I'm not a big fan of Black Friday. Too many people fighting over imagined good deals. This past Black Friday though I got a heck of a deal and I didn't even have to get out of my PJs to do it. Front Runner was having a 50% sale on race registrations for 2014. So with my credit card in hand I signed up for 41 miles of racing for $50.
As Jason Stamper reminded me after he finished the 50k, I told him to not think about it, just sign up.
Well, then came training for it. Which I didn't do. As Ben referenced in his great write-up, we all hit it up a little too hard perhaps once ski season closed. I personally let ski season linger a little longer with the Pepsi Challenge and then just continuing to ski because it was nice instead of running. In fact, I was very conscious about trying to not hit it too hard because I have had issues in the past from ramping up too fast. That didn't stop me from being one of the casualties though.
I was very concerned a few weeks ago that I was heading towards a tibial stress fracture. There was a solid week where my leg HURT. Trying to be smart about this and not ruin my entire summer by being stupid and running through an injury I backed off (stopped running) for a week and resigned myself to not doing the 50k. Eventually my leg did come around and I was back to easing into running again pain free, but it was too late by then.
So with reluctance, I emailed the race director and backed down to the 10k. I will admit I had to tell myself at least once a day that I wasn't wimping out and this was the right thing to do. Being smart about injuries is so hard.
As a consolation prize of sorts, I was going to run the 10k and then make a whole day of it hanging out and watching and cheering for all of the 50k finishers.
So we rolled into the Chippewa Moraine Ice Age Unit Visitor Center at about 7:45, fifteen minutes before the 50k-ers were set to head out. Someone forgot to charge their watch (no, not me, though I had that problem at my last race) but Tony Lushanko was able to hook us up with his charger with just minutes to spare before he started. Thanks Tony!
|And the 50k-ers are off!|
With them off for a few hours we went to pick-up our bibs and get sorted for the 10k. My warm-up included several hikes up and down the hill to the car since I couldn't seem to get my act together and was leaving stuff down there. I rolled up to the start line with about a minute to spare. I found rival Adam and wished him luck.
|Adam and I running side by side 3/4 of mile in.|
As we hit the trails I let him lead. He had been saying this race was "just for fun", right up until the night before when the smack talk started. Honestly, I was afraid. Very afraid. Adam has been killing it this spring hitting much higher mileages and much lower paces than I have. I honestly thought I was going to be in trouble and fitness was not on my side. My only hope was that the trails were technical enough to play to my strengths and against Adam's weakness.
|Adam enjoying the scenery and watching the 50kers roll out at the bottom of the hill.|
The trails were gorgeous. It was a struggle to keep my eyes where my feet were going as I wanted to look around and enjoy the scenery. I definitely want to get out there again and wish I could have been doing the 50k to see more of the trail.
Thanks to our conservative start, Adam and I were slowly making our way up through the field up until we hit the aid station/first M crossing at just over 3 miles. Somewhere along the trails I had gone ahead of Adam and had made a small gap of maybe 30 feet at the aid station. Despite a botched exchange with the aid station worker after I crossed M and had a chance to look Adam was gone.
Post M, I just settled into a good tempo and looked up the trail to see if I could pick a few people off. Surprisingly it worked well. I'm pretty sure I wasn't getting faster and suspect I just wasn't fading as fast as the others. I made my final pass of the race going up the monster hill at about mile 6. From there in it was just hold on baby. Surprisingly, despite that monster hill, which I was reduced to walking part of, that last mile was my fastest of the race.
|Satisfied and slightly sweaty post race.|
In all, it was a great day and a great early season race. I would definitely like to be back next year and try to tackle that 50k. I'm not sure how that will work with my ski season focus, but I've got like 50 weeks to start training for next year.