December 16th, 2019
Another Maddening Mad City
Saturday April 12th, 2008
Another Maddening Mad City
The week before the Mad City 100K, temperatures in southern Wisconsin were in the 60s. The sun was shining. Yards were full of people clearing winter debris. Madison's Arboretum was packed with cyclists, walkers, runners and others who simply wanted to feel a bit of springtime warmth.
Oh what a difference a week makes!
Temperatures in the 30s, high winds and pellet-like snow welcomed runners at the start of this year's Mad City 100K -- the USATF National 100K Championship. It was deja vu all over again. At the inaugural Mad City in 2007, high winds ripped tents to shreds, cold temps froze the spigots at aid station water dispensers and high winds blew water from Lake Wingra on runners' already freezing legs. It was literally a numbing experience.
But as RD Timo Yanacheck noted in his pre-race meeting on Friday, Madison was to have some of the best weather in the Midwest on Saturday. In northern Wisconsin, where the inaugural Chippewa Moraine 50K was to be held, up to a foot of snow was expected. South of Wisconsin in Illinois, where the McNaughton 150, 100 and 50 were to be held, heavy rain and flooding was anticipated.
So, all things being relative, the wind, snow and cool temps really weren't all that bad on April 12. And as someone who took part in last year's race, I think the weather really was a step up from last year's windy icebox. How could I tell? First -- my water bottles didn't freeze shut. But most importantly, my legs didn't freeze to numbness -- I felt every bit of this year's miles.
Maybe it WAS better to be frozen and dumb... errrr, I mean NUMB!
A busy race weekend in the Midwest, Mad City attracted a small field of solo competitors (there was also a relay race connected to the event). By race day, only 37 solo runners were registered. A few less than that toed the line Saturday morning at 6:30. One person got stranded with airline hassles.
But this was definitely a race field packed with QUALITY runners. Sure, there were a few of us "average" folks scattered in the mix, passed by the leaders on the 10K loop not just once, but in some cases TWICE. However, the ones doing the passing were some of the best distance runners in the country. The course record was shattered by Michael Wardian in 6:56:57 (who quickly called his mom at the finish line to say, "Mom, mom!!! I WON!!!!").
At that point, I was just coming to the end of my sixth of ten loops.
The top three men all ran qualifying times for the US 100K team. Steve Stowers finished in 7:14:34 and Adam Lint finished in 7:19:06.
On the women's side, Carolyn Smith of Milwaukee came in first in 8:25:26, followed by Connie Gardner in 8:52:07 and local favorite, Ann Heaslett in 9:40:37.
But many of you already know that, since this year's Mad City featured a live webcast with split times and photos. By the time I opened my computer this morning, splits, the finishers list, race comments and photos were all available to view. This has to be one of the best organized events in the country. Mother Nature may turn a cold shoulder to the Mad City 100k, but no one else should.
So back to my little run. Last year it was my first time doing a road 100K. Like many, I was apprehensive about the distance, the brutality of the roads and the potential monotony of doing loop after loop after loop -- ten times. And then there was the ego factor. Without the aid of banned performance-enhancing drugs, and probably a car, I would not be running anywhere near most of the other competitors -- except, of course, when they looped me.
But with a race course that stays open for 13 hours, I figured that I had plenty of time to do the distance. And I figured that plenty of other "non-elites" like me could as well. I pushed and prodded a few of my friends to give it a try. Some did, and still speak to me. A couple of them even came back this year to give it another a try. However, most continue to fear the roads, and especially, a distance race on the roads.
It's too bad because it really isn't that bad.
That's not to say that it was easy. I think that my pace will be slower than granny's today -- and she's using a walker. It was hard. But a lot of things are.
My goal going into the event was to try to do a little better than last year. I incorporated more tempo running, hoping that it would allow me to maintain my pace a little longer. I went out well, and by 50K was a few minutes ahead of last year's time. This made me happy, but the raging headache that I had picked up somewhere on loop five didn't. I wasn't sure what brought it on (other than listening to myself talk while running solo), but I tried whatever was suggested to alleviate it. In went a salt tab, a pain reliever and some soup. I walked a little and then got myself running again.
By the end of the loop, the headache had subsided, but was replaced with heavy legs and a strong sense of exhaustion. I don't know if the fatigue was related to the headache, or if it was simply the result of running the race at a PR pace.
This is when an ultra really becomes mental. Since people have called me "mental" on several occasions, I figured that I could do okay. "There is nothing wrong with you, you are just tired! Keep running." And so I did. Often, it probably didn't really look like I was running, but I kept at it. My paced slowed, but I didn't throw in the towel. Knowing that I had plenty of time to simply walk it in, I didn't. And gosh darn it, I'm kind of proud of myself for that.
And, I achieved my goal! I did "a little" better than last year. With a sprint (well, in my own mind) in the last mile, I managed to finish a minute ahead of my pace last year. Wahoo for me! And with a few top runners forced into the DNF category for a variety of reasons (I heard that a lot of people -- especially top runners -- were having problems with cramping), I managed to finish in the money with a boat-load of trinkets from both the race and the USATF.
What a hoot! And what a great event. Once again, I hope that more of my fellow "less-than-elite" runners will give the race a try next year. It is hard. But it's not impossible.
For photos, results and other details, go to the race website at: http://www.madcity100k.com.
Thank you Timo, Jason and the rest of the Mad City crew! And Lin -- I'll be sure to have those cookies for you at Ice Age!
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