Twas the night before Ice Age, and all through the house (palace)
The wind and rain were abundant
And I was [insert rhyme for house].
I start here, because I lay there Friday night, trying to sleep, thinking "I don't want to be here. I don't want to go through what is inevitable to come tomorrow. I really just want to go home."
I almost gave up on this race before it even started. I was disappointed with myself in my lack of discipline to train and eat properly for the last few months. My final long run 2 weeks ago revealed the reality, I was not in the shape I wanted to be.
With this in mind, I threw out all of my old expectations. I decided not to wear a watch, and my plan was to go out mid pack and just cruise. I would pace, not race.
All of this being said, I ended up with a good race. I was slower than last year, but ran a better race. But the problems of no long runs past 25 miles sure became evident around mile 38. The final 12 were lonely, cold, and literally gut wrenching. But I was VERY happy to cross the finish line. I came in at 10:23.
I traveled down to the race with an interesting mix of talent and experience. All of us were former Ice Age 50m finishers.
Julie Berg, who is coming off of a hysterectomy surgery from last year, was stepping back into ultra racing. Julie is a legend in Minnesota, and an inspiration to runners all over the US.
Alicia Gordon was back to Ice Age with new goals for the year and a great attitude to have along in the car. Alicia is one of the "behind the scene" heros in MN racing.
I first met these 2 back in 2007 at the famous "Bohdan's Fat Add/terenchal down pour" run. I shortly there after decided to try my first 50... Ice Age.
Bill Pomerenke was a different man then he was 2 years. 30 lbs lighter, and better trained. He put in a ton of work over the winter, and was ready to put it all to the test.
But Ultras & Trail Running have a wild card which is tough to figure out sometimes. We all ended up with tough day. Unfortunately, I was the only one to come home with a belt buckle. It is hard to see others fall when so much work and emotion have been put on the table.
But I think it is this wild card that draws us to these events. There is always a strong possibility of DNF.
After a nice Friday night stay at one of the local elites "lake cabin", we showed up to overcast skies and a forecast for scattered showers. No sun today. No temps over 55 or so. Can we just get 1 day this year of good weather running?
At the start, we listened to the announcements of one who was here to run his 25th Ice age 50. And Lorraine Bunk was going to be the first 70 year old woman to finish. She did. Think about that. 70 years old, 50 mile trail run in 11:48. Tom, her husband, was with her the whole way.
The race started, and the day was on. My biggest worry was when my legs would start hurting. I had run zero miles in the last 2 weeks.
I hung with Alicia for a while, and we met up with Paul Hasse, another MN runner. It was nice to just relax and not get so amped up to worry about a time.
The Nordic Loop (9 miles) came and went, and I was off to the real course. Sooner then later I felt minor cramps in my legs. My body did not feel comfortable, but I was fine. I met up with a ton of people. Some had an ultimate goal this year of Sawtooth. I was in their shoes a few years ago. I wished them luck.
The way down to mile 20 became tough. I just did not feel comfortable, I was sore, but I was still mobile. I was not sick to my stomach.. yeah!
Sandee Lammers took care of me at the next aid station. She said I was not eating enough, and to just take a few minutes and get some food in me. She was right. I just needed food. She could tell just by looking at me. She even offered me a beer. I considered it, but thought it was way too early to be metaphorically throwing in the towel. Although, how comical would it be to cruise by a runner sipping out of brew bottle.
I slowly came back to normal in the next section and rolled into mile 26 in shock. Bill had dropped due to severe cramping [Bill, this blog is open for you to write a race report. You should do it]. After yelling at him to get his chip back on and get his ass back on the course, I decided to let things roll as they should. I moved on.
I felt better. It was here I really started to heed my own strategy of "I can do okay by experience and strategy along". I knew there spots and sections which would wreck the first timers. One was coming.
It was that point that John from Milwaukee came up behind me yelling "man, it is lonely out here!" I think he was looking for company. He was a first timer. He was ready to push on, but was also asking a lot of questions and was looking for some advice. I gave him a few of my rules.
