May 29th I participated in the Hillside Hawk 5k. It was a 1pm race on a Sunday and i was planning to just run it for fun. So that morning, i put in 10 miles on the road and ~50miles on the bike. One of my close friends, you know him as ‘crowd control’ threw a bet at me….that I couldn’t beat him in this 5k. I roll my eyes and tell him i have other important runs coming up and i really shouldn’t and excuse and excuse. So we lined the start line with a billion little kids (the fun runs are great to do as families by the way ) and other serious racers. I was laughing and joking, trying to keep my competitive edge from taking over…i needed to just ‘fun run.’ Gun sounds….oh geeeez….its a race now. I was ahead of crowd control for ~1.5mi and then he passed me….i gave him the look of death (because really i don’t like the all out sprint of the 5k – it hurts!) and he beat me by a good 30 seconds. I still won the female side, but now its rubbed in alllll the time! It was a blast of a run! I like to do that for 5ks….little fun bets with your friends help lighten the mood, reduce any stressors or anxiety you may have, and just keep the camaraderie alive!
The next weekend I had a huge milestone in my race calendar….a race that would determine for me if the ultras were something i can do competitively….a 38 mile night run through the kettle moraine southern unit. let’s be real though, the 100 milers were still going when i showed up and still running when i finished. such humbling men and women….i look up to them quite a bit and hope my mental toughness can be just as good. I showed up at 7pm to get my bib and get myself prepared. 8pm the 38mile group lined up and started.
The first hour was nice….still light outside. After that 1 hour, it was another 6 hours of darkness. Well, i had my head lamp and a flashlight. That was fun….whenever I needed to adjust my headlamp….WHOMMP…to the ground I went I really had to focus to make sure I didn’t fall TOO many times! I ran with a few different people throughout the course, chit chatting about running. Aide stations were filled with goodies….candies, potatoes, pickles, sandwiches, grilled cheeses, and SO much more! Heed is the beverage of choice for ultras…its like a Gatorade. I stuck with water the whole time and ate as I went…cliff bars, potatoes, cookies. There was plenty of vaseline and bug spray at aide stations too! Always a bonus! By mile 30…I just wanted it to be over…it was a great challenge for me! My legs were fine, but the night time darkness put me into a running tunnel….hard to focus on more than the few feet in front of me. By 1am, the weather was about 45 degrees (compared to the 90 degrees the 100 milers had that day!). It was perfect. I was in the lead for 1st female with only a couple guys ahead of me. With only 4 miles to go (and on the trails, that can take an hour to run!), I wanted to finish strong! I made it through the first two miles….ALL HILLS…and then cranked out the last 2 miles negative splitting. Finished 5th overall and 1st female in 6 hours and 58 minutes. It was 3:30am. Exhausted. The first place male only started running a year ago….what a great accomplishment for him!
The following weekend was the Ragnar Relay. A 197 mile relay with 10 other runners starting in Madison and running to Chicago. We were supposed to have 12 runners total but had to manage with only 11. Of course I said I would pick up an extra leg….thinking I’m invincible is not always the best…seeing as though I just had a 38 mile run! But i did it anyways. According to the calculations our captain made, we were supposed to finish in under 23 hours averaging 6:59 min/mi. OH MY GOODNESS! I came forward and told the team I didn’t think I would be able to do that after such a big weekend of trails. I could see the disappointment in the captains face, but they all were very accepting. With the expectation to just run my marathon pace….my first leg of 6.7 miles started….as Bruno handed me the baton, I started racing…as though I didn’t just have a race the weekend before. I was running on the highway with farms all around me through Jefferson County. Super hilly and windy! I averages 6:37 min/mi….close to my predicted 6:30 min/mi. It was another few hours before I went again….the combo legs of 19 & 20 through the night in Franklin…averaging 6:38s this time. I was shocked! My legs held up. My last leg was the longest at 9.9 miles in IL. I knew race pace was not gonna happen so this one was at marathon pace with an average of 704 min/mi. I couldn’t believe it!
As my first team event, I had a blast! I highly recommend this relay! To be honest, I was not 100% looking forward to it, but when we started and caravanning together, it was a GREAT time! Anyone doing DG would love the relay. People were dressed up, playing Frisbee at different rest stops, driving in decorated vans, and keeping tabs of “kills”…the number of people you pass running (not counting those that pass you!). We finished under 23 hours, with an average of 6:58 min/mi….not too bad from our captains prediction! Overall we finished 6th out of ~350 teams and 3rd in our division. Totally cool