Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Project Warm Race 1 - Dances with Dirt 50K 071010
This was my first race dedicated to Project Warm. I had decided to run the 50 mile race in Devil's Lake, WI. The race is called Dances with Dirt. I knew it was going to be tough but I didn't think it was going to be as difficult as it was. We had 6 members from our Life Time Fitness Running club coming to run this race and they also camped out with us the night before. Picture from left to right, Chuck, Kamil, Robin, Anastasia, Mike and myself.
A month before I had decided to take a camping trip with my family so that they could be having fun while I was running the race, and maybe they could see me running at some point. We camped out in Baraboo Hills Campground in Baraboo, WI. The campground was located 25 minutes away from the start of the race so it was perfect to stay there and not have to wake up so early to start our race.
Saturday July 10th, we woke up at 4 a.m. to get ready and we were at the starting location by 5:15 a.m. I was already concern about my lower back since I was having some issues since 3 or 4 weeks before and I am sure sleeping on a inflatable mattress was not ideal for my back. Regardless of my back problems, I was so excited to be there running my second 50 mile race of the year. It was so great to have my best friend Anastasia there running with me, along with the rest of my great friends that I mentioned above.
We started running exactly at 5:30 a.m.
Leg 1 is called "ski trip", it is 4.5 miles long and it has an elevation of 970ft and you descend exactly the same elevation, so your legs feel it right away from the start of the race.
Leg 2 is called "into thin air", this is 4.2 miles long and it has an elevation of 850ft and it descends 440ft. Here is when we get a chance to run some of the beautiful single Ice Age trail.
Leg 3 is called "rave run", this is a short 1.5 mile run where you get to take a chance on elevation with only 100ft and it descends 220 ft. nice chance to take a little break.
Leg 4 is called "swirling the bowl", this is 3.7 miles long with 320ft elevation and it descends 500ft SO it may look like you are not going up a lot but going down is not much easier on your legs as you may think.
Leg 5 is called "Yo Yo", this is 3.2 miles long and it has an elevation of 638ft and it descends 496ft. They claim this is the time to catch our breath but it felt like we were always going up. This is when you start thinking is this heaven? or is this hell?
Leg 6 is called "the Burma road", this is 2.4 miles long of easy out and back shady gravel road. 190ft elevation and 190ft descend so it was nice an easy and it was the last time that I actually ran hard trying to catch my friends Anastasia and Robin. They were running about a mile ahead of me and I was able to see them for last time. I gave it a try but by the end I knew that my back was hurting horrible and probably the fact that I was running really hard here just finished the job.
Leg 7 is called "over the edge", this is 1.9 miles long. It has 490FT of elevation and it descends 290ft. the first half mile is off trail with terrible footing, a lot of rocks and easy to twist an ankle.
Leg 8 is called "no bluffin", this is only 2.2 miles long but it felt like the end of the world... The elevation here goes straight up 800FT and it descends 420ft, this is when my back was saying "NO MAS", no more... As soon as I got to the top of these rock steps, I wasn't even sure if I could continue. By now my lower back pain was horrible, I had taken some pain medicine but it didn't do anything for me.
Leg 9 is called "Hold/Fold", this is 1.6 miles long and the easiest leg of the race with only 90ft of elevation and 290ft to descend. This is decision point at this point we have covered 25.2 miles of the race and you can decide to drop from the 50 mile race to a 50K race (31 miles). At this point I was barely running, my back couldn't take the pain anymore. My legs were still in decent shape but the bouncing when running was killing me. I stayed here for about 3 minutes really thinking hard if I should continue and try for the 50 miles or just be happy to complete the 50K. I decided that my back was more important than my ego and trust me that was not an easy decision... My friends who continue to the 50 miler had to do legs 4 to 9 all over. for me it continues next.
Leg 10 is called " Rave run backwards", this is 1.5 miles and the elevation is 220 ft. we only descended 100ft so this was fairly nice. This was leg 2 going the opposite direction.
Leg 11 is called "yeah that's what I am talking about", this is 4.2 miles with 440ft of elevation but we did go down a lot 850ft descend, at this point I was totally done, i was almost just walking and even the downhills hurt like crazy, I just wanted to finish already. This was a sad moment for a few minutes for me. When I finished there was nobody waiting for me at the end because my family didn't know that I had dropped to the 50K. I have to admit that I did cry for a couple of minutes because I felt I had failed to finished the 50 miles. After a couple of minutes it became clear in my head that I should be proud of myself because I basically ran 27 of the 31 miles with lower back pain and I didn't stop, at the very least I finished a 50K ultra Marathon.
Leg 12 is called "ski trip", this is 4.5 miles and this is the end for my friends running the 50 miles. They had to run/walk uphill 970ft and that was after already having run 45 miles and the descend was also 970ft. What a brutal way to finish a 50 mile run but all my 5 team members did it. You guys are amazing!!!
I am so looking forward to going back next year and running the 50 mile race. I will always finish what I start. I promise you that thinking about Operation Warm is what kept me going with pain in my 31 mile run. Thinking that my running can help kids get a winter jacket this winter is something that is fueling my desire to train harder and go longer and take more pain... Please consider donating $20.00 to the Carpentersville Rotary Club so we can buy winter jackets for all the kids in need.
I hope this has given you an idea of what the Devil's Lake Ultra was all about and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping and if not I thank you anyway for reading my blog... God Bless you and your families...
Juan "the machine" Juarez