Saturday, July 11, 2015

Dances With Dirt - Devil's Lake (1/2 Marathon)

Dances With Dirt - Devi's Lake 1/2 Marathon - July 11, 2015

time = 2:11:44
pace = 10:03
placed 4th in my age group (40-44) out of 38
placed 13th in women out of 230
placed 80th overall out of 495
strava data

i'm mildly disappointed in my time.  this is a PR for me on this course (ran it last year to the tune of 2:15:17), but my stomach stopped cooperating around mile 6 or 7.  it got really bad for miles 11-12 where i did a considerable amount of walking to avoid a mess.  i finally had to dip into the woods on mile 12 to take care of it so that i could finish the race strong.  i'm really kinda annoyed about the whole thing.  i'm feeling some kinda way about it because, while this is an ongoing thing i joke about, it is not very funny.  i make light of it because there's really nothing else to do about it.  so i lost very valuable minutes on those miles.  not a whole 11 minutes but i could have certainly finished at least 3-5 minutes faster without all the walking because of the stomach/bathroom issue.  i guess that's neither here nor there at this point.

pre-race smiles
moving on...  this race is so fun!  i love single track trail and the ice age is my absolute favorite trail to run in wisconsin.  i got up at 4am so that the husband and i could drive up to devil's head for the race.  we arrived at about 6:30am and had ample time to walk the dogs around, get my bib, and go to the bathroom.  we took a couple of pictures, did some people watching, and waited around for the race to start.

when it was time to line up i decided to head towards the front. last year i was near the middle and ended up getting caught in a conga line up the 2 mile uphill that makes the beginning of the race remarkable.  i researched my mile splits for last year and knew that i needed to pick up the pace for miles 1,2,7, and 10 specifically so i was determined to be near the front to start.  i started strong and took off with the speed racers.  they spread out quite quickly and i only had to pass a handful of people.  i was running nearly alone the majority of my race with only a handful of other racers near me the whole time.  i did really well for miles 1 and 2 beating my paces from last year so i felt confident that i would be able to PR if i could keep this up.

i was running strong and then at mile 4.9something i tripped.  yup... tripped.  my arms flew out in front of me and slid across the gravel (yes... gravel.) in a land level superman.

not only that but i basically slid into home base (minus the home base) filthing up my shirt, tearing up the skin on my left thigh, ripping open the palm of my right hand as well as my left knee, and hurting my right knee too.  freaking baseball superman... only in GRAVEL!  did i mention that this was on a FLAT?  yup... on a flat.  not on a crazy root, rock, and debris covered downhill or uphill, but a perfectly flat piece of land covered in skin pulverizing, flesh eating, blood thirsty gravel.  *sigh*  wouldn't you know it...

i was assessing the damage as i quickly popped back up  and continued running.   really the only thing that hurt was my hand.  it hurt like hell, but wasn't bleeding that much so i figured it was fine.  it was at this point that i realized i needed to go to the bathroom.  it wasn't to desperate of a need so i ignored it and kept running.  a couple more miles and the route rolls along a beautiful ridge.  a lot of runners stop up there to take in the view but i'm a weirdo and just want to win win win no matter what (plus i had to go to the bathroom) so i don't have time for views!

so i whip through the ridge area and dance down the other side.  the down hills are my favorite!  they are the most fun i have in races like this, and (because i'm not afraid) i just bomb the hell out of them.  my feet touch down like a ballerina's tiptoeing around rocks, roots, and debris.  i bank around corners like a race car driver.  i am in my element on the downhills.  the wind whipping my face as my breath normalizes and my legs stretch out and take on distance.  the uphills are not my forte... i tend to walk or do what looks like a run at walking pace. lol!

i make the very stupid decision (for the second time) to bypass the bathroom at the end of the loop which is mile 8 or 9 i think, and zip past to try and put space between me and the other runners who are stopping at the aid station for drinking and feeding.  this is a mistake because it is the only port-o-potty on the whole course.  i passed it just before mile 5 on the way out to the loop and this is me passing it on the way back from finishing the loop.  STUPID STUPID STUPID.

i fly past and keep going.  mile 10 is coming up fast and it is one where i earmarked it as being a place i had to really pay attention to my pace.  unfortunately, i ended up doing a bit of walking here and there.  i made it through 10 and 11 with some walking, but my pace seemed ok so i wasn't too worried except that my stomach was really talking to me at this point.  i wasn't sure anymore that i could make it to the end of the race without a bathroom break.

i thought if i could just make it to the downhill then everything would be gravy.  the 2 mile uphill at the beginning is also the 2 mile downhill at the end where i can kill it!  i look forward to it and welcome the reprieve.  it was not to be...

i had to do more and more walking breaks to keep my body in check and finally at mile 12 had to step off the trail and handle things.  made for a very slow mile.  i tried to make up the time by bombing the hill as fast as i safely could but it didn't make up enough time to cover all the walking i had to do prior.  seems like i should have just gone to the bathroom at mile 4 and made up the time after... live and learn i suppose.

the downhill was really fun after my stomach felt better.  i flew over that trail as fast as my feet would carry me.  my best was not good enough to reach my 2 hour time goal but i still got a PR which is great.  if i'm being honest i'm not sure i could ever get 2 hours on this course.  the hills are brutal.  the grade of some of them are as steep as 11-17% in places which (given my inability to successfully run uphill) makes it seem a virtually impossible goal.

the soreness in my legs tells me that i did my best.  if my stomach had been cooperating it would have likely only changed my time by 2-4 minutes which is huge and at the same time not huge.  i ask a lot of myself and expect a lot of myself.  i want to do better and better and be faster and faster.  if i can do that and have a great time in the process then why not?

this race is really fun.  if you are interested in a very challenging single track trail race that will keep you on your toes then this is for you.  there were no bugs this year or last and the varying terrain keeps things interesting.  i can think of nothing more fun than trail running.

one more thing... last year i think i said that this wasn't as hard as running at lapham peak.  i take that back after running it this second time.  it is harder.  i'm not sure why i thought it was easier except that maybe i was having so much fun last time (it being my very first REAL trail race) that i just didn't notice how hard it was.  it IS, in fact, VERY CHALLENGING... it is harder than the trail half at lapham.  so there's that.

