Saturday, November 21, 2015

IceBox480 - Wisconsin (12/50)

I just finished writing this race report once already, but somehow it highlighted the entire post, deleted it and auto saved. I can't retrieve my earlier words of wisdom. Just imagine how amazingly insightful my writing was. How inspiring, clever and funny. Now, you'll have to do with my second, less enthusiastic version:

IceBox 480 - Wisconsin

The Dizzy Goat 12h had gone so well for me that I looked forward to another timed event. I like the concept. Instead of running a given distance as fast as you can, you are giving a total time and you can run as far as you can get during that period.
The "480" in IceBox 480 indicates the 480 minutes (8 hours) that you have to compile as many miles as possible. The "Ice" gives you a hint at the temperatures that we would be dealing with. Even though the course did not contain any icy portions, the temps ranged between 35-42 degrees over the course of the day. Usually I don't mind these conditions, As I run outside for the entire winter in negative degrees (that is if my wife lets me!), but I hadn't had time to acclimate yet to colder temperatures. Work had recently taking me to Nevada (hot), Tijuana (hot) and New Jersey (surprisingly mild at 60ish).

What a good looking family!!!
Note Leiana's red cheeks and nose,
high time she gets back into the warmth! 
We arrived the night before and stayed a hotel just about 5 minutes from the race start at Whitetail Ridge. Christina packed up Leiana and I went through my gear and nutrition one last time. I was going to set up my own little aid station again, similar to what I did at Dizzy Goat. This way I would have access to my gels, Gatorade and a change of clothes. This was going to be key later on. After I stashed my equipment at the aid station I hugged and kissed Christina and Leiana, snapped a picture and sent them back to the hotel for some breakfast. No need to stand out here in the blistering cold while I wait for the race to start.

Everything was set and I still had some minutes to spare, so I went for my traditional pre-race poop. I'm glad I went when I did, because with about 5 minutes before the race started, everyone else seemed to have the same idea. The lines were about 20 deep and there was no way these runners would start on time or they would have to carry that little bit of extra weight :).

Race start from 2013-14. I couldn't find a 2015 pic,
but it looked the same
Race Director Chris gathered everyone a good 200 feet from the trail head and went over last minute instructions. I briefly chatted with the guy next to me. His GPS wouldn't work and I could tell he had clear set goals for today. He told me that he got 2nd last year with about 52 miles and he was hoping for for about 55 today. I found that quite impressive, as I thought a good day would yield 45-50 miles for me. I had made a course map and wrote time split times that I would try to hit throughout the day. He scanned them for a while and thanked me. He asked if we wanted to run together for a while as we seem to be going for a similar pace early on. I agreed and not much more time passed before the gun went off. We raced to the trail head in order to not get stuck behind some slower runners. I ran next to the trail while passing a few runners and careened back on the the single track a couple of runners behind him. That was the last I saw of him that day. He ended up winning the race with 56 miles!

beautiful single track
A little bit more reshuffling went on and I ended up running with ummm,....I think Jeff. Can't tell for sure anymore. He was running in a basketball jersey, shorts and shoes. I like to not wear too many clothes when I run either, but that seemed very ambitious for the given temps. However, he seemed to be doing quite well. We talked for the entirety of the first loop and I found out that he had already completed a 100Km (62 miles) race. That was quite impressive since I have never run that far. We were probably in 9th and 10th place, respectively. There was no reason to chase anyone at this point as we still had more than 7 hours to go and I figured that traditionally one runner gets lost, one or two are running too fast for their abilities, another will get stomach issues and someone else ends up twisting an ankle or something like that. As long as I made sure these things wouldn't happen to me, I knew was going to place well.

