My name is Nick, I am a Wisconsin dad who loves all things fitness, diving, and food! Persistent Resilience is a log of the fun and craziness that is my life. I am passionate about running, I love to see how far I can push myself, and my favorite runs are off-road. Currently I am trying to add to my ultra-marathon experience. If you have any questions about how/why I run or eat the way that I do please do not hesitate to contact me by leaving a comment, via facebook, or by email at Thanks for Visiting

15 May 2012

2012 Ice Age Trail 50 Mile Race Report - Cramps n PR's

2012 Ice Age Trail 50 Mile Race Report

To run or race the Ice Age 50, that was the question I had rolling in my mind for the last month.  To accomplish the latter, racing, I was going to have to very comfortable in my ability to do the former, run.  Going into the race I had been able to consistently train without major injury.  I also was able to more closely dial in my nutrition and gear for racing.  I had better trained my body to burn fat, was using VESPA, and had just received my new shoes, the HOKA stinson evo.  Friday arrives, my bottles get filled, packets get picked up, and I pretend to sleep for a few hours.

The morning of the race I had the pleasure of sharing a ride with, the eventual winner, Zach Bitter.  The conversation was non-stop from the moment we got into the car, man were we wide awake for 4:30 in the morning!  We caught up on training, eating, and racing.  We also talked about our goals for Ice Age, his were slightly loftier than mine.  After the destruction of my body in my last 50 mile race, a 10:35 finish, I had set my main goal as an 8 hour finish, with a stretch goal of seeing that finish time start with a 7.  We got to the race and quickly got our things together.  This was the first time I have ever seen the line for the men’s bathroom longer than the women’s.  Well everyone got ready, Jeff gave us the course run down, told us about Craig and his Ice Age 500 (extra crazy!!), the national anthem was sung, and bang off we went.

The front of this race was FAST!!!  This concerned me as I have trained my body to run on fat, and if you begin to tap your glycogen stores too quickly that is what your body will utilize, and in an ultra that just won’t work.  I fell in with a large contingent of LPTR’s and we quickly blew through 5 miles in a little over 40 minutes, yeah everyone seemed to be moving fast.  Around mile 7 I caught up to my friend David Schmidt, whom I paced last year at the Kettle 100.  We compared race goals, settled in, and began conversing.  Anyone who runs with me knows I LOVE to talk while running; it seems to make me faster!  Well it must have been working because we cruised into highway 12 in about 2:30ish, which is a 7:30 finish.  I was feeling great, the pace seemed sustainable and my nutrition was spot on, I was using VESPA and a combination of coconut water and gels.  Dave and I refilled, re-grouped, and headed out.

I was really looking forward to this section of the course, not for its technical aspects, but rather because the turn around at Rice Lake would allow us to see who was in the race lead.  I had earnestly thrown my vote in Zach’s direction and was hoping that would be the case.  Well Dave and I were making great time so the course leaders, Zach in front, did not pass us till after Esterly Rd, which meant they were only about 4 miles ahead of us!  We hit the turn and off we went.  This was very exciting; the last ultra I ran had 60 starters, while this one had 350.  Being that Dave and I were probably in the top 40 meant we passed a lot of people after the turn, and it was fun seeing everyone have a great time.  Right around mile 25 I started to have issues running up hills so I told Dave to go on, I would power hike the hills, and catch up after highway 12.  I also began to feel small cramps in my hip adductors and calves so I swallowed every bit of salt I had.  I ran through the highway 12 aid station, begged some salt tabs, and took off. (Photo 1, 2)

27 miles into the race I was still on a 7:30 finish pace, but that was about to come to a screeching halt.  At mile 28 my body locked up in a full assault body cramp, from my forehead to my toes every muscle I had seized up.  I stopped running, started taking in more salt, began walking, and tried to figure out what was going on and how I was going to fix it.  Barring a disastrous injury I had never before let the DNF thought cross my mind.  Had I not been between aid stations I would have called it a day.  As soon as that thought came, I realized it was time for the mind to will the body into motion.  (Photo: Smiling through cramps) I began a process of jogging and stumbling, while cramping, which would have impressed even the best drunken Frankenstein impersonators.  During this stretch between highway 12 and Horserider camp I had the pleasure of running with and getting to know some great people, amazing enough the only muscle that seemed to be working properly was my jaw so the conversation began!  The first of these guys was John Nagel, from Juneau Alaska.  The minute he told me where he was from I mentally pictured myself running with Geoff Roes, why you ask, well I figured if he was Geoff and I was keeping pace with him, then I was still ok!  Come to find out John not only knows Geoff but works as a guide at Geoff’s Alaskan Ultrarunning Camp.  The second individual was Logan Polfuss.  Logan has run an impressive list of races already this year and has several more to complete.  He was battling his own demon’s this day and he was working through them by talking, well holy smoke that works for me!  We started talking, my mind told my cramping legs to shut up, and I am pretty sure everyone we passed was extremely impressed at how quickly we both were running while seemingly not breathing due to speaking.

Shortly before Horserider camp the leaders passed us again with Zach in the lead, I informed Logan my bag was in Zach’s car so I either need to pick up my pace or pray that he stuck around after his finish!  We ran into Horserider where I saw Dave’s wife, I asked where he was, and she promptly lied saying he was only about 20 minutes ahead of me.  I didn’t see Logan so I put on the tunes and took off looking for Dave.  By this point I was angry with my body and decided to remind it who was in charge by promptly picking up the pace.  I began to pass people hoping to catch sight of Dave.  Well I did, except he passed by me about 25 minutes before the aid station, Dave’s wife had told me 20 minutes when it was more like 60, but I was cutting that time down.  I hit the turn and then raced back to Horserider where I dropped my waist pack, grabbed my hand-helds, and flew out of there like I was racing a 5k.  The final 7 miles Ron Bero, a fellow LPTR, and I began playing tag on the trail.  He was feeling the climbs and I was smashing the down hills, not sure if this was my anger or my new shoes!  Ron and I were passing people and running for home.  Ron pulled ahead about 30 seconds and we ran through like that.  I came around the corner, sprinting, with a huge grin on my face, and was greeted by a finish time of 8:35, a 2 hour personal best!!!  I was ecstatic I had met my original goal of finishing in 8, but more importantly I had overcome a debilitating 11 mile stretch of cramps to finish strong.  My energy levels remained consistent, even through the cramps, and I credit both VESPA and my higher fat diet for this!  My recovery has been fantastic, 1 day post race I went for a monster bike ride. I credit my diet, and my new HOKA's for my speedy recovery, these shoes are fantastic and a review of them will be coming shortly.

Congratulations to everyone who raced on Saturday.  Congrats to Zach Bitter on his win, and thank you for not leaving with my bag!  Thank you to all the volunteers and everyone else who graciously helped me out through the lows!

Gear Used
Shirt - Sugoi Race T - Performance Running Outfitters
Shorts - CW-X Stabilyx Ventilator - Performanace Running Outfitters
Calf Sleeves - CEP - Performance Running Outfitters
Hydration - Nathan 2VElite waist pack - Performance Running Outfitters
Shoes - HOKA ONE ONE Stinson Evo, provided by iRunFar
Nutrition - VESPA, Gels, Coconut Water, Salt
Still not tired of talking, John Zinzow and I

Dave and I at the Finish

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