I have never run a night race and was thrilled when my friend Katie asked if I would like to join her for this 1/2 in Sheboygan. Summer in Wisconsin has been sticky and hot so the thought of racing in cooler evening conditions sounded AMAZING!!! (Too bad that is not how it went, but for a brief moment the excitement of not sweating through all my clothes was exciting.)
Registration for the Full Moon 1/2 Marathon on line was easy and quick. The price was reasonable with typical sway (well stocked aid stations on course, medal, shirt, and post-race food). There was a dramatic price advantage to signing up early for this event which I will have to make note of next year and jump on things earlier. The ease of travel to this event, organization, and course made for a fun experience that I will for sure consider adding to my 2017 racing schedule.
Let’s dig in to the logistics. The packet pick up and bus pick up was at the finish area (Kohler High School). Parking was plentiful making for easy in and out of the area. After meeting up with Jen, a fellow Oiselle bird, and grabbing my packet we boarded the yellow school buses to head to the start. Talk about nostalgia, we felt like kids as we rode to the start…buses sure have not changed in 20+ years. The travel to the start was quick and seamless. We got of the buses with plenty of time to warm up and stretch before the start. The temperatures did not drop as expected. We were going to have to deal with the heat and humidity which has plagued us all summer here in the Midwest. So much for a cool, evening run. Jen and I are both Orange Mud Ambassadors and were wearing our vests for this event. A few runners came up and asked us about them, which was cool! The product has been a game changer for me and I always like to spread the love. Katie and her family joined us at the start. This is a point to point race, meaning the start and finish are not the same location. If you park at the start you do not have a way to get back to your car. Since Katie’s husband and kids would be driving along the course to cheer us on she did not have to ride the bus to the start (lucky her, the ride was bumpy).
The start line was low-key. Racers hung around chatting and taking care of last minute bathroom breaks. There were several port-a-pottie units as well as a bathroom in the shelter building. The race director made an announcement 10 minutes before the start asking for runners to head to the start line. There were not corrals for runners to line up in, but there were pacers holding signs with their targeted finish time (I later found out this was the 1st year that there were pacers). Many runners began to navigate towards the pacer groups. Katie worked her wait to the start of the pack. Jen and I hung together and tucked in behind the 2:20 pacer. The National Anthem was played and we were off!
Jen and I chatted for the 1st mile. She was on a roll and surged ahead, I slowed my pace as I quickly realized something was up with my hip/back. It is never a good sign when the 1st mile leaves you questioning if you can finish…there was a lot of race left to go at this point. I have been battling a nagging injury over the last few weeks. Back in May I fell at the Ice Age 50k and messed up my left hand. I never considered that other parts of me were damaged too. Well, they were and I found out the hard way when the pain in my hip/back stopped me in my tracks. I have been working to heal my body and get back on track, but it has not been easy. This is the 1st time I have been hurt and I have not dealt with it well. To slow down and pull back from training crushed my motivation and shook my confidence. My worst fear was being realized at mile 1 that I was in trouble and excessive pain.
To date I have not DNF’d, but this race looked to change that. I’m am very lucky to have great friends and support in all my running adventures. Nora, my coach, (Team Bird Training) has been helping to work me through step back and I could hear her voice in my head as I began to panic. If she were there I could imagine her telling me to calm down and pull out my bag of running tricks that I had amassed over the numerous races I have done. Times may be tough, but I know I am tougher. As this little conversation played out in my head another I had tackled another mile. 11 to go! Trust me this was a huge victory, but the battle was not over. I saw Katie’s family around mile 3 and tossed them my hat. I was hot and in pain. I knew that I could fix one of those problems. Ditching my hat was key. I slowed to a walk and threw my hair up in a bun, wiped my sweating face on my shirt, grabbed a drink of Tailwind, and collected myself. I also realized that I did not take my inhaler at the start of the race, which was a huge error on my part. Time to get back to work – I had covered 4 awful miles at this point. My game plan changed from here on out. I turned my watch off and went off raw time. I would run for 5 minutes and walk 1, at this point in the race it was all I could tolerate before I began to tear up in pain. This course was 99% paved trail. The surface of the Fall 50 will be 99% road, this realization hit me at mile 6, and it freaked me out…how the hell will I run 50 miles if I cannot even run 13.1 miles?!?!?!?! My heart sank and I started to cry. I’m not an emotional person, but in this moment I was sad. Sad that I had worked all summer and now my dream of completing the Fall 50 was falling apart. I felt bad for myself and mad that my body was failing me. In that moment I made the decision to drop out when I saw Katie’s family again and ask them for a ride back to the finish. I settled into this idea and began looking for them on the course.
Mile 7 arrived faster than I expected. I had stuck to my plan of 5 minutes of running 1 of walking. I was watching for the Waege family, but had not yet found them so I forged ahead. My hip/back started to feel a little better and I did not have to walk as much. I focused on moving forward. Miles 8, 9, and 10 passed by as I settled into a groove. I was in pain, but it was manageable at this point. Around mile 10 I caught up with the 2:10 pace group. I was surprised by this, I felt like I was moving at a snails pace but things were going better than I had expected (time wise). Still no Waege family so I continued on. Miles 11 and 12 were fast. I pushed and focused my thoughts, I just wanted to get this done. Up to this point we had been traveling on a paved path with a few road crossings. The race volunteers were amazing at helping keep us safe. EMS was also at several of the crossings and also traveled on the path to check on runners. The aid stations were well stocked and the individuals working them were full of energy. We came off the path midway through mile 12 and began to snake through city streets. As we rounded our last city street we were directed to head to the high school track to make a loop before crossing the finish line. Hitting the spongy track felt so GOOD! My body was done for the day and the pavement had done a number on me physically and mentally. I crossed the finish line crushed, but happy that I did not drop out. Katie and Jen were at the finish waiting for me, they both had great races which brightened my mood. We grabbed some snacks, chatted a bit, and headed to our cars.The ride home was hard. I was throwing a full on pity party for myself. The Fall 50 was on hold for the time being and this broke my heart! The Full Moon 1/2 was a cool event even if it was a rough one for me. I might need to give it a go next year to redeem myself:)
Date – August 6, 2016
Finish Time – 2:11
Gear Used –
- Orange Mud HydraQuiver VP1 – With high humidity predicted I wanted to have my own hydration/fuel mix.
- FitSok F4 Tech Socks – My go-to sock! My feet stay dry, cool, and blister free even when I sweat up a storm.
- Tailwind Nutrition – I filled my bottle 3 scoops of Tropical Buzz (caffeine) with 24 oz of water. I was able to refill my bottle with water easily at aid stations and stay ahead the excessive fluid lose from sweating.
- Oiselle – Lightening Distance shorts, Navy Wazelle short sleeve shirt, and team singlet.
- Run Gum – Being that this was an evening race I wanted a little boost before I headed out to drive the 1.5 to the race. I popped this in about 30 minutes into my drive and found that the kick was just what I needed to start the race.
- Trail Toes Cream – My go-to blister fighter. I slather this stuff on before I put my socks on to prevent hot spots. I also used it along my shorts waist band to prevent chaffing…works like a charm and is not just for your feet.
- Salt Stick Caps – With the heat and humidity in Wisconsin I sweat a lot and find that leg cramps can be common. Typically I start a race with a salt tab and then continue to supplement every hour, but this was a shorter race and I skipped the pre-race tablet. I did at mile 7 pop 2 tablets when I started to feel my legs start to cramp up a bit. By mile 9 I was good to go with fresh legs.