Midwest States Virtual 100k and 100 miler

The Midwest States Virtual Double Trouble, 100k and 100 miler – June 2020
When things got more serious here in the US and around the world at the time, races
canceled, postponed, or went virtual. I had never really done a virtual race until the Yeti 24 hour challenge. But it was that, a challenge, run 30 miles in 24 hours, running 5 miles every 4 hours. But I soon learned the lack of the nations tolerance for social distancing and accepting the current “what should have been” norm, which we are struggling way worse now we are neck deep in this pandemic. Things that should not be politicized, have become just that. To the point wearing a piece of cloth over ones face induces anger in some and causing revolt against a system trying to protect its population. But that’s none of my business, as I continue to remain distant, running from home a majority of the time despite the hill by my house taunting me every first and last mile (now I have the strava local legend on it, go figure). I continue to remain out of brick and mortar buildings with the exception of a grocery store, of which I don’t venture in unless we are out of food. All in all, I just don’t want this virus and will change whatever it is in my life to prevent that to the best of my ability taking certain calculated risks when I choose. I want to live the rest of my life the way I have it now…not carrying some virus which we know next to nothing about long term. I have a right to be selfish to protect myself, I feel I have the responsibility to wear a mask and hand sanitize to protect others too, but here we are, with now widespread coverage of COVID-19.

I am a scientist, and I read the science, I value the evolving advice of the experts because science has to change over time when old information is overridden. This is a new virus. Our intelligence about it will change. Accept that, and follow the current accepted research, that is my philosophy with this. I’m not here to start arguments. But this IS how it is, no races. It’s not political. It’s fact. Everything is going in the hole because we can’t be responsible as a nation, and I don’t see that ending any time soon. So when Midwest States Virtual popped up, I was wary. I am just not a competitive person virtually, as it’s hard to be so…but not against myself. Regardless I am always competing against myself no matter how much I try and hold that back. What could I do with this information? MWS purpose was run 100 miles or 100k in 10 days or less in the month of June. I wanted to do something special, something creative. I thought about how I could run 1 mile really fast throughout a day, but that would be super time consuming and that’s a lot of 1 mile intervals. I thought about breaking it up in smaller mileages for speed. Speed wasn’t going to be my answer. I had just finished the half marathon/day week/100 mile week not long before the start of June as written in my blog. I was prepared to do Kettle 100k in mid June. The song another one bites the dust is on autoplay-repeat right now. I could potentially attempt the 100k all in one go and try for a PR. I’m ok with the idea of doing a 100k solo, but a 100 miler solo I reserve for events only, that keeps them special for me. But wait, I have two email accounts, and there are two races, and there were technically enough days in June to do both… hmmmmmm.

Literally the week I decided to commit to the 100k all at once, I planned and wrote up
everything for pacers and crew and picked a day. Initially, the weather looked to be about low 70s and a mild chance for rain on the 10 day forecast. That’s fine, I won’t boil. I decided to trek the whole Military Ridge State Trail (MRST) from west to east just like in my FKT, but turn around and head back for an out and back to finish off the distance where I would be as close to home after I was done as possible. I decided to do it on Friday June 12th so as to avoid the Kettle weekend of runners, so I could have more help than not, especially from my friend Megan. From there, I would take a small rest, and turn around and start the 100 miles in 10 days quest…back to back virtuals. That would be the challenge.

 

As for planning, I mentioned I was to do the MRST, all 40 miles out, then 15ish miles back
west and then back east again, ending at the closest trail crossing near where I lived as to get home faster. This would mentally break the trail down at least. Once I had the mileage for the course set up, I broke the trail down into road crossings to receive aid. I wanted to do this without a pack and potentially without a hydration bottle at all. I made it so I received the aid more often than every 4 miles, and near the end, no more than 2.8 miles or so. I asked Rich to take off of work to follow me around all day.

The weekend before, I went up north to check out the actual Midwest States course, doing somewhere around 11 miles a day for 2 days. The final 2 or 3 miles, I was running and turned my ankle really badly, and walked the rest of the trail back. There was only slight swelling, but the tendons were not happy. Coincidentally, Megan ALSO turned her ankle which displayed some colors. The next few days, I took test walks knowing I had 5 days to recover the ankle.

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One of the overpasses on MRST…in water

By Thursday I was feeling up for a test run. I headed out to the trail and did 4 miles. After
about a mile, the ankle loosened up and I had no issues with it…that is until I got home and it was pretty angry. Ironically, the thing that hurt was the inside of my injured ankle. I compressed and taped hoping for the best. I was 50/50 on whether or not I should do the 100k. I had set up some pacer friends who were so excited to help out, and Rich took off work. I felt guilty if I let them down by not running. I decided in the end, there was no real reason to not try. If I felt bad, I could call it off anytime. The danger in that for me is that I may not know when to quit. I decided to start a little before 9am, wanting to get my sleep and give myself no pressure and did not set an alarm. I woke naturally and was fresh. The low temps for that night were supposed to be in the upper 50s, a solid start for the day. However, gathering all the things, and arriving in Dodgeville at the Western terminus, it was already 70 degrees and humid. Mind you, not nearly as humid as my FKT day, there was no fog hanging in the air. It was already 70 before 9am, I let that sink in. Deep breath, I slapped on sunscreen and lathered up in bug spray for fear of the swarms that may be there. I kept in mind this was around 1 week after my FKT, just a year later, and the climate should be about the same.

