North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Miler (retroactively posted)

After my Mt. Hood 50 DNF in July, I did not want to wait a full year to be successful in racing this distance. I was trained up, so all I needed was a race. I found this 50 miler in the Kettle Moraine in Wisconsin and we decided we could use this as an excuse to go home and visit family.

Everything ready to go for an early morning.

It was a very early start at 5am, and one that required a headlamp. I also used a sternum lamp, so with two light sources I had a bit better chance at depth perception in the dark. Temps true at the start was about 37 degrees.

The first 21 miles felt great. It was extremely runnable, although not terribly scenic. At one point (mile 16, I think) I realized I was going to arrive at the aid station an hour earlier than I had expected. Luckily, I had cell service, so I texted Adam and let him know.


As I was running up to the aid station, who did I see? Adam and Andrew walking up! I dawdled a bit at this aid station, but I really did feel pretty good. I don’t remember much from miles 21 to 35, except that there were some rolling bits and it was in the woods. And there was a gun range (thank you, WI…) which rattled the nerves a bit while we were running.

Then I came back to the mile 21/35 aid station and met Adam and Andrew for the final bit before the end. Then it was the section I most feared, just based purely on mileage. I’d never done anything this long and I had no idea how I would react.

Thankfully, though, I made a running friend, Larry, at about 36 miles. He had been running with a buddy who hadn’t trained enough and who had dropped back significantly. We both wished for a pacer of sorts, so we decided to stick together until the end. It was so helpful to have someone during those tough miles. The aid station volunteers are always helpful, but the lift from them fades quickly when you’ve still got a half marathon to run and you’re exhausted. So we were able to keep each other going and agreed to no negative thoughts. My mind did go to some dark places eventually, and I was near tears at one point just wanting it to be over.

My legs were so sore, so at mile 45 I caved, and took my emergency Advil. At mile 48 I started to feel loads better, and we were so close to the end! The finish felt amazing. I don’t know the last time I felt such pure elation and such a sense of accomplishment. There was a tent for massages at the end, so I sat there, snacking, waiting my turn and chatting with the other runners.

Happily finished!

After that we went back to Adam’s aunt and uncle’s place with a stop at the grocery store first. I wandered around with my medal around my neck, stinky and looking a bit worse for wear, I’m sure. A guy in the store asked if I had just raced so I was able to proudly share my accomplishment with this curious stranger. After that, we got back and ate dinner. I definitely felt spacey but good after being clean and fed. Hooray!

Some quick numbers:

Finishing time: 11:33:39

Elevation gain: ~6,000′ feet

Calories consumed: 1,400 (2 potatoes, 2 onigiri, 6 Glutino Oreos, 3 PB/chocolate energy balls, 3 Portable chocolate cakes, 3 banana/walnut baked rice balls)

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