Sunday, May 11, 2014

Ice Age Trails (IAT) 50K - Recap

Where the hell does one start to recap a 50K race?

What do people usually talk about when they aren't sure?

The weather:  The day started at 52F and climbed to 72F, no humidity, relentless sun.  I mention this because this winter was serious cold weather training as was spring.  I don't think there were any long training runs over 55F?  I need to start recording the weather in my log, don't I??  I had been watching the weather, hoping it wasn't going to be raining or snowing, it NEVER dawned on me summer would decide to come on May 10th...  huh...  This weighed a little too heavy on my mind, of all things right?  I did remember sunscreen so I'm not a burnt to the crisp, my skin color does not match my hair color, PSHEW, thank you SPF 10,000,000!!  My gal pals pointed out my killer tan lines, white feet and brown ankles.  Thanks gals...  Let's not talk about the soon to be permanently missing toe nail, okay?

The course:

The elevation profile:

IAT 50K Elevation - relentless

The results: here  I was 137 out of 149 finishers (200 registered runners), 7:54:45. This was the largest field of runners, and from the heat, (and I wonder if the law of averages also plays in with the largest field) the highest number of drops they have ever had in the 33 years of the 50 Miler, 15 years of the 50K and 2 years of the 1/2.  A little bit about the race, one of the oldest ultras in the US, here.   I don't know how to find out the number of drops of the 200, I don't know that all 200 started.

I am absolutely in awe and honored to be able to run the same ground as some of the top ultra runners.

The first 13 miles.  

Start was prompt at 8:15 a.m. the temp was 52F and breezy. I was nervous.  The RD asked who was running their first Ultra.  Of the 200 starters there were 20 of us?

This section was as advertised:

"Expect narrow, single track winding up and over hill after hill until you finally reach Aid Station 9. There are some flats; but, they are few and far between."

The first 1.6 miles led us to the first of 3 hard top crossings.  Everything was well marked.  The white was for the 50Milers and the orange for the 50Kers.  The bibs also matched the course markings, nifty eh?  And I had on orange socks...  I was just hoping to NOT get confused...

Out of the woods - yes there is an orange arrow

And on to the prairie?  Um nope...
This section was about a mile with the steepest grade of 16%.  We exited through some old growth pine forest.

And leaving
 To enter the next 5 mile chunk of hills, 10 - 24% grade.



We exited down a nice steep, horse crap covered trail.  Really? I have to pick up my dog crap. And we also had to contend with horses on some of the trails we ran.


 To entering the unknown for 1 mile to the turn around.  Unknown, right? Nope! More hills!  10 - 13% grade hills.


And a little further in

And then back the same way we came.  At about mile 10, I had to take a picture... It really doesn't capture what my eye saw, but we were pretty high up!

Amazing views!


No lie this was single track and hilly.  I did note was it was nearly rock and rootless.  No rock gardens, no roots imitating speed bumps like the RI trails. I did train for distance, not so much the hills.  I stuck to my plan of walking the ups and running the downs.  That made it more tolerable. My right ankle, the one I twisted back in November and again on my last training run was bugging me.  Oh crap, this is NOT happening, put it out of your mind.  It doesn't hurt, you are being a wimp.

I did get a chance to talk to a few people. I seemed to go back and forth with a Badgerland Strider who ran in sandals, a very tatooed woman, and Susan for this stretch.  There were a couple other runners who once they found their groove they were long gone.  And of course there was "the chatter", I could not get him and his buddy to pass me until I finally just pulled off the trail and stopped and waited for them to gain some distance on me.  Frigging annoying.  I run alone, mostly, and the racket was making me bazonkers. I'd rather of put air back in my hydration bladder and listened to the sloshing! I lost the Badgerland Strider with about a mile left to go on the out and back, never saw her again, she may have dropped, she was really struggling, not to chatty, fine by me.  Susan was pretty chatty, she fell and banged up her ankle and was constantly talking about how she couldn't DNF or she could and I found all this rather distressing and tried to slow up or speed up and lose her. Eventually she decided I was too slow and sped up.  Pshew...  So much for the camaraderie of the middle of the pack, eh Chris?  Honestly I was neither looking for it nor did I want it for this battle of wills between me, myself, and I.  I did catch up with Susan on the second loop and she was hobbling pretty good, hell bent on finishing, and was walking with her husband.  I am proud of her mettle and determination, races like this really demonstrate the drive people have.  And yes, I was glad to continue to run alone, chitter chattering with someone I would approach or who would approach me.  2 or 3 sentence and off one of us went, quite enough interaction for me thank you very much.

The last 18 miles:

This section was advertised:
"The Nordic trail is very wide and scenic. This 9.0 mile loop is very representative of the glacial topography and natural diversity that you can expect in the Kettle Moraine.
The trail or tread on the Nordic is very runnable. There will be sections in the pines and meadows that you will want to develop some speed. Easy on the feet, joints and with towering trees all around."

And then on to the two laps of the 9 mile Nordic loop.  The last 18 miles. 10 - 20% grade hills.

