thing I (and my toes) hate is the Glacial 50. This race has my number. My Polish heritage just doesn’t work for this race. And while others say “Glacial is my favorite race”, these are the ones running on ugly “pillow” shoes. The past two years, this race has chewed me up and spit me out. I have not been this sore in years.

So, these are the things I hate in life; not the usual race report from me, so let’s add some positive to it. Three things I love in life are Rocks, Heat and the Glacial 50.

The rocks on the course remind us on how fragile we are, how we must stay focused in life and realize in victory, some falls, stumbles and pain must be felt. The heat slows us down to enjoy the beauty that surrounds us. The sun shining, the colorful leaves, snakes sunning themselves along the Ice Age trail and just how long these rocks have live on that trail before I came along to disturb them.

The Glacial 50 simply because of the course and the technical-ness. This brings us to realize just how strong we are and how we can be stronger. And the volunteers; they rock more than the course. And like all of Robert’s races “EVERYTHING” that could be asked for. Well marked course, great aid stations and like someone mentioned at the finish “How does Robert stay thin, with cooking like this?”

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Glacial Trail 50: Pre-Race Interview with the RD, Robert Wehner

LPTR Steve Poulter's Pre-Race interview with Glacial 50 RD and fellow LPTR, Robert Wehner...

As an LPTR special reporter,  I was able to snag a few minutes of busy Race Director Robert Wehner’s time today to chat about the approaching Glacial 50 this Sunday, October 9.  Robert is busy with final preparations but was kind enough to humor me with some history and commentary on the race. (Note that I furiously took notes and therefore had to summarize Roberts comments and add some narrative).

Robert running the John Dick 50k, one of
three races he is currently the RD for...
SP: How did you get involved with the Glacial Trail 50, did you run it before you became RD?  How did you become RD?
RW: I started running ultras in 2002, and the Glacial 50K was my second ultra (5:40:52).  I ran that again in 2003 (5:04:21), then moved up to the 50 miler in 2004 (8th overall, 9:18:39).  At the time Tom Bunk was the RD and was looking for someone to take over.  I ran the 50 mile again in 2005 (5th overall, 8:37:00) and became the RD starting in 2006.  This is my 6th year as RD.

SP:  This is the 25th year of the race.  Is there any history of the race that is of interest?  Any plans for anything new this year?
RW: When the race started, it was a 100K that went down to Hwy H.  Sometime in the 90’s the 100K died out, I don’t know the full story, but it might have been due to the longer cutoff, it started and ended in the dark, and might have been hard to get volunteers.  Back in 1999/2000 there was only the 50K.  Tom was RD from 2001-2005 and added the 50mile.  The fire station is obviously newer, and hasn’t always been the exact start/finish of the race.

We created a different finisher award this year for the 25th anniversary, it’s a ceramic medallion that is a little unique.  Tom or a previous RD started the tradition of the race sweatshirt for the runners, and at the time cycled through about 6 colors.  Last year I switched to a different style sweatshirt to open up the color options, it seemed to be popular so that is back in a different color this year.

SP: The course is relatively technical due to the rocky trail.  Any advice for first timers or those transitioning from the 50K to the 50M this year?  Any general feelings about how low key the race is and if you intend to keep it that way?
RW: People have always commented on the technical nature (rocky/rooty) of the Ice Age Trail in the area.  One time a runner sent me an email complaining and said they wouldn’t be back.  I didn’t respond.  Every race and trail has its own character, there are plenty out there if people don’t like this trail.  I really like the rustic, low key, wilderness,  fewer and farther apart aid station aspect of the race.  I intend to keep it this way.  The 50 mile race starts at 6:00 am and runners will need a light.  We have a drop box at the Hwy 67 AS (mile 7) for headlights and jackets, so you don’t have to take them on to Butler Lake AS (mile 13.3).

SP:  You commented on the Aid Stations (AS), they are somewhat farther apart compared to some of the other local ultras (IAT50, NFEC), any advice for the runners to prepare for those gaps (hydration packs, double bottles, etc.)?
RW:  The last year I ran the race, I was at about 5 miles in and running with another guy.  He asked where the aid station was and he didn’t have any bottles.  The guy was not prepared, he didn’t read the course description or know anything about the location of the aid stations.  My advice is to read the course description and know where the aid is located.  The forecast this year looks nice, it will be sunny and 70 and you will be sweating a lot.  We will have Hammer products (Heed), Hammer gels, ice available, and lots of other food available.

SP:  The AS volunteers are great, are there any long-standing volunteers that keep coming back year after year that make the AS special for the runners?
RW:  (*editor’s note: I lost names in this conversation, sorry about that…) Kristine Hinrichs and John run the Butler Lake AS, New Fane AS is run by some folks* who live close and have repeated, HWY67 has always been a mix because of location and that it is an all-day AS since its first / last.  Jeff Mallach will run it in the in am this year, Angela Barbera will run it in the pm.

SP: Anybody talking to you this year about favorites or coming with the intent to take home a win this year?
RW:  I don’t really get into or have time to study the entrants and make projections on the front runners.  I do try to give the #1 race number to a previous year’s winner if they come back.

SP:  I see there are 58 people signed up for the 50 miler and 104 signed up for the 50K.  Any final comments on the registration process or your expectations on final count?
RW:  Registration is growing, especially since NFEC moved their race to September.  Race day registration is available.  Historically, we have set a 200 runner limit but never hit it.  It’s funny, I get emails as early as June asking if the race is full.  I expect about 170 runners this year.  You can switch races before the race starts, but not once it starts.  All volunteer slots are full so I won’t need to send out a last minute call for help.