Jeff and I and I had two pairs of gloves :)
 The race course had a total of two aid station and covered 7 miles total per loop. I thought it was more like 6.2mi, but learned different later on. My goal was to finish each loop in one hour. That was ambitious, but I thought I'd give it a shot. I can always slow down later. There is a reason you have your A goal and then a B, C goal etc. The first loop was over with in ~54 minutes. I was well ahead of pace and was a little worried that maybe I was going out too fast, but I didn't even feel warmed up yet. I cruised through the aid station as I had plenty of Gatorade left and continue on solo, since Jeff stayed behind to hydrate and warm up a bit. I did offer him my extra pair of gloves, but he didn't want them.
It was freezing out and I welcomed the sunshine as it started breaking through the forest. Each ray was warming when it touched my skin. This wasn't so bad after all. I skipped the middle aid station again and enjoyed my day out. I didn't see anyone in front or behind and occasionally lapped the participants that chose to walk.
Finishing the second loop in ~56 minutes, I put more time into the bank. I knew I'll eventually start needed that time back, but was glad I was 10 minutes ahead of goal pace. I filled my water bottle with HEED electrolyte mix and started the loop anew.
a volunteer actually used a leaf blower to make
the trail visible. talk about service!
The way the 3rd loop started was indicative of how my next few hours were going to be. Reaching the half way point my toe caught a root and I ended up eating quite a bit of dirt. Oh well, that happens when you don't pay attention! On I went, only to bite it again a few minutes later. I must've been lost in thought or something like that and was mad at myself as my knee was now bleeding and I was lucky that it wasn't worse. Believe it or not, I crashed a third time shortly after. At this point my arms and back hurt from kissing the ground so violently and often. In hindsight, this was a good indicator  that my focus was trailing off. I think it was due to a sugar crash. I had started off too early with Gatorade, which is extremely high in sugar. Switching to HEED, I didn't replenish the sugar in my body and losing focus seemed to be the first indicator.
two cramping legs!!
Nevertheless, I finished the 3rd loop in ~58 minutes and was extending my banked time. After taking the first 3 loops behind the shed, their big brother "Loop 4" waiting anxiously for me and ambushed me right at the start of this soon-to-be painful loop. Another vicious root jumped at my out of nowhere and entangled my foot. I had a pretty good pace going straight forward and my foot stopped in place immediately, physics will explain what happened to me next. As I caught myself yet again, my legs seized up from the sudden impact and I had difficulty standing up in order to loosen them again. I couldn't believe that I was cramping now, when I had only been running for 3 hours. The next 5 would be very long if this would continue. Managing a slower jog I tried to make sure to not overextend myself any further. For the first time I stopped at the middle aid station and asked for some Coke, only to find out that they didn't have any. Only HEED. That wouldn't help me. I craved sugar now and knew it would give me another boost. I slowed to what seemed like a crawl and ended up walking extended portions in the exposed windy sections of the course. Since I had gone out fast early on, I was quite sweaty. In combination with the wind, I started freezing rapidly. I texted Christina to please bring me some extra clothing. See, if I have time to text, the race isn't going to well at that time.
I shivered my way back to the aid station and changed clothes that I had stashed in my drop bag. What a relief to get the wet clothes off. I was still cold to the core and gladly accepted a delicious cup of hot chicken broth. That was AMAZING!!!
awesome mountain bike trail to run downhill on!
I felt the hot soup trickling from my throat into my stomach and it was great! Unfortunately the little cup was gone within a couple of minutes and I cooled off again quickly. Also, it appeared that my sweating hadn't subsided and I was cold again before hitting the mile 2 mark. I contemplated heading out of my way back to the aid station to get more broth, but knew I'd basically be waiving the towel. I told myself to suck it up and continue. I'd walk the uphills, jog the flats and run the downhills. I grabbed half of a donut at the middle aid station, because I still needed sugar. How stupid was I? I had been at the main aid station and took broth. That was good, but I didn't even think about my Gatorade or the Coke that they had on hand! I was bonking pretty hard now and was just hoping that the donut would kick in sometime soon. All in all the 4th loop took me 1:12h. In that loop, I used up all my banked time from earlier. Well ,to look at it positively, I was 4 loops in at the 4 hour mark. That's on target, but I was still slowing down further.