Decisions Decisions...  (Race day this was marked Right 50K  Left 1/2 Marathon)
One of the bazillion hills - if I was smart like a Gazelle I would have counted them on lap 1 to count them down on lap 2!
This looks so much less daunting in a picture...


It was all good, grassy soft pretty, no shade and that sun wasn't letting up...  oh whatever.  Then the hills started.  Holy guacamole. How could I have forgotten these hills?  I now think I understand how women forget how horrible child birth is and I bet in the middle of delivering the second one they say, "Oh yeah, now I remember this agony."  It was kind of like that.  (My mother sort of agreed)

Ok so I only have to do this twice, right?  Or I could drop, I could DNF.  I could couldn't I?  I was what 15 miles into this 31 mile race and was considering dropping.  Who are you?  It is just a few hills, it is just a little sun, there are aid stations with food and more water, you are nearly half way through, what about that 50K magnet for your car? how will you face Crutch, Seth, Mike B, Jeff, Galoob, Nicole, Michelle, Jackass, and any number of people??  Ok so at that point if I'm asking myself how will I face people this is some mental issue that I needed to stop right now.  I went back and forth fighting with the DNF demon.  Fighting the unwilling versus unable demon. Completely gobsmacked when someone would comment on me smiling. Me, feeling like I was going to crumble, smiling?

When I rounded the corner up the hill to complete my first loop, there was my cousin Tobi.  My mood immediately lifted, we hugged, sweaty disgusting me, she hugged sweaty disgusting me!!  We screamed (we are girls, this is what we do).  She said I looked great I said be honest because I am thinking about quitting.  She looked at me and said you look amazing besides our Grandmothers and Great Grandmother will so come back and kick your lazy ass from here to Cleveland!  Um, yeah.  She walked with me to the next aid station (only a few feet) helped fill my hydration pack, got me some electrolyte tablets, said that she had to help several 50 milers when they dropped and they were crawling, there was no way I was even close to that beat up.  I love my family.

9 miles left to go!
Quick posted it on FB because I KNEW someone would send me strength, right?

For the first twoish miles of that last 9 mile loop I was in 7th heaven running along... then the hills started.  Fck...  Ok aid station in 3 miles, run to that, and then to the next and then to the finish and you are done.  There is beer at the finish line.  There is Tobi at the finish line.  For those of you who read this who aren't runners, I can't imagine there are many, but I know at least one of who hasn't said "Why would I read that it's just about running." and who has been at one of my races and knows that thrill of me seeing someone at a race (and their own feeling of elation knowing they've just made my day) and hugging a sweaty disgusting runner (seriously I am disgustingly sweaty and stinky and you hug me???).  Seriously being there to cheer on someone, no matter how little of an effort you think it is is a HUGE thing to the person being cheered on.  HUGE!!  I walked a lot of that last loop, I finished it, with a few tears of joy.  I am proud of myself.

Will I do it again?  I dunno.

How did I feel after?  Elated, exhausted, tired, thirsty...

How did I feel the next day? Surprisingly not sore, a little achy in the hips, ankle pain is gone, throat sore from all the pollen in the air, a bit of a headache. Kinda tough to get moving but once I start walking all is good.  Stairs aren't too scary.

When am I planning on running again?  Monday, just for a few.

Beth, an ultra runner.


  1. YOU ROCK girl – way to persevere
    Perseverance is not a long race - it is many short races
    Great job Beth

  2. Great job! Love reading about "the demons" that long distance runners have to wrestle with during a race. Way to conquer them.

  3. So awesome! Thanks for the thorough recap, it looks like a great course. So happy for you that you stuck through the tough mental moments and finished a solid race. Welcome to the club!!!

  4. Outstanding job BLS... You did it! I wrestled with those same demons yesterday on the Air Line Trail and barely made it half marathon distance... You ran 30+ HILLY stinkin' miles!!! I am a mere mortal who bows in awe at your accomplishment! Well done! Can't wait to hear the details in person.

  5. Wow. What a race! If you can run a 50K on a course like that, you can run one anywhere. And about that mid-pack camaraderie...I guess you have to be in the right state of mind to partake. Your internal monologue sounded more like mine this time.

  6. Fantastic, Beth! Loved the pics and recap. I have trouble (mentally) running multiple loop courses, and appreciate the perseverance it must have taken to run that 2nd loop, especially late in the race. I'm really impressed with how well you planned for this and stuck really close to your training plans.

  7. And there it is! You ran a freaking 50k! I am in awe and loved every word you wrote. I think you did a fantastic job. I can only imagine how tough it was and I am so proud of you for pushing though and getting it done. There is a lot to be said about seeing a friendly face on the course and I am so happy you had a smile to greet you. You trained well and I knew you could do it. Fantastic recap my friend. Congratulations!

  8. Congratulations, Beth on accomplishing your ultra feat! Well done! Enjoy the feeling!

  9. Wow Beth! I am truly inspired. Loved this recap! You did freaking awesome!!! I'm honestly considering doing one now.

  10. Incredible job! All your training paid off. Well done!

  11. You did such an awesome job sticking to your plan - most of the long runs alone no less - and that led to an awesome 50K! The warm weather can be tricky to deal with this time of year. The body is just not used to it. Way to stay with it and finish!