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Monday, April 13, 2009

I Ran McNaughton Park And All I Got Was A Mud Tan...

Oh, and this shiny new FINISHER'S BELT BUCKLE!!!
But seriously, I have a mud tan...you can tell I had on my Zensahs because that's the only still-pale area on my legs!

Wow, McNaughton Park = done and done! I finished my first 50-miler and ya know what? I feel pretty freakin' great! Other than my knee pain making an encore post-race (which I expected), and a little residual soreness (also expected, although I thought it was going to be a hundred times worse than it is) I'm flyin' high. What an amazing experience, compounded by the fact that Andy Weinberg puts on one hell of a set of events and manages to make everything run incredibly smoothly for the runners, not to mention the volunteers were just OUT OF THIS WORLD awesome! Holy crap, you can't even "designer baby"-handpick the level of awesome that these volunteers were.

Where do I begin? How about with some pictures!
Andy Weinberg (RD, center), and volunteer posting the 150M leader board on Friday, 4/10
Start/finish area on Friday

Hey, it's Ed!!! Coming in from another loop on Friday...number 2?

I got up from our perch at the line to grab some hot raman, and Mike found Alan J. crossing the line sporting his Atayne shirt, woohoo!!! We love random Atayne sightings

Friday morning I picked Vermont Mike up at Midway and then we set off for Pekin around noon. Easy drive, no traffic = awesome. We picked up some food at the County Market and inhaled it in the car, then went straight to the Park to hang out for awhile and watch the 150'ers doing their thang, and to meet Andy, RD. It was a tad crisp when we got there, but the rain had stopped and the sun was battling with the clouds to come out, and it finally did a little later. We changed into some warmer clothes, grabbed the camping chairs and popped a squat by the start/finish line to watch the fun unfold. We met Jana (sp?) from Bloomington, who was also going to be running the 50M...super nice lady and we ran into her a few times on the course the next day. We also met Travis Liles who was there to conquer the 100M again; we got to run with him for a short bit on our second loop. What a great guy, and a tough one, too. Check out his Flatland Ultra videos, it has some great information on there for us ultrarunners! Wow, met so many people on Friday, so I'm really glad I got the day off and we were able to get down there early. After we tired of the cold, we made our way to the classiest joint in town, Super 8 Motel :) Then grabbed some dinner at Monical's Pizza. Yum.

After unpacking and getting all our stuff together for the morning...pinning race numbers to vests, measuring out electrolyte drink into small baggies for easy carriage in our vests, putting post-race warm clothes into separate bags, putting together a drop bag, checking to make sure there were enough shoes, socks, first aid, sanity, etc....Mike zonked immediately, and I mean immediately snoring and out cold as soon as he hit his bed :) I, however, laid awake until 1 a.m. completely unable to fall asleep. Nervous energy, anticipation, excitement, the entire gamut of emotions were cycling through me a million miles a minute. To top it off, once I did doze off, I had my first "running through a building" dream where I was running the race through a building that I couldn't get out of. Very frustrating and it woke me up in a near-cold sweat. So I hardly slept that night; good thing I caught up on sleep earlier in the week leading up to that night! At 4 a.m., the alarm went off and we were up and at 'em. Grabbed a quick breakfast at Steak n' Shake (Mike ate like a horse, and I ate a bagel...nerves were really getting the best of me this time!), and got to the Park around 5:15ish. We decided to set up Mike's tent and use that as our drop bag area since the actual drop bag tent was going to get pretty full once everyone else arrived. I'm SO GLAD we did this; it was so convenient and gave us a spot to change with some privacy, and keep our stuff out of the way and in one place.

Headlamps: check. Hats and gloves: check. Timing chip: check. Atayne shirts and Pearls: check, check! Sanity and good nights sleep...wait, where did I put those?! "3-2-1 GO!!!

Seconds before go time! See, pearls!
This is the very first thing you encounter at the beginning of every single loop...mud soup!
And it just got deeper and wetter throughout the day from all the feet pouncing through it.
Oh, and it's kind of a steep downhill.

