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Ice Age 50 Mile Race Report

Training: I didn’t start running until the last week in March so I literally has 6 weeks to train for a 50 mile race EEK! The last time I ran was an 8 miler the last week in December then my right hip got wonky. It ONLY hurt when I run. I could do everything else…so I did….I did elliptical, stairclimber, biking, plyometrics, strength circuits, row machine, and

of course I was also training for my second Powerlifting meet April 10th where I planned to break my six Illinois State Records in the squat, deadlift, and bench. Let’s start with the powerlifting. I did it… well sort of…. I broke my own record in the squat and deadlift, not the bench because I managed to strain the intercostals of my ribs (swinging kettlebells) which makes it hard to breath let alone do bench about 3 weeks out from the meet. But I qualified for AAPF RAW Worlds.

Now my real focus was to see if I could get enough running in to feel ready in 4 weeks for the Ice Age 50, my first 50 miler. I figured if all else failed I could just do the trail half or 50K.

Pre- Race: Once I began running, things moved WAY slower than I hoped. I could only run 3 days a week because I was scared to do more, and the hip was always achy after runs and I really didn’t want to go back to not running. I also LOVE doing everything else like plyometrics, kettlebells, and strength training. So my first 3 weeks were these totals 12, 24, 24…that leaves 3 weeks….I became Question Queen on the Flatlanders facebook page as the race got closer and closer. Being a run coach you would think that I should know what I am doing but I have never gone this far and I am a RRCA (ROAD Runner Coach of America) and USATF (USA TRACK and FIELD Coach) certified so if you noticed there is no “trail”, “rocks and roots”, and “elevation” in those two certs. I am the type of person that has to know and plan EVERYTHING so I ask, read, and learn. I can’t emphasize enough how AMAZING the FLATLANDERS group is…. I LOVE THEM ALL… SOOO HILARIOUS, SOOOO HELPFUL, and so KIND! I never even ran with them before the race because most of the times they had their training meet ups I would have clients and yet every time I posted there would be 20x responses within the hour, some true and some sarcastic and reminding me to LIGHTEN up! So I went against the “common wisdom” of the 10% Rule and I basically did 2x during the week 8-10 miles and made my next three long runs 18, 22, and 30

(Note: I wasn’t just doing nothing the other days, I was doing all the aforementioned cross-training above) Those last 3 long runs were not “perfect” first of all they were at Waterfall Glen which is a wide crushed limestone path with maybe 1,000 feet elevation and I literally ran each run in a different pair of shoes (Gear Nerds: Brooks Pure Connect, New Balance Foam Zante, and Innov-8 Trail). I also have never done any nutrition in workouts or long runs except water that I sometimes flavored with cucumber and mint… so what is going to happen when I actually have to eat…. We will see…

Race Week: More and More questions… POOR Flatlanders…. And I suck at tapering!!! So I did way too much on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday at the gym…. Then Thursday and Friday felt like someone should wrap me in bubble wrap. Thank God one awesome Flatlander, Cory Feign, offered to crew me with his adorable boys Julian and Jordan. So pictures speak louder than words…. Here is my set up for drop bags etc. and my appreciation gifts for my crew.

The last thing I needed was a place to stay… oops forgot about that part… so being pretty financially strapped I decided to try Air BnB… and luckily I found Sandy. Sidebar: What an amazing experience Sandy gave me a huge hug when I got there and the place was awesome! 20 minutes from the start line. I had my own room with a big screen TV, breakfast, coffee, a FULL bar in case I got nervous J… and as any trail runner could appreciate especially Eric Schranz from Ultra Runner Podcast a fridge stocked with craft beer.

Day Before Race: I put my PEK on (Performance Enhancing Kokopelli) see above, thanks TRN (Trail Runner Nation) and I was ready to go.

