Race Recap: Dances With Dirt 50 Mile – Steph

Hello friends! Today I’m straying slightly away from Some Things Sunday to capture everything I can about the Dances With Dirt Gnaw Bone 50 Mile in 30 minutes or less, mostly unedited, mostly snapshots of what I can recall. Speed blogging*.*Likely not a real word, but the idea of writing a post so short-and-quickly is so awesome it’ll catch on and I’m calling myself a trend-starter. Join my movement! ;)

Commence the mad typing!!


Caught what I suspected was a head cold earlier in the week. Couldn’t sleep on Thurs/Fri nights because my nose was all stuffed up. Got up on Saturday morning, felt not-exhausted (yesss!), and started getting ready. I didn’t give myself enough time because I ran out of time to eat breakfast. I thought there was a chance I could get a PB&J as breakfast at the first aid station as b-fast but instead brought bread, banana, and peanut butter. I choked it down… it’s hard to stomach anything when you’re not hungry, and when it’s before 6am!

Gah! Yet another missed race start! One of these days…. I’ll be early/on time. :) But I do alright, so maybe it’s not worth changing the habit.

It was kind of chilly out, but was looking like it’d be a perfect-weather race day — 61º degrees as the high, 39º in the monring. Chilly enough that it needed some prep! I sat in the car trying to get all my clothes on (calf sleeves, arm sleeves, socks, shoes, etc.) and Ben took off with Rick to the start line.

I had about 1 minute before race start by the time I finally got everything situated and got out of the car. Oh yeah – and we got one of THE absolute farthest parking spots away from the start possible (ironically, 5 minutes later and we would have had a primo space). I heard and saw a crowd of people starting their run just as I was halfway between the car and the start, but instead of being disappointed, I was kind of glad that it turned out this way – I would’ve had to shiver for a few minutes otherwise, and this way I could just get going  as soon as I got there. It’s strangely a good-luck thing for me to get a late start. (< — this is how I operate in preparation for air travel also… I don’t got no time to wait!)

Miles 1-10
I hit the gravel road heading to the trail and it was Sloppy. With a capital “S.”  I was wearing my NB 1010s and socks, and after about the third big mud puddle both of my feet were completely wet, so although I tried to be a little ginger, it was immediately obvious there was no escaping the monstrosity of mud/poop that awaited on the (horse) trails. Good to get it out of the way early. Made it fun. :)

Passed a bunch of people in the very beginning, and second-guessed my pace. In trail races, I always feel like the idiot who everyone thinks will “fly and die,” so when everyone’s walking, I’m passing big crowds of people (’cause I’m starting dead last). I’m still not sure if this initial pace comes back to bite me later.

I didn’t carry a pack. I wore a Flip Belt, bringing my cell phone and 3 Ignite Naturals gels. I also chose not to use drop bags. At the aid stations, I usually took a cup of water and a PB&J or a cookie, and that pretty much held me over.

During many of the conversations I had with people I found that most of them would run multiple 50s or 100s during a single season (a majority of them completing the DWD series). So for you who think I am completely nuts for doing this, there is another level of crazy! Some of them are running ultras on back to back weekends, or multiple within 2 weeks apart. Rockstars.

I don’t really remember much of the first 10 miles, which is a good sign that they just clicked away. I saw my watch around 6 or 7 miles and thought it was going to be a long way to go. After that I don’t think I looked for another 20 miles. So it’s going to be pretty vague from here on out…

Miles 11-29ish
Somewhere near Mile 10 (?) at Hesitation Point, I passed a girl and made conversation with her. We hit some momentum-killer logs that we had to jump over, and she caught up with me. She was pretty fun to talk to, so we stuck together for a while. Actually, for over 25 miles. Her name is Kelsey. Kelsey’s pretty awesome and she runs “lean,” just like me – she only carried a handheld and that’s it. I ran briefly with a Chicago girl named Anastasia, too, and a guy who was telling some pretty awful pun-ny jokes (many pirate-themed) to pass the time. I’d forgotten to pack a bag of Endurolytes (essentially salt pills), and they usually help keep my stomach under wraps. He had a bunch and said he wasn’t using them so he gave the whole bag to me… thanks, fellow trail racing stranger!

