Elevation Range: 800' - 1590'............. Elevation Gain/Loss: 4150' ............ RESULTS
July 14, 2018 - As I wind down my racing career I still take pleasure in being able to feel good about running and not cripple around the course like a has-been that just won't lay down. I've had a good run of it and don't plan to stick around to steal the place of others far more capable than I on the starting line. But hey, they took my money and didn't say anything about my taking someone else's place, so once again I toed the line to test what I've got left.
This is the second of three Dances with Dirt events that I aim to scratch off my bucket list before I call it quits. Run partly on Wisconsin's 1200-mile scenic "Ice Age Trail" (which I've run on before) it is mostly a woodsy run at Devil's Lake State Park with a couple of cool forays along the bluffs above the lake. A forecast for rain never materialized, so it turned out to be a perfect day temperature-wise for crusing the trails.
Starting easy as always, I was surprised to see most of the rest of the field also started like it was just a group training run in the woods. Very few people took off ahead of me. Once I got into a rhythm I found myself among the better part of the field and running well, advancing with every climb. Just shy of 7 miles I took up with Alfonso Herrera and we got to talking about rock climbing as we continued to move smoothly. He had grown up in this area, knew the trail, and was a very good rock climber, now living in Denver. It was great talking climbing, dreams, and Colorado trails and pitches... until we realized we were off course by about a mile, running the ledges away from the course. High above the lake, I was having a blast running the rocky ledge. But there were no course markings, so we doubled back, losing most of a half hour on the field. Still, getting lost was probably the best part of my day.
Reaching the aid station (finally) I stopped to eat some of my favorite GU Salted Caramel gels while Alfonso took off. He would finally finish in sixth place (probably could have won had we not gotten off course) while I finally settled into an old man's 5mph tempo and was in no hurry to play catch up. The day seemed free and easy, running on what otherwise seemed like a long cross-country course with lots of running room - few roots and rocks, with gradual slopes to chase up and down. I moved up the field throughout the morning and finally settled into a group which I jockeyed back and forth with to the finish.
My right heel was giving me fits, so I babied it a bit on the downhills, making up any lost ground on the climbs. My sixth weekend of racing in a row was taking its toll on my feet. Never really tired, I ran through the day to finish in a comfortable 6 hours and 50 minutes, not bad for 33 miles of woods running. By evening I could barely walk, and the next day was even worse. It was worth it though. It was a good day to race and I scored a nice mug for being the oldest finisher, which I immediately put to good use with a couple of local brews at the finish. Now it is time to heal and rebuild this old body.