116155384_1745553505592077_6013581963749822187_nSo at about 8:40am, I took off with my interval plan. When I did the FKT, I did run 0.75 miles, walk 0.25 miles. This worked very well for me, but I wanted a PR and to push the pace, so I shortened the walk to 0.2 and pushed the run to 0.8 miles. I was hitting some 10s for paces which is where I wanted to be so as to not overcook early on. I indeed made up a lot of time, that I unknowingly would need later, but somehow knew I needed the cushion. My 100k PR was set again back in December in Virginia with awful weather and terrible foot conditions for myself after Cloudsplitter tore them to shreds. 14:58 was the time to beat. Though my goal was to see 12 or 13 hours. I was gradually getting enough experience in 100ks to inch my way down in time bit by bit. I started at 19 hours, then 15:56, widdled down to 14:58. The 100k is easily becoming a favorite distance.

111009805_422507225373872_5322763088927131535_nThe trail was soft from rain that fell about 2 days back, but the bugs were only operating at a 33% capacity. Wonderful! This was a big mood boost early on. I was already sweating so much 3 miles in. The tree cover was nice. The first road crossing was Highway Y, about 3.6 miles out. I met up with Rich, agreed to swap out water bottles with Heed electrolyte mix every stop, no matter how much I’d drank. I found myself going through quite a lot of liquid early on. I drank often. Every stop my goal was to consume some calories. I had plenty. But chose gummy bears for a while. It was great seeing my bright blue jeep waiting every stop. The next crossing was Ridgeway. I liked this place, it was about 9 miles in. So 4.5 miles from Highway Y, the longest stretch of the trail I’d be on my own. I felt like this section went on longer than during the FKT! It wasn’t supposed to be 4.5 miles, there was an aid stop between, but Rich got lost, and I saw my blue jeep driving near me on a farm road nearby as Rich called saying he didn’t know what to do, as I was standing off against a VERY angry red- wing black bird. 111499238_334577664208570_8268163947124402032_n I was in a walk interval, and it wasn’t going well with the bird circling inches above my head and trying to give directions to Rich. Multi-tasking brain was a go. I waved my water bottle at the bird as high as I could, probably looking dumb as I meandered forward.

After a good 3 minutes of bird-to-human chase off, I was able to give up and tell Rich just to get to Ridgeway, opting to not bother looking for an addition road crossing to meet up.
Ridgeway is an old train station. I grabbed some soda, which I would live my life by for the next several hours. I loved it. It was so easy. Next stop would be Pikes Peak Road, only 2.25 miles away! I thought, WOW that’s not a lot at all, my first short interval of aid. 2.25 miles blew by. Opted for soda and headed out. It was getting toasty. The sun was bright above me, intermittent clouds passed offering a little reprieve. A little under 4 miles to Barneveld. The park there was on the far side of the small town, where my first pacer would meet up with me, Kim.

 

109796399_286109755784554_1773796039481984459_nAt Barneveld, I asked if the restrooms were open. I was told yes! Now I do try to not go in buildings, but I headed inside the pavilion, got some quick relief but really, I was all about rinsing my face off. I was covered in grains of salt at this point. I let the cold water wash over my face in relief. I felt refreshed and ready to head off. I grabbed more sunscreen after rinsing and a dash of bug spray, though they had not been bad at all, I knew the next section would end up being exposed to the sun more so than it had been thus far. Kim was ready to set out. I took my walk break to catch her up on the plan of intervals. Even at 15 miles or so in, I was glad to have company. I had slowed slightly, but blamed the heat and tried to manage how I felt and focus on getting calories in. Kim would pace me all the way to Mount Horeb, where my friend Lori would join me. I was so glad to take the time to show Kim all the things on the trail, as she wants to do the whole thing herself this summer. Showed her my tricks in the overpasses, showed her the farms and rolling hills as we made our way towards Blue Mounds. We chatted it up and kept the interval going, warning her I would push her through this for training too as her coach. I love hands on coaching, but rarely get to do it and one-on-one is my favorite. If I were to change anything about how I coach, it would be having a run or hiking session with someone at least once a month to talk in person while being productive. It’s a win-win.

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Teaching Kim about Parsnip.

We would talk about every light breeze that swung by to greet us and appreciate the gift from nature as temperatures continued to rise. It was nearly noon and it was already 78 degrees! The sun stretch was coming, and I was fully aware of that. Kim wouldn’t see too many miles of it, but Lori would face the brunt of it. I got the whole experience, but shared suffering is a blessing.