I took some of the Endurolytes at an aid station, but somehow accidentally dumped the whole bag upside down. You see, desperate times call for desperate measures: I called on the 10 second rule. I picked each one of the ~12 of them out of the mud and kept/swallowed them.

I ate a salted potato at a few of the aid stations. One guy commented that they were a bit crunchy. It became the topic of conversation for at least a quarter mile with some other runners I left with from the aid station.

It’s always funner to run a long distance WITH people, right? So I did for quite a ways. My secret goal (you know – the one you don’t really tell a lot of people) was to run close to the course record, and if I could do that and hang out with people, that’d be awesome. I kind of realized somewhere around these miles that I’d need to take off, but it was way too nice to have some company on the run. Eh, I stuck around. Kelsey & I talked for a while and got some compliments (?!) from guys we passed on the trail who were excited that we were so energetic and chatty, too. This is what trail running’s about!

Miles 30-37ish
Somewhere right after Hesitation Point (mile 29? 30?) we took a wrong turn after going down the fire road and headed BACK UP the trail to HP. Um, that’s all uphill. She said we climbed for 15 minutes, according to her watch, and once we realized we’d gone the wrong way, it took another 10 minutes to backtrack. While I don’t think it was that far, we were probably off by 1.5 miles by the time we rejoined the correct path. Our fault. I swear it’s easier to get lost when you’re with someone compared to when you’re alone.

I turned on my cell phone at this time, because I knew my Garmin was about to die. It beeped for about 4 miles and then I lost it around mile 37. I started my Strava iphone app at mile 34ish, so I had a record of the rest of the run – and overlapping if needed.

It was at the “we’re lost” point that I started feeling the heat to press on and move faster — I felt just fine and was ok with pushing the pace. Kelsey & I got split up by some guys we passed, and I kinda quietly moved onward. I feel bad that I didn’t have a chance to tell her I was gonna go ahead!

There was another trail marker I missed after this, too, and I mistaked it as the segment where you run on the road for a few miles. Rather than taking a left turn 100 yards later, I ended up going down the road pretty far… lol — far enough that they had to send a car to come get me and tell me I wasn’t going the right way. Another oops. Chalk up another mile? Stupid! I was so distracted by the Oreo I took “for the road” that I think I failed to see the trail marker. Even more embarrassing, this was the second time I ran this exact route of the trail.

Miles 37-50+ish
Proof. Miles you run alone are WAY harder than ones you run with people. I was counting down the miles and before a stupid uphill, muddy, steep climb, I was running on a horse trail and suspected I was going the wrong way. I turned around and asked a relay runner who was blindly following me 100 yards behind if he saw any flags that we’d missed. He glanced back, told me no, and so I kept going for another few minutes. Then I was positive we weren’t going the right way. Turned around, and less than a few feet from where he was standing when I asked, “do you see any flags?” …. there was a flag. Duh — another idiot moment!

I was glad to hit the decision point (6 miles to the finish) for the last time and be done with running. Miles were going by a lot slower than when I’d had a buddy, but it was also good that those last 6 miles were pretty flat/rolling enough that you could get going– you know, no massive mud pits, climbs, or fallen trees to steeple over.

Ok, fast forward to the end and I didn’t actually realize I was so close to the finish until I got dumped out right onto the ski hill. So there I was, first skiing in mud down the initial part of the ski hill, and then trying not to tumble the rest of the way down.

There were massive amounts of mud in the last bit after the ski hill. My feet had been wet – and stayed wet – since the first mile, but this time the mud was actually sticking and growing into a giant clump on my shoes. Then, I got into the creek. I’ve done this very same finish before, yet once in, I still was confused on where to go in the creek. I got out of the creek twice at the wrong spot before I figured out I needed to keep going… to the tune of 25 minutes to go that half mile. I can’t even describe it…. I just stood there in thigh-high water, feeling so utterly confused! I knew I was extremely close to the finish, and still couldn’t find the marker. My brain hardly works well during a 5 mile run, so multiply that by 10 and this is what I had to work with! …Things just stopped making sense. I won’t even try to explain the moments of dumb that hit me in those minutes.

