Today was one of those days I didn’t want to run. I was late (not a huge shocker), unorganized, and feeling sluggish. But I showed up to the Dick Lytie Spring Classic on the UWGB campus, I already paid for my registration…why not just do it. Thank you to my good friend Katie for grabbing my bib and t-shirt or I would not have made it to the start line. After having her help pin me up, I turned my music and GPS on, and we were off. Nothing like doing a warm up lap to make sure you get to the start of a race before the gun goes off. Not exactly the way I wanted to tackle this traditionally tough course!
Before I had signed up for this event I had already planned on using it as a training run and opportunity to test out a few new items that I wanted to use in upcoming self-supported races (very limited aid stations if any support at all). As the hot mess express got off to a rocky start to make matters more challenging it would also be the maiden race voyage with my Orange Mud HydraQuiver VP1 and Garmin Fenix 3. I have used both of these products, but never raced with either of them which is always a gamble on how they will preform under race conditions.
So let’s dive into the meat and potatoes of the Dick Lytie. This race is notorious for being tough. With portions of the course along the bay it can be extremely windy and chilly. To top things off there are several hills to tackle…thankfully what goes up does come down and the reward for climbing a hill is the descend on the return to the golf course. For the most part this is an out and back course with a few twists and turns mixed into to keep things interesting. Keeping with the tradition that Dick Lytie started many years ago the course is virtually the same as it was when he 1st set out to create a challenge to runners with lots of hills, few water stops, and little fanfare. I knew what I was in for as I have run this event twice before. Good thing I was so rushed at the start I did not have time to ruminate on the beating I was about to take.
The first hill came a little over a mile into the race. It is a winding road that pops out onto one of the main entrances into campus. Being that I was a graduate of UWGB I had taken this road many times, so I knew it well. A water station was located at the bottom of the hill, but I did not stop to grab fluids since I had my own hydration (Tailwind). I knew that getting to the top of the hill would require me to slow a bit and I could drink at that point. Worked perfect, since by the time I got 90% up the hill I’m not sure you would even call it running, more like a fast walk. The next mile was flat until we hit a downhill, but do not be fooled that is not going to be it. There were more hills to come. We snaked through the backside of campus that is adjacent to a residential area to then turn onto a road along the bay. The winds by this point had not disappointed, they were swirling and strong but not consistently in our face…I could deal with that. I have run in crappy weather all winter and have taken to pushing hard when the wind is minimal and pulling back my effort when the wind is in my face and super strong. I try to conserve my energy in the same way with hills. Combining the knowledge that I had of the course and the fact that it was windy, I was having an “off” day, and had my own fuel/hydration at 5 miles in I decided to change my game plan and use this as an experiment. I didn’t need to walk at each water station and I would be walking portions of the hills to conserve energy – this just may work to save a little time. I looked at my watch at this point and realized I was running pretty good at this point, but that all could change as 2 big hills were still up ahead. I settled in and turned up my music. The next 5 miles flew by. I walked portions of the hills and used the opportunity to hydrate. I felt refreshed as I came off these breaks and continued to see the results of my efforts on my watch. Mile 10 was flat and an opportunity to pick up speed and mile 11 would be downhill has we looped back towards campus. The last hill to tackle came at mile 12.5 as we pushed to the finish. I was ready to give up at this point and phone in the last .6 miles. A sweet angel however was not going to let that happen. Linda Maxwell, who I had met last year at the Ahnapee Summer Solstice Trail 50 Mile Relay was cheering on runners, which made all the difference. I owe her big time! When I looked down at my watch at mile 13 I realized I was having more than an “off” day I was having a GREAT day!
Crossing the finish line I realized my watch measured a little short so I kept running to make it official in my mind. When it hit 13.1 I stopped my watch and was shocked – 2:05:57…that my friend is a 1/2 marathon PR for this runner! At that point I also looked down to check out what race number I had…another shocker for the day – #107. The number 7 has been a big part of a lot of wonderful things that have happened in my life, so much so I recently got VII tattooed on my arm to remind me just how blessed I am. You would think this day could not get any better, well you would be wrong. I ran into an old high school friend, Coach VanderMuese placed in his age group, Katie had an awesome run, and Coach Kramer suprised me with his recent engagement. SO COOL!!!
For as much as I dreaded this race I sure did have a great day. I also learned a lot. The freedom of being able to hydrate/fuel when I wanted to was awesome. If I’m going to break and walk during a race to drink it might as well be on hills. I found my time spent breaking shorter than if I would have done so at an aid station. I wasn’t looking for a place to throw my cup, drinking on their schedule, or subject to the course options – which was Gatorade my guts worst nightmare. My Garmin Fenix 3 is wicked accurate and easy to use while running with little need to stop and adjust. Bring on Ice Age Trail 50k, I feel like I’m so much closer figuring out all the things I will need to be successful on my 1st ultramarathon of 2016.
#BeKind #BeHappy #BeActive