The trip to Blue Mounds was the last long stretch between aid I had on plan, 3.6ish miles. From there on out, with one exception, it would be under 3 miles (the exception coming soon to a sentence near you). Rich could not find Mound View Park, which is the main park in Blue Mounds, but somehow managed to get to the next road crossing?? I was very confused, there was an address and one of the easiest aid stops to find! So much parking there and a bench and tree and another Pavilion. Kim and I strolled on past as I messaged Rich asking where he was. Around the bend he was waiting. I took my soda and had a seat in my chair. I knew sitting for a short while early on would help my legs later. I know I can get up, and I never had the urge to quit or relax longer when sitting. I make it a treat to look forward to and a way to release the legs from the overwhelmingly flat trail. Moving on, the trail was getting harder and harder as the sun sapped the moisture from the ground. The radiation back from the trail was daunting in places. From Blue Mounds it was a little less than 3 miles to Erbe Road. We trucked along and made it there with haste.

Kim found her tree shade and I drank more soda and took a bag of gummy bears. I had a nectarine last time. The sliced fruit was wonderful and stayed rather cool, same with the sliced apples I prepped, that didn’t brown! Yay planning and testing! It was still a little less than 3 miles to downtown Mount Horeb, the sunniest stretch I would have yet, and this would be a test to Kim. You see, Kim loves the cold, she is my opposite. I always admire those able to handle the cold, but I wanted to be strong for Kim even though I was being paced by her. I think helping others when I am struggling or doing something hard, really helps me take myself out of the equation and worry about something else, and that for me is a good thing. And just like that, the sun was out, the temps reach the 80s, humidity around 45%. Kim requested to walk. I took the hint, and we walked. I know the tone, the sun was testing her limits at this pace. We settled into a 14 min/mi pace hiking. 102652267_551109565566546_1115689582177529422_n I bragged how we were going so quickly just walking! I talked about the landmarks around us, like benches and fields, like how we didn’t have to go up that hill…
As we closed in on Mount Horeb, Kim slowed, but I pressured her. But we did it. 9 miles later or so. I assured her this would pay off as we made it to the shelter at Mount Horeb, with drink machines, picnic tables, and bathrooms…and of course Rich and Lori waiting. Kim found her shaded grass and laid down with blessings exhaled from within. I am proud of her, that was tough, and she got tougher. Now it was Lori’s turn. Lori is training for her first marathon this year, and I am proud of her too for digging into her fears, because this is something she can do, and will do (Update July 24, She did it and super well!!). I immediately gave her the same rundown of intervals and asked how long she would pace. I had figured Lori would go about 4-8 miles, but no, she said all 13 back to Verona park and ride!! I then warned her about the endless desert as I call it…the area between Riley and Verona with no shade and very exposed to the elements. She explained to me we would just get it done. I love Lori in person, she has no questions about what she will do and what we
will do, no matter what. It was mission on.

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Lori told me about her new blisters and how training was going. I desperately offered blister fixes for her, but said she was fine. She wasn’t limping or compensating. I like to be comfortable as possible on runs! The next stop would be Highway P crossing in Kleanville, a more obscure aid stop, 3.5ish miles away. We journeyed down the steamy path under some shade from Mount Horeb, keeping our distance from each other like we had all learned to do.

It was pretty easy to do this on Military Ridge because it was a bit wider than a car. I talked about ultras and asked how her new smoker and griller life was going (food, not drugs silly). She said she had ribs waiting I believe, if not ribs, it was brisket! Just like that, we were at Highway P. Highway P was important. This would be the final turn around for the whole course, so this made the next several miles daunting because I would eventually have to come back this far from where I was heading. 116110053_618028775785224_636814979560634547_n I had a seat in the sun and a quick soda and refill (the gummy bears still in my pocket, which would remain there the rest of the trip lol) and was off. I started to decrease the amount of Heed I was taking in to balance water and electrolytes. From Highway P we would head the 2.5ish miles to Riley. I told Lori about the paved part that was completely random in the middle of no where. Not sure why it’s paved, but it is, a good 1/3 of a mile even. We arrived in Riley promptly to hit 50k for me! 3 rd fastest time I believe for a 50k for me, doing much better pace than my FKT, and to be fair I did have my stress fracture at the time, but I just had to take so much more time during the FKT to take care of myself. TODAY I had crew and pacers to help with that and things went smoothly.

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Very encouraging (fake) rock along MRST.

Riley Military State trailhead had spacious parking, no restroom, but a nice picnic table with an overhanging roof attached. I grabbed some refills and headed out to the next aid stop and to the eternal desert. But clouds were moving in. There wasn’t much distance to the next stop, under 2 miles to White Crossing Road. I decided to not make it Highway PD since that road was very busy with higher road speeds and there were accidents there involving cars and bikers/pedestrians. Both roads seemed to parallel each other and were only about 0.5 mile apart. No big deal. Quick grab and go there too.

