This past Saturday I participated in the Ice Age Trail 50k. This was my 2nd 50k, and very first Ice Age Trail race. I had my typical nervousness, asked friends lots of questions about the course, and did everything I could to prepare.
Every time I have a big race, I get into a bit of a zone. I tend to not talk and just stare at nothing, focusing on the race ahead. I tried to break this a bit since I had my sis, brother-in-law, and boyfriend carpooling with me to the race. I also had to be on the lookout for anyone who wanted to take a #buffie (a Buffusa.com sweepstakes, which you can read about in an earlier blog post).
But I was finally ready and standing at the start line. I barely knew the race was starting when I noticed everyone around me started running. So I put my headphones in and started my race. I got about 1 mile into the race, when my friend Jim caught up to me. He wanted to run the race with me, since he was new to trail running and this was his first 50k. This made me a tad nervous because he is a significantly faster runner than me. But we trucked through the first portion of the race together. He liked that I would point out each time there was a root sticking up in the path, which helped me pay closer attention too. We ended up running about 13 miles together, before I felt the need to slow down a bit, and I told him to keep going.
Mile 13 was the first time I got to see Steve at the drop bag area. It’s always nice seeing a smiling face, with PBR in hand, waiting for me to come around the corner. At this point, things feel a little daunting. I have 18 miles left, 2 loops of 9 miles. The one good thing is knowing that the hardest part of the course was behind me. So I started on my first loop. I was unfamiliar with the blue loop so I took it a little easy. I ran with another girl for most of this loop, which helped break up the race a bit, but unfortunately we split up durring the water stop.
The second time at the drop bag area (mile 22), my sis, bro-in-law, and Steve were waiting for me. Michelle and Jeff ran the half-marathon earlier and were celebrating with some beers while they waited for me. This time around, I didn’t really need to grab anything out of my bag. But my Trailgaters were cracking me up with threats of leaving chili nachos all over my car (this is what they did during my last 50k, and took me weeks to get the smell out). This last stop really gave me the final push that I needed. I had 9 more miles and still plenty of energy to kick it into gear.
My last loop, I decided to run up a few more hills, and really push my pace on the straight-a-ways. By the time I had 3 miles left, I felt great and pushed even harder. I ended up coming through the finish line at 5:33:32! I couldn’t believe the time, since I was just shooting for under 6 hours. I definitely couldn’t have done it without my killer Trailgating crew. They were waiting for me at the finish, ready to hand me a PBR!