Little Woods 2018 #racereport

This was my fifth year running in the Little Woods Progressive Ultra. Set up in a last man standing format, participants run a 4ish mile trail loop each hour until only one runner is left. The race may be ultra, but I am not, so for me it's just (free) reason to get myself out of bed on a cold January morning and run some miles. #motivation

Just like last winter, my last and first events of the year were trail runs. Unlike last year, I won't have another 11 months before my next foot race. I'm signed up for the Frozen Feet half marathon next weekend, so I wanted to run 3 laps and at least have run double digits once before the race. #training

I've been running on a semi-regular basis with my friend Katie and my sister-in-law Kristy ("#Squirrel") and convinced them both to sign up for Little Woods as well. "Convinced" is maybe an overstatement because it didn't take much more than mentioning it to them. It's a good thing they both signed up; it would have been really easy to look at the temperature on race morning and roll back over in my warm bed, but I couldn't be the one to bail. #peerpressure

Temperature a half hour before the start
The 2017 starting temp was 3 degrees, so I knew that I'd be fine once I got moving. I checked back at my training log to see what I'd worn and basically copied that with the exception of different running tights since I've somehow lost the pair I wore last year (likely somewhere in my house). #disorganized

Each of us had a different attitude towards the weather conditions. Kristy was the most excited, I was more resigned, and Katie was questioning every life choice that led her to this point.


Unsurprisingly, I was the last one of our trio to arrive, and I had to smile at the packed parking area. 7:30 a.m. on a Saturday, negative temperatures, and a full house. I wasn't the only one who took note of the crowd.


We got checked in, dropped off our food at the smorgasbord-style aid station, and lined up as late as possible at the start. In fact, the RD called out 3 minutes to go as I was on my way to the portajohn for that last-minute bathroom stop, but at least this year I made it out in time for the start. #timemanagementyo

Lap 1: #Ican'tfeelmyface

The three of us held back until most everyone had gone by and then stuck with a pretty casual pace, fast enough to make it back in time for the next lap, but slow enough that we wouldn't have long to stand around. The first mile or two were really cold. I'd worn thin knit gloves, and they were not sufficient. I tried slipping on my lobster gloves as I ran but couldn't get them on and settled for just tucking my fingers inside. #brrr #manhands

After mile two I felt better, never actually warm but no longer freezing. We ran and walked and chatted and laughed about how stupidly cold it was. Having spent a lot of time running on these trails, I played tour guide some.  And of course we stopped for a group selfie.

The girls both have frosty faces, and my braid iced over.
We made it back with about 5 minutes to spare, just enough time to use the bathroom again and grab a quick drink before starting off again. #thatwasntsobad

Lap 2: #ifcomplainingisasportdoesthatmakemeaduathlete

I'd planned to run 3 laps, Katie had planned 2, and Kristy was going to do 1, but we all lined up again at the start when 9:00 rolled around again. Finishing this lap would be Kristy's longest run to date, and we celebrated when she reached her new distance PR.

Christmas Eve snow still hanging around on January 7.
There was little to celebrate besides Kristy's new accomplishment. Even around mile 6 my legs -- which had held up just fine for longer on the much more difficult Pere Marquette course -- were getting pretty cranky. So was Katie, which brought out my (annoying) first grade teacher/cheerleader side until she explained that she wasn't really (that) crabby, she just enjoyed complaining. We did a bit more walking on this lap, making it back juuuust in time for me to hit the start/finish and turn around for my final lap. #ThisiswhereIusuallymentiongettingmoreraceformymoneybutthisonewasfreesoooooo

Lap 3: #everythinghurtsandI'mdying

I initially thought I'll run this faster and then be back home in a hot bathtub that much sooner, but I quickly regretted this plan. Carried along by the self-inflicted peer pressure of the group of people around me, I hung in for the first mile and then stepped off the trail when we reached the uphill at the beginning of trail 3.

The rest of the loop I alternated between (get it over with) running and (my legs are killing me why do my legs hurt so much) walking. Eventually it occurred to me that maybe they weren't so much sore as cramping. I'd opted not to carry a water bottle and only had a couple of sips after lap one. It's been so long since I've done any kind of distance running that I kind of forgot about all kinds of important stuff, things like drinking during the race and body glide before it. #amateurhour

I survived the last couple of miles by rationing walking steps (OK, that's 50 steps, you have to run now) and finished with about 12.3 miles, my first double digit run in two years. While it wasn't particularly confidence inspiring, it felt good to have a longer mileage run on my legs before the half marathon, and hopefully I'll make fewer bad decisions with the mental tune-up. #yeahprobablynot

Starting temp: 0 degrees
Finishing temp: 11 degrees?

What I wore: Under Armor running tights (not legs were numb the whole time), thin wool liner socks with thicker wool socks, Salewa trail running shoes, thin l/s base layer shirt with 2 l/s tech shirts, fleece hat, buff, knit gloves (too light for the first couple of miles but fine afterwards).

Everything but my pants worked fine for the conditions.


  1. Ok, so, if my FACE frosts over? I'm going home. Forget that!

  2. You are so far ahead of me, I must get my ass/arse into gear this year. It is 2c (35.5f) here and raining and I can't face it...

  3. That's an awesome run with conditions like that. Well done Kate!


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