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Staying Upright

Trail runs demand more attention to staying upright than a race on pavement. While a bloody knee and a dirt covered shirt  can be a badge of honor, a broken arm or a head injury can be a problem. Weather forecasts for the Glacial 50k in the Northern Kettle Moraine on October 14th called for rain. A lot of rain. And 50 degree temps. Not ideal running conditions, but it was the same for all of us. As I made my way to the start line, I chatted with the many friends I’ve made in the Ultra Running community about how to handle the conditions. The theme of the day was to back off on the speed a little bit and don’t take risks. The Race Director says “Go!” and we are off. I was pretty much soaked through to the bone by mile 2 or 3 but still comfortable. As a matter of fact I considered dropping my light jacket because I was getting a bit warm. As you will see later on, I am glad I didn’t. The course was an out and back, so once we got to the turn around we knew we were at halfway. The first 12 miles or so, I ran with Raul, A friend that is part of a running club we both belong to. We maintained a nice pace, and as we got closer to the halfway point, started seeing the faster runners on their way back. I unconsciously increased my pace as I got excited each time a friend went by.  All the encouragement really gets a fella going! Then we came into the aid station, and were greeted by a raucous group of friends yelling Tom! Raul!  Having friends at the aid stations is a real motivator. At this point, the rain was steady, sometimes it rained buckets for a few minutes, other times less so. But it always rained.  After the turn around , I pretty much ran alone the rest of the way. The trail conditions were awful. Mud, puddles, rocks and leaves. Footing was always tenuous, I never did fall, but had many close calls. The rain got worse, and the temps dropped. As I ran , with my head down, I thought about a nice hot bath. And soup. I just did not want to be where I was at that time. I knew the last aid station was 7 miles from the finish, and I hadn’t even gotten to that point yet. I knew those last seven miles would take a while, and I was in a grumpy mood when I finally stumbled in to it. As I got to the tent, Angela, another friend from the running club, reached out to take my water bottle. I mistook this gesture, and shook her hand, which must have seemed odd to her. After Angela filled my bottle, Melinda and Jodie (yes, more friends) encouraged me to eat, but I mumbled something, grabbed a pickle and left. Although I think I may have come across as ungrateful, I was just not in my normal talkative mood. The volunteers take time to stand in this crappy weather and listen to a bunch of idiots complain about running around in the woods, but we truly appreciate the support they provide. Whether it was the pickle or just seeing some friendly faces, my pace picked up. For awhile. With 3 miles to go the wind and rain picked up and I started to get the chills. I slogged thru the last bit and kind of wandered into the finish line. I was surprised at my time of 6 hours and 23 minutes, figuring the conditions would have really slowed me down more than that. Looking back, running alone, in the rain and slop, you learn a lot about yourself. Mainly that I’m nuts.

This year I completed three 50k races and another 50k fundraiser for MSruntheUS. I enjoyed each and every one and look forward to next year, when I look to attempt my first 50 miler. I still have one short 5k left this year, but the longer runs will wait until 2013.

In the meantime, there have been some new developments on the MS front: Gilenya has shown in early testing to reduce brain atrophy in MS patients after 6 months of treatment, Novel is infusing B cells back into the body as way of treating MS. Both of these as well as many others are under development right now, and with your help they can continue to be developed into viable treatment one day, soon. I appreciate any and all donations and hope you continue to follow my blogs about running and our fight for a cure for MS.

  • by thomasschiessl
  • posted at 6:27 PM
  • October 21, 2012