From White Crossing Road, we headed to Epic Lane, which is near the company Epic near Verona. The miles clicked by through the what-we-thought-was-bad desert. But it wasn’t. 109710272_287284329262231_5288576631002942590_nClouds kept passing, bringing and answered prayer each wave. We kept chatting about how lucky we were, as I pulled up my weather app on a walk break seeing it was nearly 85 degrees now! Remember, it was only supposed to be low to mid 70s that day, even the DAY BEFORE it said that! Never trust the desert. We made it the short 1.5ish miles to Epic Lane, a basically 2-3 car max “lot” where people would get on the trail there. Epic lane had hardly any traffic anyway. Rich was waiting. I took a bit longer sit there to get in more food which I was struggling getting in enough now. No GI issues, just general, eh I don’t want to eat. I offered Lori some food. I got up and headed out to Verona. This stretch was the most familiar stretch for both of us, as we run there all the time. We talked about how familiar everything was and then the skies started spitting at us. Rain? Yeah that wasn’t in the forecast either haha. But it seemed to pass quickly leaving a few clouds in its wake. Then a side stitch hit me as I neared Nine Mound Road, where I would finish. I decided to switch shoes here from my Altra Superiors to the Escalantes. My feet had swelled a bit, probably due to the heat. I had planned to switch shoes and socks here since one of the overpasses just the previous day was under a foot of water…and had completely dried up by the time I arrived?! Weird but ok! Back to the side stitch, it haunted me for another mile or so before letting up. I took some salt just in case. Lori started doing her last few miles chant, as she crossed over into double digits for her run with me. I celebrated with her! What a great training run for her too. The road crossings in downtown Verona would slow us down as we inched near rush hour…which actually isn’t too bad given the pandemic keeping a lot of Epic workers at home these days. Another blessing down.

Julia was my next pacer waiting at the park and ride. I met Lori through Julia. Julia was one of the very first runners I met when I moved to Wisconsin, and was my partner pacer in my first ever race I paced, the Madison Her Half Marathon in 2016. We paced the 2:30 finish group together and have been running with each other off and on through the years. Julia is a real person. Yes everyone is a real person, but Julia is real, never fake. She admits when things are negative and tries to see the light, but isn’t perfect at it, and I really appreciate that about her. Her house burned not too long ago and went through a rough stretch in life. She made it through with her whole family and friends alongside her. Lori got her half marathon and then some, as the park and ride is closer to her house and decided she would walk home. Lori had food waiting! We took a group picture quickly and set off.

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The all too familiar final stretch of MRST is all paved and slightly shaded in spots, but loud with the highway nearby. Things had went pretty smoothly thus far, until I was with Julia that is! Soon after leaving the park and ride, it started to sprinkle again. And then skies opened up! Nothing can be normal now! We ran and joked about it all and within a mile spotted a double rainbow from end to end, so vivid and bright, it must be a sign from God, it’s all gonna be chill and ok. Couldn’t help but smile.

As we passed by the large pond (? marsh ?) on the right, I saw many white birds, so pretty, I’d never seen them there before. When I first moved to Wisconsin, I used to run this part of the trail often. Eventually we made it to Rich again at the Quarry Mountain bike parking lot. I opted for some soda and head for the first turn around, the eastern terminus of MRST. There was a sign there now!!

Signaling the official beginning and end of the trail (which was in question during my FKT…and in my FKT went further than where the sign now stands). I noted I was well over an hour faster than my FKT at this point. Deep breath, I need to turn around and head back, but with a smile. I need to use the bathroom though. I messaged ahead to Rich and asked if the Quarry bathrooms were unlocked. That would be a negative. Dane county was still on partial lockdown from the pandemic (they would open more Monday 3 days from now). When I arrived back, I had to find a secluded spot. That did not go well, and I ended up brushing up against some plants I was not unsure was poisonous. Worry splashed on me. The rain was gone now and fog from the hot pavement formed which was neat. Julia and I caught up. Julia had asked me what I needed before coming, and I said all I needed you to do was talk, please talk to me. Talk she did! It was wonderful. She had been messaging with Rich, Lori, and Megan to plan out pacing and timing. Apparently Megan was to meet me at the park and ride now and go about 8 miles with me out to Riley and head home from there. Megan needed to go back home to sleep since she did not live in the Madison area like the rest of us.

I appreciated any help on any mile. As Julia and I came back to pond area heading back to the park and ride, there was the enemy. The geese stand off. On the left side of the path were a bunch of adult geese with their geeselings (I don’t know what little baby geese are called sorry haha–just occurred to me editing this… goslings). They are aggressive when they have their babies I’m told, and they were making a ruckus at the passing bikers (no runners nearby). I told Julia, look, we are going to sprint and make a break once this bike passes near them, to time it so there is something between us. Man you have never felt so slow compared to a biker! I said go and we RAN as fast as we could past the geese hoard screaming haha. It was hilarious and a very memorable moment, not a dull moment with Julia, which I thought would be the most boring part of the run due the nature of the paved part! We chilled back into our intervals and made it back to the park and ride where Megan was waiting with her pups.

