North Face Endurance Challenge (50K) Race Report

By , September 15, 2012 6:45 pm

What an amazing day!

Before I get in to what hopefully won’t be tooooo long of a race report, I have to say that this race would not have been as awesome and fun if I had not run with Kovas and Rachel the entire time.  I had already planned on running with Kovas, and we were hanging out at the start when Rachel approached me and asked if I was a blogger! After quick introductions, I remembered her and Kim (who was pacing a 50 miler, not doing the 50K) from the Wisconsin Half Marathon! What an awesome surprise to run in to them! They were both super pumped, and we talked about how race day snuck up on us so quickly. I don’t think the race felt real to any of us until we hit the trail. We didn’t all plan to stick together, but we did!

Kovas, me, Rachel and Kim before the start

So, start details – 4:00 am wake-up call, hour and 20 minute drive (through some freaky fog) to Kettle Moraine, WI with my running club, 7:00 am race start.  I wasn’t nervous. I knew I could cover the distance, because my plan was to walk the hills, and the hills were aplenty! And I can go far… I just have to go slow. 

The sun was just rising when we started the 50K, and the runners in front of us were in a beautiful cloud of fog. 

It was neat to see all of the 50Kers together at first, because that did not last very long! For some of the course, we were completely on our own, or getting passed by the fast marathoners who started two hours later and 6 miles in to the 50K course. 

After a short part on the street we were in the woods. I was waiting to see it. Everyone says how beautiful Kettle Moraine is, and it did not disappoint:

Even when we were busting our butts to hike up the hills, I was not upset. It was just so beautiful.

Attempt to take a picture of a small hill

The terrain varied quite a bit – grass, packed dirt, loose sand, rocks and roots… and it went from single track to 6+ feet wide (I preferred the wide part). The sandy parts of the trail were are for horses, and we saw a lot. Despite what people warned me about the sand, I liked it the best – it felt so nice and soft on my feet. Running on the rocks hurt (especially as the run went on). 

The only part of the course I did not care for was the open prairie.

Besides being in the open sun, it was a bit boring. So boring that I lost track of what I was doing and tripped over my own feet. 

Damn, that left knee just can’t catch a break!

And that was very interesting – you had to pay attention to your footing the entire time (not something I am used to). It was easy to stumble. Kovas, Rachel and I all fell! Ha ha. 

We were only in the open prairie part for maybe 6 total miles, and split between woods, for the entire course. We sped up on these parts. And these parts made me wish for the hills so I could have a walk break! Ha!

So, how was our pace? Hmm. Well, the garmin did die at 26.46 miles. Until it died we were on track for 13:00 minute miles, then starting to creep up closer to 13:45. My final time was 7:14:38, which is a 14:01 pace. I predicted 13:30 average, so I was a bit off, but not too bad!

I was surprised there were no mile markers – duh, Kim – I should have known this. Luckily, Rachel’s watch held through so we had an idea of how much further we had to go. There were great trail markers:

Just make sure you follow the ribbons that match your bib, and you’re good to go!

And the buffets aid stations were AWESOME:

I got potatoes with salt every time and that really helped with my swollen fingers. I also snacked on chips. And Skittles once, but they bothered my stomach a bit. I filled my Nathan vest at every station too. I was a little slow with that, but I’ll get better. 

Oops. This is getting a bit long. So, like a typical long distance race, I slowed down toward the end. But, I felt great the entire time, except for a sore right butt cheek and sore hips (from the hills, I think). I had energy (I was eating and drinking a ton), my stomach felt good and my legs felt good. Just getting a bit sore. 

We really picked it up at the end when we saw the finish line. We were stoked! I almost cried, I was so excited!!!

And I was so so happy to see Steven and my running club friends at the end!!! Steven drove up to see me finish (there were only a few spots for spectators on the course, mostly at road crossings). 

I asked for my flip flops right away and was surprised at what I saw:

Ha ha ha! What happened to my toes?! Man, I really had to scrub hard in the shower!

We chatted with my running club friends, grabbed the free food:

and took stalker pictures of Dean Karnazes:

I didn’t stay for the meet and greet with Dean, but after I changed clothes he was walking by me during the kids run and said to me out of the blue: “Looking good with those wounds – you earned them!” So… Dean thinks I am badass. Ha ha. Right?! That is what he meant, right?! RIGHT?!?!?!!