But then you get to this wide open field where spectators and crew peeps hung out to cheer runners on as they came through. It was such a lift to hear Torey, of Chicago Ultrarunners, shout my name as I ran through the first time, thanks Torey!!

So, now for the meat of the post...

The first loop went very well, not too much to speak of, and only one fall which for once was on my ass and not my knees. Naturally, it was on a relatively flat section with nothing technical about it. I had a muddy ass, though :) Mike gave me the trail name "Crash" in honor of my falls. I kinda like it, has a nice ring to it. This loop was a great warm-up and made for a great second loop once the legs were all fired up. It was light enough out that we really didn't need our headlamps after 5 minutes, so those got stripped and so did my jacket after a couple miles. My Atayne shirts (I had on two, short sleeve under my long sleeve) kept me comfortable. Loop two I started to feel something akin to a planet-sized blister forming on the ball of my left foot so I was getting paranoid. The two stream crossings we were warned about were more like 47,000 stream crossings. Andy must not consider anything less than shin height water a stream crossing :) But there were two main crossings: the first came early in the loop and was knee high on me, and the second was towards the end of the loop and was over my ankles. The water was COLD, but felt absolutely amazing on my legs and served as a moving ice bath for me each time. I actually looked forward to the crossings! After hitting up AS 2 (which, by the way, is my absolute favorite AS of all time...best volunteers, awesome food, the table was up high enough that I didn't have to crouch down (very important), and they had the sweetest elixir of life: Pepsi! I never thought Pepsi could revive a person, but it does, and it is probably a big reason I finished :)), I found my favorite stretch of the course. It was maybe a mile long, who knows though, and it was entirely runnable and delightfully rolling. Loved this section, and it led to the first stream crossing and beyond a ways. Then I fell again. Travis witnessed it and said it was the "most controlled fall". I had to reenact it for the picture, though...
After loop 2, Andy asked us how it was going and I told him I thought I had a blister so he immediately told me to see so-and-so to get it popped and taped! Thankfully, it was a false alarm. I have no idea what it was I felt, but there wasn't a blister in sight! I decided to change into shorts, my second pair of Cascadias, and into a dry pair of Drymax socks after slathering my feet in Vaseline. I'll go ahead and say that I am now 100% a Drymax fan. Fifty miles and not a single blister! I am so blister-prone it's not even funny. I can stand still and get a blister on the outside of my big toe. Wow, awesome product.

Loop 3 was likely my favorite, though I'm not sure why. It just felt good. I used the rope each time on the super steep hill just 'cuz it was fun and made me feel like MacGyver :) I was feeling fatigued after the third loop, but that was expected and I was starting to get into uncharted territory after mile 37.5. Mike decided he was going to finish with me, rather than stopping at 30 miles. Thank goodness, I needed the distraction and motivation! We then decided that loop 4 was going to be our final racing loop, and loop 5 was going to serve as our victory lap "fun run". Let me tell you, if you've never tried this strategy on a loop course, TRY IT! Knowing that the final loop was going to be a "fun run" for me gave me something to look forward to, and it helped to break up the run a little bit. I took it a little easier in the last loop (hey, I wasn't going to be winning anything, so who cares! I knew I was going to finish, so I may as well enjoy myself!) and snapped lots of pictures. I also finally ate some real food at the aid stations, but not too much as my stomach was a little uneasy by this point. Mike, however, indulged at Heaven's Gate, not once, but twice. He had a cheeseburger on the first pass at Heaven's Gate, and then a DOUBLE cheeseburger on the final pass of the station. I drank a few sips of a Heineken :)

During the race, I stuck pretty rigidly to my nutrition plan: one Clif Shot Blok every 1/2 hour, 1 S!Cap every two hours (P.S. I love S!Caps now...first time using them and they seemed to do the trick although I will need to perfect how many to take in different climates and situations), 20 ounces of Clif Shot Lemonade electrolyte drink every hour or so, and no crap food at the aid stations. I'll need to work on this stuff a little more for my next 50, but things worked pretty good for me this time around. My hands got puffy after 30 or so miles, and my stomach was a little sloshy around that time, too. I also kept burping; I just couldn't stop! I don't know what to chalk that up to, but it was pretty funny as I don't recall having a burping problem in previous races. I wasn't the only one though, and I laughed every time I heard someone else rip a really top notch burp. Nothing like a little bodily function to put a smile on your face :)

