DWD is one of the most popular series in the ultra world… And luckily I am privileged enough to be 2 hours away from DWD at Devils Head! Last time I raced here was 2011, 50 miles. Oh how it’s been so long since running brutal hills!!
Alarm sounded at 4am… Started my pre race nutrition….full Gatorade, peanut butter and jelly on Ezekiel, and a cliff bar. Shortly before the race, another 10oz H2O with a scoop of spark. Ready! Laced up my Altra Olympus 1.5s and suited up in full Orange Mud gear. Product report at the end! I was calm and collected, getting my head ready to go. The plan: start out putting in the miles keeping the leaders in sight and then turning the wheels on for the last ten. It was mostly sunny, humid, and probably hit 80-85 degrees. My least favorite part of summer runs!
Started out with Matt Bartz, a seasoned ultra runner (200+ distances) that typically beats me by a couple of miles in training and racing (as well as Logan Polfuss, but that lasted all of 5 minutes because he’s ridiculous!!) I settled in with him and we chatted up a storm with Brad Koenig, another excellent ultra runner. Brad and I continued running together after the first hour until about 2:15. No idea on mileage at this point either…who needs GPS?! While running at conversation pace I drank water and fueled with gels. Unusual for me!! When we hit the prairie I broke away and continued stag mostly til the end. At this point I was in second to the talented Samantha Greis.
Starting in the extended (5mi) portion of the prairie…for the record I’d rather run the ski hill because prairies eat me up!! Not my strong suit!!… I was caught by the overall 2nd place female was looking strong! I sadly was on a minor and short-lived death march. Only an hour but it was long enough. After the turn around it was great to see some familiar faces. I cheered them all on and then…the most climatic part of the race!!!… I was stung by a bee AND had to poop. Of course, why wouldn’t I?!?! I stopped at the next aid station which, after asking another runner, happened to be mile 21. It’s time!!
Filled my water with spark, sucked down a gel, and took off…I had to be realistic here…there would be no workout until AFTER the prairie ended in 1/2 mile. Can’t start too soon lol…I was in 3rd…
Well, out of the prairie and ready to go, but what goes down must come up!!! Had to get back up to the bluff area. Power hiking. Lasted maybe a mile and then I could start. Caught up to another runner and we hung for 2 miles. He saved this race for me. Went from 7 miles to 5 miles with complete distraction and speed. I kept going, he power hiked. I sailed to the end over rocks and roots like a boss! Finally feeling good about today’s tune up race…which apparently means run hard, but don’t crush yourself. Check!
Winding around shorter distance runners, and sucking down water, I took my final gel with 2 miles to go. I could see the light!!! And heard the music. Clock time, 5:06. 3rd overall female, 9th overall finish. Not a PR, or win, but a serious training race. I was able to lock down my nutrition and hydration once again, negative split, and feel pretty good about surviving in the heat!!
There are so many excuses we/I can use to drop or purposely fail….the heat, screwing up nutrition/hydration, pooping, a bee sting, wild parsnip poisoning (it’s been done 😑) … Getting through the one hour of mental breakdown was huge. It’s always huge during a race. It’s not easy for anyone…this stuff just doesn’t come natural (unless your Logan)…I battle in my head every race and somehow pull it together. That is the best part of racing…not only the finish but showing myself I can Be mentally and physically strong.
Altra Olympus 1.5 … Always a winner. 9/10 today only because I managed to wear the pair with some worn soles!
Orange Mud hydration … I’m gonna be honest here … I was thoroughly impressed with it. No leaking, easy control, easy to hold, comfortable. This will be my new racing handheld 100%. And the singlet is phenomenal! Breaths well, looks awesome, and no chaffing. Winner.
Diggers: 0 / Ankle Rolls: 6
Onward to a summer of training and moderate races!!