Hawkeye 50k – Race Recap
The race took place Saturday, April 8th in Solon, IA, around Lake MacBride, starting at 8 am, with the 25k starting at 8:30.
First, I have to thank Deb for giving me her bib for this event. This is a capped race, and registration sells out quick. I mentioned in a previous blog post how I missed out, and she contacted me.
The main reason for my excitement – an ultra in my backyard – well not really, but a 20 minute drive from home. There are a bajillion 5ks, and some 10ks, a couple 13.1s, but not many options for longer distances close to home. Ok, don’t get me wrong I love the adventure all my travels have brought me, but for once I get to sleep in my own bed, no travel expenses, no hotel costs.
Alright… Friday night I ate my usual, plain old noodles, and prepared all my gear. I also made cupcakes and mini muffins as the post race was a potluck. I contemplated if I should carry my pack, given all the details in the pre-race email about the aid stations, but the forecast was predicting temps about 20 degrees warmer than I had been “training” in.
Gear: Orange Mud Endurance Pack, XX2i France 2 sunglasses, Aftershokz Trekz Titanium, Nathan race belt, Bibrave tank, Blue Ridge Pullover, Zensah technical hat, Adidas 7″ boyshort, Pro Compression Socks, Brooks Ghost 9, Garmin Fenix 3, Road ID, 2 Toms.
Yeah…. you noticed training in quotes above. After last year and the crazy marathon a month, I knew I would be able to complete this race. However, I was not training for it. I have been training for the Illinois Marathon, thankfully I had picked a plan that had me prepared.
Josh was joining me at this race, but he would be running the 25k, or one loop. We took off for Solon after my usual toast and coffee breakfast. We arrived at the Timber Dome with time to grab our ankle strap chips and use the bathroom one more time. Josh had already grabbed our bibs and short sleeve, unisex tech shirts the day before.
While waiting to start, we saw fellow Iowa BibRave Pro, Mel. She was running the 25k. We chit chatted for just a short while, and then it was time to start!
I lined up near the back, and waved to Josh & Mel as I was on my way. I knew I had to run the loop twice, and I was familiar with about the first 4 miles. Other than that… I was ready for the unknown.
The course featured crushed limestone trail, some pavement, single track and a spillway crossing.
In the back of my mind I knew I had a chance of setting a new PR at this distance. My current PR is 7:09, and I was close at my last 50k. So, I just kept the first few miles slow and steady.
Then we all came upon the first giant puddle on the trail. This spot is just low, and is prone to minor flooding. I mention this only because there were so many people going off the trail into the woods to avoid this puddle… um there is a spillway crossing coming up, and everyone was avoiding the puddle. I splashed on through…. think I turned my audiobook on.
I always get geographically confused around Lake MacBride and the Coralville Reservoir. I know I am in Johnson County, but I have no idea really where I am. After the flat limestone trail section, there was a short climb to a road, which led us into the main beach of Lake MacBride…. I knew where I was… temporarily. There was one of the aid stations here, stocked with gummy bears, chips, cookies, Gatorade, water and much more.
I stopped for some gummy bears and kept on moving. It was back to some flat limestone, this was the section that lead to the spillway. I wasn’t scared, I have run trail race with creek crossings, so I was ready to welcome the challenge.
The spillway………. I approached and noticed there were some guys in waders near the bottom, they also had a rope across the water for helping runners too. There was also an area to cross near the top. If you chose the bottom route, you had to climb down some rock, which meant you had to climb back up.
There are pictures of this, but even though the proceeds go to a charity… I don’t need to buy more race photos.
This first loop, I went with the bottom crossing as this is where there were people helping you across. I had a harder time getting down the rock to the actual water, than crossing the water. Once at the water, I held onto the rope and walked through the rushing water. Then it was the tough climb back to the top. Oh, and once to the top, there were stairs in the trail, to climb back up on the trail.
I was now on more traditional trail, or single track type terrain through the woods. This was my favorite part. It was also the most up and down part of the course. I just kept moving. Another great part of ultra and trail races is all the other participants on the course, everyone that passes me I get to cheer on, given there aren’t many spectators out in the woods.
I came upon the next aid station, grabbed some more treats, and moved along. I was just enjoying the day. I was back in the woods, following the pink flags. Then it happened…. I fell. Well, I knew it was going to happen at some point, but I just tripped on the air or maybe there was an actual tree root, but I was now on the ground.
What does one do when this happens? First – you look around, did anyone see me? Second – am I ok? Welp… as luck would have it, on a course where runners were so spread out, there was someone that saw me. I was also ok, it’s dirt…softer than pavement, just some scratches.
Ok, so who was that someone that saw me fall? I was lucky enough to get to run the majority of the rest of the race with her. Meet Tenile!
