Glacial Trail 50 miler

As I sit here basking in a solid case of DOMS (delayed-onset-muscle-soreness) by the fire, I am contemplating yesterday's event.  I have uploaded my race stats from my garmin, unpacked and started washing my gear, and wondering what to do next...  oh wait, I think it's time for a beer... :)

We drove to Sheboygan WI on Saturday for Sunday's race in nearby Greenbush.  I picked a Super 8 hotel that allowed dogs and was the bargain of the century... Let's just say for $50/night, we got exactly what we paid for!! The only redeeming quality was the fact that they had recently re-done the rooms and I found the beds extremely comfy.  We weren't there to spend much time in the hotel anyway, and we wanted to have our pups with us, so in the end it was a win-win.

Saturday it rained.  Saturday night it rained. Woke up at 3:45 am to more rain, and an 80% chance of rain for the day.  It was not looking good.  Driving there we could barely see out the windshield.  Gratefully, the start/finish area was at the Greenbush Fire Dept/Community Center.  A warm/dry place with plenty of room and real bathrooms!!  I would come to look forward to this near the end of the race!

The race started directly outside and headed out for about a 1/2 mile on blacktop and then a short connector trail to the main Ice Age Trail.  From there is was this trail to the 25 mile turnaround.  So if you were paying attention, you wouldn't get lost.  My trail buddy, Steph, and I ran together, and had no trouble finding our way.  The 6am start was in the dark, so headlamps were necessary until the 7 mile aid station.  The connector trail was mostly flat, and not technical and offered a good place for people to find their spot.  Once on the main trail, it got pretty rocky/rooty pretty fast.  It took a lot of concentration in the dark to not catch a toe and face plant early on.  I was focused on the the shoes in front of me and my little circle of light past my feet.  Pretty soon though, we were spread out and it felt like we were the only ones out there.

The course was gently rolling, and not too technical - lots of rocks to be aware of - little toe catchers that could make for a tough day.  But the rain - that was the biggest issue of the day.  Temps at the start were probably in the 50's - warm enough for shorts, but needed long sleeves.  I opted for a base layer, a smartwool long sleeve zip top, and a North Face windbreaker shirt - that was promptly soaked.  Being in the trees allowed some protection from the wind, and as long as we were moving, I was staying comfortable.

The first 25 miles we were really strong - 5:13 - to the turn around.  A stretch goal was to break 11 hours.  We were feeling confident.

It was 4 or so miles to the next aid station - and it started to pour.  It was really getting to me here - we had turned around, and were now directly into the wind.  My hands were cold, and the wind was biting.  You could feel the temp start to drop.  The conversations between Steph and I dropped off here - I was inside my own head, concentrating on moving forward, and staying warm.  That was about all I could manage.  The trail was getting really slippery, so not falling was becoming a priority.

When we arrived at the aid station about 13 or so miles from the finish, we were really cold.  I added a pair of gloves, and sipped on some hot soup.  That certainly helped.  The trail was really getting mucky now that we were on the section where all the 50k runners and passed through.  Concentrating on moving forward, and not allowing a bad attitude creep in - I called it "Weenie Mode" - when I was feeling tired, feeling the miles, but had no real reason to be cranky - not painful, not hungry, just feeling whimpy.  Eventually that passed - along with more miles, at 7 miles to go, Matt had more hot broth for us, ahh, that tasted so good!

And it was the final push to the finish.  Our pace had dropped off more than I wanted to admit... But we were still moving forward.  When we hit the blacktop, ouch, that was quite the shock to my legs, after all the soft mud - it felt so hard! But luckily, it didn't take long to get back to the community center.

After finishing and hosing down my legs and shoes, it was time to change.  Thank goodness for warm water and a warm dry place to change!  Even with a change of clothes, and some hot soup, it was like the entire day's worth of cold had seeped into my bones, and I could barely get the soup in while shaking!  It was time to hop in the Subaru with heated seats and make a bee-line to a hot shower!

Matt and the dogs were great company - although I rarely saw the dogs, since Matt said they wouldn't leave the car in the rain!! They may be smarter than I! :)  Matt was at every aid station with anything we might need.  My #1 fan!

Some final thoughts -
*need to do strength training - my arms should not hurt as much as my legs after 50 miles!!!
* incorporate some 30+ mile training runs to stay strong the last 1/2.
*always have broth ready for cold runs - it's amazing!

Happy trails!!!