The Glacial Trail 50M and 50K start in Greenbush, WI at the fire station. Both are out-and-back courses, mostly on the Ice Age Trail in the Kettle Moraine Northern Unit.
Rober Wehner, race director, does a nice job with this low key event. Race perks include a sweatshirt - a very nice change of pace from the usual t-shirt.
Webmaster Bill, running friend Dennis, and I left our house at 5am and headed up to Greenbush. We arrived at the start before the sun came up. The 50 milers had already headed out at 6am.
We 50Kers started at 7am in very comfortable temperatures, blue skies, and no wind.
My plan was to run comfortably, finish, then head out back on the course to run Dennis in. At this point, I was considering doing the Fall 50 in Door County on Oct 23rd, and so I'd like to get at least 35 miles in today.
The first half mile is on roads. We get to the connector trail, and all file in, single file, like good little trail running soldiers. There are lots of familiar faces as we begin our 31 mile journey.
Dennis and I ran together for about the first 4 miles. Webmaster Bill got pictures at about mile 3.
After I pulled away from Dennis, I turned on my tunes, and ran quietly and alone until the turn around point. As I approached the turn around, I learned that the lead woman was about 8 minutes ahead of me, and that I was the second woman. I wondered who and where number 3 was.
As I made the turn around, I learned that woman #3 was only about 20 yards behind me. Ashleigh, who works at Fleet Feet in Brookfield, WI
had been quietly behind me for miles. I met Ashleigh a few times during the summer at Fleet Feet. I was there to try on wetsuits, and she and I chatted about running, triathlons, biking etc. I knew that she had planned to be here.
About 8 minutes after the turn around, I saw Dennis. We exchanged quick 'how are you doings', and Dennis said 'hey - don't come back out for me after you finish'. I think he wanted me to not worry about saving any energy for the extra miles, and focus on my finish time/place.
Ashleigh and I ran the entire return trip together. We talked running, training, work, family, etc. Her company really helped pass the time, and kept me going. We ran a very steady pace. This was Ashleigh's first ultra, and she ran very smart.
In the last couple miles, the accumulation of a few marathons in recent weeks started to sneak up on me, and I started feeling tired. When we got to the last half mile, Ashleigh strongly pulled away. She was doing great, and looked strong. I was still feeling decent, but did not have any kick left, and was happy to see Ashleigh was able to finish so strong.
Ashleigh (pictured right) finished just a few minutes behind the first female, and I followed about a minute behind.
We all congratulated each other, and I learned that I am old enough to be the winning female's mother.
After a short break, I filled my water bottle, chatted with Bill a bit, and headed out to meet Dennis. I know he told me not to, but it was getting really hot out, the last 2 miles are mostly in the sun, and the last aid station is 7 miles from the finish. I knew he'd need water.
I walked very slowly up the course. I felt good mentally, but physically very tired. At this point, I decided I would take a break from marathons/ultras until New York on November 7th. For the first time in recent months, I really felt my body needed some rest from racing long distances.
I met up with Dennis about 2 miles in. I knew as soon as I saw him that he was having a rough day. I know this feeling well. It sucks. He felt beaten both mentally and physically. He had fallen 6 times, and was also suffering from post marathon fatigue. Dennis had PR'd just a week earlier at Lakefront Marathon, with his very first sub 4.
I filled his water bottle with my water, brushed some dirt off him, and tried to offer encouragement. He was feeling very defeated. Like most ultra runners, we have all been there. Ultra running can be a mental roller coaster. Your body can feel so bad, that your reality becomes distorted. You feel so overwhelmed by the 2 miles ahead of you, that you forget your accomplishment of 29 hilly rugged miles behind you. You dismiss how tough you are to have gotten to this point.
I reminded him that he is tough as hell. I also recalled the times when he was there for me when I felt this way.
I also told him he'd be finishing very close to his 50K PR, and this course is tougher than the course where he ran his PR.
We got to the final half mile, and Dennis finished looking good, and looking strong.
Once we got some post race food and beverages, Dennis felt a whole lot better. Sandwiches, cookies, Diet Coke and beer. We sat outside and ate, and enjoyed the perfect weather. We exchanged our stories of the day, including one guy who fell on his face, and likely broke his nose. We both saw his blood on the trail.
On the ride home, we listened to the Packer game on the radio, and Dennis was back to his usual self.