14 October 2014

Glacial Trail 50 Mile Report

I told Ellie that I wanted to go to a pumpkin farm on the Saturday before Glacial. Glacial had been my 'goal race' since June.  I wanted to be on my feet, but not thinking about Glacial much, while I spent time with the family.  I tend to put a LOT of mental and physical stress in to certain races, and I didn't want to be thinking about the Glacial Trail 50 Miler at all on Saturday.






I officially committed to it after a late night of eating pizza and drinking beer in my garage after the Greenbush Trail Runners annual night run.  Dan and Matt were already running it, and Tony and I obliged. So there it was. I was running my first trail 50 miler.  I've said on numerous occasions that a trail 50 miler 'scared me'...the training, the pain, the distance.  Ugh.  But, in my garage, over pizza and beer, I was running it.  I couldn't have picked a better trail 50 miler to run as my first.

Fast forward to a pretty amazing couple months of running.  I got my tail kicked at Devil's Lake.  Then, I really buckled down and trained hard for Marquette.  I won.  Then came back-to-back trail marathons at Lapham Peak and North Face.  I won those.  After investing a lot, more mentally than physically in to those races, I was entering Glacial a bit burned out.  Yet, I knew that I was racing with a great group of guys, and it was going to be a good day, no matter what turned up.

The Greenbush Trail Runners...me, Norton, Crouse, Lee, Tushaus, in front of the Town of Greenbush sign.  And we could have had a bunch more folks up there with us--Rolfing, Thao, Arun, Koenig, etc...
 The normal start line discussions happened...what time are you hoping for, how do you feel, etc.  I remember saying that my goal was to break 8 hours. 
Not long after that, Robert said "Go" and we were off.  It was a great start to a run.  Headlamps flashing, people trying to find some open road to get in  to a stride, me probably going too fast.  Like I said, a great start.  I grabbed Logan by the shoulder about a 1/2 mile in and asked him how all this extra oxygen felt, seeing he's coming back from CO for the run.  He laughed and said he had a heckuva trip to get home, including a last-minute plane ride after his car broke down.  Not the best sleep, I'm sure, and that probably played in to his race. 
The course follows Greenbush roads (including passing the Mayor of Greenbush's home!) for about a half mile before joining up with the Old Wade House Connector Trail for about 1.5 miles, where it then joins the IAT for the remainder of the course.  After hitting the Connector Trail, I just tried to find a rhythm and settle in.  This 'settling in' found me in 3rd spot, where I could provide some course knowledge along the way.
"Shouldn't we be on the IAT by now?  I'm only seeing blue blazers!" shared the leader of the race at this point.  Still running in third, and knowing that the current 2nd place runner was not familiar to this area, I barked out that the IAT intersection was about 1/8 mile up, and that the trail we were currently on would dead end at the IAT.  From behind, I head Logan mention that "We're all trusting you on this one, Nic..." and I joked back that no one should worry if I just so happen to disappear down the trail in a different direction with my headlamp off...
Not 1 minute later, the leader's headlamp could see the mileage marker at the trail intersection, and we were on our way down the IAT.  I knew I wanted to take it easy early in the run, but even this pace had me looking at my watch more often than I had hoped.  You see, my plan was to break 8 hours, and I hoped to run 8:30 miles on the first half...and hope to manage 10:30 miles in the second half, when I entered unchartered territory when it came to trail running.   a 9:30 overall pace would get me to the finish in under 8 hours.
So, still sitting behind runners 1 and 2, and looking at my clock and seeing 10 minute miles...I began to contemplate.  Do I REALLY want to be leading only 3 or 4 miles in to the race?!  The guy leading the race at this point stated that he has run Leadville numerous times.  Do I really want to pass him?!
About 4 miles in to the run, someone approached from behind.  He was loud and obviously ready to run as he approached from behind.  This motivated me just enough to 'run my own race' and I asked politely to pass the two guys in front of me.  They were, of course, very kind in letting me by, and not long after that, the guy who had come stampeding past me was right behind me once again.
It was Tony. 
Upon realizing this (when he, from behind, said, "Well, Nic, I said screw it, let's run" or something along those lines---he had just wanted to run long enough and decided not to hold back), my mindset totally changed.  It was great to have another GTR right there with me, sharing a couple miles and talking about life in general.  I set the pace, but he was right there.   We were both rookies at the trail 50 mile difference (although Tony and Matt Lee had completed the NK 100k earlier this summer), and we chatted about family and all kind of fun subjects.  I won't forget that section, from Hwy A to Hwy 67, that I shared with Tony, any time soon.  When I won my first trail marathon, at North Face, Tony finished second that day.  He was the MAN who motivated the start of the Greenbush Trail Runners.  He was the guy who ran the first two NK 50k's with me (along with Dan on the second one)...Tony is a good guy, and I'll keep those miles in my memory for a long time.
So anyway, soon I'm approaching Hwy 67.  The two miles before 67, the trail flattens out a bit (after going over the top of the Greenbush Kettle Hill, as I call it) and the trail is non-technical and fast.  So, I pulled away a bit.  Coming in to Hwy 67 was great.  For the first time Ellie was crewing me, and it was (once again) an amazing memory to have her yelling for me as I crossed the road.  A lot of times the volunteers at an aid station, especially early in a race, are a bit subdued.  Not Ellie.  She was hootin and hollerin like it was 1 mile to the finish.
I gave her my headlamp, and took my first bottle of nutrition from her, and I was on my way.  We didn't exchange any words, but I feel like she knew that I was already in first place...and this changed everything.
I had taken in the same thing I had done in my previous 3 runs:  Chicken & Stars, then about 200 calories of Carbo-Pro in a water bottle before I started.  I then took in no other calories for the first hour of the run.  That's what I had done in Marquette, Lapham, and North Face, and while this was a 50 MILER, I stuck with the same strategy.  Upon seeing Ellie 7 miles in to the run, I took a bottle from her with 200 calories in.  After that, I planned on the following schedule:
  • Butler Lake to Mauthe Lake (Miles 13.3-20.5) -- 400 calories of Carbo Pro
  • Mauthe Lake to New Fane (Miles 20.5-25) -- Nothing but Water...maybe a Gel
  • New Fane to Mauthe (25-29.5) -- 200 calories of Carbo Pro
  • Mauthe to Butler (29.5-37) -- 400 calories of Carbo Pro
Anyway, I'll come back to that plan later, as it didn't quite play out.  But, taking my first bottle from Ellie at Hwy 67, I was thirstier than expected and made quick work of those first 200 calories.  By the time I was hiking up Parnell's hill, I was alone and couldn't see anyone behind me.


