Going into this race I brought with me a whole lot of baggage in the form of self-doubt! This was to be my 1st solo event since the Fall 50 in October and I had a pretty disastrous training cycle over the winter. In talking with coach Nora (Team Bird Training) we adjusted my goal and went in with as much optimism as possible. Luckily Nora was going to be at Zumbro to help pace another Team Bird running (Patrick) and fellow Oiselle (Angela) in the 100. We were able to meet up the day before and talk strategy and she calmed my nerves. My brain was working overtime leading up to the start and my insecurities were piling up. After lunch, a walk, and nap it was time to head to the race and get the adventure of tackling my 1st trail 50 mile race underway.
I tend to get ahead of myself when I run and allow my negative thoughts to rule how I run while on course. In addition to the rough winter of training I was also nervous about taking on several firsts at Zumbro. This would be my 1st trail 50, 1st night race, 1st race after the Fall 50, and 1st race without my Uncle Guy. I know I have mentioned how great Nora is in previous blog posts, but I cannot accurately recount Zumbro without acknowledging her impact on my with this event. Her unwavering support and belief in my ability to do crazy shit is amazing. We headed to the start together and kept me calm even though in my head I was freaking out! Once we arrived at the start line we headed over to the camp site that Angela had set up. We had plenty of time to unpack and get ready before Angela came through. She was looking strong and a total rockstar! She later went on to crush her 1st 100 miler. She is one badass lady and inspiration!!!
The allure of Zumbro for me when I signed up was the night start. I had never run in the dark and wanted to try something new. Angela raved about Zumbro after she ran the 50 in 2016 and sent the link when registration opened for 2017. She was so right! The volunteers, organizers, and runners at Zumbro were so amazing. Everyone was so positive and helpful. When it was all said and done I was in pain, exhausted, and felt defeated, but I totally want to go back in 2018 because of the people at Zumbro!!!
I ran into Darrick at the start of the event, a fellow Wisco runner, who was taking on his 1st 50 miler. We chit-chatted at the start as the group waited for the a few 100 milers to get through the aid station and back onto the course. Patrick had come through at this time and was getting fixed up by Nora at our base camp. The plan was to pick him up on our way through and stick with him for a bit. He had been out grinding all day working to finish his 1st 100 miler. Before we knew it we were off, headed into the darkness and the unknown. We grabbed Patrick and then began our 1st climb. The congestion on the 1st hill forced us to slow down which was great…the sky was a unique collection of cloud cover and breathtaking. At the top of the hill it became apparent to me I was in for a challenge and the hill work I had done was nowhere near what I was about to encounter.
Loop #1 – My goal was to complete 2 loops. The darkness of night helped to reign in my race nerves and slow me down to a reasonable pace. There were portions of the course that were rocky, sandy, and steep. One step in front of the other was done with care. I did not realize until the race was over that I never started my music. I was focused on not falling…which I did, but only once. The aid stations were spread out between 3-7 miles each. The volunteers were funny and energetic, making each stop a mini party. Just before 5am we rolled into base camp. Darrick and I had stayed together on the 1st loop. We separated at the start line to go to our individual campsites and restock. I changed my socks and reapplied Trail Toes. There was a section of the course that was extremely sandy and I had picked up a lot of it in my shoes. I had low/no-show socks which was a problem. I had not grabbed my crew socks or gaiters and regretted that all day! Next year they will be the 1st thing I pack.
Loop #2 – It was still dark when we headed back out for our 2nd loop. I had changed out my lamp batteries which was a nice boost. The temperature was still pretty chilly (40 ish) so I kept my tights on, but ditched my vest. The sun would break an hour so into our 2nd loop and I did not want extra items to carry. Going into this loop I intended this to be my final loop. Nora and I had talked game plan and realistically knew that my lack of training might make it difficult to finish all 50 miles. I was ok with that and wanted to make the most of my last loop. The sunrise was something I could not have imagined, I was taken back by the beauty of the woods as everything comes awake in the early morning hours. Before I knew it I was done with loop 2. This one was a bit slower than the 1st loop, but that is to be expected after running 33 miles. I was ready to be done, but that is not what was about to happen. Nora and my husband patched me back up, loaded up my pack with gear, helped me shed a few layers and change my socks…then off I went for the last loop.
Loop #3 – From the minute I headed back into this loop I was not convinced that I was going to finish. I was tired and moving slow. Just before I left base camp I put a picture of my Uncle Guy holding me when I was a baby. If I was going to take on this last loop I wanted him to be with me. Tucking that picture in my hydration vest was the best decision I made that morning. I wanted to give up after the 1st climb, I wanted to give up after leaving the 1st aid station, I basically wanted to give up a lot! That is the funny thing about running…you want to quit often, but there will be things that happen that keep you moving. The last loop was filled with memories of my uncle. He loved nature and hunting. I was reminded of that and introduced to the beauty in a new way, through his eyes. When the sand portion of the course became unbearable Darrick and I talked about my Uncle. Guy never gave up, he was a fighter and endured far worse experiences than I was at Zumbro. The pain I was in did not compare to Guy’s realizing that focused my thoughts and pushed me forward. The last loop was daunting, the miles seemed to last forever, but there was still laughter and joy in the process of getting to the finish line. I cried at times throughout the last loop and was grateful for the ability to grieve in a way that I had been unable to all winter. Finishing the last loop of the Zumbro 50 I have never been so tired, but felt so free. In the misery I found myself again and made peace with the passing of my uncle.
