Since the race is supposed to be a 90-minute drive from chi-town, I figure I wake up early and hit the road. So left home by 3:30 am so I could get there around 5:00, a good hour before race start of 6:00am.
I must say that as an outdoors/nature loving state, Wisconsin is pretty good, but I must say the county road system in Cheeseland is hard to figure out (TriTeacher, please tell me there is a logic to those county roads). So for a while there, I was not sure where I was going, where is highway 12 and county road H? I was getting extremely pissed finding the right roads. I was pushing the pedal to the metal trying to find the start area, with 30 minutes left I was seeing a "DidNotStart" flash across my eyes. I started screaming in my car and honking my car horn because how could this happen, how could I blog a post about not even starting because I got lost finding the starting line.
Then a miracle happened, after seriously giving up, I saw a person who looked like a runner so I followed him. With 15 minutes to spare I found the race site and I was able to pick up my race packet. After scrambling around to get my drop bags in the right place I headed out to the starting line.
So, "Ready, Set, Go" we were off. (You gotta love these Ultra Starts).
The first section was not to bad at all. Wide running area and terrain I usually train on. I just wanted to start out in a causal pace. Not sure how I would feel, just glad at this point to actually be running after almost posting about a D.N.S.
After the first out and back loop section, we started out on a different trail, which consisted of single track. I mostly ran with different running packs at this point. It was really good to have some running company. Just hanging in the back hearing about their upcoming and past running adventures from some of these veteran UltraRunners.
So let say, I usually don't run on single track when I'm training, something I must work on for my future Ultra races. I was the third person in a running pack of four. There was actually a eye level twig branch sticking in the middle of the trail, so I moved it out to the side, along with me. I side swiped some rocks and nearly had fallen. The runner in the back says, "Good save". Happy about that, I must have been daydreaming just for a second or two, then I felt my toes smash against a rock and the next thing I realized is that I'm heading face down to the side of the trail. "Oh crap," the other runner asked if I was "okay", "Yeah" and then I picked myself up and started running again. After running again, another runner in the pack just said, "we all fall, one time or another" that actually put everything in perspective. That is the "Nature of trail running and Ultra Running" I thought to myself. As long as you can get up and keep going that is what it is truly about sometimes.
So after 20+ miles I was feeling really good, I started to push the pace a little bit, so I thought anyways. My GPS watch was loosing its signal at certain times in the woods, so not sure if I was running faster or not. So did that for a while but realized I only ran a couple of miles and needed to settle down before I "crash and burn."
They had aid stations every 4+ miles and two-drop zones for special needs. I was drinking Succeed Amino, but after 30 miles I was getting dehydrated even thou I was drinking every 15 to 20 minutes. I had this salty taste in my mouth for most of the second half of the race. So hopefully I just needed some H20. But I must say the aid station water was smelling kind of funky. It might have been clean water but it definitely didn't smell like it came from a "natural spring". So I tried drinking coco-cola and with some chocolate caffeinated gel shots. I think I found my new hydration combo of choice. It made me more alert and actually made me feel like running again. You have to love those "caffeine" buzzes.
So still running along, stubbing my toes at different times against tree roots and rocks, almost falling two or three more times, but I was able to catch myself, still after awhile became annoyingly painful nonetheless. I was really glad to see the 40-mile aid station coming up. I knew of a blogger that was going to be there. Eventhough we have never met before she made me feel like we were old friends. Lora Runs is training for her first 50 miler in 2008.
After a couple of minutes another blogger came running up, Julie B, a veteran Ultra Runner who just won the 100 miler at McNaughton 4 weeks ago, I only did the 50 miler at McNaughton and I was still tired from that. A brief introduction and I was off trying to catch up to Travis, another ultra blogger (McNaughton 50 mile finisher), I had said hello to at the beginning of the race and exchanged some hello's at certain sections of the race. I knew he was at least two miles ahead, but I could always try to catch up to him. But my main goal was to make it under 10 hours for a finishing time, so with 7 miles to go I was trying to go as fast as I could. But the 10-hour mark slipped away with a 10:01:35 finishing time. That was okay, I gave it my best shot, I will try again next year, and as for McNaughton Ultra I will be back for the crazy mud race as well.
So after the race I got to talk with some of the Ultra Bloggers I met during the race, hung out with Lora Runs to watch the other finishers come in. It was a well run race, great weather, not to many bugs, and the volunteers were terrific. At one aid station they all clapped for us and said words of encouragement. That is something I will always remember from this race. It was really touching.
But like always the worst part of any long race is always the body after effects, my feet and toes were hurting, but good day nonetheless.
So what is my Ultra schedule like for the rest of the year, well I'm going to try to get a Trifecta by the end of the year (and after IronMan Wisconsin, of course). An easy Lakefront 50 miler or if I can swing it, I would like to try to become a Masochist one of these years. Either way my Ultra goals were accomplished, two 50k's and two 50 milers in the last 5 months while trying to train for a IronMan, yeah I guess a little crazy. No wonder one of my TriClub members introduced me as the honorary TriClub Nut. Well I figure somebody had to be it. Why not me.
But I leave you with this, a quote from the race director from McNaughton that e-mailed us about a Crazy Ultra trail race with a "Death" division actually as a race category (no Kidding):
"Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn-out,shouting, 'Holy sh*t! What a ride!'"- Unknown Author
(PS. Oh, I'm not done yet!!!)