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I instantly asked Rich for our hand sanitizer and Julia gave me some bleach wipes. I wiped everywhere and did my best to possibly disinfect the areas I had touched potential danger plants with. It burned! Ouchie. As Megan and I headed out, as Julia said she might be able to come back for a few later after dinner. That did surprise me quite a bit! Did I mention Julia was wearing our pacer shirt from the half? It made me smile a lot. I told Megan my interval plan, or reminded her, as I had been talking with her about my plans for a while. But lo and behold when I reached that same exact place near Nine Mound Road, my side stitch started coming back, on the opposite side even! This area was cursed. I felt bad because I knew Megan could put up with anything I threw at her, and here I was stuck in a moderate power hike. Frustrated, I tried running every now and then, just to be pinched every time I tried. This was probably the most obnoxious feeling during an ultra I had ever had. I could totally run and the sun was dropping in the sky, I was approaching mile 50. This was not the 14-15 min/mi I wanted to have when I felt perfectly fine otherwise, and wanting to capitalize on the dropping temps now. It was nice discussing “what nexts” with Megan along the trail. We stopped by my oasis along the trail to let the pups enjoy, but Bette was not having it haha. I had showed Lori earlier and we splashed our faces, necks, and arms with the ice cold clear water!

We made it to Epic Lane again on the back, and I told Rich my frustrations. I ate an oatmeal cream pie and had more soda. We then took off after a quick sit to White Crossing Road, where I then added more bug spray to prepare for the twilight coming soon and hit mile 50 in the 11 hour range, my fastest 50 miler unofficially (disclaimer: I’ve only done one semi-official 50 miler, it was the Blue Ridge Double Marathon, as I don’t typically enjoy the distance or races offered at that distance). The side stitch finally passed and the pace picked up again. We arrived at Riley where Megan’s husband was waiting to take her home. Now I would be alone for the first time since mile 15. Where was Rich? Again, this was one of the easiest places to find. It had an address in google. AND he had been there before?! I needed water, and Megan left me a mostly used gallon jug of water that I hid under the picnic table for later. I messaged, but didn’t want to waste time. I did wait a bit, but gave up and headed out alone towards the sunset to the west.

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The sunset was peaceful, as the clouds cleared up. I often ran this portion of the trail alone and found myself running better. I decided to capitalize on this. This was the final 10 miles and I didn’t need to do intervals anymore. I skipped my walk breaks. I arranged Rich to meet me at a close road crossing before Highway P to give me water and food. I quickly grabbed and went and took my music from him to listen to. It was just so peaceful, I ran without the headlamp, fully believing I could make it to Highway P before I needed light. Upon reaching near Highway P, I heard a group of people in a nearby field on 4-wheelers and arguing loudly with each other. I kept to myself. Upon arrival at Highway P, I took more soda, options for less caffeine. I told Rich to meet me back at the place we’d met prior to this. Rich told me that Julia said she wanted to meet me at the Riley lot to pace me back to Verona. I was overjoyed. I made my final turn (so to speak) and headed back towards Verona and Riley. I ran. I felt good, the temps were dropping to the perfect spot. I opted still not to take a headlamp. I made it back to Rich again shortly and grabbed the headlamp then as now it was getting a bit sketchy to not have one despite the trail being non-technical. I passed by the paved portion of the trail again (the random one in the middle of no where), and remembered how it was earlier in the day.
Back at Riley, Rich pulled in and said Julia was coming. I sat and refilled what I needed. I had 10k left. 10K is nothing!

Home stretch, but then my math brain kicked in and it kicked in hard. 10K was a lot easier to deal with in number land. The smaller the mileage, the easier you can figure out pace and time. I was always on pace for a PR, but could I beat 14 hours?? I had forever ago in the neverending desert forgotten about making it under 14 hours. The temps were too high to go hard, and my side stitches killed my pace for too long. I had been at peace about not making it until right then.