Coming down Parnell Hill, towards Hwy U

So, off Parnell Hill I had come, passing the highest point on the course (let alone in Sheboygan County), and I was feeling very, very good.  Ellie informed me that I had 2 minutes on Tony, and 4 minutes on "some kid with dreadlocks".  Ellie hadn't met Logan yet, so I informed her that the 'kid with dreadlocks' is a 19 year old who lives in Colorado.  Ellie got a great pic of Tony coming down Parnell also.

By this time Ellie is telling my I'm wayyy ahead of my "8 Hour" split. I knew I was...but what could I do?  I felt great.  After the race, I shared with my dad an analogy.  You see, my dad has had numerous opportunities to tell me I'm running wayyy too fasssst for my projected splits.  Anyway, the analogy is that it's just as dangerous to drive down an Interstate 25 miles an hour UNDER the speed limit as it is to drive 25 miles an hour OVER the speed limit.  Now, I have no actually studies to back this up, but if I'm comfortable running at a certain pace, I need to go with that pace.  Holding back only wastes valuable energy and efficiency.

So, from Parnell to Butler Lake is about 5 miles, and I'm just cruising.  I'm feeling strong, I'm not making mistakes.  And so, of course, I'm starting to doubt myself.  I'm obviously going way too fast.  Yet, I feel good and I'm running good...and then I do it.  I lapse in concentration for just a second, as I'm thinking about how smart and fast and good I am, and I roll my left ankle.  Big Time.  I mean, I roll it over on to the lateral malleolus.  Yowzers did that hurt. And, actually, moving it around right now, as I type this, it's still swollen and painful. 

Talk about a wake-up call!  Ok, get back to work, Nic.  Focus!  You're not even 25% into this run!

