Jul 10

Race Report: Dances with Dirt Devil’s Lake 50K

This can’t work like a normal, blow-by-blow race report like I’ve written in the past; it was just too long, and too much went on to try to tell the story from beginning to end. I was so exhausted by the end of it that the details were fleeting even then, so I’ll try to capture as many of them as possible, as well as impressions.

The short of it is, I finished in 6 hours, 47 minutes, which was apparently good enough for 2nd place in my age group and 12th woman overall. The award for placing in my age group?

Second in my age group!

Long story:

  • Got there about 45 minutes early; got thoroughly intimidated by the parking area full of cars that had plenty of magnets, but nothing less than “50” on them. (One said, “You ran a marathon? That’s cute.” 🙄 ) Rachel didn’t roll in until 5:20 (start was at 5:30), so I had plenty of time to fret and feel out of place. Just before the start, I heard my name, and Brian was right behind us! That was cool.
  • First leg was going to be the toughest, from my study of the course, and my fretting made it worse; my stomach clenched, I thought I would puke, and I entertained doubts about even finishing. Rough getting started. Running down the ski slope was massively hard, especially due to it having been turned into a mud slide by faster runners.
  • The uphills were killer, but we decided to stick quite a bit to a 4″/1″ run-walk strategy whenever we could. It helped break things up a bit.
  • I fell hard three times – once just after 7 miles, again near the same spot on the way back at the end, and again not long after that. I was covered in mud and grime, and I was pessimistically convinced I’d killed my phone with at least one of those falls, but it turned out just fine.
  • Stone stairs = whoa. That was incredibly intense, and it seemed to go on forever. (I cracked jokes that, geometrically speaking, I’d always thought of “up” as a limited thing, not a line without an end point.) No way to run that – at least, not at my skill level.
  • In leg 5, what the packet described as “off trail section of about half a mile through the woods with bad footing”? HA-HA-HA! Nothing but slippery, mossy rocks, which you had to scale by gripping the trees around them.
  • Long legs are invaluable in climbing up and down ledges. Rachel has ’em. I don’t. Had to use my hands and arms to help climb more than once.
  • Both IT bands took turns alternating with the pain. Oh, well; at least there was variety.
  • By the end, Rachel and I were alone quite a bit, and I was whipped. We got to the final turn and saw the finish line, and Rachel yelled, “Go!” I said, “I’m in ‘go.’ This is ‘go.’ YOU go!” and she took off like a killer was chasing her. 😆
  • So, Rachel took second in her age group, too, and 11th female. It was massively difficult; other runners with whom we chatted afterward said it was one of the gnarliest 50Ks they’d done. For a long time, I thought that we were the last two women off the course, but just as I told Rachel that, another 50Ker crossed the line, so I guess we’ll have to wait and see when the final results get posted.

    Verdict: fun. But mostly in hindsight. 😉 Will I do it again? Well, it’s kind of like childbirth, in this case, I think. Ask me when my wounds have healed! 😆


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  1. Anne

    Holy cow in a handbasket! That sounds like a killer race. Congrats!!!!

  2. Melissa

    So very impressed! Congratulations, Carrie!

  3. The Green Girl

    Carrie, I am so proud of you! Congratulations on placing 2nd in your age group – that is huge!

  4. heidi fannin

    You and Racheal rock! wow, what an accomplishment. You should be so proud. However, are you crazy??

  5. Sarah @ OneStarryNight

    AWESOME!! I totally bet that just a few short years ago you NEVER could have imagined that THIS would be your life now!

  6. Kelly @ Dream. Strive. Succeed.

    Completely amazing and awesome. I was just sitting here thinking, I still can’t run -5k-, and you just went out there and ran -50k-.

    But it gives me a lot of inspiration, knowing that you, too, had to start somewhere, and look at where you are now! I’m so proud to know you!

  7. Greg

    Just came across your blog via twitter. This was my first organized race of any type and pretty indescribable. Fortunately, I was able to read yours to a buddy and after looking at the photo he noted, “I remember those two – the woman in blue was sprinting!”

  8. Angie

    You are incredible! Just curious, do you draw upon any of your experiences with natural childbirth to complete these long runs?

  9. JayDub

    You are truly amazing. Well done Carrie, I am in awe.

  10. Rachel


    you are a great writer, and a great training and running buddy!!!! thanks for the best race ever. i dont think i’ve ever been this sore!!

    Rachel 😉

  11. Vena

    Yay! So proud of you and your finishing 2nd in age group is awesome.

  12. JOY

    I’d say, Carrie,since I was at your first birth…you definately have to gift of PERSEVERENCE:-)))….and you DID GO GIRL!!!!!!!!!!

  13. Sara

    You are my hero!

  14. farra

    Hey! i ran behind you for a little ways in the beginning – congratulations!!!

  15. Carrie

    Thanks a ton, guys! Heidi, yep, I’d say we are pretty crazy. 😆

    Greg, how’d you do? Farra, congrats to you, too! Love those beer mugs (even though I don’t drink beer myself!) Were you behind me when I took one of my headers into the mud?

    Angie and Joy, I definitely do draw from my birth experiences out there; in fact, I discussed that with Rachel while we were running. Relaxing the body when you start tightening up, breathing through pain, treating the hard running intervals like contractions (“I can do anything for [X amount of time,” etc.), and so on.

    Rachel, I ran this morning (Tuesday) for the first time since. Felt okay, thank goodness! Still a bit stiff, but definitely improving!

  16. Melissa

    😯 I’m doing this race as my first 50K/ultra in July 2012.
    I’m so tardy to the party but I’m reading race reports (now that I’ve already registered and can’t back out… of course!) to see what I’ve gotten myself into. I didn’t realize this course was so technical! I guess I know what to try and practice on during my training… super messed up trail that I think is terrifying.

    I’d also hoped to finish under 7 hours. Now, knowing that top runners are getting age awards and placing so high with those times, I’m less sure. I figured I could do a 6:30 or a 6:45 since my best marathon (road) is a 4:36. Again, less sure now.

    Thanks for posting. This was good for me to read. Have to go hyperventilate now. 😯

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