Saturday, July 17, 2010

Marathon #8 Dance With Dirt 07/10/10

Do you want to run the most beautiful marathon in Wisconsin? With the most incredible views of the bluest water in the state? Of course you do. Now, how much are you physically willing to pay for these benefits? Are you willing to risk getting poison ivy, spraining your ankle, breaking a leg, or arm? Are you willing to get your ass kicked by a course? If you are then sign up for Dances With Dirt 2011.

Being anal retentive it’s tough for me to post #8 before #7, but a lot of people want to hear about DwD before Madison. Madison was just HOT, DwD was insane. This will be a long blog because this was a long race 6 hours plus of up, down, rocks, roots, fricken mountains, stone steps, heat, humidity and some of the friendliest runners, volunteers & race personnel you’ll every find.

I decided to do DwD in 2010 to get some of the tough ones out of the way early. 2011 will bring Saturday – Sunday marathons, a different kind of hard.

Early in the year one of my dearest friends, Randi Strand asked if she could do the race with me as DwD was on her bucket list and she was just invited to attend a wedding in Chicago. Since I haven’t seen her since she moved to Colorado I said YES. Randi was the GBRC webmaster, and she’s cool, here is her blog site . Her memory of DwD is different than mine since she kicked my butt.

Even though Dan Roeder tried to warn me and get me to train with him on his trail in Pound I thought that I could train for DwD by running Scray repeats. Two words for that training program DUMB ASS. After melting in Madison I thought that DwD couldn’t be too tough, but let me put it in perspective. Our beloved Scrays hill has an elevation gain of 260 feet from the first incline to the peak for a total of 1.22 miles, a pretty casual incline. DwD has 4 inclines, the easiest has a gain of 283 feet and it lasts for 1.3 miles and it occurs almost at mile 23. The worst hill starts just after the half mile mark, it’s a gain of 686 feet and lasts for 2.03 miles. Hell of a way to start and finish a race, and there’s a lot of hell in between.

Race day was hot, 60 degrees at the start and the forecast was 85 and sunny, it was going to be a hard run. I of course started too quickly even though Randi tried to slow me down and I would pay for it. We made it up the first two mile hill easily and one of the spectators said that was the toughest part, I guess I wanted to believe him so badly that I just started running like it was, until mile 9.5.

The course description says that this part of the trail is paved, sort of. What they mean is that it’s paved stone steps. Hill running is tough, but you can always adjust your stride. When you’re on steps, your stride length is determined by the height and length of the steps, in this case 1.24 miles of steps with a gain of 517 feet. My butt was burning for about a mile, and I believe that this was my down fall as I never felt good after this.

After this point I was losing more fluid than I could take in. Thankfully Randi has run a 50 miler already and she has some great ideas about hydration, and fueling. She had me try plain old salt mixed in water which I drank and worked for a while. Then electrolyte capsules. At this point it was no longer fun, and a lot of the remainder of the race was a blur. After another incline that ended at about mile 18 I was ready to drop out. Luckily they had ice at the next water stop and I put it in my hat an laid on the ground with my legs on a tree. This allowed me to recover enough to run about another 2 miles with Randi. Like the good friend that she is sje wanted to hang with me, but I was obviously holding her back, she looked really strong. Finally I was able to convince her to take off.

The last 6 miles were just a long run and walk ordeal and of course another hill. I made one last wrong turn to add another half mile to my run and fell for the second time with about three quarters of a mile to go. I have never felt so bad during or after a race before. Of course I’ve never had to run over 6 hours before.

Trail runs are supposed to be easier on your legs, but this one had more rocks, boulders and roots than you would expect. The easiest stretches on the legs were the high grasses that were in the full sun, but they gave you a break.

Even though DwD is a beautiful course I don’t think that I would only do this race again unless I could train on the course, I don’t think that you can train for this race any other way

I’m also convinced that the lack of training this spring has added to the two tough marathons. Two tough marathons in a row are not fun so I’ve embarked on a megamile training program to get ready for Fox Cities and Middleton. I do not want to repeat the way that I’ve felt at Madison & DwD.

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