Julia got dropped off by her husband and frantically apologized about being late. It wasn’t too late, maybe like 1-2 minutes max I was waiting and was mainly doing things for myself during that time anyway. I told her if I pushed really hard, I just might be able to push under 14 hour. I had 100 minutes to cover 10k. Easy right? We shoved off into the night. I absolutely did not start early enough to end in the daytime, though my dream is to finish a 100k when it’s light out still. I still have work to do, but my run was pretty optimal considering. We did a few walk intervals, but kept them much shorter, in the 1-2 minute range max. We managed to dodge 2 frogs and several bright eyes spiders. Nothing else monumental stood out other than me just talking about math and doing calculations. I told Rich to not stop at one of the next aid stops. I had enough water and needed to push forward with a better pace. Last 5k came. About 45 minutes to go. It could slip away if I stopped. I was ok on nutrition now and just needed to push it all out. Julia was right there with me, being the physical and mental cheerleader. I tried hard to not forget she did 10k with me earlier. Of my pacers, only Kim and Megan were ultrarunners, Julia had done marathons, and Lori was working on one. What my
pacers were doing was going beyond the line of duty. I appreciated every step with them.
Megan was even doing a 50k in the morning for herself! The temperature dropped in the low 70s, and I was set free. Everything felt normal and I pushed the pace back down to nearer where I started. As we passed under the underpasses, we made little goals. I felt so boring talking about pace and time constantly for over 45 minutes, but it was important to me, and I am grateful Julia listened. I made it to Nine Mound Road again, my finish line, I was about 0.7 miles short, so I continued to push out. Even doing the mental math of what is half of 0.7 was difficult for me, as my brain was pretty shot overthinking for so long. Going out east past Nine Mound Road also meant possibly crossing traffic in downtown Verona again, though it was now close to 10pm. We soldiered on. Pressing faster. I turned around for the absolute final time and headed back. I told Julia I was going to go as fast as I could the last little bit and if she couldn’t keep up that was fine (doubtful, but just wanted to be clear, I had no idea how “fast” would look). She kept up fine and Rich met me out on the trail with his phone.

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I finished 62.21 miles in 13 hours and 55 minutes. A new PR, and an hour faster. There was no one else there, no party at the finish line, but having Julia there meant a lot. It was dark and no one else sleeping in the nearby houses had any clue what was going on just down the street. In a way, it’s anticlimactic, just stopping your watch when it shows the correct mileage.

But my FKT prepared me for that too. I crawled into the jeep and headed home. The pain was pretty intense in my legs as I struggled to shower. The chaffing on my back was pretty bad, I caught that too late in the game. But my feet were nearly perfect, and that’s what I cared about the most. I propped my feet up and caught up briefly the going-ons on social media, as my phone tracking me using strava beacon had died a few times killing my phone battery. Eventually, my body tried to give into sleep, but let me tell you trying to sleep after an all day event is rough, you are just still going. I was prepared for it, but it made the next day pretty miserable. One thing I regret is not eating anything after I was done. I shouldn’t have been so lazy. I did hydrate however.

The next few days were a blur. The weekend was about supporting Rich and dance games and feeding my recovery. I lost about 8 pounds of water. I knew it was water because my clothes all fit the same heh. Also my ankle was now completely fine for whatever reason that I just don’t question. Megan ended up finishing her 50k and her ankle is doing well too. I did some walking on Saturday the day after to loosen up and add some miles to GVRAT (Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee). Sunday through Wednesday, I did walks and recovered.

And then just like that, I went up to Devil’s Lake Thursday with Rich for his MWS100k and did over 7 miles to start off my double trouble experience: both the 100k and 100 miler. That was the first time I ran since the 100k, and it felt ok. Labored, but ok. We decided to explore the Ice Age Trail Merrimac segment. What better way to start the Midwest States 100 miler virtual event than at random and on the IAT? I headed down to the lake after the run to take my first open water swim of the year. It wasn’t bad at all. Though the water was 72 degrees and bit chilly hah. You’d think I’d want to be submerged in 72 degree water after a hot prairie run, but nope. I’ll take a creek though, or over 78 degrees! Now I was in over my head. I was committed now. My actual mileage that day was 8.28 miles. I knew power hiking was going to happen for my 100 mile stretch, just like any 100, you will walk. Why would this be any different? I needed to play it smart. I needed to keep my body in close check, turning right off of the 100k all at once.

Friday, I joined Megan on some new to me IAT segments hunting down Fast Coree as he
made his final progress towards the Ice Age Trail FKT he had started before I did my 100k and before I did my runs up north on the IAT! He had been running and moving 30+ miles/day since then. We managed a few miles with Coree before he became fast again. It was a hot day no mistake, but I met with two others who had done the MRST FKT (I did mine unsupported), and they were great people to be around. Turns out the young girl was from my hometown in Virginia and also training for Bigfoot 200! Props to her.

Having fallen behind Coree, I noticed that when we turned the corner on the bugline path he was off trail (as bugline parallels the IAT right there). I ran at a 7 min/mi pace to try and catch him. I was SO tired that this was quite the mini mission. I caught him and yelled at him, getting him on the right path. I felt like I did a good. And now I was tired! My legs did not have the juice left for that pace right now. It was entertaining though!
With the miles done and being spent, Megan and I set up some chairs and chilled a bit before heading to our respective homes. I ended up with 15.75 miles for the day. At this point, I had planned to do a marathon with Megan to finish off my miles on day 10, which allowed me to do slightly less than 10 miles/day. Epic foreshadowing.

Day 3, and still no plan of what I was really doing each day, I meandered throughout the day, getting in miles when I could. This proved to be complicated as I had to do a lot of time math averaging and addition/subtraction. My legs and body felt fine at this point. I ended up doing an 8 miler with Rich.