She made sure I was ok too, I was fine and embarrassed, and for a while I felt the fall on my hip, but it subsided as I kept moving. We chit chatted forever and in no time we were at the last 3-4 miles on Mehaffy Bridge road. This was my least favorite part, who likes running on the shoulder of a busy road? It was nice to have someone to chat with.
I learned she would also be running the Illinois Marathon in a few weeks, and she was helping her husband train for his first hundo. (I think that was the distance, it’s been a few weeks)
We came across the timing mat together after the first loop. The time on the clock was just over 3 hours, which for me was HUGE! I could totally PR.
I ate a pb&j and looked around for Josh. He was going to take my pullover. However, he was not at the finish area… I looked and saw him in the distance, I yelled, he did not hear me. Tenile was already back on the trail… I was like… um… I am wasting time…. so I dropped my pullover with the aid station volunteers and left to catch back up with Tenile.
We were back at it, one more loop to go. The sun was out, and the temperature was rising. It was also the part where we both were starting to struggle, so one would walk and the other would go on, we would catch back up with one another here and there.
I forgot to mention the pelicans. Since the run is around the lake, there are many things to see. There are the usual people fishing and what not, but there were tons of giant pelicans out there too. Very cool.
Then, just like that, Tenile and I were running together and about to cross the spillway again. This time, there were no men helping people cross at the bottom. They were up at the top instead. Really, this was a nice added perk…. these people didn’t have to be out there, but here they still were.
The upper part of the spillway was a little deeper, but nothing past my shin. I did witness a few people stop to take off their shoes and socks before getting into the water. Hmmm, not sure what that’s about, guess they like dry feet. Well… I enjoyed this second trip through, the water was soo cold and refreshing, felt great! While I didn’t have to climb down rocks and back up, there was a steep little exit to this crossing. With the help from the guys wading in the spillway and Tenile… we successfully crossed and now climbed the steps again to the top of the trail.
This is when it really got tough for me, I kept moving, but lots of walking and running and walking… once I finally caught back up with Tenile, we missed a pink flag marking the course, oops! There were sections the course could have been marked better. From that point on, it was panic if we hadn’t seen a pink flag in a while.
We kept going back and forth, and finally I turned on my music around mile 25, it was the boost I needed. It was also hot now.
Coming out of the woods, I was back running with Tenile again to do the final 3-4 miles on the highway. Just before getting to that road, we saw Josh! He has some Gatorade and encouraging words…
We were back to the highway, the sun was blazing, there was no shade, and it was windy. We stuck together for a while, running from mail box to mail box, then walking to the next mail box.
Tenile’s husband was then dropped off, so I kept going, and she chatted with her husband, as he ran in with her.
This stretch of the highway was tough!!! I kept rolling though, along with the hills…and I felt Solon kept getting farther away. Then finally, the last turn into the finish.
I could see the finish line! Then out of his car, from the parking lot, it was our friend Joel. I was surprised, hey Joel! What the heck? He was on his way back from the QC and on his way home, so stopped by, and as luck would have it, it was the same time I was finishing.
I used the last spurt of energy, and I finished around 7:15. Whew! So close to that PR, but the hot conditions did me in. I really wanted someone to take be back to the spillway, to just sit in it.
Josh was there with a cup of ice for the Gatorade. There were also many others still laying around enjoying the day and cheering on finishers.
I used the bathroom and then grazed the potluck selection. There were a lot of cookies and chips. I grabbed a scotcheroo and went to talk with Josh and Joel. I noticed I was very sunburned.
I managed to drink the Gatorade and decided I was hungry, so I went back in and got a plate of cheesy Doritos a popsicle, and more scotcheroos, I wasn’t sure what I was hungry for but this was going to do.
I joined back with the guys and we waited for more finishers to come in. The course was open for 8 hours (even though the timing company stayed there for the last person to finish – 9 and half hours.) We also chatted with the others and learned the winner of the 50k had a finishing time of 3:21, DAMN! All I could think was, at least I wasn’t lapped, lol.
There was no beer here, but as luck would have it, Big Grove Brewery was just around the corner. I convinced the guys that we should go get one. We said our goodbyes, thanked everyone as volunteers were still milling about, and were on our way.
I enjoyed a beer and tried to eat some more food, but I was now at the point were nothing sounded too great. I tried to eat some fries, but they were not hitting the spot, however I ate a salad with salt that was good. I ended up taking my tater tot casserole to go.
We said goodbye to Joel, and Josh and I were on our way back home, a whole 20 minute drive.
Overall: This race is great! I mean with all races there can be some tweaks made here and there, but the price is right, course is challenging, people are top notch! I hope to register before the cutoff next year.
This recap took forever, check out my official review on bibrave.com too … but up next Easter Egg Scramble, Illinois Marathon & 5k, Madison 10k, Grandma’s Marathon.