Sunday, June 08, 2008

Joe's MC200 Trip Report

We ran the MC 200 this weekend, running 203 miles from Madison to Chicago, via Milwaukee. For some reason, at 2 a.m., hearing a guy on one of the ultra teams say, "Yeah, Madison to Chicago, but via Milwaukee?" just really cracked me up. Anyway, here's what I think of the trip...

I actually got to Chicago last Friday evening (May 30th), because I had a wedding in Madison on Saturday. So I drove up to Madison Friday night, spent Saturday and Sunday morning with friends from college at the wedding, and on Sunday afternoon, drove back to Chicago to spend the week with team member Lauren and her husband, who I've been friends with for years now. We had a fun week hanging out, and on Thursday at 1 pm, Lauren and I ended up at the rental car place to meet Chicago Megan, Al, and Caroline. We get the car and head to the airport to pick up Shaun. I tried calling him when we were on our way over to see if he had landed yet, and his voicemail message starts off, "Hello?...[pregnant 2 second pause]" then goes on to say leave a message. So of course the first time I get the voicemail, I say, "Hey Shaun," then realize my mistake. And then I do it the second time 10 minutes later. So when I try again maybe 15 minutes later and he answers, I say "Hey Shaun," and Lauren, who is driving, literally says, "If you're screwing with me, so help me, I'll hit you." We pick up Shaun and we're on the way up to Madison.

We had dinner Thursday night with Mark and the Ames van (Danielle, Ames Megan, and Chris). Tim arrived late Thurs night, so he missed team dinner. Dinner was fun, and we headed back to the hotel to hang out and crash.

Friday morning we woke up, ate breakfast, watched it pour like it was the end of the world, then clear up, and finally Van 1 (Ames Megan, Lauren, Chris, Al, and Tim) took off at 11 a.m. We in Van 2 went grocery shopping, ate lunch, and headed off to the first van exchange.

About 45 minutes before Tim (runner 6) arrived at the exchange to hand off to Danielle (runner 7), they called a weather delay because of thunderstorms somewhere in Wisconsin (apparently it was within 12 miles of one of the exchanges behind or in front of us, but we never saw any rain or thunder/lightening, just lots of wind). Danielle only had to wait about 20 minutes, after the hand off, though, and they lifted the hold and she was off and running.

The first 5 in our van ran well, and eventually it was my turn, bringing up the rear.

Leg 12
Time of day: Approx 7 p.m.
Distance: 6.35 miles
Time of run: 61 minutes

In the first 5 minutes of this run, I was passed by 4 people. The first guy was going about 8 min/mi, the second guy running 7 min/mi, the third guy doing about 8 min/mi, and the fourth guy going about 8:15 min/mi. So of course, while I was hoping to set a 9:30 pace and just get through my first leg, I was a dumbass and chased the last guy, so I did the first half of the leg averaging around 8:30 min/mi pace. The team met me about halfway with water. About half a mile after I left them, I promptly got sick, threw the water up, walked for a few minutes, then slowed down a little with the run and finished alright. At this point, I disclosed to Danielle that I hadn't been able to really keep food down since Thursday morning. I didn't really want to worry anyone, so I didn't say anything about not feeling well.

We went to dinner, then to the next van transfer point, a high school somewhere in Wisconsin, where we tried to sleep for about 90 minutes in a gym that was approximately 1000 degrees. Unfortunately, since it was like 10:30 pm when we arrived, I was in no way tired enough to sleep, so I laid there until it was time to head out on the next set of legs. Shortly after midnight, Danielle set off on her second leg, and our van was on course again.

Leg 24
Time of day: 4:40 a.m.
Distance: 4 mi
Time: 35:30

The sun started to rise around 4:15 a.m., which kind of weirded me out, and Danielle and I lamented that I was once again unable to run a dead-of-night run, which I commented on wanting to do way back in '06 during the WWR. I was feeling a bit weak b/c I still couldn't eat, but the weather was really nice and the sunrise was very pretty, so I was off to the races. I finished a pretty uneventful leg around 5:15 a.m., changed into some dry clothes, and immediately fell asleep in the lobby of a church, getting a pretty solid 2 hrs 15 min of sleep. At 8 a.m. we got up, and around 8:30, we hit the road heading to the last van transfer.