After the 4th loop, before our "fun run", I changed into some dry Drymax socks and Mike put on the chili pepper shorts. In ultras, you can't take yourself too seriously; you have to have fun, and fun we did :)

Ooo, here's the big stream crossing, let's take a picture of Mike!

Then, at the final big crossing, I got my 15 seconds of fame...
I was so tired and exhausted-feeling a lot of the race, due a lot to the lack of sleep the night before, and also because I didn't have my usual oatmeal breakfast. It was on and off though and usually was escorted by a big climb. Mike was a great motivator with his ceaseless enthusiasm and upbeat attitude. He wasn't pacing me, as he was signed up for the race and paid just like I did, and he's a faster runner than me (yes, you are!) so he easily could have taken off on me and had a fantastic race, but he instead stuck with me the entire way (except on the downhills, where he excels and just zipped down them like a freak of nature, and I gingerly negotiated them). My favorite thing? "Paige, let me see you smile!" Works every time. Try it. I smiled a lot during this race because of that line, and because I was having a kickass time. I was there for Mike's first 50 in San Francisco, so it was awesome of him to be there for mine. It makes all the difference when you have someone there cheering you on. Speaking of, fellow Chicago Ultrarunner's Torey, Ian Stevens, Brian Gaines and Kelly were on the sidelines cheering on near the start/finish most of the day and it was such a lift hearing my name shouted at the end of each loop. Thank you guys, and gals, SO MUCH for being there!!! Ian got a picture of me coming in after loop 4...

And then, before I knew it, we were finishing up the final loop! Mike stepped back so I finished one second ahead, 13h:17m:58s! Andy was there to high-five both of us, and the volunteers handed us our belt buckles. Then Stan Z. (thanks, Stan!) took a picture for me at the finish...
I just wanted to pass out! Mike made sure everyone and their mother knew I just finished my first 50, so I got a ton of congratulations, hand-shakes, and high-fives, it was awesome. Have I mentioned how much I love ultras?? I ducked into our tent to change into clean, warm clothes before the "ultra shivers" could set in (I always get super, super cold right after an ultra, so if I don't get into warm clothes fast the shivers will not stop), then went right to the grill and ordered a juicy cheeseburger! Torey came over and congratulated me and we chatted some; she was going to be joining fellow Chicago Ultrarunner, and 100M runner, Adrian B. for a loop in the dark...go Torey!! Great way to learn how to night run...that's on my list :) After hanging around for an hour or so afterwards, Mike and I packed up the tent and our stuff, tossed it in my truck and went straight to the liquor store to get ice and beer! I needed an ice bath, stat.

Me, 44 pounds of ice and...
BEER! How often do you take an ice bath AND chill your beer at the same time?

Well, I guess all there is left to say is that I had the most amazing experience for my first 50-miler. I wouldn't change anything about it. I had my secret doubts going into it because I had only run three times in the preceding four weeks due to my knee pain, so I was thinking I might have to call it a day before I could finish and just save myself for Pineland Farms. But the stars and planets aligned and the running gods decided that McNaughton was going to be my day afterall :) I am so freakin' happy and darn proud of myself!

