Competed in the North Face Endurance Challenge 50K in Wisconsin. I covered the same course last year, albeit part of it, but ended up with a DNF for the 50 mile race last year. Weather conditions were excellent this year. Temps started in the low 40s and climbed to about 60. Mostly sunny with a slight breeze. Total elevation change over the course is only about 3600 feet. I wouldn’t consider the course highly technical by any means, but there are a lot of small steep rocky hills with some flat sections scattered throughout. The prairie sections had long gradual inclines.
First 10 miles: 1:21:20 split
Dean Karnazes started us off at 7am. Gave him a high five while leaving. This section is mostly wooded trail. Sun was just coming out so there was plenty of light in the woods. I had some depth perception issues when the shadows are just right. Stung by a hornet on the back of my calf. This has happened to me several times during trail races for some reason. Ran the flatter sections faster.
Second 10 miles: 1:29:10 split
Fueled with gels every so often and drank water only by thirst. Wasn’t sweating nearly at all until the prairie sections in the open sun. Then things felt much warmer. Legs were getting more wobbly and had an ankle roll at mile 18, but was able to shake it off. I was trying to enjoy the prairie scenery a bit too much. Always have to be on your guard on trails.
Last 11 miles: 2:12:00 split
Back into the woods again meant short rocky hills one after another. Legs were stiffening up around mile 23 and so I started to march up the hills. I think this made matters worse. Anyway, did a run & walk mix for about 4 miles. This section of the race was also where the horse trail turns into soft sand. It’s basically like running on the beach. Some parts can be covered more easily on the trail edge, but many sections you just have to trudge through it. I was losing a lot of time at this point and people started to pass me. Mental games started as I contemplated another DNF. Lots of self doubt and wondering what in God’s green earth am I doing out here trampling around the woods. Last stop at mile 28 I did the unthinkable and sat in a chair with a cup of chicken broth in my hand. All of the food looked like one bite from a hurl, even the M&Ms! So all I stuck to was liquids. I only sat down for a minute to finish the broth. I then stood up and was surprised that my legs weren’t as stiff and sore as I thought they’d be after a sit. Started moving again at a slow jog and after another mile I was moving pretty good and not feeling as bad. This was kind of shocking. It was like a switch was clicked so I forged ahead. The real bonus was no more sand either!
I was a bit of a wreck at the end with a ton of emotion. I was just happy to finish the darn thing, but also disappointed by how much time I lost at the end. A couple of 25 milers in training would have gone a long way in minimizing the meltdown. Obviously need to work on hills more, but the IL landscape makes this hard to do. Still not sure what to do about fuel either. Gels and sports drinks make me sick to my stomach after mile 25 and I was too afraid to try something new. I think fuel would have helped the last 5 miles. Not sure what to do here, but won’t worry about it until I try something longer race wise. The family and I hung out for a little while after the race, but I needed a shower and food badly so we hit the road. My final place and time are estimated based on a quick review of my results before leaving.