Nora and my husband were at the finish waiting to collect my tired shell of a body. I gathered my medal and we headed back to the hotel. I needed a shower and nap…17+ hours of running as one of the toughest things I have done to date. Surprisingly I did not have a single blister and only walked away with a few scraps from my fall during the 1st loop. All-in-all this was epic adventure and great start to the 2017 season of racing. I am grateful for having Nora there to push me and my husband there to take care of me when I was tired and stumbling at the end of the race. Running may seem like a solo event, but it takes a great support system to get you to the end…I am blessed to have some of the best people in my corner helping me take on what seems like impossible challenges!
#BeKind #BeHappy #BeActive
Date – April 7, 2017
Finish Time – 17:21
Gear Used –
- Orange Mud Endurance Pack – With the race starting in the evening I knew that my vision would be skewed due to the darkness. I decided to go with the vest versus the HydraQuiver VP1 bottle system to have easy access to the hose attachment and not have to worry about dropping or filling my bottles in the darkness of the 1st night loop. The pack fits like a glove and allowed for me to carry everything I needed. I did not have to check gear drop bags or refill my vest several times, which was a huge time saver at aid stations.
- F4 Tech FitSok – My feet stayed dry, cool, and blister free. I did swap out my socks at each loop to dump out the sand that had collected due to the 2 mile stretch we hit mid loop. In retrospect I wish I had packed my CF2 TwistDye Crew that I wore at the NorthFace WI 50k or grabbed a pair of my Dirty Girl gaiters…lesson learned.
- Tailwind Nutrition – I filled my vest with 6 scoops of Mandarin Orange with 2L of water. I was able to refill my hydration bladder with water easily at base aid station after each 17 mile loop and mix up more Tailwind using the single portion sticks. I switched to Tropical Buzz (caffeine) on the last loop to help ward off exhaustion and the fact I had been awake for several hours. The boost helped to keep me upright and moving forward. In total I refilled my vest bladder 3 times and was sufficiently hydrated the whole race.
- Oiselle – The temps were in the low 40s when we starter at midnight. My goal was to layer with items I could easier take off and also carry until I finished the loop and could drop items at base camp. I started with black Aero, Wazelle short sleeve, team singlet, Lux hoodie, and Quill vest. I also wore a buff around my neck, a trucker hat, and light gloves. The temps continued to drop prior to sunrise. At the 2nd loop I shed my gloves and vest at base camp, but kept everything else on. In the 2nd loop the sun came out and temps got warmer. I was able to take my Lux hoodie off and easily store it in my pack. At the 3rd loop I switched into Distance shorts and replaced my Lux layer with the Vim jacket.
- Run Gum – I popped this in about 30 minutes before the start of the race. I also carried several packs with me in my hydration vest. I ended up sharing with quite a few runners along the way who were looking for a caffeine boost, but without the added liquid in their stomachs.
- Trail Toes Cream – I slather this stuff on before I put my socks on to prevent hot spots and repeated with every sock change at base camp. I also carried a small container with me and applied to scraps that I endured from the brush on the single portions of the course.
- Salt Stick Caps – My game plan did not change from my previous events…stay on a regular schedule with my salt tabs to prevent cramping. Worked like a charm.
- Altra Superior 3.0 – I’m a die hard zero drop shoe lover and could not wait to try the Superior 3.0 for this race. I had worn my Superior 2.0 all last year and needed to replace them. Like the 2.0 version the lightness and room made for a comfortable fit. The 3.0 fit more snugly than the 2.0 which came in handy with the numerous climbs and descents of the Zumbro course. After 50 miles I walked away with zero blisters! Considering I put these shoes on straight out of the box at the start of the race I count this as a huge win.
- Picky Bars – One of my big down falls at the Fall 50 was my lack of energy aka food intake. Getting sick early on was not an option at Zumbro. All said at Fall 50 I ate less than 2 Picky Bars, which was not enough. At Zumbro I ate 1/2 a bar every 45 minutes. I did not feel sick or low on energy throughout the race. In comparison to Fall 50 I felt much better and had the nutrition needed to power through for several more hours than at the Fall 50. Favorite flavors of the day ended up being: Need for Seed, Lauren’s Mega Nuts, and All-in-Almond.
- Goodr – I am a huge fan of fun, quirky running glasses…but I hate spending a lot of money on something I am probably going to lose or break. Stumbling upon goodr glasses last year was a win-win. I was able to step up my gear collection and find glasses that preformed as well as they looked – all at a reasonable price ($25). I wore my white Yetis for Zumbro once the sun broke in morning and the temps spiked.
- Black Diamond Spot Headlamp – I upgraded my headlamp before the race and purchased this from Amazon for $40. The 300 lumens worked amazing to keep my path lit up and visible in the pitch black night hours. On high power I was able to see clearly for 4 1/2 hours before I needed to change out the batteries (2 AAA). I found the band comfortable/light and remained in place even when I tripped and fell. The batteries were easy to change even though it was still dark out when I swapped them out. This was a great investment that I will be putting to good use in the near future…I really enjoyed running at night.