So, this was amazing, and I had a blast. Parts were hard, where we were all quiet on the trail, pushing our own mental game. I wore the pin Erin gave me for luck and would touch it often to think of its sentiment. But I felt really good. Like scary good, thinking of signing up for another one, before the race was even over, good. 

I think it was so fun because I was running with people though. It would have been lonely without Kovas and Rachel. So I have to thank them SO MUCH for running with me. And find out which one of you wants to do the next one with me. Just keep in mind how slow I run. And that I get schmelly (today was not too bad – 44° at the start and 74° at the finish, and mostly shaded).

Thanks for getting so far in this post. I am sure I have forgotten a lot of details and you’ll have to hear more over the course of the week!

101 Responses to “North Face Endurance Challenge (50K) Race Report”

  1. This is so awesome! Congratulations on your finish! Maybe you should start exercising while wrapped in bubble wrap. Really though, great job!

    • kilax says:

      Thank you! I know, right? I think I need knee pads and elbow pads, and I commented during this that I should wear biking gloves while running 🙂

  2. Ian says:

    Congrats Kim. So proud of you becoming an ultrarunner. Lots of fun aren’t they. Start planning the next one. Ice Age in May is a good one, 50k or dare I say 50 mile. The Kettles is awesome, wish they were closer but Palos fills in.

    I know Kovas. He’s ran with my ultra group in the past and did a loop of Waterfall Glen with me once. Not sure he has ever ran so slow. Small world

    Rest up and take a day or two off 🙂

    • kilax says:

      Thanks, Ian! That means a lot from my Ultra buddy 🙂 There are some out in Rockford too, right? When is that short trail race you were telling me about?

      Kovas ran slow because he was with us. Don’t think he is slow on his own! 😉

  3. Michel says:

    Congratulations!!! I’m so proud of you! I knew you would have a good race because the weather was pretty perfect!! yay! And you should have stuck around more for Dean he’s so personable.

    • kilax says:

      Thank you! It would have been nice to stay for the meet and greet! I was ready to get home and pick the rocks and debris out of my knee though! LOL! 🙂

  4. Gina says:

    Congratulations, Ultra marathoner! See what happens when you believe in you! I am so EXCITED that you had such a great day! That makes my day! I love how you just set goals and completely conquer them – so inspiring! So proud of you! You rock, Kim!

  5. Kelly says:

    Congratulations! I was thinking of you today and all the miles you had to cover. I’m so glad it went well for you. I plan to get inspired tomorrow by your overall badass-ness in being an ultra-awesome ultra athlete.

  6. Congrats! Amazing job! Glad Dean noticed your battle wounds 🙂

  7. Meghan says:

    You are amazing! Congrats, Kim! I am so inspired!

  8. bobbi says:

    You are an ultramarathoner! You saw Dean! DEAN SPOKE TO YOU AND THINKS YOU’RE BADASS!

    Sigh. I so want to do this. I was so excited to see how happy you were through the whole thing. Awesome. Congrats! 🙂

  9. Kayla says:

    CONGRATS!!! Sounds like you had a lot of fun!! So happy for you!!! I thought of you many times today and am so glad the weather cooperated and you enjoyed yourself!

    • kilax says:

      Thank you! And for thinking of me too, you are a sweetie! 🙂 So happy the weather was not too hot too. I cannot imagine going much slower!

  10. Congratualtions ULTRAmarathoner! It sounds like you had a blast today! I also love that you’re already thinking of signing up for another one!

  11. Michelle says:

    Awesome job! And what a great race report! You should be very proud!

  12. Jen says:

    YAY!! Congrats Kim! You’re awesome!

  13. Pete B says:

    Wow, fantastic! Congrats. Besides running a whole 50k, you also got a shout out from the ultimate ultra-marathoner. How cool is that?!

  14. Gingerfoxxx says:

    I am SO proud of you!! You are an inspiration, and now i can brag i know an ultra-marathoner!

  15. Megan says:

    AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Very cool!!

  16. Amy says:

    Wow! Amazing!!! I am so happy for you – you did great! and how cool Dean Karnazes thinks you are a boss – I definitely agree with him!

  17. Stephany says:

    Wow, amazing! You’re an ultramarathoner! Congrats on having such an awesome race!

  18. Eric Smith says:

    almost makes me want to try one…almost. But definitely want to try a training run up there!

  19. Pam says:

    Congratulations!!!!! Rock n Roll should go check out an ultra trail aid station and take notes. “Cytomax and Gu? HA! We have potatoes and skittles.”