So I kind of hobble for about 2 miles. I slowly work the ankle out.  I've rolled my ankles enough on trial runs to know that they'll loosen up.  This one takes longer than usual, but it works its way out.  Back to the task at hand.  Let's get to Butler.

The rest of the trip to Butler was uneventful.  It was an amazing day to be in the woods, and the colors were absolutely amazing.  Then, I popped out just south of Hwy V and into the meadows north of Butler Lake.  Is there a better place to be in the entire autumn?  Next year, if I run this race again, I'm sending Ellie to that highway to get a picture of the colors of autumn over the trees of the Kettle Moraine. 

So, I made my way through Butler in solid fashion.  I was told the lead was still right around 2 minutes.  No big deal.  I don't even care at this point, as it's too early to worry about those.

From Butler to Mauthe is a solid 7 mile stretch.  I was fearing this stretch on the way back (with good reason!), but on the way down to Mauthe, it wasn't bad.  Upon passing the final road before Mauthe, it was cool to see the tents set up in the State Park campground, up on the hill about 25 feet above the IAT.  Good on those people for camping out this late in the year, and Good On those of us running past them!

Finally, one big climb, and then the downhill through the pine trees into the Mauthe Lake Aid Station.  I remember this aid station vividly from the spring, when I  was helping out at the NK 50k.  I was providing Aid at Mauthe, and during the NK 50k this particular section of the trail was so Icy and Snowpacked that no one could get down it!  It was fun to come down the same section of trail and think back to that great day in April, when I hiked up the trail in the opposite direction and took pictures of people falling on their cans as they tried to manage their way down the trail... :)






Making my way in to Mauthe...with the hill going off to the right in the background.  Great section of the trail!

From Mauthe to New Fane, and the half-way point, it's only 4.5 miles.  But...those 4.5 miles contain some serious hills.  I underestimated this section, and the over-excitement to get to the turnaround probably led to me over-running this section.  It's a pretty unremarkable section, with longer-than-usual-for-the-NorthernKettle hills lulling you in to a faster pace than you probably should run.


Nonetheless, I ran it.  I'm happy to say my split from New Fane to Mauthe was actually FASTER than my split from Mauthe to New Fane...this was a mistake that I made, and led to a rough second half.  More on that when I get to writing the second half...



Just about to leave the halfway point...feeling good...for now...
















10 October 2014

Two Towers with Estelle


I dropped Edwin off at school and decided to try and tire my little girl out with some hiking.

First, the Sheboygan Marsh Tower. 

Photobombed by a black pickup truck

"Take a picture of the dead trees, Dida!"  (also, a cool shadow of us that I only noticed right now)

Then, one of my favorite places around: Parnell. 

Adorable

Add caption

Where's Iya?

Despite my efforts...she didn't nap.



07 October 2014

5 Days to Glacial Trail

Is it Sunday yet?


Not much to report here.  I had been feeling a bit worn down in the legs (and mind, for that matter) in the last couple weeks, but I had a solid run yesterday, and am feeling a bit more spark physically.

Goals for Glacial:

Start easy.  Get through the first 7 miles without breaking a sweat.

From Hwy 67 (Mile 7) to Butler Lake (Mile 13), get some calories in and keep it easy.  Use the easy parts of the trail to push the pace a bit, but within reason.

Butler Lake to Mauthe Lake (Mile 20) I will probably start to feel 'racy' and want to push a bit more.  Don't.

Mauthe to New Fane (halfway) is a time to cruise again.  One big climb, then pretty easy trail.  Get in and out of New Fane, and use the adrenaline of the halfway point to make a solid effort back to Mauthe (now at Mile 29.5).

Mauthe to Butler (Mile 37) is going to be a tough stretch.  I'll be approaching new territory (beyond 50k distance) and it's a longer stretch without much fanfare.  Stick to the gameplan.  Get there in solid shape.

Butler to Hwy 67 (Mile 43) will be when I put the music on and start to get to work.  It would be GREAT to cover this stretch right under an hour.  This stretch also has the highest point on the course at Parnell.  That will be a good morale booster upon completion.

Hwy 67 to Finish is when it's time to dig dig dig.  Put the body in Grinding Gear and don't be weak.  Give it all I got.