January 23, 2011

Winter Wolf 2011 - Race Report

Long time, no posts. After 3 injuries and nearly 10 months of no running, I thought I'd begin again with my first race report. Here goes...

Winter Wolf 2011 is in the books. It was my second time running the race and my second time winning the race. WOOT!! 

A brief description - this 15 mile race is run at night in the middle-of-nowhere Michigan. Most of the running surface is snow and ice covered two-track and dirt roads. There is a small section of wooded trail and also some paved roads. Head lamps and tail lights are required...

This year was much more brutal than last. My time was 13 minutes slower than last year’s result. Part of it was less training (only had about 1 ½ months of running after almost 10 months off), but I think most of it was the conditions. It was MUCH colder this year (single digit air temp with windchill below zero), and there was more snow on the ground. The two-track last year was very runnable. This year – not so much. There were quite literally only two narrow tire tracks to run in and the ground in those tracks was uneven and took total concentration. It was quite the balancing act – like trying to run on a tightrope. I can only imagine what I would have looked like to a passerby stumbling down the lane as fast as I could with arms flailing around!

Once off the two-track and onto roads, the conditions improved considerably. I never would have thought I'd be so happy to get onto pure, clear ice! Kahtoola microspikes saved the day again! (Had to get in another plug!) The road running was fairly easy and here I was finally able to relax a bit and get into a running groove, have a GU or two (once they warmed up in my mitten for a few minutes – they were almost frozen!) and take a drink.

Thank GOD the creek was frozen this year. I had a helluva time crossing that wobbly plank last year due to my fear of heights. The plank was there again, but it wasn’t necessary. I wasn’t going to test the frozenness of the creek at first, but as it turned out, my clumsy feet made the decision for me. As I was moving down the slope toward the plank, I lost my balance and my legs, of their own accord and to keep me from falling, steered me right on to the ice!! ACK!! That would have ended badly any other year…

My lack of training caught up with me between miles 11 and 12. I could feel fatigue and the desire to walk (or just stop) creep in. This was when the race became a mental battle. I am happy to say I won that battle. I did allow myself to slow a bit, but refused to walk. I searched frantically for autopilot, found it, and focused on something else (anything else!) besides the pain. It worked. It also made me realize I have a lot of work ahead of me to get ready for Detroit this fall. I have a lot of time though!

I did a good job choosing running gear for the race because I was entirely comfortable the whole time. I had three layers on my core and arms including a fleece layer and wind-resistant jacket, two layers on my legs with mid-weight running tights and windpants over them, a wool hat with facemask and a hood. My Outdoor Research mittens kept my hands toasty and Smartwool socks rocked my happy feet. Did I mention I wore my Kahtoola microspikes? My only reminders of how cold it really was came when my water turned to slush (which was completely predictable) and when I found I could not talk at the end of the race. My lips were not in my control! lol!

The best part about races like this is meeting up with friends and there were plenty there! Perhaps not as many as last year, but the ones who showed were quality (that’s for you, Mark) and hardcore!! What an awesome race!!

Oh, and I learned a very important fact – banana skin will turn completely brown when it gets cold enough. I started with a yellow banana and by the end of the night after sitting in my Subaru – brown, all brown. Poor thing.

 Photo of my overall female award and Matty's 2nd in AG award

No comments:

Post a Comment

"Cats are like greatness: Some people are born into cat-loving families, some achieve cats, and some have cats thrust upon them." -William H. A. Carr

red's 2011 race schedule