    • kilax says:

      Thanks! I think you are right! Steven was asking me why all it takes is 5 more miles to have all this stuff at the aid stations… if marathons had real food I would do a lot better but you do have to make sure you don’t stall there for too long!

  20. CourtneyInControl says:

    CONGRATULATIONS!!! You are awesome- you ULTRAmarathoner you!! I am so proud of you!! It sounds like you had a great day and a really fun time!!! You are so inspiring!!!

  21. Kiersten says:

    Yahoo! I am so impressed. Running with people is SO much better, it makes the time fly. I ran with a random guy for one of my RTB legs and it made it so much faster. You are a superstar!

  22. Rachel says:

    Wow! You got your recap up so quickly! Great pictures too, I might have to borrow some for my recap since I was so inept at taking pictures on the run. 🙂

    It was so special running with you and Kovas yesterday. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face the rest of the day when I was filling in my husband on all the race adventures. Let’s do it again soon!

    • kilax says:

      Yes! Please borrow and let me know if you want the larger, more blurrier versions. I have quite a few of us crossing the finish line together on the real camera! So if you want those, let me know…

      It was SO SO FUN to all run together. I was like that too, just so pumped after the race and so happy that it all worked out. We should find some trail runs between Madison and the NW suburbs for us to do together!!!! 🙂

  23. Kristina says:

    What a fun read! Sounds like you had a wonderful experience – which is awesome! Can’t wait to hear about the next one…

    My cousin is really into ultra races (super crazy – Leadville 100 for the past few years in a row), and I think that one of the cool things is that he really depends on friends to get through the races – and helps them out too. While it is an individual sport, there is also a team mentality, which is so cool.

    • kilax says:

      That is so true about the team mentality and support, and that is part of the reason I wanted to do this – to check out that community. It’s so true! WTG for your cousin! He is badass!!!!

  24. Kim says:

    I found your blog!!! 🙂 It was so great to meet you and Kovas.. you guys just freaking killed that race. Congratulations!!!

    • kilax says:

      Yay! I added you to my Reader, too 🙂

      Thank you! It was so nice to meet you today and see you on course. Your energy was contagious!

      I cannot wait to hear how your FIRST marathon goes next week!!!!!!

  25. […] makes me feel slightly better. I was less of a lazy-bum than I thought I was! I didn’t run an ultra like Kim or anything like that, but I didn’t do too bad either. By the way, in case I […]

  26. Congratulations! That’s so exciting and I’m glad you had a good time! Yesterday was good weather.

    Maybe you should wear a preventative patch or KT Tape over your left knee to prevent further scrapings ?

  27. Losing Lindy says:

    Awesome job! Your poor knee and toes!

    I am sorry I lost you today. 🙁

  28. Laura says:

    You are amazing Kim!! Congrats on this huge accomplishment!! You are so awesome to tackle this distance. You ran for over seven hours straight and was bloody on top of it!! So awesome to have Dean make a comment to you. It sounds like an incredible day and Im so happy it all worked out so great for you. You are my running hero!

  29. abbi says:

    Love the recap and a big congrats to you! Aren’t you glad you signed up for it now! 🙂

  30. Erin says:

    I’m so proud of you!!!! I can also tell from the pics that you were having a blast. I think this might be your thing. As long as you have a group, right? Maybe, MAYBE you could talk me into this in the future.

    Also, I immediately pulled Dean’s book off my bookshelf, showed it to Jason and said, “THIS GUY TALKED TO KIM!”

    • kilax says:

      Thank you! I have talked you in to many stupid things, so probably 😉 I think for me, having a buddy or two is key. At least until I figure out my mental game.

      Aww! Was Jason like “Who’s that?”

  31. Marcia says:

    Congrats Kim! You make it sound so enjoyable. Yay for having running buddies. Kim and Rachel are my Ragnar homies. You are totally badass! Isn’t DK tiny? I was surprised when I met him.

    • kilax says:

      Thank you! They asked me if I knew you! We talked about ZOOMA and Ragnar and all sorts of fun stuff! And YES! I did think DK was tiny. At one point he lifted up his shirt and I was like… damn…

  32. Xaarlin says:

    OK, youve officially sold me on ultras. I want to run a cool trail ultra soon. Maybe next year to celebrate my 31st birthday? I wanted to do the lakefront 50k, but I am convinced ultras belong on hilly trails.

