Monday, April 25, 2011

Chippewa 50K Ultramarathon

I did it! I was able to finish the Chippewa 50K in fine form. Yes, I had some doubt three weeks ago but as race day approached I told myself there wasn't any reason I couldn't run a 50K 10 weeks post hysterectomy. Right? Right!

I've only been training for a month and that month has been spent building endurance, not speed, that is for sure. I have no speed in these legs unless I train hard, diligently and run speed sessions twice a week with a weekly minimal mileage total of 75 miles. That's how this body works. Running fast(er) doesn't come easy for me.

With a few weeks to train I really wasn't certain how the endurance was going to pan out either. I did run 2 20 milers, so was hoping the next 11 during the race would be OK. It was.

I arrived to the race start with 4 minutes to spare. Yeah, thanks mapquest. Even though I have volunteered before I certainly didn't remember where in the world New Auburn WI was, somewhere out in the middle of the Chippewa National Forest. I was tossed and turned around, finally realizing hey, I have an iPhone and that has a GPS. So DUH! I have had an iPhone for 3 years and never used the GPS. I pulled it out, entered in the address and bingo! Even though there was no cell/internet service the GPS still works. It had me to the race start before the race started.

Quickly stuffed gels into my pocked, grabbed my Garmin, fixed my feet and hightailed it up to the visitor center where Jeff was calling all of the runners to the start. He helped me to find my chip and number and we were off!

The course was beautiful! Nice rolling ups and downs, deep woods, so many lakes, it was incredible. The trail was soft, nice and well..muddy. We ran through pine, oak, along ridges, through fields, a few road crossings-even some obstacles such as fence climbing and bridge crossings were involved. It was fantastic and SO GOOD TO BE RUNNING AN ULTRA AGAIN!

I saw my long lost friends! I didn't have any time to visit at the start so was able to catch up on the trail. Maria and I started out together for 5 minutes we chatted but at the first hill I had to let her go. I had to let a whole bunch of friends that I normally run with go. I was breathing heavily up that hill and knew it would mean trouble if I was gasping for air this early. I told her to go ahead and I'd visit at the finish.

I walked the hill and then found John T, ran a few hundred feet and had to stop to pee. I didn't have a chance to pee after the long ride with only 4 minutes to start. Off went the group. Scott W was out running! So happy to see him, it's been years since we've run together. It was a nice HI and BYE! He was long gone before I stepped back onto the trail.

For a few moments I was bummed that I was at the back of the pack, where I used to be when I first began ultras. I quickly changed my mindset and became grateful that I was even out running. Here I was, healthy, able to run a 50K deep in the woods. It's a great way to spend the day!

I ran along, enjoying Mother Nature. The course is an out and back, with 2 manned aid stations along the way, two self serve with water and an aid station at the turn around.

At each aid station I filled with Heed, grabbed a few gels and scampered on down the trail. I was totally enjoying the views. This course is on the Ice Age Trail, it is just beautiful

Eventually the leaders were coming back, I was going to be able to see all of the runners. John S was in third place, running strong. Helen was third woman, also looking strong. I love out and backs, so nice to see everyone!

Pretty soon I saw the group I had been racing with before my hiatus: John T, Jim, they were like 5 miles ahead of me. Wow. For a moment I thought: I suck. Then I changed that thought. No, I'm just fine. I'm having a blast, I'm getting my money worth!

At the turn around I felt famished! I was running slowly and knew I wouldn't have any trouble digesting food. I ate 3/4 of a fresh peanut butter jelly sandwich and refilled on heed and gels. The sandwich tasted wonderful!

Lynn was taking pictures, I'll post a few, and off I went, back toward the start.

Along my way back I still felt good. I had been running a very cautious pace for fear of crashing. I was probably too cautious but better to error on the side of good judgment!

I ended up passing 13 people on the way back, yeah, I counted. It made me feel good about my run. I ran a negative split of 1:24! Ha, that's one minute and 24 seconds! Pretty consistent pace!

At the end of the race is a huge grassy hill leading to the visitor center. John S and Joe were up there cheering and yelling. They finished in 424 or some crazy fast speed and this was Joe's first ultra. Yeah. Wow! Great run.

I walked up that last hill and crossed the finish line in 7:10. A good 45 minutes or so slower than my 50K time but hey, I did it and I'm good with it! My goal was 8 hours so I was golden.

A quick visit with others and I hurried to my car to change into dry clothes and gobble up a shake of berries, juice, Udos and protein powder. I had leftover lentil patties and greens for the drive home.

I'm trying to be diligent with recovery foods. Too many times I don't eat post run because I don't feel hungry. A shake is easy to get down the hatch and digests easily.

I visited with wonderful friends whom I have missed so much, for an hour or so and then it was time to move on home to color Easter eggs and bake the Bun Bun Cake.

Thanks to RD Jeff, the volunteers and all of my friends out there. You all rock. A few more weeks and I'm off to WI again, this time for Ice Age 50 Mile Ultra. Woohoo!


Olga said...

Julie, congrats on a come-back. Slow or fast, the fact that you did come back is what matters. The rest is time and training, and you got a hang on both:)

Robin said...

That's simply amazing!

sea legs girl said...

Hi Julie

I don't even know if I saw you! I simply must have but didn't recognize you in person. I apologize. That is pretty awesome you ended up with a negative split.

I'm wondering if I was one of those 13 people you passed... Or maybe you were ahead from the beginning. Perhaps we'll see each other at another race in the Miwest. Happy recovery and I am with you that post-ultra eating is a hard thing to master.

Julie B said...

Thanks Olga, it feels good to be back and spending a day on the trail. You know.

Thank you Robin!

Sea Legs Girl, I looked for you on the trail but was mainly looking for your passenger as the way to find you.

Recover well!