Just a few acknowledgements: thank you Mike for being my running guy and sticking with me the whole way, thank you Andy for being awesome and having nice legs, thank you volunteers for everything, thank you Pepsi at aid station two, thank you Drymax for not blistering me, thank you Chicago Ultrarunners for being there, thank you Super 8 for not having bed bugs and not charging us for the muddy mess we left in the bathroom, thank you Aleve for lasting 8-12 hours, thank you Atayne for keeping me dry and not giving me B.O., thank you mud for cushioning my two falls, thank you stream crossings for numbing my legs up to my knees twice per loop, thank you outhouse at mile 42-ish for being there right when I needed you, thank you Pekin Adam for passing me so I could see what you looked like after 40 minutes of running together, thank you Oreo for sharing your double-stuffed goodness with me on that prairie section that lasts for-effing-ever, thank you Jerry Davison for introducing me to your incredible wife so she could see my pearls (I thought about that the whole race and smiled because of it; my thoughts are with both of you in this tough time), and thank you trail for not breaking me :)

Paige, out.

"If it's fixed, don't broke it." ~ Mike's ultra babble, somewhere around mile 43-45
(yes, he said "broke")


Jerry Davison said...

Your photos crack me up ... Pearls, 44 pounds of ice ... you're a breath of fresh air in the middle of a mudbath, Paige.

Michael said...

OMG - I have no comment. What the heck am I going to write in my report? Maybe I'll just link to yours :) You know me, efficiency master...

Congrats again, you're what the sport is all about. See you soon at Pineland...I'll be waiting for you at the finish line ;)

OOH - unless you come up to Chippewa Moraine....

Anonymous said...

Great race report and pictures, Paige! CONGRATS! Too bad you didn't get to run when the course REALLY sucked!
Keep up the great work and enthusiasm!
Tracy Thomas

denalifc said...

Paige: GREAT report,loved it. Congrats on a great race and a great finish. It was good seeing you loop after loop. NASCAR laps have nothing on McN loops and my fan ticket was oh so much cheaper!!

Aren't Drymax socks great. (send them an email about your socks - they love feedback)


Anonymous said...

What a great report. I love your attitude; like others have said, "A breath of fresh air". I laughed out loud while reading this. Thanks for that.

Congratulations on your huge accomplishment. I have no doubt that you'll do well at future races.

Also, sorry, but a broken link, my blog is actually http://briangaines.blogspot.com. No harm.


Paige said...

Thanks all! Wow, Tracy Thomas read MY report?! Awesome :)

Mike, I knew you'd never have gotten around to writing a report, so I just shared it all in mine, hehehe :)

Jerry, I didn't know you had a blog!

Ian, I am totally going to write Drymax; they are amazing.

Paige said...

Sorry about that, Brian; I was doing it off of memory which was clearly flawed...all fixed now :)

Lori said...

I love the victory lap idea. My first planned 50 will be out and back, so maybe I could call "all the way back" a victory lap... ;)

Alan Jaques said...

Paige, well done this weekend. It was good seeing you again in my moustacheless persona. Did you even realize it was me you were talking to on the road at LBL before the trails?
I wound up running 'only 50' but chalked up some more experience, especially night running.
I was on my own again and envy you for having friends with you. I must better organize the Kentucky runners.
Cheers, Alan

Anonymous said...

Way to tear it up Paige! Wish I could have been there to cheer you and everyone on. From the pics it looked like the weather conditions were great for the 50 milers - if you had started on Friday, you wouldn't have missed all the water toboganning fun! ;)

That water is most welcome during the daytime. I had so much fun running in it while the sun was out that I'd sing cadence!

Wherever you end up next, I have no doubt you will be tearin' it up and having a great time and I wish you the best. Hope to meet you along the Lakeshore path this summer with the Chicago UR Group...(but go easy on me, now - the only serious case of the runs I get these days is indoors and while I'm sittin' down) ;)

Happy trails,

Connie :)

Paige said...

Wait, no way, that was you, Alan?? Boy was I way off! Yea, obviously didn't recognize you without the killer moustache :) Hahaha, my bad! And 50 is better than nothing, plus the night running is a really good thing to get experience in...I need to work on that :) I got lucky this race, having so many peeps around to cheer me on, as it's usually just me these days. I'm sure I'll see you again very soon!

Thanks, Connie!! I almost fell out of my chair just now reading the end of your comment, lol. Hilarious!

Kelly Gaines said...


