Well, it's been a few days. Time for another race recap. Get ready, 'cause this one ain't pretty.
I ran the Ice Age Trail 50K on May 10. I went in to this race with some pretty lofty goals. I was hoping to lop off a few more minutes from my previous years. I was hoping for somewhere close to five and a half hours! Now that it's all said and done, I'm glad I finished!
I had an entire week off of work leading up to the race. So I was fairly well rested. I didn't do any crazy runs or races. So I did learn from last years 5K six days before Ice Age! See, I do pay attention.
I think my first down fall this year, and in previous years, is overestimating my fitness and underestimating the course. It has been described by 2013 50 mile winner David Riddle as "death by 1000 paper cuts". While the 50K is obviously shorter, the hills wear you down just as quickly. To me they seem relentless. The 50K course is a 13 mile out and back and then two loops of 9 miles. So the hills you seem to think aren't so bad on the first loop seem cruel and unending on the second loop. And this year, they kicked my butt!
Problem number two this year was not being able to take in enough fluid and energy. Not that I didn't have a plan or schedule set up, I just couldn't handle anything in my belly. It wasn't upset or queasy. It was more a bloated and full feeling. I've never experienced this before. I kept trying to take in some fluid and gel, but I felt like a balloon ready to pop! I may have any idea as to why I had this problem. I'll get to that in a bit.
I tried to "run" this year, instead of my run/walk strategy from last year. I felt really good the first 13 miles. Looking back at my splits, I may have started out just a little fast. Not much, but enough that it added up by the end. Maybe I need to revisit the run/walk idea. It really did seem to save my legs last year. By the end this year walking was not an option. It was a necessity. My quads and hips hurt. More than any other race I can remember.
Getting back to the tummy trouble. Hindsight being 20/20, I think I can safely say I went in to this race with a bit of a bug. Not sure if it was something I ate, or a bit of a sinus infection, or ????? I felt a little sluggish and tired toward the end of the week. I just passed it off on my taper. I can't put my finger on it, but I just didn't feel "right". The day before the race I had no appetite. After running the 50K, I'm usually famished. This year, I ate a little bit because I knew I should. I spent Sunday feeling like I'd been beat with a lumpy lead pipe. Muscles ached, head banging, couldn't eat, what I did eat didn't stay with me very long. I felt crappy enough that I called in sick to work today ( the Monday after). That's enough of a hint about my run, because I rarely take a sick day. It's been years! Comparing my heart rate from last year to this year confirms my hunch. My average heart rate was 12 beats higher, and my max was 17 beats over last year. I think my body was trying to tell me something. Good thing I don't listen well.
But, I finished! And for me, that is always my first goal. Everything above and beyond that is a bonus. The best part of the run? Running through the finish holding hands with my niece and granddaughter.
Did I learn anything? You bet! I learned I can suffer and finish, even when I have seem inner doubts. I honestly thought about tossing in the towel before heading out on that last loop. Just for a second. But, I knew I could walk it in if I had to. I'm sure there were runners suffering just as bad as I was. I learned to listen to my body. If I had been smart and used some common sense, maybe I should have called it a day early. A DNF isn't always a failure. It can be a learning opportunity. Or maybe I should have not even left the start line. For me that's usually not an option. Between the trip down, hotel stay, getting to the race, I'll always at least start. But I need to put sense before pride.
What's next? Not sure. I had a 100K in June in the back of my mind. But I think I need to rest and recover a bit. Maybe a road marathon at the end of June. And then there's Dances With Dirt at Devil's Lake in July. That course and I have a score to settle.
Thanks for following along!