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Miles, miles, and more miles.

The line of runners snaked up the hill before me, chatting with excitement when I heard cries of surprise. What’s going on up there, we wondered? As the group I was running with began to ponder, we hit it. As if someone opened the oven door, we ran into a wall of heat. We came upon the exact line where cool morning air met the warm moist air halfway up the hill. This was only the beginning of the North Face 50k run through the Southern Kettle Moraine forest and Ice Age trail, what else awaited us?

Trail running can be unpredictable with rocks, roots, ruts and big uphills and fast downhills. The thought of injury creeps in at times from a bad fall or turning an ankle, but what the heck, there’s nothing like blasting down a hill full tilt like a little kid. Maybe letting out a whoop! every now and then. Thankfully, I stayed upright this day and settled into a nice pace until about mile 7 when, at a roadcrossing, I heard my brother bellow out encouragement. Well I had to speed up then! It was unexpected to see him there and it really helped to have his support. So after that, I settled back into my pace and ran alone for the most part for the next 10-12 miles. That gave me plenty of time to think. I went thru in my head how my wife Theresa seems to be keeping her MS at bay. I also thought about the brave face I know she puts on (ssshh, don’t tell her I know) when simple things aren’t so simple. Theresa still gets the shopping done, cooks, shuttles our daughter around and   gets small projects done around the house. Yet it is all done with a huge amount of effort as energy levels diminish, painful feet make long bouts of walking an effort, and probably other aches and pains she doesn’t admit to. I have to say, I feel guilty about romping through the woods like this, but I know she supports my running and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

By this time the course had wound its way onto a flat section of several miles, it’s here I decided to pick up the pace figuring it was time to make some hay. I came across many friends on the course, some running, many more working the aid stations and road crossings, all yelling encouragement. This is what trail races are about! I realized I was on pace to smoke my goal time of 6 hours by, 30 minutes, when doubt crept in as to whether I could maintain this pace. I began to tighten up in the hips at mile 24 or so, and realized the folly of a time of 5hrs and 30 minutes was just that, folly. Now my goal was to beat the 6 hour time and I was hurting the last two miles. With about a 1/4 mile to go, I used the last of the water in my water bottle to rinse the salt and grime from my face. I figured I would at least look better than I felt  when I crossed the line. I did beat my goal time, 5 hours and 51 minutes was the final outcome. I was thrilled.

Afterwords I met with my parents and the many friends I have met and looked forward to coming back the next day and volunteering at the Kids Race booth. Volunteering my time was great fun, and I look forward to being a part of many more races in one way or the other. It’s the best way I know to give back.

P.S.  On Oct 14th I will be running my 4th 50K of the year, at the Glacial 50 in Greenbush WI. Stay tuned for my race report and updates on some new developments in the treatment of MS, which has progressed with help from people like you, Thanks!

  • by thomasschiessl
  • posted at 5:33 PM
  • October 1, 2012