North Face Endurance Challenge Series 50 miler - Wisconsin edition. Race was a 50 mile trail race in the beautiful Ice Age Trail system in Wisconsin's Kettle Moraine state forest on a great day with quite moderate temps & soft trails.
Race went pretty well overall; I ran an 8:23, good for 26th place in a field of about 195 finishers. Race difficulty was pretty similar to that of the Buffalo Run 50 in Utah I did in March, which I ran a 7:54, so I feel like I left some time on the table. But overall I did many things well & it was just really a lot of fun (which sometimes I do not do if I do not exceed my expectations). You can take a look at my Garmin Data attached if interested.
Played it really casual & conservative with pace; going easy on the rolling uphill climbs & just keeping it manageable the entire day. Was trying to run at about a 10:00 per mile average & see what the course offered in terms of running the very flat sections harder to improve on that pace, but I wasn't able to do so as there were some rolling sections that were tough enough to keep me in the 10 minute mile range & the flatter sections at the end either weren't to be had or coincided with a rough patch. Ran into said rough patch from about 34-41 or so, where I seemed to get over-heated a bit or perhaps was running low on calories? Seemed to be able to turn it around by spending a minute or two at an aid with ice & water, so perhaps it was a temperature thing (after-all I am a bit of a burly runner). Somehow was able to snap out of that & pick back up my steady pace & finish pretty strong.
Had the pleasure of my dad out on the course crewing me & a training buddy from here in the Western Suburbs running the race as well (parts with me). My dad is not only a great crew member but probably enjoys ultra-races more than any non-runner you could ever imagine, I think by the end of a race he's met everyone involved, really would've been a great ultra-runner if he would've tried the sport when younger. Also had a good buddy who ran his first trail marathon as well that day, he completed it in 4:09, got to catch up with him & some other friends & the finish. Was really happy with my steady approach, drinking, bouncing back near the end; pushed the pace pretty steady the last 4 miles - I think I may have even ran a sub 9:00 mile, which for someone of my speed & that far into a 50 miler is not that bad. I need to continue to work on fitness; which has seemingly somehow taken a back-slide in recent month (due purely to obesity) & then eating calories.
I ran into difficulty in continuing to eat again. My plan for nutrition was 2 bladders full of GU Roctane for about 1920 calories, 10 gels & supplementing with Clif Blocks if I tired of gels. Well, I tired of gels after consuming only 5, only getting an additional 2 Clif Blocks in, so I probably under-indexed on my calorie goal of 350 per hour (but not bad as I took in about 2800 total cals). Physically felt great the entire time, not too sore, so should be able to get back to running right away & keep working on this fitness thing. I've implemented a calorie counting strategy (Livestrong) in order to help curb my obesity.
The race was ran in fantastic fashion - well organized, convenient, great turn-out, nice swag - really was impressive. The course was really the only down-fall; beginning was great on the typical nordic trails & ice age trail, but for some reason in the 2nd half they had us on a bunch of horse trails. There was horse traffic & the sand that comes along with a horse trail; it made for poor footing & inconviences in pulling over for what felt like a good amount of horse traffic. But that certainly didn't slow down Ian Sharman at all, who ran a blazing 5:47, so maybe it's just me. But overall I would rate the race very very highly, TNF did a superb job.
Have to give a shout out to my random pacer - a gentleman named "Jim" ran up behind me at some point & started chatting. I started bs'ing, he mentioned he was just out on a run but happened to be a 100 miler himself (noting he ran Sawtooth, KM100 a couple times & some others). He was only going to go on for a couple miles, ended up running with me for maybe 7-10 miles, was fantastic company. What a bonus that was, definitely during a boring portion of the course as well; and though it may go without saying, he probably had a great time running with Viper.