I hate driving I make myself car sick and can’t sit in the car or sit in general for more than 30 minutes without getting antsy and uncomfortable so I set up my Marc Pro, see above, (thanks Brad Zeman, my run client) and some good Stuff You Should Know Podcasts (male puberty really?!?!) and drove fast J

Race Day: I woke up at 3:30 and made my breakfast (Nutrition Nerds: 2 egg omelet with a million veggies and chicken sausage; sweet potato baked “chip shapes” that I spread kerrygold butter, coconut oil, and raw almond butter on; and a cup of aeropressed coffee) I got in my gear, spread suntan lotion, bug spray, arnica gel, and sports gel all over my body and headed to the start line….I really wasn’t nervous because …

  1. I had no idea what to expect

  2. NEVER done this distance

  3. NEVER trained on any terrain like this

  4. ONLY able to run for 6 weeks prior

I got to the parking lot and picked up my bib #186 and headed back to my car to throw on my watch. TMI Time: By the time I got back to my car nature was calling for the 3rd time and I had NO time to get to the potties so I had to squat by my car ( this will come up later). Back to the line, met some of the Flatlanders at the start and we were OFF!

Miles 1-10: The first loop was nice and smooth grass meadows; I ended up in pace with another Flatlander Dana and I basically talked his ear off, sorry Dana, but that’s what I do when I am trying to distract myself talk! Dana was awesome and we kept a nice pace but around mile 9, nature called AGAIN so I darted into the bushes and lost my running buddy.

Miles 10-20: I found another group of experienced guys and fell in line with them through the start of the single track, rocks and roots.But that only lasted about 5 miles then I had to move faster. I turned on my IPOD on after I passed because I was alone… 3rd place female and two guys pretty far in front of me and no one to talk too… I listened to Ginger Runner’s interviews with the winners of the Gorge 50K and Tim Olsen, then Endurance Planet ATC… I arrived at the first place I was to meet Cory (17.3) and I hadn’t eaten anything… I’m not used to eating unless I’m going over 4 hours…. So Cory told me EAT!.... So I had 1/3 of one of my bars (RAW Food Coconut Bliss) and a Honey Stinger Organic Vanilla gel.

Miles 20-30: It’s very weird, I felt SOOOO good and wanted to go faster but I kept holding myself back because I was so afraid of the dreaded BONK (I have only bonked once in a race… on a Sub-5 Hour Century Ride at mile 92, never on the run). I wasn’t having any pains and breathing was fine… the part that was difficult for me was the downhills, no pain just scared to bomb down…. So everytime I hit a downhill I kept telling myself NOTE TO SELF: Practice downhills! I saw Cory and his boys at 26.3 and had another 1/3 of a bar (Rise: Almond and Honey- Thanks Vicki Brassil) 1/3 of the Raw Food Bar, and another Vanilla GU- this time Hammer. Not sure what place I was in… I think still 3rd at that point….

Miles 30-40: I turned on my music at this point because this is the farthest I have ever run…. First song? Spice Girls Wannabe and I was OFF feeling good and singing at the top of my lungs (if you couldn’t guess I was alone most of the race). At some point Zach Bitter came blazing by me the other way and I just shook my head at him and said REALLY?!? You’re RIDICULOUS!?!... after what seemed like an hour later the first place and second place girl came by. These miles were pretty uneventful.. . except at some point I got to go by Scott Kummer and give him the promised butt slaps. I would have 5 minutes of thinking my achilles had been blown out then, would be fine, then would think my hamstring was going, then be fine. Around mile 35 I was trying to catch up to two guys and got almost right behind them and FACEPLANTED and jammed my pinky into a rock and scrapped up my leg. Now, I have yet to meet rude trail runners but this could have been the first….they heard me fall and let out a little yell and stopped and turned their heads to see my body splayed on the ground then nodded and kept running! Really? No help up? No are you OK? It’s not like they were in 1st place… Anyway, I dusted myself off and I saw my pinky start to blow up.. that’s broken for sure and it HURT…. But that doesn’t effect running so GO! At this point the 4th place girl passed me because I became EVEN more careful on the downhills. I reversed what everyone said you should do… instead of power hike the uphills I RAN them because I’m like a mountain goat in that way J and pretty much walked the down hills. Nutrition: I had another 1/3 of a Rise Bar and a Expresso Hammer Gel (GROSS!) that was a bad choice. I got to the 37.2 Aid station and my crew was not there.. my fault not theirs so all I had until mile 43 was water and Clif Shots Margarita.

