DWD was held July 13, in the Merrimac/Baraboo, WI area. Dirt headquarters was near Devil's Head Resort.
Race morning started at 5:30 a.m. Darn near perfect weather greeted the 50K and 50 milers. Upper 60's, overcast and a bit of a breeze. The sunshine and heat didn't show up until later that morning.
Since we stayed at Devil's Head, it was just a short jaunt to the start area. I did some nervous pacing around the start area for my warm up. I kind of figured the legs would warm up soon enough on the trails. We kind of seeded ourselves in to waves and off we went. Let the fun begin.
The first leg was a loop around the ski area at Devil's Head. The climb up to the top wasn't too bad. The trail kind of wound back and forth up the ski hill instead of going straight up. Not too bad! Along the top and then a quad burning trip down the double black diamond ski hill. Pretty much straight down. Against my better judgement, I let 'er rip on the way down. I knew my legs would pay for this in a few hours, but I just couldn't resist. It felt like I was running on cushions with the Hoka Stinsons on my feet.
Back through the start/finish area and out to the Ice Age trail to the next aid station. Through Parfrey's Glen and uphill. Lots of roots through here helped me slow it down and relax for the climb. I really enjoyed this section. Similar to the trails I usually run on "my" section of IAT.
We headed over to Devil's Lake State Park and through the campground. A bit of a chance for the legs to rest on the pavement. I almost missed a turn here, but somehow was aware and alert enough to see the bright pink flags leading through chest high weeds/grass/stuff. Legs were feeling good, so far!
Then I hit the climb to South Bluff aid station. Hundreds, no thousands, wait, millions of stone steps up to the top of the bluff. I didn't think it would ever end! I heard runners use words I've never heard before. If the faster runners were actually running up this section, I want to know how they did it! The views along the top definitely made it worth it, but I couldn't see or think straight enough to really enjoy them! I wanted to take some photos, but I'm not sure I could have figured out how to use the camera feature on my phone while trying to catch my breath and massage my aching quads!
Thankfully I didn't have to go all the way to the top of the bluff. It just seemed like it. A right turn on to a wide gravel road gave my legs a chance to relax and get in something akin to a rhythm. Or it felt like it to me. I really enjoyed this section. Nice, wide, smooth. Some climbing, but nothing like what I'd been through.
From this point it was the reverse of what I'd run earlier. I wanted to bomb the hills but some of the rooted and rocky sections made think twice. I hadn't done my Superman imitation, and I wanted to keep it that way. Once I got closer to the Parfrey's Glen area again, I tried picking up the pace. I was getting really tired at this point. I was coming close to six hours and felt like I should be done! I pulled out my phone and checked the app I use while running. 30.98 miles! And I knew I had at least a couple more to go! WTF?? I know that no two runners using some kind of GPS/app will have the same distance, but I didn't plan on being this far off. At the finish, my Strava app read 32.7 miles. I'm going to take it! It felt like I ran at least an extra mile. Not complaining, just saying!
All in all, I had an awesome time. Great trail, great runners, great aid and volunteers, well marked and challenging trail, great weather. I'll definitely be back.
So, what did I learn? Lots! I learned I probably shouldn't do a run commute comprising a half marathon before and after work, in the heat, less than a week before a 50K! I think my legs were mostly recovered, but not 100%. But I do love a challenge.
I learned I really, really, no-really need to pay more attention to my fueling. I thought I was doing well. I made sure I was always sipping at my water bottle. Hydration wasn't a problem. When I got to the finish and started digging through my drop bag, I realized I hadn't taken in quite what I thought. I went through three gels and two bottles of Accelerade. Approximately 700 calories for 6+ hours of running! No wonder the last hour seemed eternal!!
I learned why so many ultra runners don't wear a shirt. Let's just say I'm going to be checking out some NipGuards! OUCH! I ditched my shirt at South Bluff and was glad to be rid of it!! Glide just didn't cut it that day. Not sure why.
I learned I really need to give some honest attention to the hills. Hill repeats, hilly loops, hilly trails, HILLS!
In the end, I had a great day. 6:19:34. 69/210. 3/16 in my age group.
The Hokas worked great. No foot issues. Legs felt as good as can be expected. Glad I gave 'em a try.
What's next? Probably The North Face Endurance Challenge Series race in Madison in September. Probably another 50K. Yeah, gonna try and finally put things together and nail a good run. But........maybe a hard and fast half marathon might be fun. Anyway......thanks for checking out this really long winded report. More later as I train for ECS Madison!