While at the final van transfer, we had a nice long chat with our "nemesis" team from the race, team 26 (I never actually looked at their team name). We saw and talked to them at every exchange. They were really cool, and it's always fun to be "race buddies" with another team. Thankfully, this time they were the same age as us, as opposed to WWR two years ago, where our nemesis team were the Sunflower Striders, a team whose average age was 52, and were all awesome runners (8 of the 12 of them ran the Pikes Peak marathon the week after WWR that year).

Our last set of legs was in the middle of the day, and it was ridiculously hot. Like crazy, hell on earth, what the fuck is this all about it's been a really cool spring and summer wasn't here 3 days ago god must hate us hot. Everyone in our van were total bad-asses, running in this stupid sick weather. Eventually, around 3:40 p.m., we rolled into the exchange where I'd be starting my last leg. The runner before me got a little lost, and rolled into the exchange about 2 minutes after they halted the race because of weather. There were thunderstorm warnings, tornado watches, tornado warnings, thunderstorms, hail, and apparently even tornadoes (though luckily none near us). When the first waves of thunderstorms and torrential rain rolled through, I was counting myself lucky because if I had started before the halt, I would have been in the middle of this crap. The weather delay lasted so long that we assumed they were going to cancel the race, because they said there was a hard finish of 7 p.m. that they couldn't get the city to let them use the finishing point any longer than. At 5:45, they say that they're going to let us run, and at 5:50, there is a mass start of 50 runners trying to make it to the end in 70 minutes.

Leg 36
Time of day: 5:50 p.m.
Distance: 7.47 mi
Time: 83 min

We started out under the "threat" that we had to finish in 70 minutes, though I think everyone knew they weren't going to close the finish and say, "Sorry, we know we didn't let you run b/c of the weather, but you missed it, better luck next time," so the goal was just to make it to the end. I fell into a run-2-minutes-walk-1-minute routine, as I was still feeling pretty queasy. About 50 minutes in, it started pouring, and I ran in basically a monsoon for a little over half an hour. There was a ton of lightening south of me, but none above me, thankfully, so I just kept grinding. I made it to the finish, and six of my team members were there to greet me, though since they were all in dry clothes, I knew they were hiding in the van until I arrived.

I crossed the finish line, and we headed to the vans and took off to go eat and sleep. I went back to Lauren's place, ate some soup that her husband was kind enough to pick up for me before I got there, did a load of laundry, and fell asleep with their dogs on the couch.

I slept from about 10 p.m. until 8:30 a.m. this morning, when I got up to get ready to head to the airport to come home. My flight was delayed a few hours today, but eventually I got home. I am slowly starting to feel better; I ate the soup last night, had a plain bagel at the airport this morning, and my stomach was feeling ok, so hopefully I'm on th emend.

The race was a lot of fun. I really enjoy these relays. It feels like a special kind of stupid to want to do this to yourself, running 3 times in 24 hours, not sleeping, eating crap if anything at all, being outside, but I'm ready for the next one.

Pictures will follow soon. Thanks to everyone here on the blog for the support, and to all the teammates for the fun weekend.

Edited 2 hours after posting: I meant to mention that this weekend taught me two lessons that I had previously sort of academically understood, but never really grasped fully in the way that experiencing them drives home:
  1. On game day, you run rain or shine, whether it's 10 degrees out or 100 degrees out.
  2. After all that training, even if you're sick, it's what you spent all that time preparing for, so you just go out and do your best. Finishing under those circumstances is its own reward, even if you barely crawl across the finish line.


Megan said...

Ah yes, but few people are afflicted with our "special kind of stupid" so it makes us unique. Frankly, I could see myself getting addicted to these....

I had a blast, glad to hear the stomach is on the mend.

Wendy said...

Excellent work! (Glad to hear you're feeling better.)

Jenny Davidson said...

The rules for the half-Iron-distance triathlon I just did say that locomotion on the run course has to be via run, walk or crawl!!!!

Joe said...

jenny: that's totally awesome. and somewhat worrisome that they feel the need to mention it. :)