11 November 2014

Off-Season Update

I ran 50 miles on October 12th.  Today, almost 1 month later, I've run a total of 23 miles.  This is by design, as I want to acknowledge my body's lack of desire to put in daily miles, and I want to stay a 'well-rounded' athlete by doing other stuff.  I am playing basketball 2-3 times a week, will even get in some CrossFit-type classes (high impact Kickboxing at Final Option in Plymouth), and will spend time outside in the woods hiking around.

I'm up 6 pounds.  Last May, when running Ice Age (terribly), I was 12 pounds heavier than I was at Glacial.  I'd like to keep most of that weight off this year...but 6 pounds already, and it's not even Thanksgiving yet?  Oyyy veh

Packers vs Panthers.  A blowout
Hill Repeats (3 of them!) with Estelle at Nutt Hill
Parnell Tower Fun
Packers vs Bears.  Another Blowout, and the most fun I've ever had at a Packer game.
Thank You Veterans.

27 October 2014

Glacial Trail 50 Mile Report (Part 2)

Ok.  So where was I?  (I didn't think it would take me this long to get to the 2nd half of the report!)

So, I had just come through the halfway point in 3:29.  Ellie reminded me that I was way out in front of my 8-hour splits, but I just didn't feel like I was pushing too hard.  So, I stuck with it.  

The four mile stretch from New Fane back to Mauthe was probably run a bit faster than I should have.  I continued to put down the calories via CarboPro and nuun, and was pleasantly surprised to see I had about 16 minutes on Tony (2nd place) and about 30 minutes on Logan (3rd).  After seeing them it was great to see the rest of the runners coming through.  Plenty of 'way to go!' and 'looking strong''s were exchanged. 

Just north of the Mauthe Lake shelter, I passed Dan, who was smiling as always.  And about a mile down the trail, just before getting back to Mauthe, I saw Matt and Jennifer.  All were in good spirits...although my spirits were waning a bit. My stomach wasn't quite right.  I think it was the increased pace and a full belly that wasn't happy.  I ran the segment from Mauthe to New Fane in 36:05, and the return was 36:02.  Maybe a minute too fast.  

Coming in to Mauthe, I knew that this was the crux of the run.  I would be leaving Mauthe and then running 7 miles back to Butler--and these miles would now be trail miles beyond a distance I've ever run on the trails!  I have only done a 50k...and by the time I'm through this segment, I'll be at Mile 37.  Dan had given me advice and warned me about this section too.  So, my plan was a full bottle and a conservative effort to save myself for the 'racing' left in the last 13 miles.

Something was wrong though.  I got to the Aid Station and immediately downed two cups of water.  I didn't take anything else in, and even refused the water bottle from Ellie upon leaving Mauthe.

Smiling...and about to Puke
Only 50 feet after this picture, I puked twice.  First, it was all clear.  "Okay, just the water that I took in.  Good,"  I thought.  Then, the second puke was pink---the color of the nuun I was drinking.  Ugh.  Oh yeah, and I had refused to take my water bottle.  Double Ugh.

This section was definitely the low point.  I ran it a full 2 minutes per mile slower than I did on the way out, and I was in trouble.  I was just...tired. I honestly thought about laying down for a bit on the side of the trail!  If not for the oncoming traffic...I might have.

So, an hour and 11 minutes later, I'm finally coming back in to Butler Lake.  37 down.  I'm exhausted, tired, almost dealing with tunnel vision...and the one thought in my mind is DON'T WIPE OUT WHEN COMING DOWN THE STEPS!

At Butler, I had a great crew there.  Not only Ellie and my parents and my kids, but also a couple friends and their kids came out too!  I'm very lucky...I only wish I had remembered some of them were there after the game--I had forgotten they were there until looking at the photos of the day!

The Crew.  Nice poses, boys!
At Butler Lake, using my kids' heads to hold myself up.  Low Point captured in a photo!
As soon as I got to the table at Butler Lake, I started eating.  I slammed two cups of Mountain Dew, then two cups of Coke, then a wedge of turkey sandwich (delicious!!), then a wedge of PBJ.  This race was definitely including some firsts.  I've never been that tired during a run, and up until this aid station, I had never eaten solid foods during a race.  As I left the aid station, I took a bottle from Ellie and slowly made my way back up the stairs.  "Let's turn this thing around," I thought to myself.  

Making my way across the open fields just north of Butler, I was surprised at how quickly I was doing better.  It's about a mile before the trail re-enters the woods, and by the time I was back in the woods, I was able to move and run at what felt like an honest effort.  

Mile 40...moving okay again!
I did my best to keep it honest as I made my way up and over the highest point of the course, Parnell.  Coming down the other side...I did my best to keep my shoes rubber-side-down and not wipe out.  Man...this course is no joke!  

At Mile 43, I was at Hwy 67.  7 miles to go!  Looking at the aid station, nothing was appealing.  I think I had a drink or two of Coke, and then just decided to get going.  The volunteers were wrapping up some sweet turkey and avocado sliders, but I guess I was just done--beyond food by this point.  So, I took a bottle with some CarboPro and nuun and headed out. 7 miles to go!

Those last 7 miles were great.  I was not talkative at all, but it was nice to share the trail with some of the 50k runners, and simply enjoy what I think was the best day of the entire year, let alone the best day of the fall season!

Finally, on to the pavement, and then down the finishing stretch.  About 30 yards from the finish, I stopped running.  I just looked ahead and thought about what I had accomplished.  I also wanted my kids to run towards me, so that we could run in together.  I was seeing a lot of familiar faces, but hadn't seen my kids or wife.  Suddenly, someone yelled "Get going!" and I realized it was, in fact, pretty odd for me to stop this far from the finish line.  So I started jogging it in again, and then, right in front of me, were Estelle and Edwin.  What an incredible moment.

Best.  Finish.  Ever.
It was great to hang out at the finish, although for a bit there, I wasn't feeling so great.  I just had this sense of relief, of fatigue, of satisfaction.  It was great.  I found the first open patch of grass I could find, which just so happened to be in the ditch along the road, and only got up one more time...to receive my awards from Robert, the RD.

My AMAZING Crew Chief and my pacers from Mile 49.9 to the finish.
Selfie from the Ditch with Pops. 

Strava Data.

Race Results.

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...

Here's Part 2.