1 - Get comfortable dude! If you are not feeling right, do what you need to get back to feeling right. If you are comfortable, happy, and feeling good, your mind stays in tack
2 - At this point in the race (around mile 27 or 28), you should still be cruising. Don't push it. Run under that pushing level. Feel like you are having to hold yourself back.
Funny... when one starts preaching.. one tends to think "maybe I should practice what I preach".
I told him I saw a guy who was burning up energy left and right, hooting and hollaring too much, running up all but the big hills. I said "I guarantee we see him before mile 37".
We saw him literally 5 minutes later, completely trashed.
I think it clicked for John at that point.
I also said, "we are now at the point where the experienced runners have the advantage, not the talented ones. We will start picking off people at around 33 miles."
Sure enough, we starting picking people off. We were on a perfect pace, everything was running as it should, and I felt good again. We made it up to 37 with that even pace.
Then I told him one of the most important rules
3 - Run your own race
We rolled into 37 aid station (horseriders) to some rain. I saw Brothergrub and tried to give him a sweaty hug. He yelled and ran. His wife made some awesome coconut chocolate bars. Thanks Mrs. Grub!
John led us out of there and he was ready to go. I said to go for it and run your own race. At this point in a 50, you should put it all on the table. Who cares if you blow up at 45, you are almost done.
He took off, my stomach started turning, and it was a slugfest to mile 40. I was not happy.
At mile 40 I saw John again hanging at the aid station. I called for a time check and it was 8 hours and 12 minutes. I yelled at him to go. "10.5 minute pace gets you under 10 hours". Funny how some people question what they are capable of at those points, so I started yelling at him to run.
I tell the details of my interaction with John, because so many people have done the same for me over the years. I finally got to pay it forward.
I left, and slugged for the next 3 miles. I had a few dry heaves (my #1 killer issue aside from dehydration). I just had to get to horsies.
I saw the Bunks somewhere in there and could tell they would probably make the cut, but it would be close. They looked in way better shaped then I did.
I rolled into Horsies to find Julie had dropped a while back. I was sad for her. And sad in general. I just wanted to be done. Wayne Nelson caught a funny picture of me just moping out of there.
Shortly after I saw Alicia coming towards Horsies, and she said she was timed out. Another bummer. Damn! We talked briefly.
The next few miles were lonely. Nobody. Where the hell was everybody?
Around halfway through that section, Marcel Uttech (Lapham dude on his first 50M) cam FLYING by me. Ran up the next hill. All I remember was his chisled frame taking off away from me. The dude is ripped. I was happy for him. Cool guy. Went straight to ultras without running a marathon. Smart move.
When I finally made it to the last A/S, I found Tony (another Lapham dude on his first 50). I said "I can't stand to be on this course for 1 extra second. I am running" I really wanted to be done.
Like any 50, the final strech was great. All the pain goes away, all the sound went away and I ran as hard as I could until I could hear the glorious sound of the beep from the timing mat.
10:23 and I was happy. I ran on experience, strategy, and a little bit of raw talent.
I don't remember much for a while, but Wayne and Vicki caught some pictures which many found amusing.
And my buddy John, he pulled out a 9:52. I think he said that was out of the questions around mile 28. Strategy=results. Way to go John.
I could not eat, or enjoy any of the good beer. We went home and I crashed. Hard.
I sent an email to Arley Anderson (MN runner), who ran a 7:48 (I think) saying "congrats, doing this makes me want to get in shape again". He found that very amusing.... running a 50 Miler to get conviced to get back in shape.
What I meant by it was, I almost needed a serious kick in the ass to get back to discipline. I suffered from 38 to 50, plus the 2 days after. I have never felt such a beat down after a 50 (well, I probably felt this way after Voyageur).
Seeing people I used to race around kick some butt inspired me to get rethink my attitude.
As much as I said I was done with these in the hours after this one, I feel "hardened" and better today.
Well, that is what "Type B Fun" is all about, isn't it.
Please excuse all of the rambling, poor grammar, and typos. Just wanted to get it out.
Oh yeah........ I was THE SLOWEST MATT!