April 29, 2018

4/28/18 Chippewa 50K #5

I was looking forward to this race, as I do every year. This would be my 5th running for the 50k distance and the 6th year in a row running this race in April. Unfortunately my grandson decided to share his cold with me right after my attempted Zumbro race. So for two solid weeks I was quite sick with a cold. The first week I was miserable and knew this one was going to last. I still figured that it would be gone by race day with it being two weeks. This was not to be the case. The week of the race I went out for a 3.5 mile run and knew that if the chest cold did not clear up in the next few days racing with a chest cold would not be about setting any PR's but just being able to finish within the cutoff's so I could keep my streak going.

Gathering items for the race. Asked other UMTR runners what they would wear
based on predicted weather and the answer was overwhelmingly shorts.



 

Driving to the race

 

Being a fairly local race for me at only 1 hour and 45 minutes away I always head out to the race early morning before the sun rises. Watching the sunrise while driving to the race has become a highlight of this race. I was not disappointed. Actually when I left the house at 5:15 am it was still dark and the full moon was in the western horizon.  I was carpooling to the race with another runner that lives in River Falls, Alena, and we decided to meet at the park and ride on the east end of town. Met her at about 5:50 and we were off to the race. I try to get to the race no later than 7:15 and we were cutting it close so I had to somewhat put the pedal to the metal to be sure we made it in time.  We not only made it but was able to stop and use the bathroom at the gas station so that we did not have to wait in the porta potty line. That is a big win in my book. :)

Start to Aid Station 1

 

After visiting with several friends at the start line we were given some directions and course conditions from the race director and the race began. This race has a very steep downhill at the start of the race. All fine and dandy way to start the race but hey guess what? This is an out and back course. Yes, that means that the wonderful downhill start becomes a very steep uphill finish! Oh well no time to worry about that just yet. There are 30 some miles before that will need to be tackled. A lot can happen in 30 miles running in the woods. Those first 3ish miles to the aid station are sections of the trail that have the most roots and rocks. Being an early spring race there are also tons of falls leaves littering the trail covering all the roots and rocks that are just waiting to send you flying. I managed to stay upright in this section this year. I was not always so lucky in past years. I have taken more than a few stumbles in this race in the last several years.

The first two miles take you in a circle around the Chippewa Morraine Visitor center which is where the start line is. You run right past the back of the visitor center and of course when spectators cheer  you on in this section you are climbing a hill. This year when I hit this spot I found myself alone on the trail. Several people called out my name. I was concentrating on not tripping and falling on my face that I actually don't know who those folks were other than the race director.  Although I believe I heard Wendy in the group as well.

No pressure here as I chug up the hill while everyone watches!

 

Aid Station 1 to Aid Station 2

 

After grabbing some PB&J sandwiches and a swig of coke I quickly head out for the next section. The aid stations are about 5 to 6 miles apart in these next few sections and those miles can feel really long. The most runnable section, though, are these next 5 miles. The hills are gently rolling and you pass by lots of small lakes which really makes this races scenery enjoyable. There was quite a bit of muddy sections this year and even some snow still left on the trail. The snow on some parts was actually nice because you could avoid the mud and just run on the thin layer of crunchy snow. The temps started out around 35 degrees so the ground was mostly firm in these early hours. So although there was mud in this section it was not hard to run. I was on my own during most of these miles but at some point Sam caught up with me and we ran together almost all the way to the turnaround.

The views are stunning of the many lakes.

Being a cold spring there was still a lot of ice on the lakes

That just looks cold!


Beautiful snow free and dry single track trail!

 

Aid Station 2 to the Turnaround

 

We ran into the aid station and I grabbed more sandwiches and a few cookies. At about 10 miles into the race I realized I was really going to have to keep moving as fast as I could in order to make the cutoff. We have to make the half way point at 15.5 miles in 4 hours. In the past I have made that aid station with about 15 to 20 minutes to spare. I was not so sure this would be the case. I felt tired and sluggish and really felt like I was working at about 75% of my lung capacity due to my cold. I also know that the next section is the harder section to run and it often takes me longer to complete than my pace on the first 10 miles. This is also the section where we start to meet the runners coming back. This section becomes less about gently rolling hills and more about steep hills mixed in with gentle rolling hills. And to start out, the first mile or so is always muddy. This year was no exception. It seems to be a low section and until you start ascending you have to get through the very large mud puddles. I managed to keep my feet from getting completely wet but I also managed to scratch my legs up in the process. 