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Soaking through.

I knew it was supposed to be stormy that day, so I tried to get out early. This meant skipping breakfast (bad) and not having enough water for the run (bad). We got out and it immediately started pouring rain. I thought we had it beat. But we made the most of it, as Rich got another run for his MWS100k. Uninspired by being wet, I showered and called it a day at 8 miles. The next few days would be about playing dodgeball with the weather. At this point, I am guessing not many people knew what I was doing. I was at an all time high of miles for 2 straight months, and my body was taking a beating.

104433797_265496501381429_1721011604978519000_nDay 4, was a hot one, and I took it in several pieces. I bathed in the sun, heading down for
some road miles on brand new pavement. Rich stuck with me. Fast miles though! I ended
with 13.72 for the day.

Day 5, just 6. It was at this point I was still planning the marathon on day 10. I was at 50 total miles anyway half way done. No big deal right? I did my neighborhood loop on the gloomy, rainy day, and avoided the worst part of the rain. But I melted under the humidity and only 70 degrees.

I was thirsty and this is when I knew I had to keep drinking a lot. I just wasn’t staying hydrated anymore. I was behind somehow. It was like a real race, I just got behind and I felt like catching back up was impossible.

Day 6, I did the neighborhood loop again, opposite direction. I decided I needed to power
hike. So I did it over lunch. Melted again under the clouds and humidity. I later added another loop near the town from home adding another 3.5 miles but ran these. Rich was with me again, and the storm blew in finally. 105604125_307925670375399_3162989974987480704_n The last mile we rushed really hard to get what we could in, but then saw our trash cans blowing away and sprinted to save them. I ended day 6 with 9.55 miles.

Day 7. I opted to do a workout I made for myself to put some speed on. But my body certainly didn’t like it. I finished it early with about 5 more miles. I went out for a recovery hike. Rich still needed his last few miles (he was finishing his today, a day early), so I decided to go out with him to MRST. Lo and behold AGAIN, another storm was blowing in. We saw the ominous clouds in the distance and decided to head out to beat it. I beat myself into a fast 5k to polish off the day with 11.86 miles.

We made it back to the car, wind whipping around us (seemed to be a theme now), and drove home. He then finished his miles there as I porch-watched the clouds move on. So much for the storm, it really blew over haha. But I wasn’t feeling confidence in my ability to run anymore safely. I felt some niggles in various places…including the front of my shins feeling numb, the back of my left calf feeling sparky (only thing I can describe it as), and my right hip feeling sore. I was off balance in some way and forcing more fast miles or even running miles was probably unwise. Taking the marathon off the menu now gave me an issue. I had to make up some miles now and really hit that 10 miles per day now. And I knew they would be slow. The ironic part of all this is that I was 70+ miles into the 100 miles in 10 days now, and this is probably how I would feel at mile 70. The exception was, the danger of something getting injured in this was much higher than a fleeting race moment.

Day 8, I took a step back. It was Thursday again, and in Pokemon Go that means the nests
have changed (pokemon change nests on every other Wednesday), and my common places to play are within walking distance technically (to an ultra runner haha). I went out with the mission to see what nests were out at the Library, the Badger Prairie Park, the Park and Ride, and Ceniti Park. I would do a giant loop and take my time with purpose. I ended up with 8 miles for the loop. I did a few more outings where I would pressure the power hike, but back off when I felt it was too much giving my body appropriate breaks and recovery fuels. I ended the day with 11.4 miles.

Day 9, Pokemon Go became my go-to to keep my occupied with my hikes. I really pushed the power hike for 5 more miles, hitting the coveted 15 min/mi walk. Though this was probably a little too much pressure now. I backed off the next few times I went out to grab the 7.53 miles for the day. I had finally added up enough miles for the final day to be easier.

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Day 10, Saturday was a fine day to end on. Though if I had planned it better, Sunday would have been ideal. Saturday, Kim (yes the one from earlier) had 50k on the docket. I went out for my hike at the local park, and kept in touch with Kim. I decided to meet Kim out on the MRST, it was hot, I knew she wouldn’t be too fast for me. I wanted to help. This was going to be a huge mental day for her and I wanted to be a part of it. I headed out to meet her at her turn around at 15 miles in Barneveld. She was to go from Riley to Barneveld and back again…and in the middle of one of the hottest days we’ve had to endure. The sun was brutal that day. This was the same place she had met to pace me for my 100k, seems to just went full circle here! We trudged out east like we had before. I was able to go 6.75 miles with her that day and I got to coach in person again! But we talked about everything. It just felt like a good time. She went on without me finishing strong that hot 50k day and I was done…oddly enough on Military Ridge State trail where I had started this whole double trouble mess. Fitting. 10.19 for the final day.

