Monday, August 20, 2012

Marquette 50 Race Report 2012

4th annual race in Marquette, Michigan and this is the 3rd time I've done it.  First two times in 2009 and 2010 I was around 5:20 and 5:40 but this time it was 6:03!!

Friday - drive to Marquette, set up tent in campground, lights out about 11pm with the family after some pasta salad and hydration.

Saturday - up at 5:40am, drink some coffee on my sweet Batch Stovez, stove. ( then a Clif bar and a banana.  Kinda full.  Get race gear on, fill water bottle and walk over to the start about 6:15am.  Nice thing about Tourist Park is that you can camp within 200 yards of the start line.  Warmer than expect 58 degrees is perfect.  I start with a long sleeve wicking shirt, but strip down to just shorts by mile 3.  Nice easy paved start for 1.5 miles, then ski trail, smooth and easy, then under the 550 bridge, and out on the Noquemanon trail past ROTC rock.  About mile 4, just over the railroad tracks things get interesting.  The north country trail here is the most rocky rooty climb for about 3-4 miles that any human has had to endure.  Luckily it was light out enough and legs are fresh enough that it was ok.  Mile 5 mark is an aid station (forestville) then more single track and tough rocky areas until 10 miles at Sugarloaf.    On this single track I broke away from a group of 5 runners just ahead of me to make up some time for my stops in the bushes.  Hammered the single track up and down and boardwalks over marshy areas pretty hard.  I felt like i was really moving.  Came out onto the road (550) and looked ahead and the first woman was just in front of me.  Then, about 10 seconds later, a bit more nausea and another trip to the bushes.  While there 3 of the guys I thought I had dropped passed me back!  CRAP.

Finally the 500 foot climb to the top, one guy had to stop half way up (passed him).   Several hundred stairs later we had a nice view.  The pic above is the view to the northwest where you will end up after going down the backside of the "mountain."  At the top I was about 20 yards behind a guy in red.  He reached the top and immediately turned right.  As he did I thought "They must have changed the course as we usually go left."  Well, when i got up there I looked and the markers clearly showed we should have turned left.  Don't know where the other guy was going but didnt see him again.  (after the race the director, Andrew, said someone complained about poor course markings and getting lost several times -- believe me the trail was marked PERFECTLY.  Orange flags every 200 yards and much closer in trickier areas, well done Joe and Andrew)

The trail down is really rough and rocky and downright dangerous if you stumble, so be slow and cautious.  Finally at the very bottom you can really turn it loose and get some speed down to the lakeshore.  Off in the distance you can see "little presque" point/island just offshore.  You will run right by it on the NCT in a few more miles.

After the shoreline section past little presque the trail crosses 550 road and covers some nice single track and an aid station before hitting "bareback mountain."  This tough climb is over shear slick granite rock outcroppings and is NOT runnable, just walking/hiking it works just fine.  Finally some rough, seldom used single track on the side of a pond take you to the old railroad grade and the "top of the world" loop. 

At this point I was feeling a little low.  I knew I wanted to walk much of the climb but forgot that the actual climb doesnt start for a mile or so.  In simple laziness i walked some flats and just tried to conserve energy since we were only about 19 miles in with 13 to go.  This is a tough climb, great view and FAST downhill.  I was careful not to go to fast up, lots of walking, and not too fast down (dont blow quads).  Kept refueling and drinking and was feeling good here after some nausea earlier.

Almost immediately after a short 1.5 mile single track connector its up Hogsback (pictured above)  What a brutally beautiful tough climb on some serious rock.  Hand over hand tough and at least 700 feet vertical in less than a mile.  TOUGH.  You climb up the face of it and it KILLS your hamstrings, and when its at mile 26 of a 32 mile race its hard going.  All the way up and then down the same front side but over south just a bit.  Problem is, you can't use all the elevation you gained because going down is dangerous too!!  Slow going over talus and scrabble and rock ledges on your butt.  Fun stuff.  finally down you hit single track then a connector to the last aid station. 

Finally 4.5 miles to the finish over same god foresaken single track of rooty rocky deliciousness and you're home.  At this point i was totally cooked, and only going on the idea that there was only 40 minutes of suffering left.  Unfortunately 40 minutes turned into 52 minutes with lots of walking and stumbling on the dowhill rocky sections.   6 hours 3 minutes of brutal Upper Michigan torture.

thanks to Andrew Grosvenor and Joe Jameson for a truly yooper toughness inspired event.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Grand Island Trail Marathon 2012, the 8th edition

Well, its in the books, the 2012 edition of the Grand Island Trail Marathon.  Although undertrained, it was still a great experience and I continued my string of 8 consecutive races here without missing a year.  I've always wanted a race that i could say "I did all of them!" - and this will be it.  I will continue to do them until Jeff Crumbaugh is dead or I am dead.  My wife says hopefully neither happens.

Got to the start on the 6am ferry and was FREEZING COLD, teeth chattering, muscles shivering.  Fueled up my race belt, got some water and decided to head out on a quick 1-2 mile warmup just to get some blood flowing.  Went up the road to the first right turn, headed out past tennis courts (interesting to see on a wilderness island) and the few houses on the main road by the dock.  About 6 minutes out I rounded a turn to the spot where the houses end and what is coming towards me??????? a small black BEAR!!!!!!!  Awesome.  He stopped, looked at me, and ran off into the woods.  Pretty cool.  Have seen bear 3 times out running and all have been in the UP.  So, i turned around and headed back to the start, not scared, just figuring that the adrenaline had warmed me up enough.

Race - mile 1 in 8:20 was ok, felt good.  But from 2-10 i felt like crap, just not feeling good.  Kept hydrated, fueled with GU and gel blocks.  About mile 12 I was running with two gals who were NMU grads (like me) and I started to feel better.  Picked up pace and passed maybe 6-8 people.  Mile 16 they have the bridge in so the beach section was omitted, nice touch, making it easier.  Mile 17-19 downhill and I passed another 3-4 people.  Held my own up the hill at mile 20 with some walking then caught Jeff Gaft at mile 21 or so.  We went back and forth just chatting and running together to the end when he pulled away to catch a guy he thought was in his age group.  3:56 and change, exactly 9:00 per mile, and 39th place.

I had fewer miles and ZERO speedwork for this race.  Fewer  miles than I've ever had for a marathon but I finished respectfully and by today (Wed) i feel great.  No muscle soreness really at all after the race and today I ran 11 miles.  In 17 days I have a tough 50k so will just keep the mileage up now and then really rest in the days before the next race. 

Pics below are from our week of camping in the Munising, Michigan area the week of the race.

This is Grand Island, with a perimeter of 26.2 miles it is the perfect place for a July marathon, the cooling breezes of the largest freshwater lake in the world are amazing.

Miles and miles of beaches with shipwrecks and relics everywhere.

Miners Castle, one of the most photographed places in the state taken from 4 miles away during our day on Sand Point beach.

Crystal clear water usually around 55degF, but in Munising bay its been up to 72F = good swimming for our kids.