Race Report: Glacial Trail 50K

Allison, my brother and I left Milwaukee at 5:00am yesterday to drive up to the northern unit of Kettle Moraine State Forest. Trent and myself were competing in our first 50-kilometer trail race – the Glacial Trail 50.

After checking in at the Greenbush Town Hall, we headed outside for the 7:00am start.

Approaching the starting line

The weather added an extra element to the race, with temperatures in the 40’s-50’s and a steady rain that lingered well into the afternoon.

You can also see that I had a GoPro camera strapped to my chest. I had the device programmed to take a picture every 2 seconds, with the intention of creating a timelapse video of the race. Unfortunately, the rain and dim lighting made for some really blurry, poor-quality pictures. So maybe I’ll try again next time.

Approaching Aid Station #1 (mile 7)

After about a half-mile section of road-running, the course joined up with the Ice Age trail (via a short connector trail). The entire course was relentlessly hilly, but this section offered some particularly rocky, treacherous footing. We nonetheless made good time, and took the opportunity to grab some Hammer Gels at the first aid station (mile 7).

The next leg of the course was a 6.3-mile stretch to Butler Lake (the starting point for last winter’s Frozen Otter race). None of the hills we faced were particularly large, but the trail was a constant up-down-up-down-up-down. The trail finally left the woods around mile 12. We ran across a prairie for a short while, then re-entered the forest immediately before arriving at the Butler Lake aid station.

Approaching Aid Station #2 (mile 13.3)

I stopped here to inhale a few orange slices, then Trent and I continued on toward the 50K turnaround-point (another 2.2 miles down the Ice Age trail). A little over 50 minutes later, we came jogging back into Butler Lake.

Departing Aid Station #3 (mile 17.7)

We were both feeling pretty beat-up at this point, so we each took an Ibuprofen.

Crossing the prairie just past Butler Lake (mile 18)

It was during the 6.3 mile section between aid stations #3 and #4 that I really started to hit a wall. I’d been intentionally going easy on the energy gels, hoping to avoid a repeat of the vomiting problems from last month’s marathon…and I think the lack of calories was starting to catch up with me.

So I inhaled a couple more Hammer Gels around mile 20, and within ten minutes I was once again feeling relatively fresh.

Approaching Aid Station #4 (mile 24)

We each ate some fruit and candy at the aid station, then grabbed more Hammer Gels for the road. Allison was nice enough to stuff everything into my handheld water bottle carrier, since my fingers were too swollen to manipulate the zipper.

The final 7-mile stretch was kind of a blur (at least for me). We were both pretty exhausted. Around mile 28, my foot caught a root as we were sprinting down one of the steeper hill sections. I went completely airborne, and my bad knee (already sore at this point) came smashing down on a rock as I face-planted into the ground. I spent a minute or two walking off the pain, and Trent was nice enough to wait until I could resume jogging.

The rain was coming down really heavy at this point, so the final stretch through the deserted streets of Greenbush was kind of surreal.

We ended up finishing with a time of 6 hours, 1 minute, and 17 seconds. Trent probably could have broken the 6-hour mark, had he not stayed back with me and my bad knee.

Standing at the finish line (mile 31)

I’m definitely sore today, but we had a great time. Also, I should thank Allison for taking all of the pictures!

Section Splits

UPDATE: I went ahead and made the timelapse video anyway.

Published in: on October 15, 2012 at 12:59 pm  Comments (3)  
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Race Report: North Face Endurance Challenge Marathon

I ran my first trail marathon last weekend, and it was pretty brutal. The race took place in the southern unit of Kettle Moraine State Forest – on some of the same trails we hiked on with my sisters last summer.

The marathon started at 9:00am, which meant that we’d be running into the early afternoon (highs in the mid to upper 70’s). The course was equipped with four aid stations, dividing the run into five “segments” of 6.3, 5.3, 5.6, 5.3, and 3.7 miles. The total elevation change was reported as 3,218 feet.

Course Map

Start to Ice Age Aid Station (6.3 miles): This segment mostly followed horse trails, providing us with plenty of passing room. This meant there was virtually no bottle-necking (a major problem at our last race) – but it also meant running through some sections of loose sand. And a few horse droppings. I sipped a few ounces of diluted Powerade from my Nathan vest every couple miles, and ate a GU gel around mile 3. I was feeling great when I hit the first aid station, so I blew straight through it. Average pace for segment #1 = 9:41 min/mile

Ice Age Aid Station to Wilton Aid Station (5.3 miles): Immediately after leaving the first aid station, the course turned onto the Ice Age trail. This meant firmer footing, but also a narrower and more rugged trail. I still felt terrific, so it was a real challenge not to get over-zealous with my pacing on this section. After a couple miles, the trail spilled out of the trees and into a sprawling prairie area, where we’d be running the next 12 miles or so in the baking sun (and yes, 76°F does feel like “baking” when you’re running long distances). I’d only eaten a few GU chomps on this stretch, so I decided to stop to choke down some steamed potatoes and Nuun when I arrived at the second aid station. Average pace for segment #2 = 9:37 min/mile

Wilton Aid Station

Wilton Aid Station to Hwy 67 Aid Station (5.6 miles): This was easily the hilliest section of the course, featuring about a two-mile stretch of constant up-down-up-down. I was still feeling relatively fresh, but decided to hold back on the hills and save my energy for the flat sections that I knew were still coming. The potatoes I’d eaten were definitely not sitting well, but I decided to eat another GU gel anyway. Average pace for segment #3 = 10:42 min/mile

Kettle Moraine

Hwy 67 Aid Station to Piper Aid Station (5.3 miles): This was where everything started to go rapidly downhill. Right as I stopped for a cup of water, there was a stabbing pain in my stomach. I spent the next five minutes puking my guts out, mentally berating myself for eating all those potatoes. I only had another nine miles ahead of me, but everything from this point on looked less like a *run* and more like a *drunken stagger*. So I don’t remember much from this section, except that I was really dizzy and really thirsty. My stomach, unfortunately, couldn’t handle more than the occasional sip of water. Average pace for segment #4 = 14:32 min/mile

Piper Aid Station to Finish (3.7 miles): I was feeling really dehydrated by this point, but the ol’ stomach just wasn’t accepting much of anything. I tried stopping for several minutes, but couldn’t get rid of the nausea. With one mile remaining, I once again stumbled into the woods and threw up. Then I threw up again…and again…and again. Then I gritted my teeth and forced myself to run the final mile to the finish line. Success! Average pace for segment #5 = 17:18 min/mile

So the race obviously didn’t go as smoothly as I’d hoped. Ah well. I still have that 50k to look forward to next month.

Published in: on September 23, 2012 at 4:48 pm  Comments (1)  
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