The Ice Age 50

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Saturday, race day, has come and gone and I now have a new belt buckle. All in all I had a blast and a lot of people to thank for helping to make it happen. Just to keep some sort of cohesive flow I thought it best to break down the event in contributing topics. So this is how it went:

Pre-race jitters

The weeks leading up to the race were an escalation of nerves and doubt. Not that my body couldn’t handle it, but that my mind would win again and I’d throw in a towel at an all too convenient aid station. That’s really it, a bundle of self doubt. I had no idea what was past 27 miles, I figured I could get to 35, but after that, no clue. I was happy to know Tim Gorichanaz was going to be with me every step (he was training for his first 100 miler) and that he could step in with words of wisdom along the way… or more likely slap me at that aid station where I wanted to walk and knock some sense into me.

Weather

Leading up to race day storms, rain and warm weather surrounded the date and was changing daily threatening to make an appearance on the day itself. The course and distance was already enough to chew me up and spit me out so I’d be a goner if you throw in rain and mud. At this point it looked inevitable that the ground would be soft, potential to be muddy and we may be getting wet on the course. The reality was that the race threaded a needle of shit weather and offered perfect race conditions; cool and cloudy.

The Pain Points

The race itself was long and hard and really started to take its toll around mile 32. I had mental markers: past 27 miles was uncharted territory (furthest run ever), 30 was when Dani and Sandy were stopping and hitting a recognized “Ultra” distance and the rest was just deep space. I guess I was surprised that the pain didn’t arrive till mile 32, but also relieved that it didn’t come sooner. The next 18 miles would really put the screws to me. Feet were soar and knees were soar. The shins started to act up and most pain started to just move from place to place and on some occasion come together in a choir of feedback to my brain that they needed/wanted attention – mostly in the form of “Please stop doing this”.

Tim and I had set our sights on mile 40 as a place where we could assess how things are going and time check to see how we’re doing in time. Why? Our pace time leading into 40 had a very high plausibility to put us in the clear. We probably would have enough in the bank at 40 that we could walk the rest of the way, but more importantly, if anything went wrong there was still a buckle in our future. With pain well settled in at this point and the distance between miles got longer and longer I really was motivated by having some comfort of a respectable finish.

At mile 34 had some walking and then there was some music, more specifically there was Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zero’s, Janglin. This would end up being that jam that had me floating, almost too fast thru the woods for a couple more fast miles – my hero song. Passing people, brushing the trees, bombing down hills and not a pain in sight. I could feel my breathing was up but I was in a zone. That got me to mile 38.

After that the pain had settled in for the rest of the trip and would be a permanent fixture till we stopped. I felt like at any moment I could get a cramp over the left knee that would end up threatening me with a full lock up for a good 8 miles. All the leg pains were expected, it was the lung pain around mile 42 that had me concerned and keeping a watchful eye. If I took a deep breath it felt as though someone had shoved knives into my back at the lung. That’s pretty freaky. So we had to dial it back and keep breathing at a zone 2 heart rate. That and shut up so I wasn’t using them more. I am sure I gripped about the pain the whole time, I tried not to. I don’t feel like I did, but I am sure Tim could tell you a whole different story.

Eating and nutrition on the run

I kind of stuck to Tim’s advice for the run and ate when I was hungry and drank when I was thirsty – don’t overthink it – and I finished; so fair to say it worked out. I did try to keep an eye on salt and sugar and make sure I was getting enough of both. The temperature outside had me drinking less water that normal which I think was to an advantage. I do recall it getting harder and harder to swallow food as time went on. Gummy Bears had to stay in the mouth for a couple more chews (stalling) until I think my throat was OK to let them down. Oh and there were not one but two Number 2’s that had to be taken care of in the field. Great. A wise blog post once told me, take paper towel on trail runs, not TP; TP will disintegrate on a wet ass. That right there was/is some field tested sage advice.

The phone and murphy’s law

I was using my phone for nothing more than a camera, SMS device and music player, so imagine my surprise when at mile 38 I look at the phone to see a 20% battery. Why? We have a home camera that sends alerts when there is activity at the front door. I’ve been tweaking the sensitivity and the alert window for a while. Before race day we’d average about 15 alerts a day, with about 90% being false positives. When I looked at my phone at mile 38 I had 384 alerts. F*&K! How the hell? What the hell? Turns out winds and whipping bushes keep a camera plenty busy and will kill a phone with alerts. In the end it meant I was screwed if I wanted to listen to music for any longer than 15 mins?

A pro drop bag

Never packed a drop bag before but I am pretty sure no one would be the wiser. I was getting nervous about doing this distance in rock and hard pack in my Salomon Speedcross 3’s, but it turned out that they handled magnificently. I did still trade out to different shoes at mile 42 more as a placebo. I also changed socks and put on some calf compression bands. As far as the rest of the pack, it was: Duck tape wrapped around a talcum power bottle, bug spray, sunscreen, a pin (for blister), athletic tape, body glide, super glue and band-aids.

After the race

The post race was sloppy on my part. Little to no stretching. I sat in a chair right away and cracked a beer. I wanted to lay on the grass and elevate my legs, but every time I looked at that grass I thought of the umpteen ticks that would be eyeing me up. So instead I sat in a fold out chair and drank a beer. I’m pretty OK with this approach too. They had all sorts of food and I did get a brat, but for the most part I really wasn’t hungry. The company was great, I was glad to be done but most importantly, at no point, did I think that I would never do this again; I genuinely had fun.

I did get cold so I covered up and it turns out the internal thermostat would be a problem for the next 24 hours. Laying in bed that night I was always either shivering or sweating, but in reality it was probably only 5 times in the night where I woke up to actually notice.

As far as the legs? I have two black toe nails and one that wants to leave soon, some fluid in my ankle and that’s about it. Not too shabby. It’s Thursday and I think Dani and I will be going for a run tonight.

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right about here is where I snuck in a few tears and actually believed this was gonna happen

The last note and the one that really drew me to this run was a statement by, I though Karnazes, but I can’t find it anymore – “I run 5 miles to clear my head and 50 miles to clear my soul”. So I guess consider this soul clear and that box check. Now where are we running to next? Where ever it is, I now know I want to get there a little faster this time.

 

Gear:
  • Garmin fenix 2 watch
  • Patagonia Strider Pro Shorts
  • The North Face, Better Than Naked Shirt
  • Ultimate Direction AK Hydration Vest
  • Salomon Speedcross 3 shoes

 

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