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I came out the other side, no injures to speak of, but I am giving my body a cool down from high mileage. I succeeded in my efforts…both of them combined for a grand total of 162.2 miles at least…though I did 2.29 more miles than needed. I finished the 100 miler in 23 hours, 11 minutes, and 20 seconds (also accounts for the additional mileage, I’m too lazy to figure out the exact time for 100 miles to the dot). If this is true, the combined time is 37 hours 6 minutes and 24 seconds for 164.5 miles. Which is pretty amazing that it beats the time it took me to go 103ish miles at my first ever 100 at Cloudsplitter (40 hour cut off) of 39 hours! I have enough training to do a 200 miler now but no where to do it and no races to try it.

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I will say that I truly understand right now the meaning of “training to the point you could break and not going over that line”, and I feel like I can feel that line, touch it, but I am walking away from it now. I am proud of myself. Could I have done the 100 better had I not done the 100k? Sure, absolutely. I could have done a lot more faster. But this was about the challenge of both and being able to come out stronger the other side.
Though at this point, I don’t question whether I have it in me to do a 200 miler now. I also will point out that doing 13.1 every day for a week was indeed harder than 100 miles over 10 days, and 100 over 10 days was far less daunting mentally, though it had its moments. Doing the half marathon a day thing made me wish it was just all at once, though spreading it over just 3 more days helped significantly. I do want to try the either 5k/day or 10k/day for speed sometime soon when I am recovered since I figure I will need to keep coming up with challenges for myself with races out this year possibly, and me wanting to fully enjoy every single moment of summer with traveling not on the plate. I love to travel and was looking forward to it this winter, to escape this winter oblivion. I do not think that will happen. It will make me thirst for more though. I will get stronger in the meantime. But I assure you the crazy builds up and needs releasing. It will eventually come out.

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I’ve always wanted to do something with Race Directing but not sure how to go about it, as I have no money for it, and probably not enough experience. However, I go about planning my solo long runs as if it is a race, hoping to give myself experience and find out what I did wrong, or how it could be better. I am testing myself! And I enjoy the logistics of it so very much. I love taking the time to plot out the route, figure out the miles and aid stops, the timing and difficulty. I would love to share that some day with others. I try to learn from the very best. So what’s next? That’s always going to be the question. I was training for the Badger 100 August 1 st . However, I have huge hunch with the way things are going, the permits will get pulled and I am no longer betting on that happening in any regard.

Like I said before, I hold 100 milers in a special place only in races, although doing a 200 miler solo has crossed my mind. After Badger, I was supposed to pace and crew at Leadville, and that has been canceled already. Kettle 100k got pushed to the end of September, though I still don’t have high hopes for that one, I will be ready. After that was Hennepin 100, my backup 100 miler in case Badger didn’t work out for my sub 24 hour goal. I have more confidence that Hennepin would happen over any others before it. After that, I am supposed to do the Georgia Death Race in November, but the jury is out whether I will do that or not now, and might ask to just do it on my own to remain safer and out of the way of people and excessive travel. Though even that might not be an option. In this world, you can’t trust anyone to do the right thing for each other, so I don’t have much motivation to go out into a world of strangers who don’t respect my health. Winter will probably kill me, as I try to figure out what to do. I know I will
recover well, but I don’t want my physical fitness I have built since last year to fade away. It’s a tricky situation. I am not comfortable going to the gym and probably won’t for a very very long time. I don’t have a treadmill at home. Times might change here people, will having a treadmill at home be a new norm for me?! FOR ME?! Tell me it ain’t so. I will wait and see.

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Next looks more promising as of right now, and I’m sure I will have a blast going back and reading this in the future to see where I was mentally with the situation and what actually transpired in real time! So you may not agree with my science and my viewpoints and how I am personally handling the pandemic, but I am doing what is right for me and others and taking care of my mental health. The only bullet to my mental health has been all the “taking sides” when there is proven science and people on the front line LITERALLY sharing their experiences of what’s going on without the filter of the news media. But even the media isn’t hiding much. The biggest bullet will be winter 2020. I greatly fear what will keep my occupied and how to use exercise as an outlet to my excessive energy. Pandemic or not, winter is always a huge downer.

So onward with GVRAT and Coyote Summer 400! 400 miles in 2 months, I’ve already done it for 2 months, and now I value walking and hiking so much more, adding to my daily strength! Let’s make it official. The summer of virtual races is here, you can join in and have something to do, and something to support, or not. Support your local RS’s. The provide work for other too, like buying shirts and medals who are businesses too. We are a larger community than you would think.

ONE MONTH UPDATE. So I wrote this almost a month ago. Since then, Kettle and IAT 50 have been cancelled (July 24), Badger is cancelled and I have signed up for the virtual 100 as a training run and to help Rich with his virtual 100k. GDR, I would have preferred to switch to virtual but I am seeing that may no longer be possible. I will not be traveling for that race, as sad as it is. I am aiming for a long FKT at the end of August (thus the 100 miler training run), and am terrified and excited. I am sure there will be another blog soon.

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