Sunday, April 11, 2010

Mad City 100k: National Championship Road Run Weekend

Isn’t it crazy when you are in the midst of something that you have looked forward to, prepared for, invested in and are passionate about, that you just want the experience to be over? There are times that I felt just that yesterday during the Mad City 100k, National 100k Road Running Championship in Madison, Wisconsin.  This was my 1st 100k-road run of all the 69 ultra’s I have run since February 2003.

Though I have run the distance on trails several times (GEER, Bandera, Hellgate) and a couple 24-Hour runs on pavement (Freedom Park, IAU Bergamo), this road 100k is a different creature altogether!

Please don’t misunderstand-I LOVED running in Madison yesterday- (except for those tougher moments). I am a place with running and my body right now, that I really appreciate it all! Trails are my true love-yet I am so very curious about other kinds of events too. And I am at a place in my life that I am very willing to be a learner and do different things-just not as impulsively as when I was younger!

After being named alternate to Team USA 24-Hour earlier this year, I changed my spring race plans to see if I could myself in a better position to be selected to the 100k Team. Though I qualified at JFK 2009, after consulting with team leader, Lin Gentling she advised me to run and qualify at Mad City-because the winner would be automatically selected and other qualifying times would hold higher ranking than qualifying 50 mile times. Not knowing how to prepare to run this sort of race, I turned to Howard Nippert and he agreed to coach me for 3 months to prepare me for Madison.

(Turning over my training and mileage to someone else was utterly new for me, as I haven’t had a coach in the past-I have always created my own training plans and made stuff up as I went along). Yet although I am an experienced ultra runner, I instinctively knew I would trust Howard’s personal success and that of his athletes so I could move closer toward my goal. Plus I really like his direct, no-nonsense approach. And to tell the truth to have someone else create structure around my race plans/hopes is a great stress reliever. I only wish I could afford to keep Howard.

As it turns out, I can keep working with him! I’ll babble about race details later, yet my personal outcome of the race was 2nd place, 8:05:23 and to my absolute surprise, a check for $1,200! Although she can’t say for sure, Lin believes I have a GREAT chance of going to Gibraltar with the Team in November. So, I’ll be planning for it and will know one way or another in a few months.

The Trip

I took ½ day off from work on Thursday and all day Friday. My flight from Charlotte to Madison was scheduled to leave at 4:25pm. Due to thunderstorms in Atlanta, the flights origin, we did not leave until after 7pm. Since I am not a very patient person, I wandered the airport and sat down for a glass of wine. I met a couple business guys waiting for their weekly commuter flight and enjoyed the wine, conversation and interacting with people from such a different lifestyle.

During the flight from CLT to Detroit, one of the passengers became ill, and when the plane landed the paramedics needed to board and check out the man before he was cleared and the rest of us were cleared to exit the plane. Needless to say, once we boarded for Madison, I was antsy and ready to be there. And then life got in my face and humbled me. I met my 2 row mates-a couple in their late 60’s, Andi and Robert. We discussed what we were doing and after a babbled a bit about Mad City, Andi told me they learned their son Bob, who lived in Madison, died yesterday. The family was gathering there.

I had a sudden waive of empathy for these 2. We talked some more; I listed and also told her briefly about loosing my sister and Dad. We ate peanuts and I got lost in a zone of appreciation for who and what I have in my life. I had to hide my tears, I really felt deeply and knew that I would use the race the next day to remind me to actively experience gratitude. For each loop I wanted to have a person/ experience as the title of that loop.

The shuttle vehicle from the Best Western East Inn and Suites picked me up at 10pm and delivered me to a really nice hotel! I had booked the hotel through I knew the general area of the hotel and that it was 2 and ½ stars and it would be $39.00 a night. I was thrilled with the indoor pool, hot tub, and full cooked breakfast-and on site convenience store.

My room was a suite: a separate sleeping area and a sitting area with fridge, microwave, coffee maker and bathtub and Internet. Wow! Perfect, perfect place to rest before and after the race!

Next day after swimming many tiny laps in the pool and stretching out in the hot tub, the shuttle took me back to the airport and I picked up my little rental car. I spent the day hunting. I had mailed myself a box to the hotel and though priority mail flat rate, it failed to arrive in 5 days. So I hunted for Clif blocks, bars and gels. Not finding more than 3 Clif gels or drink mix, I went with Gatorade and some other gels. I also went to the University Arboretum and did a short run on the “hilly” part of the course-between miles 2-4. A nice out and back and some pushups and crunches were all the exercise I would do that day.

At packet pick up that night I sat with and interacted with many great folks and awesome runners who I’ve raced with in the past: Bev Abbs, Meghan Arbogast, Krissy Moehl, Roy Pirrung, Jenny Capel, Anne Heaslet (who I learned is married to RD Timo!), and many others. I had goose bumps of excitement considering the next day.
Bev, checking out of the 100k, nursing an injury "chicked" all the guys and won the 50k outright!

 Jenny(8) and Krissy(6) running strong!