Miles 40-49: I was in single digits! WOO HOO! But still deathly afraid of bonking…. So I ate the Clif Shots between 40-45… GROSS! Hard to chew and too sweet. But honestly nothing upset my stomach so I just ignored my taste buds. It’s weird… everytime I hit an aid station and it would sayd 3.1 or 4.4 miles to the next AS… it would seem like the LONGEST freaking 4 miles of my life. I wasn’t tired I just had no idea how far I had to go because my Garmin sucked and was so far off … if I power hiked a hill it would auto pause and was just totally messed up. At mile 44 aid station I grabbed one GU and changed bottles with Cory and I was still feeling good but as I left the AS two women were coming in EEK! I ran out of there fast but was still afraid of the bonk…. I could see the two ladies behind me and they were working together fast…. I was so scared to pick up my pace even though I was feeling good because 6 miles is still a far way on these trails and I have heard of people crawling in at the 5K! Not sure where they caught me but they did.. I was still in #5.. that’s good for your first 50 J… Around mile 47ish I saw the second place girl walking with her friend/pacer and I ran past them hard up a hill (I said “Isn’t this the longest 3 miles of your life? Keep it up, come get me”)…. Then I ran scared for the next 3 miles thinking she was going to take my advice… I tried to have some of the GU I grabbed but it was GROSS too… Strawberry Kiwi… when I hit mile 48 and I just said GO! The terrain was a little smoother and I really wanted to catch those girls if I could… I picked it up but was still going down hills like a china doll DOH!

Mile 49-50: I heard the music and crowds, I saw Cory and his boys at the top of the last hill I had to climb and ran hard, I DID IT! 50 MILES and I am not INJURED, FEELING GOOD! 4th PLACE FEMALE! The second I crossed the line, the competitor in me was saying why didn’t you push harder, you could have gone sooo much faster. I felt like I could keep going… I wish this was 100K… but I quickly shut myself up and said …

A )APPRECIATE that you were able to do this because 6 weeks ago when you started running it seemed impossible

B) There were plenty of DNFs and it could have been you

C) The 3rd Place Female was Shelley Cook who is the most amazing, kind woman that gave you so much encouragement and advice

D) This was your first ONE!

I got to meet SO MANY Flatlanders and great people after the race. I went to my car and toweled off and changed… here’s where the TMI comes back in… I get to my car and a guy is nearby and he says BE CAREFUL there’s something by you drivers side… like someone or something did some “damage”… (yeah, that was my huge poop)… I said “EEW…. OMG thank you for warning me” hehehehe…. I headed back to the race to cheer on others. I walked about a ¼ mile in (nice and slow) and hung out with Cory and his boys playing with awesome cross-bows, dancing to music and bringing everyone home to the finish!

Final Results:

5th Place Female, 2nd Age Group, 50th Overall

Time: 8:51:25

Lessons Learned:

  • No expresso or strawberry kiwi Gus

  • Practice Downhills, run hard HTFU (Harden the F#CK Up)

  • Run the Uphills

Recovery: Besides the broken pinky and the compartment syndrome scare. All is good! I was sore the next day but was able to walk 5 miles.

Then train all week, do 50x up Swallow Cliff Tobaggan Stairs the following Saturday with a 9 mile run and 4 Hours in the Bowl on Sunday with about 20ish miles and 5,000ft elevation!

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