I got to the main aid station a little faster though than I hand anticipated in my text to Christina. Now I didn't have another shirt to switch into as I was again shivering cold. I took off the wet shirt and threw on the hooded sweatshirt I had brought as that was the last thing I had left. I filled my entire water bottle with broth, downed an entire bottle of Gatorade and went on my way. I walked even more during this loop, but always found short sections that I could go a bit faster again. I got passed by a couple of people and was feeling sorry for myself. I hate that moment. I shouldn't feel that way. I decided to run this race and knew what it would encompass. I told myself that there is nothing to feel bad about as I am outside doing what I enjoy. I knew the down feeling came from nutritional issues and I would take care of them when I come through the main aid station again. The remainder of the 5th loop went by in a haze (~1:20h, I think) and I trudged through the main aid station, downing some Coke and more Gatorade and broth.
Awwwwwwwww yeah!
About 2:40h were left and I realized that I can't slow down any further, otherwise I wouldn't be able to complete two more loops. I forced my legs to move faster than they wanted and surprisingly they responded. Not in the "i am running super fast now" way, but at least they didn't slow down further. My goal was to get to the middle aid station and get some Pizza that I saw on the previous lap.
I got to the aid station and actually had a little bounce in my step envisioning how I would devour multiple slices in my very immediate future! hurts to even think about it today....they...they were out....

no pizza left for me..
How could the world be so cruel? I wanted to call it a day right there and then. What horrific news. I settled for cheese curds (they don't really have any nutritional value for endurance sports!) and a few pieces of a left-over brownie. I sulked my sorry self back to the main aid station (6th loop in ~1:18h) and was embraced by Christina and Leiana. It was so great to see them. Things were about to change! Well, first I changed into the clothes she brought. Then I heard that they would hold all runners until the top of the hour to then start the race anew on the one mile loop they had set up. That was going to help track exact distances as not many people would be able to finish another loop in the given time. However, I didn't like that we had to wait. I could've walked a mile in the 12 minutes I was going to stand here. On top of everything multiple runners came in after me and basically had caught up now. All day I tried to fend them off and now I had to stand here and just let it happen.
Christina got my head on straight. She told me that I also caught up to other runners ahead of me. True. Plus I have been given 12 minutes to stretch my legs, loosen them and get some food and drink in me. Basically a guilt free break. Leiana goofed off around the aid station while I was prepping for the final hour of the day. 

I started feeling excited for the last hour. I planned on staying ahead of the runners that came in behind me and maybe make up a spot or two to the front. My stiff legs got into motion when the RD signaled us that we could go a few minutes early. I wasn't ready yet! Man, others had a head start now. After some changing in the pecking order I was able to distance myself from some people behind me and zeroed in on the guys ahead of me. My belated start fueled me and I went a bit harder than I thought I should, but wanted to desperately catch up. After the first mile, I began to feel better. I could
main aid station
painlessly run the second mile. Lapping others now they started encouraging me to keep running as they were only able to walk. The 2nd mile was done and I chugged my water bottle into the vicinity of my drop bag. I'd have to find it later. No sense in wasting precious time now. I started feeling the adrenaline pumping and was riding the runners high. I somewhat feared that this would wear off quickly and I end up really hurting, but decided to go for broke. If I had to walk the last 20 minutes, then so be it. I kept passing people and felt better and better.
Christina yelled to me from the distance as she could see me through some of the less forest areas and I kept going even faster (at this point "faster" means around a 8min/mile pace). I finish the 7th mile with 4 minutes to spare in the day and knew I can't finish another mile and stop at the aid station. I was so elated. I didn't know exactly how many miles I had completed over the 8 hours, but felt great about the finish. I think I could've kept going at that pace for another hour. It ended up being 49 miles in 7:56H, which was good enough for 5th overall! The next 3 runners were only separated by a mile each. If this race was just another hour long, I could've really challenged them. Or if I hadn't slowed down so much earlier. 
Anyways, my PR for 50 miles is 9:04h. I think I could've finished another mile in the 1:08h to spare, so it is safe to say I would've beaten that time. Therefore, the day was actually a great success. I wouldn't have guessed it earlier as I was feeling so down, but I kept an even steady pace even during those dark hours.   
It turns out that I really enjoy these looped courses. It helps when I run races where I don't know the course, as the early loops give me time to familiarize myself with the route and know when to push and when not. 
Overall I did have a good time and look forward to resting up for a couple of weeks and then focus on the last race of the year, the RiddleBox 50K.

What a cute family!!! note my new racing shirt from 605!!

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