Monday, January 16, 2012

Triple D Winter Race Report

About a week and a half ago I noticed that my back was healing at a much faster rate than it had been. What had been months of recovery and no running had morphed into pain free running. 0 mile weeks turned into 30, 35, 40, 45, 50 mile weeks. Amazing. I was feeling very very good.

I decided to enter Psycho Wyco 50K and am planning a road trip with Doug and Maria Barton mid February to KS for the event.  I knew to be ready for this training run I at least needed to get in a  20 miler and hoped it wouldn't hurt.

Success! As I stated, last weeks 21.25 was sweet. That success had me thinking I could run marathon distance to be even more ready for the Psycho Wyco 50K.

I thought I'd rather run a race and use it as an aided training run for my next long run.  Trail as opposed to pavement, not to far to drive. I contacted my friend Vicky to see if she was heading to Dubuque Iowa for Triple D. I knew that there was a group of friends that ran this last year.  She told me that she would be there, along with Wayne and Misty. They invited me to come along.  Score!

By perusing the blogspot for Triple D I learned that there was a half marathon, marathon and 50K distance for runners. The main event was a bike ride, they also welcomed skiing. The blog seemed to have information for 2010 and 2011 races and I was rather confused.  I didn't worry too much because I was riding with Misty and they already had room reservations and such. I was just going along for a training run.

I came down with a terrible cold. One which I still have. I was hoping it would go away by Saturday but it did not. I packed cough drops, my inhaler that I haven't used since McNaughton 100 2007 and a ton of kleenex.

On Friday I tried to navigate the site and couldn't find information on aid stations. I contacted Wayne and learned the race was unsupported. Well, there went my aided long run theory.  This worried me as I haven't trained AT ALL with a pack since I herniated my discs. Man, a headlamp hurt just a few weeks ago.

I chilled out and realized I would just take the marathon mile by mile. I promised myself that if I were to feel any tingling or numbness I would stop. Then I amended the promise to if I felt any pain prior to the last 30 minutes I would stop. I mean, come on, if I only had 3 miles to go and the pain began I might as well finish..the damage would be there what more would I do in 3 miles?

So, 26.2 miles on snow, no aid.  I dug out my Superior 100 pack, numerous gels, Heed and 4 24 oz bottles. Ugh.  My back hurt just looking at it.

Misty and I rode to Dubuque, having a great road trip. I have only met Misty once before so we had lots to talk about. What a great sport hu? To be welcomed to ride along, even though we've only met once and for a few minutes. Nice! The drive was about 5.5 hours. We met up with Wayne and Vicky and had a good time.

I learned that we could have finish bags at the end point. I found a bag and jammed it with my favorite warm clothing.  My Ugg boots wouldn't fit. Wayne offered me space in his bag for my boots .  I dropped my bag at the sign "RUN-U" and thought what is the U?  I placed my bag next to Wayne's and didn't think about it anymore.

Don, Julie, Misty, Vicky, Wayne

Misty, Julie, Vicky

We had nice (unheated) busses to bring us to the start. The 4 of us had our own bus!  On the way Wayne told me that the finish bags were for the 50K only. Shit!  My stuff would be 6 miles away from my finish. I thought that once you made it to the marathon, you went out an additional 3 miles, came back 3 miles to the same finish for 50K/marathon. Oops.  This gave me cause for concern. I think I just needed something to worry about.

Julie, Vicky, Misty

The morning was warm. We didn't begin until 10 AM so the sun was high, the wind was stiff. 20-30 MPH winds but it was 20 above already so plenty warm. I lugged my pack onto my back hoping it would be OK. We started late, like 1030 so now I was worried about it being dark when I finished and I hadn't even thought to carry a light. Did not even cross my mind. Am I a newbie or what?? How could I not have a light?  Good grief. Something more to worry about.

Because Dubuque received 7" of snow on Thursday I decided to stop by REI on Saturday on the way to Misty's to pick up some Katoola Spikes. I have never used anything like this but thought of all of the slipping and sliding I did at Tuscobia 50K last year. I figured they couldn't hurt, might as well give them a try even though I normally don't try anything new on race day, but this was training run day.

The Mayor of whatever town we were in had  a few words to say and then GO!  We headed out along a paved path through a park or something. Oh man, don't let this whole marathon be upon a cement paved trail..PLEASE.

After a while the cement went away and we were on a crushed gravel trail with snow in most areas.  It reminded me very much like the trail at Lean Horse 100-that constant downhill grade, limestone gravel. Only this was 80 degrees colder, 30 MPH wind and snow covered.

My spikes were fine, I think they kept me steady upon the snow, I'm not sure. I didn't slip and slide like I did at Tuscobia. After a few hours they did cause my little toes to become smashed. I lost both nails already.

