Recap: The Ice-Covered Buzzard Day 50/100k

Its been awhile since I even logged onto my WordPress. I have thought about it though. I would run, talking and thinking to myself about my next post, sort the pictures I want for it in my head, even come up with a catchy headline.

But then I would come home from the run. Take 15 minutes peeling off the five layers of wet clothing, fail to fully warm up after a shower, coffee, and burying myself under my electric blanket, and then slide open my laptop screen, only to choose to write my next paper instead of look at my WP site. Why you ask? I knew that each thought and post would be the same; sick of the cold, sick of the snow, sick of my winter clothes, the boots disintegrating from caked-on salt, having to wear two-three pairs of socks to work…and school. Do I need to say more?

Yes, I am officially done with the snow. I was officially done with it a month ago, and especially done with in Hinckley Ohio as I set off at 6 A.M to run my first (and longest distance) 100k through inches thick sheets of ice covered trails.

Before I run my 100 miler in April, I wanted to get a few more miles under my belt, since my farthest race has been a 50-mile race. So, I searched and found the Buzzard Day 50 and 100k ultra in Ohio for last weekend, the start of Spring Break. Thinking, “It has to be warm, and snow-less by then” I signed up.

And of course, two days before the race it snowed, no, it blizzard. Still, I sucked it up, put my new hat on, and set off with my dad for the five-hour car trip to Hinckley.

Me with too much energy in the morning

Me with too much energy in the morning

The morning of, I was good. I was up, ate my banana, goofed around taking pics for those still sleeping warmly in their beds, and rove to the race. I wore my AK Ultimate Direction Vest (first time in a race wearing it, so that made me excited!), and looked around cautiously at the un-yak-trakked shoes of the other ten or so 100k’ers. Thinking, if they were not wearing them, the trails should not be too bad right? Well, what I did not know/see was the conveniently hidden ice spikes under their toes, and instead I walked out with them to the race start in my bare Montrails, wondering what the hell I was getting into. It was a low-key race. Hugh, the RD talked, said “Ok, go ahead,” and we were off.

I count...10? Yeah, we're all nuts :)

I count…10? Yeah, we’re all nuts 🙂

For me the start is always the worst part of the entire race. Especially in the two, or so cross country races I have competed in, when everyone rushes forward, sprinting to the little opening up ahead, I feel like I am in a movie where the world is ending and it is every man for himself. Well, this race was not like that. We all darted off into the blackness, headlamps bouncing every which way, until: we hit the ice. And we didn’t go anywhere.

The trails were solid sheets of ice. Up the trails went, and down our shoes slid back. Even the guys with spikes couldn’t get moving. (My yak-traks would not have made any difference for the majority of the conditions). But we kept on, eventually merging onto the sides of the trail, running through the bushes and around trees. As some parts provided relief from the ice, we were instead met with gooey, sludgey mud, stream crossings, and a few paved areas. I came through that first loop like I ran a Tough Mudder race rather than a simple 15 mile loop.

But it was around mile 4, yes only 4, when it happened. I stepped onto the ice, feet flew out from under me, whole body was in the air, and landed hard on my backside and elbow. I tend to fall a lot while running, usually for lack of attention, but I manage to pop back up pretty easily, but I had to stay on the ground a bit after that one. Two guys helped me up, thinking I hit my head on the ice, apparently it was pretty close to doing so. But I continued running and didn’t feel the fall too much after that, until we hit the ledges. At one point in the race, around mile 9-10, we start climbing into this area of bouldering rocks, and when I say climbing I mean climbing. Like, hands on rocks, maneuvering into crevices climbing. For an easy stroll on a Saturday, I would have loved that. For a 62 mile race that was going to take a lot longer than I was hoping, I was not pleased with the forced walking/hiking. “Didn’t I sign up for an ultraRUNNING race?” After that section of the trail, I think the twisting and turning flared up the area I fell on, and by mile 14-15 to the aid station, I was in bad shape, barely shuffling over the melting snowy trails now.

At the aid station, thank god my dad came with, because he was great. With some an ice pack on my ass, and an Ibprofen he forced me to take, I trekked out for another lap, knowing I would not be able to finish this entire race.

The ledges-Rocks of Pain I like to call them

The ledges-Rocks of Pain I like to call them

Coming in after the first lap-the snow finally starting to melt

Coming in after the first lap-the snow finally starting to melt

Through the second lap, the sun was up, the weather was getting warmer and some of the ice was melting. I made through a couple more miles, the rocks of pain, and to the last aid station before the pain began to come back. Thinking I could do the runable parts of the trails for two more laps, I knew it was not worth it getting more injured, falling again, and experiencing the rocky section again. Not to mention, spending another 7 hours out there.

I called it quits after the 25k, happy with a 31ish mile run, but disappointed in myself for not finishing. Even after talking to other runners who quit after two loops, (out of the 10 or so us, 1 guy finished the entire race), and my dad who knew the IT 100 is my goal and reminded me this was just a training race, I was still mad at myself. But during the car ride home, in which I sat on top of a melting ice bag for most of the way, I realized overall, I am happy with it. I had a good (most of the time) attitude, I got some good race photos (which is always a plus), and a decent training run/race experience.

Now, don’t read this and think, “oh my god, this race sounds terrible, I am never going to Ohio ever again.” In reality, it was just the weirdest/unexpected conditions, just like this weird, horrible winter. Maybe I should have been more prepared; mentally, physically, and equipment-wise, but who can always be prepared for weather and falling? Right? I do recommend this race, for its beautiful trails that were not covered in ice, the birds and buzzards flying around, and the terrific aid stations and volunteers. I do not think I have seen so much food at one time in life! The race directors did a great job, and maybe next year when March actually means Spring, I will return to the race of the buzzards.

slip, slidin away...

slip, slidin away…