I haven’t kept up on my blog since last fall because that is basically how long I have been building up and training for this 50k.
I have had this idea for awhile – I wanted to potentially do a 50k to celebrate my 30th Birthday, which was last year – it didn’t work out for many reasons.
Towards the end of last year this became more than an idea, there were 5 of us from our run group – and we all happened to be really good friends (crazy feeds crazy) that committed to actually signing up for and training for a 50k. We found a 50k (The Ice Age 50), and then we found a plan (Hal Higdon, your 50k plan about killed me), and we started building up our miles and signed up.
Our official training started in early November 2018, about a month after we finished the Bourbon Chase. Coincidence? Doubtful.
Our plan consisted of multiple 20 milers, two marathons, and a lot of weekly miles as build up. Towards March we were able to get on trails more, and more – which was necessary. We knew the course would be tactical, and the elevation change would be ~3000 ft, we live in Lansing, which is delightfully flat, so we had to seek out hills to train on. Which included the Ann Arbor Marathon, and the Pinckney Trail Festival, as well as running a lot at Sleepy Hollow.
I am sort of a newb when it comes to trail running. For years I have bitched about how hard it is, and how I just “wanna go fast”. I started to get over that in 2018 and as of 2019 I can now say I fully appreciate trail running. There are definite differences between running on trails/trail races than road races – which I’ll get into in a later post.
One thing I have found to appreciate about trail races is their websites are BRUTALLY honest, and I mean that in a good way. I have ran road races before that were advertised as flat, or just having “rollers”, and it was a down right lie. With trail race websites it seems like it is almost a badge of honor to advertise how challenging the course is. You know what? I appreciate it.
I have heard really good things about the Ice Age 50, and after doing it – I only have good things to say about the experience!
1) The trails are just gorgeous! The Kettle Morraine State Park, and trails were just SO beautiful – there were a few times where it just took my breath away (and not because I was schlepping up a hill).
2) The course: The course was challenging AF- BUT that is what the race website advertised!!!! THANK YOU FOR YOUR BRUTAL HONESTY!!!! The race was a 13 mile out and back that brought you back to the start/finish area. In my opinion the first 13 miles were the most difficult, with elevation, single track trails, and rocks. When you hit mile 13, you are back in the start/finish area, and can access restrooms, and your drop bags. From there you take off to do two 9 mile counter clockwise loops, so at mile 22 you are back and able to access your drop bag. Also, the course registration was capped – which again I appreciate. It kept the course easier to maneuver and bottlenecking to a general minimum.
3) Course Support: There were aid stations placed strategically throughout each loop, and it honestly made it so much easier to break up the 31 miles. The aid stations were STOCKED, and again the website and emails leading up to the race were very honest about what would be at the aid stations. I was also SO IMPRESSED that each stations had: trash, recycling, composting, and boxes for gels/wrappers so that the course was not littered with debris- it was a very well executed “cup-less” course.
Also, shout out to the amazing volunteers who manned the aid stations, both for volunteering and keeping it real. It seemed like a majority of the volunteers were fairly frequent runners of Kettle Moraine, and no one was a jerk and said “you’re almost there”, or “it’s all downhill”. But they said things like “its only 2.5 miles to your next station” or “the hardest part is behind you” (which was essential to hear at mile 27).
4) At the finish they had a FREAKING BARBECUE! There was so much food, and water, and pop, it was honestly fantastic. And beer. OK AND!!!!…..
FREE RACE PHOTOS. It takes very little to please me – I essentially don’t want to be surprised – except by free pictures. There is nothing worse than having a decent photo then finding out it costs $20 for one digital copy.
5) Crowd support- it is a trail race, so the areas where people could conveniently stand and wait had people – which was mainly the start/finish area.
You were allowed to bring drop bags that you could access at miles 13 & 22 for the 50k, I took this as my opportunity to let my hoarding run wild. I had EVERYTHING you could POSSIBLY need for a long run. I had chapstick, nuun, extra gels, Vaseline, body glide, extra dry shirts (yes I wore three shirts), body glide, pepto, KT tape, extra socks, sunglasses, etc.
I did end up changing into dry shirts for each loop – which was nice- it wasn’t essential, but it was nice for general comfort, and I did end up needing my KT tape.
Overall this was a f*cking amazing experience from the training, to the race, and my execution.
Lizzy we missed you.
I am clearly in ok shape as a result of this because three days later I was pain free, and able to run. I am ready for a summer of having fun, and maybe loosely following a plan to prepare for Chicago in the fall.
I don’t know if I would do another 50k, but I am definitely down for more trail halves, and marathons. I definitely could not have done it without training with these ladies.
What I know for certain, is that it feels REALLY good to say “I’m an ultra-marathoner”.