Back at the motel, I arranged my stuff, laid out clothes, ate soup and bread, drank 2 glasses of wine and got to bed with a book. I stayed awake later than I intended reading, yet still I was resting and so figured it was okay! At 4:15 the next morning, the real thing all began!

By 6:25, my drinks stashed, warmed up, de-layered, port-a-pottied, and  splits written on my left forearm (each mile + .2 per lap) with a sharpie- I hovered in a group of chilly runners awaiting the “go!” And then we were off!

I had planned my race with an overall time of 8:13: and change. Why this number? Because since I had no idea of what I was capable of, I put my most recent 50k time into a calculator and was told since I ran a 3:43:48 50k, then I was capable of this for a 100k. Why not? I didn’t have anything else to go on, so I planned splits for 8:15, knowing my 1st lap would be faster and I might gain the minutes there. So, on average to run 7:58 per mile for the event. OK. So I had a plan!

During most of lap 1 I could see Meghan ahead of me. I had no desire to chance or race at this point. I kept remembering a very kind, yet pointed  blog comment I received from a blog friend that said something like, “run smart, smooth and patient and then let the fin appear.” This statement wound up chattering in my ear all race long. It a perfect reminder for me!

I ran with Ryan Dexter for a long time. He was speedy fast and I had to take good care not to try and keep up-I really enjoyed our interaction. I met Michael Kanning, a college student of 18 from CA doing his first 100k…After 4 laps or so, I conserved energy and didn’t do much talking. I had no clue where the other women were-only that Meghan was ahead. I bobbed along with various thoughts, music and musings in my head.

My goal was not to win, although that would be freaking amazing…What I wanted was to run as well as possible for team selection.  Having such a singular focus chases away many demons! I did run laps dedicated to running and my health, my awesome Mom, Mary Lou, my dad Wes Bednosky who got taken away by cancer in 2005, Ron and Michele (my bro and sis-in-law) Cheryl (my running twin who died too young when we were in our early 30’s), Grandma (Mom’s Mom) George (my amazing husband), his family , etc… Sometimes during those laps I just breathed and thought of running-yet when I would get doubtful or feel icky, I tried to remember their songs and faces and loves!

 I have to admit, Cheryl was a big part of the day! And the fact I was in WI was important too-‘cause during college she ran a very prestigious event in the late 1980’s,  “All American cross country” or something like that… and I flew in from where I was in attendance at Fredonia State (near Buffalo, NY) to cheer her on. I can’t remember what happened. She didn’t win, although she was trained and perhaps favored…and I think she had a bad race…yet to me, running a grassy, wet 5k in less than 19:30 was superhero standards!

I think it was in lap 6 that Melanie Fryer
 Strong Melanie keeping pace on the laps!

passed me, looking strong and youthful and spunky! I cheered her on and continued with my plan. “If she could hold this pace”, I thought, “she’ll pass Meghan!”  Earlier that day I remembered I’d met Melanie on the Bandera 100k course back in January. She was running well; I was in a bit of a low, dealing with the sunshine and new-to-me 60+degrees warm temps. “Well,” I thought, this is not time to react to any one, just keep running, fueling, drinking and concentrating.

Time continued. I did my job. I had a focus. Run, fuel, hydrate, easy-go…breathe and keep up the mantra’s of “smart, steady, patient” and of the experiences of my gratefulness. Somewhere I ran past Melanie.

Jill Perry, my Montrail teammate, was present with me too-I felt her encouragement and positive influence in my mind and continued on.

This race was a race to the clock. I didn’t know where the other girls were. By the beginning of lap 9 I wanted to cry. Why? Why was I running this? Did I really want to run loops and play hamster in Gibraltar?
YES!  Oh-heck/goodness/hell YES!

So I didn’t cry, ‘cause I know from experience when I cry and run I tend to hyperventilate =not a good mix on this day!

I did have a moment of tears as Howard met me at the finish and I limped around. I was thrilled and touched by the celebration and support offered to me!
 Finishing the race, lookin' worked and none-too-pretty (yet inside I was yippee happy!)

 Timing chip being removed and Howard's presence kept me from bawling my eyes out!

As you can tell, from this post, this race was a big deal to me!  Yes, I am thrilled with the likely prospect of again representing the USA! And I am also thrilled because this event is showing me that I am still a learner, adventurer, and tenacious and strong woman able to continue to learn to call upon her resources to enhance some of what is important to her! 

Some folks might think I am “settling” for 2nd place-yet with the experience, plan and time, I am so thrilled and truly celebrate Meghan and my own efforts! Melanie finished 3rd in 8:18ish, and Krissy soon after. Please see    for stories, photos and full results of women and men!

I am psyched with my experience of the  very cool city of Madison, WI, and the Mad City Race and outcomes. I will live “ as if” I get to run in Gibraltar in November, yet I know the team will not be announced until August 9th! If I can’t run for the World Championship 100k, I reason-then I’ll be in a great place to run sub 7 at JFK!

