Ice Age Trail...Ice From the Sky, and Ice in the tub...
For the past year I have been saying that I don’t want to run Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run
again anytime in the near future. Sure, it’s a fabulous event in a beautiful place and my prior two finishes there have been super satisfying and fun, yet it is expensive, VERY expensive…so I have held off from trying to get a spot.
This past fall, the window to submit entries to the lottery came and went. I figured to run a different 100 miler during the summer of 2010-perhaps in a place I could use my car instead of a plane to get to and in a place I’d never been? I wanted a competitive field and an event in June or July. In December 2009 or so, I spotted Burning River 100 in Ohio. Only 7.5 hours from where I live, this year it is to be the National 100 Mile Trail Championships and I hoped would draw a competitive field. I did not immediately register, yet planned to keep an eye on available spots.
Sometime during the winter months-whether be from pining for dry and hot canyons for the contrast to our uncharacteristic very snowy and cold winter in the Southern Appalachians or from the contagious enthusiasm from by Montrail Teammate Jill Perry, I got a little hyped about trying for a spot at WS 100. In January, since I’d planned to run Bandera 100k anyway, it would only be an extra bonus if I could finish top 2 and gain entry to WS 100. Bandera 100k is part of the Montrail Ultra Cup…and top runners of certain races can grab a spot a WS 100 if they choose. At Bandera, I had a good day of running, yet 4th place doesn’t deliver the prize, so…back in January, I mentally wrote off WS 100.
Weeks passed. The principal at my High School asked me to work summer school in June. I agreed, as I liked the structure and extra income the added 3 weeks of work would bring. More weeks passed and the amazing women’s field at WS 100 continued to grow. I was doing well in the Montrail Ultra Cup
and knew that without a WS 100 run, I wouldn’t have a prayer of placing…
A few weeks ago, I got real with myself (Finally! At least for a moment!) I really want to run WS this year! In order to do that I would have to pull out a top 2 finish at Ice Age 50 Miler this weekend. Since Ice Age was already on my schedule and travel plans made, I wouldn’t be adding additional expenses or requests for time off from work to go after this genuine aspiration.
Note to self: (i.e. reality check):
- Just because I might earn entry, doesn’t mean several things:
- Might night get time off from work?
- Might not be in “mountain shape” enough to go after a top 10 spot
- Cost including travel and registration may be prohibitive.
The listed dilemmas above are now real! I did earn a top 2 top and WS 100 participation is mine for the asking- (and paying). Reflection, information gathering and breathing will help me with the “correct” decision within the week…
Yet for now, I happily reflect on the 2010 Ice Age 50 Mile Trail Race in rainy/windy/snowy/hailing/sunny Wisconsin on Saturday!
Driving to Whitewater, WI
I flew from Greensboro to Milwaukee and stayed at a Days Inn I found for 37.00 on Hotwire. Perfect! Even thought the car rental places closed at 8pm the motel had a shuttle to pick me up at the airport at 9pm and a convenience store across the street where I purchased a “Lean Cuisine” dinner and had a late supper in my room.
Next morning I took the shuttle back to the airport to pick up my Hotwire-‘um, I mean Hertz rental: Toyota Yaris (at a great Hotwire rate: $40.49 including all taxes/fees from 8am Friday to 8am Sunday). I made the 1-hour drive to the Ice Age Trail and ran a short 25-minute out and back in the rain. Since I wasn’t sure which model of Montrails would be best for this course, I took both to WI…for this tiny run I wore my Mountain Masochists and they really felt the dirt/grass/mud of the trail. Then I drove 10 minutes to race start area and changed to Sabino Trail. I ran into Meghan Arbogast and we did a tiny 3 mileish run together. The Masochists felt better than the Sabinos on this relatively non-technical course…had it been rocky and more technical, the Sabino’s would have been my choice. Anyway…I enjoyed a little time w/ Meghan before heading to my room for the night in Whitewater Wisconsin.
Next morning when I woke at 3:50am it was windy and drizzling. Regardless of the weather I was here and was psyched! I drank in room coffee as I dressed and body glided and taped my feet. Breakfast was eaten on the short drive to the start while blaring John Denver’s “It Amazes Me” in the car’s CD player.
Yes, yes… OH YES! Back to running and racing on the glorious trails! Primary goal (of Course –unspoken –to finish) yet really to come in 1st or 2nd for a spot at WS 100… Course start was 6am. It was windy in the mid 30’s.