2014's splits
2015's splits

tired, finished, cleaned up... resting

Sunday, July 5, 2015

bitches be trippin'

yesterday (the 4th of july) i went out to the nordic trails to run on the ice age trail.  i hadn't been out there since i ran iceage and i thought yesterday would be the perfect day to run the 13 miles out/back to horserider's.

the jump off across bluff road from the blue loop at nordic is about 1.5 miles from the trail head which is run on beautiful wide groomed ski trails.  once i crossed the road and got to the ice age trail i realized that this might be a bit of an adventure.  the trail was really overgrown... presumably from all the rain we've had and the humidity being at nearly 100%.  i got about a mile into the trail, stopped to take a picture, and it was at that moment that i was swarmed by about 25 to 1,025 mosquitoes and a couple of bitchy ass horseflies.  i quickly put my phone back in my pocket (without a picture mind you), and started running again as fast as my feet would carry me.

i briefly thought that it might be a mistake to be running on this trail but that thought disappeared as quickly as it appeared as i happily skipped down the trail deeper into the beautiful, magical, all encompassing forest.  i didn't give it another thought as the vegetation licked at my legs, the sun kissed my shoulders, and i zoomed over the trail.  i was running free, screaming down hills, still running up hills, and had no idea what was about to happen to me in the next few miles...

i made it to young road where i again paused to take a breather, and again i was assaulted by more vicious biting flies and their evil baby backups... the mosquitoes.  i figured i was this far i would just keep going... plus i had to go to the bathroom so i wanted to get to horserider's since there is an actual restroom there.  as i'm running i'm also getting more and more nervous because nothing looks familiar, and i start to think i'm on the wrong trail.  suddenly the urge to go to the bathroom is fierce and i cannot wait.  unfortunately, i had to drop trow right there.  i don't even have time to walk off trail (which i suppose is better anyway since i'm sure the population of ALL.THE.BITING.THINGS is probably a million times worse over there)... as i squat down right there, directly on the edge of the trail to do my business... they come for me!  in droves!  army after army of thirsty, flesh eating vamps.  i am swatting around my head like a crazy person!  it was insanity!  i'd like to say that i'm embarrassed, but i'm not.  truth be told worse things have happened to me that i've subsequently shared.  *sigh*

i finished up, jumped up, and started running like my ass was on fire!  i'm sure it would have been a hilarious sight to see were it not happening to me.  there was no outrunning those damn murderous insects either!  they were EVERYWHERE!  they were all over me.  it was awful!  i finally made it to tamarack road but since i thought i was lost i only went about 1/2 mile further, turned around, and cut my losses.  i had no idea where i was, and nothing looked familiar anymore.  i had taken a wrong turn on the trail that took me to the right and spit me out in what seemed like the right spot, but it all looked so strange that i was scared that i had gone totally the wrong way.  all of this was compounded by my frantically slapping myself about the head, neck, and back and trying to out run those freaking beastly demon flies!

so... i decided to turn around.  when i did i followed a horse trail thinking that it looked familiar.  that was a MISTAKE!  i ended up running up on a couple of people on horses and then i realized that i was absolutely not going the right way.  the trail got heavier and heavier with sand finally becoming about 6" deep with sand.  it became virtually impossible to run in at which point the horse flies were relentless!  the little kamikaze jerks were dive bombing me... biting me all over the head, neck, back, and forehead... i was losing my mind!  i was trying to get my phone out of my pocket to get the map and find the trail so i could run away from these opportunistic vampire insects.  all of the stinging!  all of the biting!

it was awful!  so awful!  i finally managed to get my phone out, map out, and found the trail!  i had to trek through some forest uphill to find the ice age trail but once i got back on it i was flying again!  i calmed down realizing that i was back on track and headed back to the park.

unfortunately i was also about 5ish miles into my run and had to run an equal distance (maybe more with the detour) back to the beginning.

every uphill resulted in more bites since i could only run so much and then i had to walk.

i can't believe that i had no idea this would be the outcome!  hahah!  so ridiculous!

my strava can be viewed here for this run.  moral of the story?  BUG SPRAY!  please for the love of all that is right and just in the world... use BUG SPRAY if you're going to run these trails between now and november!  seriously... spray the shit out of your head and any exposed skin.  i am not joking.  you will regret it for at least 3-4 weeks while the welts (the size of lemon drops) heal.

yes... i have welts the size of lemon drops on my body from those stinking flies.  they are brutal bitches!  i have one behind my left ear that itches ALL.THE.TIME because i keep tucking my stinking hair!  ugh...
now i'll leave you with some horsefly facts:

  1.  horseflies are some of the world's largest flies.  they belong to the tabanidae family. 
  2. horseflies are located around the world, with the exception of extreme northern & southern latitudes.
  3.  there are roughly 3,000 species of horseflies in the world, with 350 different species within north america alone. 
  4.  horseflies can be as large as 1 1/4 inches in length! 
  5.  they are equipped with scissor-like mandibles that tear and cut.  when viewed under a microscope, the mouth parts of a female horsefly look like jagged saw blades.  the bite is painful because the females actually cut a hole into the skin in order to soak up the blood that comes out. 
  6.  male horseflies feed on pollen and nectar only as they do not have the mouth parts required for blood feeding.  if you are bitten by a horsefly, its a female.

you're welcome.