Every race with its corresponding training is a learning experience. What I will learn the most from this race is that if the forecast is for 90° and humid, it’s best to have some salt/electrolyte replacement.
We drove down the day before the race and had dinner with some friends who live in the area before settling in for the night. As usual, I only got a few hours of actual sleep. When I woke up, I checked the weather and saw that there was a big line of thunderstorms heading our way.
We arrived about a half hour early to check in and pick up my packet. We hung out in the van to stay dry until the storm passed. Because of the thunderstorms, the race was delayed by about 40 minutes. The race is small and very low key, which I like. The race series has several distances to choose from. The shortest race is a 5k and the longest is a 50k. There were 136 total runners, with 22 people running the 50k. The race director describes the race as
“This is an out and back race that begins and ends at Sunburst Ski Area in Kewaskum, Wisconsin. All races will cover the same course. The course is almost exclusively single track covering a variety of terrain with climbs, descents, open prairie and dense forest. Runners will experience some of the most challenging and scenic landscape that Wisconsin has to offer.”
The first section of the course was about a 3 mile loop around the ski area. We then headed out on the Ice Age Trail. For about the first 10 miles, I loosely ran with a group of three other runners. I was feeling good and the pace was right where I wanted it to be. My plan was to push the pace a little during the first part of the race, because I knew the temps were going to continue to rise and I wanted to run as much as possible while it was a little cooler. We eventually started to spread out, and I ran the rest of the race in solitude.
My pace started to slow a little during the next 10 miles, but I was still feeling decent. The temps were starting to rise and the humidity was oppressive. My nutrition plan was to drink water and eat Gu Chomps and/or some Clif shots every 30 minutes. That worked well in the beginning, but my stomach started to get worse as the race went along. I think it didn’t like the humidity, so I wasn’t able to eat as much as I wanted to. I switched to Heed at one aid station, but that didn’t sit well so I switched back to water. While I ate enough calories, I started to fall behind on electrolytes due to the massive amount of sweating.
During about the last 10 miles I started to get hamstring cramps in both legs. While I was still eating regularly, I wasn’t getting enough salt and that would be my downfall. You know it’s bad when you start to crave salt while running. The aid stations had some pretzels and chips, but they weren’t salty enough. I would run for a little section before the cramps got worse, then I would walk for a few minutes. I had to alternate running and walking for the last couple of hours.
I ended up finishing in 6:33, which was good for 10th place out of 22 finishers. The positive part is that since I had to walk so much at the end, I wasn’t really sore the next few days. I feel my training had properly prepared me for the distance; I did a poor job handling the heat and humidity which is a silly mistake since the forecast for the week leading up to the race called for hot and humid. I’ve never had cramping issues before so it wasn’t something I even planned for. I don’t think I’ve ever sweated so much in my entire life. When I got home I weighed myself and found that I had lost over 4 pounds, even after eating and drinking on the 90 minute drive back.
Next up is the Fall Back Blast on November 7. I’m looking forward to a fall race with cooler temps!
3 Vanilla Clif Shot Gels
3 Citrus Clif Shot Gels
2 Black Cherry Gu Chomp packs
Pretzels and chips at aid stations