Yesterday was the Chippewa 50k which I keep thinking is just hysterically funny to sign up for and attempt to finish. As I get older and more senile, it's easier to convince myself that I'm in better shape than the previous year. There's nothing like attempting to run 31 miles to let you know where your fitness really is.
I'm thinking they should change the name of this race to the Chippewa Ahzzz Kikkrrr, although I'm the only one who seems to get totally destroyed by this race. Next year maybe I'll just invite all my friends to beat me up in the parking lot behind Cyclova (we'd probably get a bigger turn out).
Actually, the Cyclova turn out was, for me at least, the best part of the event. Honestly, I could do without the actual race, the best part is just meeting up with your friends and sharing the day. We have all sorts of ability levels in our fitness club, but everybody stuck around to cheer in all our runners (I know because I was the last Cyclova person to finish). That's actually going above and beyond the call of duty, all I expect them to do is throw a cool Leinenkugel's in a bush so I can nurse myself back to health upon finishing. Having them actually open the can and hand it to me is more kindness than any exhausted marathoner deserves.
This photo features everyone by Starr (who was taking the photo). Eric T. Olson (center) was going after his 65th marathon. As always, my game plan was to start out slow, then take it easy. After that, I'd see if I could go even slower, and just hope to finish before dark. Eric and I "ran" most of the way together. I must be closing in on about 10 marathons with Eric now, so you'd think there wouldn't be too many stories we haven't told at least once. We're getting to the point where we have to just make things up.
It was an absolutely beautiful day. Last year was pretty good too, but this year there weren't even any mud stretches to speak of. It's a little easier when the trail is bone dry. I've heard racers discuss running this event when there's snow and freezing temperatures...that'd be too much for me I think.
I packed a couple turkey sandwiches and beers in my drop bag. I told Eric I had a sandwich for him at about mile 12, and he wasn't all that excited about it. But when we arrived he changed his mind. I think I've eaten as many gel packs and chews as my body can take in a lifetime--my body rejects them now. Turkey sandwiches, however, hit the spot.
The beer was actually cool, somebody was nice and put my drop bag in the shade.
I'm sure there is food in the world that kings and queens have to mortgage entire countries just to afford. However, I sincerely doubt that anything can possibly taste as good as a cold beer and a turkey sandwich at mile 15.5 of a 31 mile run. For the next five miles or so, the only thing Eric said was, "Man...that sandwich hit the spot, you were so right about that, the beer too." Other runners always get a kick out of seeing you strolling along with a can of beer in your hand (I packed out the empties in case you were wondering).
These 31 milers always start to get real around mile 20. When you're just doing a measly little marathon, you hit 20 miles and you think, "whoa...almost there, super easy now!" However, when you still have 11 miles to go it's a little harder to push through the fact that your legs are about to fall off.
With about 3 miles to go, I couldn't even keep up with Eric at a fast walk. He just drifted away from me, which was fine. We were so tired at that point we hardly had energy to talk (I know some of you don't think that's possible, but it's true).
With one mile to go, Uncle Leo was there with a cold beer hand-off. That made the last mile bearable. I trotted in, crossed the finish line in about the exact same time as last year (around 8:47), and flopped down on the ground.
The next half hour of relaxation with the team is the priceless time. Everybody was content, everybody had made it none the worse for wear. Jim, Ben, Starr, and Jason all hammered out there and it was fun to just sit and bask in the glow of knowing you didn't have to run any more that day.
You get a finisher's certificate at the 50k, but they had to run get more by the time Eric and I came in. Eric noticed they had returned with more and said, "Hey, let's go get our certificates."
"You're up already," I said, "could you grab mine?"
He did, and encouraged the guy to write the following on it:
Geeze..."lazy" on the day of a 31 mile run :)
All in all, a fantastic day. Beautiful weather, beautiful course, awesome people. These are the days you remember!