14 July 2016

Devil's Lake 50k

I didn't know what to expect heading in to this one.  I have run this event the past two years, with a pretty brutal 4:53 finish in '14 and a 4:27 last year.  The course has changed each year, and I thought that this course would be more difficult.  The course has 4 major climbs, and 3 of them would be in the 2nd half of the run.

Add in the fact I have a 2 week old baby at home...and I was expecting something over 4:30 for the day.  I would have been happy with anything UNDER 4:30.  Well..I ended up running 4:10.  I have no idea how I did that.

The race started with a nice downhill section for the first 4-5 miles, taking us to the Lake.  I was bouncing around a bit in the top ten at this point, reaching the first aid station in about 7th.  Out of that first aid is the first big climb, and I did my best to keep an honest hike of it.  I ran a bit, but not much.

It was at this point that Jon Noll caught and passed me.  This would be a recurring theme all race.  It was an interesting test.  Jon would run every climb.  I would hike them.  So, every climb, he passed me and gapped me.  Once we returned to downhill or flat running, however, I'd reel him in and pass him right back.  He would hear me coming on the downhills, step off the trail...and let me fly by.  We joked about it all day.

On the 2nd-last big climb, at Mile 21, Jon passed me, and I told him I think the "Uphill Legs" would beat the "Downhill Legs" today.

At the Mile 25 aid station, I was in rough shape.  Earlier on I had lost all my SCaps and was in desperate need of some.  Enter...Jennifer and Sam, who were volunteering at Mile 25.  All I wanted was ICE and SCAPS.  Luckily, Sam had brought his personal ultra aid station box to the race and provided me with a handful of Endurolytes, a Ginger Gummy Chew, and Jennifer filled me up on Ice.  As I hiked out of the aid station, Jon passed me.  (I had passed him...you guessed it...on the flats and downhill in to the Aid Station)

I walked about a 1/4 mile out of the aid station.  The course would take us directly to the Lake, and we would then make one final climb up the Lake Hill, then have about 3 miles to the finish.  After letting the Endurolytes work their magic, and expelling a couple excellent burps, I was back in business.  On the downhill to the Lake I once again caught Jon.  We entered Lake Aid with me abotu 15 seconds up.  I stopped for Coke and more ice, and was told I was in 4th place.

As I left Lake Aid and approached the big climb, Jon once again passed me.  As he did, we bumped knuckles.  I figured that was it for me.  I stuck with him for a decent amount of the climb, but by the time I was nearing the top, and for about 5 minutes after flattening out at the top, I couldn't see him.

Once through the BEAUTIFUL South Bluff Aid Station at Mile 28.5, we begin our return to the Finish.  There's a hard left that we make on to a new trail...and lo and behold...there's Jon.  Immediately...blood is in the water and I'm in RACE MODE.

I catch Jon on a gradual downhill and we share a laugh.  He tells me to finish strong, but beware...there's a big hill right before the end.  I'm determined to keep up this pace.  My 29th mile was a 6:52 mile.

About a mile from the finish, there right ahead of me, is third place.  While still running, he isn't moving well.  RACE MODE.  I catch and pass him.  As I do, he asks, "50k?"  I grunt a, "Yep" in reply and now I'm full-on pain cave RUN.

There IS a big hill at the end and I run every step of it.  the last 100 yards is downhill in to the finish and it's a full sprint.  I finish in 4:10, 3rd overall.  I'm still trying to figure out how I ran FOUR - TEN?!


Strava Data


Next up is Marquette.  I want this one badly.  I have 36 days to improve on my speed and IMPROVE GREATLY on my climbing.  Let's do this.



36 Days To Marquette

Leaving Mile 25
Wait...4:10?!


Quite a sense of Accomplishment

Uphill Jon on the Left, Downhill Nic on the Right

15 June 2016

Kettle 50k Recap

The first race of 2016 is in the books...and I did something I've never done before.

I cut the course.

Unofficial results had me in second place in 4:13.  I was really happy with that time, and definitely went deep in to the pain cave in the last hour.  Upon finishing, I can remember thinking to myself, "Whoa...I must've been out of it. That last 30 minutes went by fast."

It went by too fast.  Apparently I cut about 1.5-2 miles off of the course by missing a hard left hander on the blue loop of Nordic.

If you look on this map right here, you can see where I errored.  I continued straight on the purple loop instead of taking the hard left and continuing on the blue loop...right near the "P1" and "W1" markers.

I didn't realize this had happened until a phone call from Jason Dorgan (co-RD) the following Sunday.  As he explained what the thought had happened, some foggy memories came back to me.  I told him that right around that part of the course, I was thinking that the grass didn't seem as beat down as it should have.  But before long I hit some orange flags again, and just continued on.

Jason was very friendly about it, and told me he was looking at the splits of the winner, and believes the winner did the exact same thing I did.  Upon reviewing Strava...he was right.

I've never done that before and feel bad about it.  I'm guessing my time would have been closer to last year's 4:27.

Outside of that ending, I really enjoyed how the race went.  I definitely felt better along the way this year compared to last year.  I had a solid nutrition plan, followed through, and overall, enjoyed the experience a lot.

I'll be back next year, for sure.  And I won't miss that turn.

On to Devil's Lake 50k in 23 days!



19 January 2016

2016

Time to get cookin'!

Current plans include the following:

February 6: John Dick 50k.  I've been meaning to get down to this event for years.  This year it's gonna happen.  I'm not sure I have a full 31 miles in me, but look forward to maybe 30k or 40k of trails and friends.

April 2:  NK 50k.  I'll be not running, but organizing, and look forward to another great year.

May: ?  Maybe Green Bay Marathon, or Journeys Marathon.  TBD...

June 4: Kettle 50k.  Very cool event.  Point-to-Point, afternoon start.

July 9: Dances w/ Dirt - Devils Lake.  This will be a much-improved event this year, with a new Start/Finish area.

August 20: Marquette 50k.  LOVE.  THIS.  RACE.

September 17: Lapham Peak Trail Marathon.  5th straight win?

September 24: Driftless 50k.  New event.  New course for me.  From photos, it looks beautiful.  I really enjoyed running back-to-back events 2 years ago, and wanted to do that again this year in preparation for Glacial.  The North Face events are the same date at Lapham this year, so I went searching.  Thankfully trail races are sprouting up all over the place, and I look forward to a trip to Hillsboro, WI!

October 9: Glacial Trail.  Not sure yet about whether it'll be the 50 miler or the 50k...but I'll be there!

November 6: Milwaukee Running Festival.  I hope to return for another pacing marathon.

So there you have it, loyal readers :)