    You made this race sound like so much fun. Congrats on an amazing race!

    • kilax says:

      Yes! You must try one! I bet you would like it, once that ankle is done being so stupido!!! Most ultras do seem to be on trail and with hills. The ones out here are tame compared to other parts of the US (from what I have heard) but that was NOT tame to me!

      Thank you! 🙂

  33. Maggie says:

    Congrats!!! I’m so happy the race went well for you. And yes, I totally agree that Dean Karnazes does think you are badass.

  34. kelsey says:

    o m g I am so IN AWE of you. you are such a FABULOUS ROCKSTAR!!!!!! omg, peeing my pants in excitement for you.

  35. Laura says:

    BIG CONGRATS!!! That’s a VERY respectable pace for that kind of distance on trails! You rock!

    • kilax says:

      Thank you! I was wondering yesterday if I should not have done it since I was so slow, but I think that was a good intro! And I would feel like death this week if I tried to run any faster!

  36. J says:

    Yeah you are bad ass for sure girl! Nice job on the race – you did so freaking good! And honestly that course looks pretty good – definitely beautiful and fun to run! Congrats!!

  37. I think that’s pretty darn bad ass that you completed a 50K. That and the fact you remembered so many details of the race make you a huge rock star in my books!

    • kilax says:

      Thanks, Nilsa! I remember a lot more as time has passed too! A lot can happen in 7+ hours! LOL!

      Have you guys camped up there? We saw a few tents along the course!

  38. Pretty fast on the race recap! 🙂 Thanks so much to you and Kim for running with me — I would not have finished if it weren’t for you two and my family waiting at the finish line!

    • kilax says:

      I had to get it out before I was too tired to talk about it anymore!

      How are you feeling?

      I had a blast running with you!!! Thanks for sticking with me!

  39. Melissa says:

    Congratulations…that is really incredible!!! From reading your report it sounds like you were really at peace out there on the trail. So nice to be able to run with others too 🙂

    • kilax says:

      Thank you! I did feel really at peace with it all… I think it was how beautiful it was. I wonder if I would be more stressed if it were a city race!

  40. Liz says:


  41. Emily says:

    You. Are. A. Rockstar. HUGE CONGRATULATIONS!!!!

    I truly did mean what I said this past weekend about how you remind me of the 13-year old gymnasts that have already won a gold medal. After doing something like this, what the heck possible goal could you have next? AMAZING!!!!!

    • kilax says:

      Thank you!

      LOL – you are too funny! I really don’t know what is next! A few fun 5Ks and then getting a banana from one of my favorite peeps at the end of ZOOMA…

      Someone just sent me an email about a marathon really close to my hometown in April… so maybe I can FINALLY get my parents to come spectate one!

  42. Christina says:

    Congratulations Sister!! Can’t believe all that you have achieved in the past few years. You set your goals high and you always reach them. Proud to be your sister! <3

  43. Molly says:

    I mean. COME. ON. You are incredible. I can’t even believe how impressed I am.

    What did happen to your toes???

    • kilax says:

      Aww, thank you, Molly!

      LOL! There was so much sand and dirt on the trails that it settled in at the front of my shoes and stained my toes through my socks! It took quite some time to clean them!!!

  44. Congrats – and thanks for running with Kovas:)!!

  45. penny says:

    Congrats Ultra marathoner. Those pics are amazing. Must put this on my bucket list.

  46. You’re so awesome! I’m in awe!!!

  47. Zach says:

    Hardcore! Great pictures too.

  48. kandi says:

    So glad you had a great race!!!! I want to do the next one with you. 😉
    So awesome about Dean. Of course he thinks you are a badass!

  49. Mica says:

    Wow, Kim! I’m sorry that it took me so long to comment on this, I had it saved in my Reader. Congratulations on your awesome achievement! I love how you did this and finished smiling, not being all ” wah wah” overdramatic. You really seem to LOVE running, and your joy for it is infectious!

  50. The Linz says:

    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am so freaking proud of you! Like seriously, you are amazing! I am so happy to hear that the race was such a success for you. And reading that you are down to this distance again is even more amazing. I’m so glad you had such a great experience, this is so inspiring to read. And LOL about Dean Karnazes! I laughed when I saw the photo as he was wearing that same outfit when I met him. But badass..HELL YEAH! You are completely a bad ass after this race! 🙂 Congrats!!!

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