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