I will not rehash mile per mile…please see the course description here
Rather, I will share parts of a chatty email I sent last night to my coach Howard Nippert:
The first 40 miles of Ice Age was great fun...then not so much... a much needed reality check! I am desperately out of trail running shape for little hills. My glutes and hamstrings are very weak for the type of climbing presented during the last 5th of Ice Age. Until mile 42ish Meghan and I were with each other all day-back and forth-loosing each other primarily at “pit stops” only to gather again at the same pace both of us relaxed and steady- I got to know her much better and have great respect for her as a woman as well as a runner.
I felt strong otherwise-downhill’s, flats, technical roots, rocks, etc...yet the little steeps took it out of me and I had to slow big time on the climbs and that put me in a funk-yet I got over it and after the little steep hills, was back at it-yet by then as much as I chased, I didn't have a prayer of catching back up to Meghan as she went ahead with 9 miles left to go. I did get a little behind on electrolytes and calories due to lack of ability to use my hands when they got really cold (even with 2 pair gloves on)...yet Raynard's is an ongoing challenge! That being said, WS 100 is now an option.
I will decide this week based on ability to get time off from work and expense/cost etc. I only want to do WS if I think I am strong enough to make top 10.
To be strong enough I will need to strengthen my glutes and hamstrings and do longer runs that will demand steep hiking breaks in order to practice that transition from run to hike and back. Downhill technical running thankfully continues to be a strength and joy. Yet with the exception of a few miles in the High Country and descent into canyons, there is little technical running at WS! I have other thoughts too about my shortcomings and will share them later this week should I commit to WS!
I think I am onto something with repeats of ice baths. (in the past never doing more than one a few hours after the event)...yet I have did 3 between 5pm yesterday and 5am today.., each for 12 min with lots of ice in the tub...and today feel physically tired from effort and travel, yet not leg so much sore or leg weary. NO, it isn't fun exactly-yet the pain of the ice bath is kinda like some of the strides you have prescribed for me sorta torturous, yet in a good way!
…I am in a different place with running now than I ever have been-having very different strengths and shortcomings as in years past, therefore am finding it difficult to judge my own capabilities!
Meghan was 1st in 7:17:07, me 2nd 7:27:08, and Wisconsin’s own Christine Crawford 3rd in 7:41:06. In the men’s race, Todd Braje was 1st with 6:20:38, Phil Kochik 2nd 6:25:55 and Mark Lundblad 6:33:13. The dudes were VERY fast and graceful out there! I liked watching and greeting other runners…that being said, I was not too social during miles 42-47ish-grunting and head nodding-keeping eyes on the trail and surviving…Full results here
. Here is a link to a Milwaukee Newspaper article.
This was a VERY fun event! Extremely well executed from my perspective. The Wisconsin hospitality was GREAT and volunteers helpful and took their jobs seriously. There are several road crossings on the course-traffic is not stopped-runners must stop. At one point one of the volunteers held on to Meghan and I as the cars passed-it was funny-and I appreciated the directness of this and other volunteers. Many thanks to all the helpful people standing around in the chilly day to help out hundreds of determined runners.
After the run I got to hang out for a little while with former Montrail Teammates Beth Simpson and Larry Hall. Both are now on the Wasatch Speedgoat Team and will be rock running at Massanutten 100 this coming weekend. Best wishes to them! Jennifer Aradi was there too. Jennifer and I met in Bandera-and we've been seeing each other all over the running place this year. She is an enthusiastic runner and this day volunteer who made my life easier (as she did when she was helping out at Mad City last month). Thanks Jenniferf!
Beth Simpson, Jennifer Aradi, Christine Crawford and I at the post run festivities
I left the race venue festivities sooner than I wanted to as I had a very early Sunday AM flight out of Milwaukee and needed some ice bath and down time to recover before the journey back home. Again I called upon Hotwire for an affordable deal. I struck it rich! I wound up at Holiday Inn Express Airport and felt like royalty! The hotels customer service and amenities for the tired runner were perfect! And the price right---under 60.00 w/tax…and rooms big enough (actually I was assigned a suite).
Photos from the very nice suite...(notice running shoes drying on the heater)
Now, back at home, it is time to adjust back to the "non-racing/traveling life" for a little while. Within a few days I'll be answering the question about what to do about WS 100. It's nice to have the dilemma!