Before I knew it I was last in the pack, just fine with myself. I was taking in the sunshine, smiling, trying to notice if my pack felt too heavy.

I became warm. I removed my neck gaiter, had and mittens. Pretty soon the wind would whip up and I'd replace it all.

My strategy was to drink .5 bottle of Heed every hour. This would give me plenty of drink to get through the race. I had sweet potato in ziploc, gels, banana. Plenty of calories.

I thought the course was picturesque. We ran along different creeks, crossed many wooden bridges, ran past a ski hill with lots of artificial snow and there were many high walls of rock. I was surprised at how pretty the course surroundings were.

My cold was horrible. I couldn't breathe. My head was so congested it gave me a head ache. Eventually the running loosened up all that was in my head and begin to drain. It felt better but was totally disgusting. It was a good thing I was running by myself.  I needed to stop often to get over coughing fits.  The drainage felt better than the congestion.

At one point I was running along and I could hear a dog barking. I looked to my left and saw a black lab puppy refusing to get into a man's truck. The guy could not catch him. The dog spotted me running and tore after me. I began to panic. I noticed it was a pup, so he probably wasn't going to be mean, but still...who knows. I kneeled down and removed my sweet potato from my pocket extending it out to the puppy just in case he wanted to bite me. He just wanted to lick the salt from my face! What a cute puppy. I waited there until the man finally reached us and he could grab puppies collar and get him back to the truck. So cute. So thankful it wasn't a mean dog.

A few miles later I saw three dogs together without a person. Oh boy. I slowed to a walk and kept an eye on them. They all looked my way but didn't care about me one way or another.  I happily walked past and continued on.

As I came upon mile 20 I looked to my left again and noticed little statutes of people into a rock. Here someone had set up a miniature nativity scene right into the rock. It was pretty cool.

I was feeling good, euphoric that I was able to run this distance with this pack and feel no pain.

As I came into mile 22 I knew that  a bar was going to be coming up where I was supposed to check in.  I hadn't seen another runner since the start so was wondering if I would even see anyone at the check in.  I walked into the bar and two women were sitting at a card table. I checked in with them and they told me I could order anything I wanted to eat or drink..the race had a tab set up where for the runners. What? Wow. Nice thought but I didn't want to hang out here..I just wanted to run.  I learned here that they had mistakingly registered me as an ultra runner for the 50K. She said 'you are an ultrarunner' I said 'yea, I am, but I'm running the marathon today.' 'No, you are running the 50K' 'ah, no. I registered for the marathon' I wasn't going to argue with her so I just told her I was going to head back out. She was very nice and I thanked her for helping us out. I just wanted to move on. I began to realize the reason there was a U on the finish bag sign-for the ultra runners running 50K, duh. It all began to click. They had me down as running the 50K. Oh well. As I was about to go out the door I saw Misty turn around from the bar. She had reached the checkpoint before I and decided to head back out with me. I'm so glad that I noticed her.

We ran along for the next three miles going over each other's run. It was nice to run with company for the first time during the race. My cold was so bad I couldn't talk and breathe and run at the same time. I was coughing real hard by this point and my head was draining profusely. I was grossing myself out.

Before we knew it we saw Wayne running toward us, off for the 50K.  Misty decided to finish at the marathon with me. We hugged Wayne and wished him well. He finished in fine form.

Misty and I climbed the final hill and saw our finish at the bar.  We checked in, I ordered a diet coke and we relived our fun day!

By now I couldn't speak without coughing. I took a few puffs of my inhaler and it seemed to help a bit. We visited with Melissa, who finished her first trail run. Melissa offered us a ride back to the hotel. We stopped by the 50K finish where I retrieved my bags and off to the hotel we headed.

Misty and I hauled our things to her car and headed for home.  Driving was icy in some spots and a semi pulled out in front of us. Misty is a cautious driver much like I. I felt very safe! I arrived home last night about midnight.

I feel great today!  My cold is still awful but my back does not hurt AT ALL. I am so glad I decided to try this run. Even thought I anticipated aid, it worked out for the better. Now I know I can carry my pack without pain. Good stuff.

The spikes tore off two of my toenails. I think the bands put pressure on my toes, making the fit inside of my shoes too tight. I wore thick smartwool socks. During the run I tried to move the socks around, trying to alleviate the pain. I couldn't get my running shoes over my painful toes this morning so I headed off to the trail with Topaz in my big sorrel boots.

Now I'm really looking forward to Psycho Wyco 50K next month. I should be able to pull it off.

Thanks to the Triple D RD, the volunteers, runners and bikers. It really was  a fun day!

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