So on a warm Saturday morning I awoke at 4:00 am to get ready for my 2 hour drive to the "Fat ASS" race in cold ASS Wisconsin. Never having a doubt in my mind that I would at least show up for the race. All week long, weatherman screamed out severe weather warnings from my TV. I think even the governor of Wisconsin told everybody to stay inside.
Blah, Blah, Blah, what do they know.
But as I got closer to the race sight and saw a blinking sign saying 4 degrees, true temps around -10 (or worse), and snow drifts along the road. I thought just for a moment, maybe I was the crazy one.
You think? Naaa..
But as I pulled into the small parking lot full of cars. I knew this is where I needed to be, this morning, on this day. So they actually had a indoor area for registration and to thaw out afterwards.
Instead of a race bib, they had this tag as a race number to be worn. It reminded me of a toe tag, maybe just in case our bodies got covered with snow, I think they could still identify our bodies.
I had decided to try to run with my new UltraRunner Hydration pack, I figure if I put it underneath my jacket it would not freeze and it would be okay. Plus the O.C.D. triathlete in me had a backup plan as well if this failed.
So the race was 4 1/2 loops on a snow packed trail, with rolling hills and one gradual big hill in the middle of it all. Two aid stations, one kinda of unmanned, and one at the checkpoint/registration area. We had to check in at the end of each loop. No t-shirts, no age group awards, I think a traveling 1st place award, so next year I think you had to bring it back for next years winner.
The race started with around 57 people, all of us covered from head to toe, but without much fanfare, we started off, I think the guy just said "GO".
So after 15 minutes of the 1st loop, I went to take a drink, and yes, my hydration pack was frozen, wholly crap, this is not going to be pretty, I had to finish my 7 mile loop before I could start with hydration plan B. At least the one aid station out there on the trail was a lifesaver.
The worst part of running in this weather was stopping. So after the 1st loop, I unloaded my hydration pack and went with a handheld water bottle instead. But do you know what happens to Gatorade, shaken up, in a water bottle, and in below zero temps.
Yup, you get a 7-11 slurpee...
After awhile I could not even close my water bottle, because the top had frozen as well. Trying to take gel shots with gloves was not much fun either. But eating some fig bars and peanut butter/jelly sandwich slices at the aid stations did help out.
So pretty much my nutrition plan was not going according to plan. But I made the best of it. Did I have any other choice. (Stopping was not one of them).
So Loop one was just getting used to the trail. Loop two was a little bit easier. Loop three was starting to bite me in the ASS, because of my lack of inconsistent nutrition/hydration intake. Then loop 4 came along and I took some "Happy Pills" (aka Salt Tablets) to take away a little bit of the tired legs I was feeling. It was a little bit easier after that, the last half loop was harder, because sometimes when you know when you are about done, you just can't wait to get there. I didn't look at my garmin heart rate watch most of the way and mostly ran on how I felt. But like a good UltraRunner I took walking breaks up the hills and tried to run down the hills without taking a plunge into the snow. I think I did realize how cold it was when the trees around me started to creek. I felt like a Hobbit running around an enchanted forest with sounds of nature all around.
What was even more funny was seeing fellow racers with there faces covered with frost and one guy with an icicle running down his nose. I only hoped I didn't look the same.
But numb fingers and all I'm really glad I was able to finish. I was beating myself up a little bit during the race because I knew my race time was getting pretty slow. Sometimes I felt I was the only one out there and was truly awed at the UltraRunners blazing the trail with ease. Kinda of disheartening at the same time as well. But I'm still a newbie at this UltraRunning stuff, so maybe one day I'll be one of those people as well.
On the loops I would always pass this lady who was trailing behind me. She always had a smile on her face and on our final lap, she says as I pass her, "I'm going to finish this". That put everything in perspective for me and a little smile on my face. This was a training race for my 50 mile Ultra, and yes, I was going to finish this race as well. So for today that would be good enough for me.
I was out there a long time, I think I finished 31 out of 36 finishers, 31 out of 57 starters, so which numbers are better, I guess it some ways it didn't matter. I got to run on a great trail, challenged myself mentally (ran without any music), and stayed upright the whole way. I still have my fingers intact and after reading e-mails of the training stats from runners/triathletes I know in the windy city, I think mine was not to bad at all.
The 1st part of "The Experiment of One" is now completed.
And yes, I will probably be out there the same time next year. Anybody want to join me?