Um, AWESOME!! There was so much noise and commotion at the finish line. It wasn’t really until the END of the finish line when I figured out that all the energy was coming from none other than my favorite BARA crew!! Best feeling ever. Most of them had raced earlier in the day and had stuck around countless hours waiting for me and my forever-lost butt to finish. But I did, and they were all there! <3


  • Winner! I won my age group and took home a bucket, a pint glass, and a finisher medal.
  • 2nd female overall
  • 14th of ~50 runners
  • Time: 10:19

I really wanted take my socks and shoes off — I wonder if it would have made any difference (chafing-wise) if I did this sock-less next time the trails are wet like this… wet socks are not that awful. My feet were prunes! This seems like a classic newbie trail runner mistake.


  • My legs didn’t feel nearly as beat up this time as they did during/after Rocky Raccoon. Softer ground?
  • I’m really thankful to finish and not be broken; after the RR 50, I some aches and pains in my lower leg/foot that made it hard to walk. After this one, I’m doing perfectly ok! Scary enough, I felt like I could have kept going! I just didn’t feel as spent as I did after last time (RR).
  • Speaking of feeling spent, I hadn’t run a lot of trails since March and the Boston Marathon. I felt like finishing was more uncertain this time, but (thank goodness!) everything worked out.
  • Knowing where you’re going is part of the challenge of trail running. I’m kicking myself for not paying attention.
  • A good conversation > good playlist > nothing at all > pirate jokes
  • NO FALLS. I did not fall once on this run!!!!! Sweet victory…!
  • I’m really sad I didn’t get ANY photos of this race – chances are, I would have destroyed my phone if I slipped and bit it on the muddy/wet trails.
  • Speaking of phone: I took my phone out of my Flip Belt, since it’d been on and tracking my run since mile 34. You might not believe me when I say this, but I think the radiation or signal frequency (EMF radiation?) – something – did something to my back. It’s not a chafing or raw skin issue; it actually hurts to the touch (and still does). It feels really bruised, yet flip belts don’t move and jostle around, nor do they cause chafing. It’s Monday and it still hurts like someone punched me in the lower back. Does anyone know anything about this? This has to be from my cell phone…. right??
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4 thoughts on “Race Recap: Dances With Dirt 50 Mile – Steph

  1. May 13, 2013 at 11:12 pm

    Speed blogging is ALL I DO! It’s total funzo! Good running Zoom!

  2. May 16, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    I would just like to say that reading both yours and Ben’s race reports in a row cracks me up. Ben has a detailed list of a meticulously planned breakfast, and you are like, “I didn’t wake up early enough and ran out of time for breakfast… Then I got dressed in the car…” Ohhh, Bartleys!

    Congrats to both of you on successful races!

  3. john
    December 16, 2013 at 3:04 am

    Steph, I was reading yr BR100 report…I’m thinking of doing it in 2014, loved the report. I was part of Mikes crew (the dude in the buttoned down shirt) and once we learned your name, we called you by your name every time we saw you. You looked so relaxed the whole race. Congrats on a great time!

    But, to answer your question on cell phones, if the phone was tracking your progress, it was receiving (from GPS satellites primarily, and cell phone towers secondarily) and was emphatically not emitting a signal. That takes care of the GPS side of things. As a telephone, it will send out a signal to find and register with a tower, but mos def not a strong signal. Now, here’s where it gets interesting…the further away the tower is, the harder your phone has to work to locate the tower and keep registering. This is why in the city, your phone doesn’t seem to lose battery so quickly, but in the countryside, where towers are less dense, the phone must work harder to communicate with a distant tower. Even so, phones have become less powerful now than they used to be, and the electronics are a lot smarter. If this is a concern when running, put your phone in airplane mode which essentially stops it from being a phone and sending out phone signals. Turn off WiFi, another battery waster when running, and only allow GPS. You may find GPS lasts a lot longer with all that stuff turned off.

    1. Steph
      January 3, 2014 at 12:36 am

      Well hello and thanks for cheering! This is why I love ultras (!) — Even though BR100 was months ago now, I still 100% remember Mike and your entire crew. You weren’t the ones giving him hell for stopping at that portajohn, were you? :)

      Oh – and on cell phones: thank you for that explanation! For the rare few times I actually end up running *with* my phone, it always seems to be during a race (and of course out in the woods)… now I need to figure out which phone functions are absolutely essential!

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