First of all, a big, huge CONGRATS to you for finishing your first 50 miler! Awesome! It sounds like you had a great time and I had a great time cheering for you and the other McNutty runners that day. I loved reading your report, it gave me the giggles this morning. :-)

As someone who has a long background running road races, these trail races are becoming more and more appealing to me and you mention a lot of the reasons why in your report.

Thanks again for the great read and pictures!


Paige said...

Thank you so much, Kelly! Hopefully I'll get to meet you soon!! I'll take a cold, windy, rainy, nasty mud soup trail over pavement any day :)

Torey Jones said...

It was awesome to 'meet you' in that field on your first loop. You looked strong and fresh the entire 50mi!! Would you mind if I download the river crossing pics and credit the photographer? I never got course pics and might be writing a blog post about this race.

David Ray said...

Great one, Paige! Congrats on the 50 miler!! Cool buckle and shirt. You might need some darker pearls to match the buckle though. Loved all the pics. Specially your shoes on Ian's pic. The mud looks tremendous. Excellent writeup. Thanks for sharing all the details.

Paige said...

Torey, you can definitely download those if you want, no probs! Thanks for checking out my post!

As always, David, thanks for reading :) Darker pearls, eh? Hehehe, nah, the white ones bling me out and I don't mind them upstaging my fancy belt buckles :)

Travis said...

Paige, what an awesome race report. I really felt the energy and excitement as I read it. Thanks for the callouts too :) Though this was only my first concouring of the 100 course (or any 100 mile course), I DNF'd at 50 last year. Great job, you and Mike were a lot of fun to be around!

Stan Z. said...

Great job, Paige! McNaughton was my first 50M last year, and it really rocked this year--just enough mud to cushion the joints, but not so much to prevent us from running. I really enjoyed your report. Glad you finished and had such a great time!

Adrian said...

Great job on your first 50 miler,Paige!! Keep up the good work and get ready for the "big dance"... your first 100 miler!

Paige said...

Thank you Stan and Adrian, you all rock :) Oy, the "big dance"...I can already feel that itching in my bones, telling me to go longer, yikes! Congrats to you, Adrian, on a great hundred performance!

Jeremy said...

Congrats Paige! Once again another incredible race report. Everyone at camp Atayne is proud of their favorite pearl wearing ultra runner.

Anonymous said...

waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay to go Paige!!! You look great! Huge conga rats!! See ya at KM. - Lynnor Matheney

Run Home Pam said...

Woo hooo!!!! Way to go, Paige. And fantastic report. I feel so happy for you!!!

ed said...

GREAT report, as usual!

I’m so impressed that you handled the distance & course so easily! Thanks for the encouragement at the finish area – that really helped. I look forward to seeing you at future trail ultras!

Paige said...

Thanks, Lynnor, Pam and Ed!!! Ed, I will certainly see you at LLTH and LBL again next year if all goes well :-)

RunBubbaRun said...

Congrats on finishing your 1st 50 miler. McNaughton is a tough one to do so it is great accomplishment.

The RD does put on a great race.

Rest up and show off your "buckle"

Great job.

Oly said...

Congrats on your first fifty!!! Awesome race report as well!

Buurp... I mean, Bark!

Ps. My "pacer" is going to be at Kettle, I'll tell him to say hi in person for me if he sees you. ;)

Paige said...

Thanks, Oly!!! I'm so glad you enjoyed my report :) I'll keep an eye out for you guys at Kettle. You'll be pretty easy to spot seeing as most of the runners are bipeds. But if your "pacer" is wearing his man jugs, then I think I may be able to catch him ;)

Mark Tanaka (Ultrailnakaman) said...

Congratulations on your first 50-miler, especially with such little training in the last weeks. Funny write-up, enjoy your attitude, and love your header picture. Wanted to know if I could have your permission to use 3 of your photos in my write-up, since I didn't feel like schlepping my camera with me (if I don't hear from you in a day or two, I'll just go ahead, credit always given). Thanks!

Paige said...

Heya Mark, I'm glad you enjoyed! You can certainly use some of my pics :) Thanks for reading!

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