Why would you run 31 miles?
The most obvious, cocky answer is … because I can! Also, have you not been reading the blog? JESH!
Alright, I’ll be nice. I ran 31 miles or 50k as part of my goal to run a marathon a month. In my previous post about this run (CVNT Ultra) I had planned to run from point to point on the Cedar Valley Nature Trail to accomplish at least 26.2 miles. However last minute safety issues near the starting point (runners being attacked) had me re-assess the plan. That turned into an out and back, that would be 31 miles or 50k (due to facilities)….that is why I ran 31 miles.
Background – I was on a short road trip with my dad, and we stopped to check out the “Largest Skillet” in Brandon, IA. We stumbled upon the Cedar Valley Nature Trail, a flat crushed rock, maintained trail that runs from Cedar Rapids to Waterloo, IA, approximately 51 miles long.
It’s hard to find a close race in the summer, or it’s a tough terrain on a trail that I am not trained for. Instead of spending all my money traveling and on hotel, I planned my own event.
Race Day – Josh was going to be “crewing” and friend, Joel was going to be biking. There were really no plans, but to make it out and back.
July 16, 2016. We arrived at the Center Point Welcome Center, which had a parking lot. There were bathrooms, but at 7am, the building was still locked. We made sure to utilize a nearby gas station. The weather was perfect for running this distance in mid July, 60’s and low humidity. (It would warm up)
Gear: Badass Running tank, Magenta Sparkle Athletic skirt, neon green Pro Compression Socks, Brooks Ghost 8, Orange Mud Endurance Pack, Bibrave Tech Hat, Garmin Fenix, 2 Toms, XX2i USA1 sunglasses
My pack was loaded with food and water. Josh stood by with his phone and sounded a “Gong” and the race was on! Joel started near me and biked ahead. He was getting in some miles for the upcoming RAGBRAI. Josh got back in the car and planned to meet me in about 6 miles, at Urbana, where there is a bathroom.
I was really enjoying the trail, I also had a new audiobook to listen too, which was drowning out the sloshing noise from the water in my pack. I was about 4 miles in, when Joel came riding back towards me on his bike.
He notified me there was a dog up ahead. When I reached the home with the dog, it was barking at me, but appeared to have a collar on that was hooked to an invisible fence. It was nice to get the warning. Thanks Joel!
I kept on trucking and met Josh on the trail. Not only was he crewing, he was going to run some miles. We ran into Urbana, where we met Joel. We stopped and used the bathroom and I had some snacks and Gatorade, it was about 6 miles into the run. Josh continued to run a little further with me.
He turned back to get the car, to meet me again along the way. It was getting warmer and there were spots without shade. The next stop I met Josh, he ran a little more, but when we came to the car I drank more G2 and we put on some sunscreen.
After I parted ways again with Josh, the next meeting point was going to be Brandon, IA. There was a bathroom there. When I was about 2 miles away, Joel came riding back towards me. He said he was going to ride further to La Porte City, and he would catch up later.
I trotted into Urbana and spotted Josh. We had talked via phone (hell0 bluetooth headphones) and told him how I would love a cold orange Gatorade (heavy). My Garmin had 15.42 miles, but I thought since I had made it to Brandon, we needed a picture at the giant skillet, so I hopped into the car and we made it the few blocks to grab a photo. After chugging more Orange Gatorade and eating a bag of trail mix, I was now half way done and on my walk back to the start.
It was about 80 degrees, and I was enjoying listening to my audiobook. However I was starting to slow, had to start walking a bit. I just kept moving though. The parts in the shade were great!
Some bikers passed by, some shouting they liked my skirt and my socks.
I met up with Josh again. I was having an issue with chaffing, and I was out of 2Toms (GASP!) As the water drained from the pack, the fit became looser and I didn’t tighten it, causing an issue around my sports bra. I tried rolling more 2Toms, had Josh try to put it on too, but with the sweat and empty feeling of the bottle, I can tell you it didn’t help. (Review of the pack coming soon)
I remember checking my watch around mile 21 when I saw Josh, I slowly ran until about mile 26, when I was back in Urbana. I was proud, I made it about a marathon distance and was still moving. I was also out of water.
When I got to Urbana, I stopped at the bathroom again, and this time (thanks to a phone call via bluetooth) Josh had Orange Gatorade with ICE!!! It was the best ever!! He also filled my bladder with water, which made the pack fit lots better.I ate some more snacks and kept walking towards Center Point, I was on the home stretch.
Josh said he had a text from Joel. He made it to La Porte City, and said it was a good thing we changed the route as parts of the trail were closed to the north. He also realized he had been out for a while and enjoyed a hamburger and ice cream, and would try to meet us back in Center Point.
I developed a weird pain in my right calf at this time. However if I slowed down it felt worse, so I shuffled along. There was also an issue with time… I was close to setting a PR in the 50k…however I didn’t think I could push it…also we had 2 dogs at home that needed to be let out (Thank you neighbors for taking them out last minute.)
Joel came riding up behind me with about 2 miles to go. Josh had also parked in Center Point and ran back to find me, we had all met again on the trail. I think I remember Josh walking as fast as I was running (but he does have longer legs.)
I remember looking at my watch when my 50k PR time passed, I had .40 miles to go….Then there it was the Center Point Welcome Center.
I looked at my watch and I still needed to run a few more tenths of a mile, so I made sure to get 31 miles by running a little past the center and back.
DONE!!! 7:14…5 minutes from my PR. With a last minute decision to run this far, I was ecstatic. I received some high fives from Josh (and some stares from the people at the Welcome center)
Josh had run about 17 miles and Joel had biked 60.
I attempted my post race jump photo, it was tough. My calf was in pain, felt like a giant knot and bruise at the same time.
I needed a beer! We went to the Center Point Travel Plaza, it also had a McDonald’s. I got a chicken sandwich and the best, most saltiest fries ever!!!! We snagged some Summer Shandy tall boys and popped a squat in the parking lot. Joel joined as well. The best post race party ever! We had fun catching up and discussing the day.
I would love to make this an annual event. The trail is flat, and a great place to run. You can run as far as you want, bathrooms and towns to use or buy things as needed. There are roads to cross, but just make sure to look both ways and should have no problems with traffic. There are other users on the trail, but it’s long enough for everyone to share.
*Note on my health. I had been having some weird low blood sugar kind of issues. My stomach would feel super hungry, then coincidentally on my last long run effort I felt light headed like I needed to pass out. Well leading up to this, I cut out drinking so much sparkling water, see I don’t drink carbonated beverages regularly… I feel like I was filling myself full of bubbles and causing some weird gas feeling. I also improved my snacking and protein intake. I was trying to eat something about every 2 hours, string cheese, nuts, and apple, peanut butter, etc. I ran this and had no ill effects, never felt hungry, or light headed. I had plenty of snacks with me, and drank a butt load of liquids. I am also writing this a week later… I have had a sparkling water or 2, and I noticed if I drink too much at once, I feel weird… so I will just not drink a lot of them. I also have not been super ravenous or felt light headed…this is after running 31 miles. I will continue to monitor this situation.
I do not currently have an August 26.2 or longer on the calendar, I am still looking, but leaning towards the Wausau marathon. I wish there were some trail races that weren’t on tough technical trail, I am not trained for elevation at this time.
Stay tuned for my next adventure…..