I encourage anyone wary of road running or lap running to check out this venue and race. You can not be bored and I promise, you will be challenged and get your money’s worth!


jenn said...


Great race! Great post! you are my hero.

I love that you think about your sister when you run. I think about my big brother who I lost in 2007 ALL the time when I reach low points during runs.. it's like he reaches down from the heavens and gives me the kick in the butt I need to get moving again!! :o) I know he would want me to do my best and be strong in every way I can. haha and it helps when you have rick gray and doug blackford MAKING you run in front of them.. so you can get on down the trail and not lag behind. :o) miss you girl! we have to do a fun group run sometime when your schedule allows!

Congratulations!! YAY!!!!! I am SO HAPPY for you!!!!


Rick Gray said...

Annette, What a run and what an emotional trip. Part of staying young is continuing to learn and experience new things. Well, you certainly had your day of that. I am so proud of you and what you have accomplished. Friday night and Saturday morning as we were out there on the trail, your friends were thinking of you and wishing you the very best from a great nights sleep to a fun and rewarding run. Sounds like you had that. Ultra running certainly has its highs and its lows. As Jenny pointed out, it is so very special to think of your loved ones as you are out there. That makes the running that much easier, but it makes life so much more special. Congratulations on an excellent run and we all look so forward to seeing Annette's name listed on August 9th.

Casseday said...

Great job Annette!
- Adam

Sophie Speidel said...


Wooo-hooo! Great race! And thanks for such a detailed report! I am not surprised that you had such a great race---you are becoming very good at the loop courses and are so mentally tough. I am very interested in learning about what makes the loop courses so appealing---keep these posts coming!

I was weeping at Bull Run on Saturday and watching all the records fall---Aliza Lapierre crushed Anne's CR and I was thinking that perhaps one day you would come back and give that course a go with all your road speed :-)

Congrats again and happy recovery!


Sophie Speidel said...

I meant "sweeping"...not weeping :-)

annette bednosky said...

Thanks friends for great comments. This weekend was surely a HUGE on in our ultrarunning world-from The Iron Mountain runners grand over night adventure and Bull Run and American River too! Wow!

I wish everyone great recovery and time to pay attention to the other parts of our lives for a bit!

Chris said...

Annette, what an amazing run (and blog entry)--you continue to astound me with your speed and humility. Keep up the GREAT work, gal!

Nicola Gildersleeve said...

Congrats!!!!! Amazing run and great blog report!!!!

I have been a bit hesitant to race Elk Beaver 100km in B.C (victoria) as it is 10 x 10km loops (flat) so I can qualify for the Canadian world cup 100km team. You blog definitely inspired me to pursue that further!!!

Western is only 7 weeks later and I just worry about having to take much time off to recover without the specificity of training flat (as I focus on ws100). Any tips???

Awesome job again!

Michael Henze said...

I followed the webcast and the loops splilts all day. I think of all the racers you ran the most consistent race.

I know you are a great trail ultra-runner, but to run such a great 1st road 100k is truly amazing.

Congratulations ... Recover fast!


JJ Jessee said...

Totally amazed.
(as usual)
Congratulations and have a great summer of running.

Debra Horn said...

Way COOL! Make sure to put the North Coast 24 on your race list for this September so you can make the Team for next year!! We'll miss you in France :)

Triple F said...

I have so much to learn . . . and I think I learned a lot from this post. Especially about the mental side of ultra running. Thank you! And I'm so very proud of your accomplishments.

Paul Carrasco said...

Wow! Congratulations and thanks for sharing your thoughts about your adventure. You are truly an inspiration.

Jill Perry said...

Annette, so proud of you! You are just awesome inside and out. This is your year Annette! What a wonderful, smart race you ran and was so much fun following you. I am honored to be your Montrail Teammate and most of all, your friend! Looking forward to seeing you soon and tackling more adventures! Wooohooo!!!! Jill Perry

RyanDexter said...

Annette -

It was a pleasure running a little while with you. Great finish! I hope you continue to enjoy the little things. You are blessed.

In Christ -
Ryan Dexter

Jamie Donaldson said...

You ROCK Annette! You are on fire! Congrats on a well deserved awesome race!

Matt Chaffin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt Chaffin said...

Annette, you continue to inspire others to raise their dorsal fins and bite off new challenges. You are the nicest shark I know! Keep up the awesome running!

olga said...

What an awesome, awesome race, goal and report! Uber-emotional and goal oriented, just the right way:) This IS your year, and it's been wonderful to follow the lap results. I had no doubt about the outcome, but it's eaiser on this side of computer:) Very happy for you.
Funny that you mentioned - I started ultras in February 2003, and had finished 69 of them by now:) Oh, if only this coincedence would predict the results too!

Anonymous said...

What a great post and what a great race! BTW, you look AWESOME at the finish! Keep up the positive thinking.

Krissy said...

you ran an amazing race girl! Way to stay focused and get that goal! I hope we both earn a spot for November :)