Erica caught up to Sam and I somewhere in this section. And then she proceeded to pass us up. I was beyond caring at this point who passed me as I was only concentrating on getting to that finish line before the cutoff. This year I cut it way too close with only a few minutes to spare. But I made it and that was the important thing. I knew there was no way I would finish this race with a PR and making it the turnaround meant that I could ease off on the way back with an extra hour to complete those next 15.5 miles.

Turnaround to Aid Station 2/4

 

I spent much of this section running alone and at some point I had turned on a podcast on my mp3 player to keep me company. Sam and Erica got out ahead of me and I figured there was no way I would catch back up. This section seems easier running back. Is that because I know that each step forward is bringing me to the finish line instead of away from it? Or is it overall a negative elevation versus a positive elevation when running out to the turnaround? Either way it feels much easier despite the same steep inclines I just ran in the opposite direction. Well easier is relative I guess. At this point I am experiencing an overall muscle soreness and starting to cough more. But I am still happy to be spending the day out in the woods. I pull into Aid station 4 with 21 miles behind me knowing I only have 10 miles left. I ask about Erica and Sam who were ahead of me and they say they have not seen Erica. Say what? How can that be. As we are discussing this Erica and Sam pop out of the trail behind me. I guess they took a little detour and somehow I managed to get in front of them without even realizing it. I was definitely ready to be done for the day. Knowing it was almost 6 miles to the next aid station did not help with that. I fueled up on more pb&j's (about this time I get sick of them but know I have to have fuel to finish). I should have refilled my bladder at this aid station but I did not. I ended up regretting this oversight greatly.

Aid Station 4 to Aid Station 5

 

So if you remember this was the very runnable and mostly enjoyable section of trail. Not always so at this stage of the race. Oh yes the trail is exactly the same time the first time going through but with more miles on the legs I am starting to get tired. I am very comfortable running these races by myself now and often will do better when I just run my own pace. I listened to another podcast for a bit and when that was done unplugged and just ran when I could and hiked when it was necessary. This section seemed to take forever as I watched my Garmin tick away the miles very slowly. Finally I made it to the final aid station. I ran out of water about 3 miles prior and was really thirsty. Normally I would mostly blow through this last aid station as quickly as possible but needed to fill my water bladder as 3 more miles without water was too much.

Some of the snow and ice left on the trail

To the Finish Line

 

After filling up I headed out at a slow run with the plan to slowly run and hike my way to the finish. I had over an hour to finish these final miles so I knew at this point I would finish before the cutoff. This section has the abundance of roots and rocks and at this late in the race I have to stay on my toes or I will end up on my face! For part of this section and the previous one I came across Ken and Scott (running his first 50K) power hiking the last half of the race. They were good company on the trail and we leapfrogged sections of this.  I would run ahead on the flats and they would of course catch up on the uphills. We tried not to think about that last final hill and just pushed through. One thing to note about this race finish is that 2 miles from the finish at the Visitor Center you are on the backside. So close and yet so far away! After another mile or so in the woods with some of those forgotten long slow climbs we finally pop out of the woods for the last time. Once out of the woods we can see the Finish line in the distance. Just a prairie run and one final very steep climb to the finish. I have walked this long steep climb to the finish in 5 previous finishes and in each one it is always much longer than I remember. The surprising thing about this climb is the number of times you turn the corner and realize you have more hill to climb. Finally when you crest the hill it is just a short run to the finish! Ha that is if you can run at this point. It normally takes a few paces to be able to muster up the strength to run it in. Every year I seem to muster that strength and run (dare I say sprint?) through the finish. Finishing time was about 8:41ish. So goal met with finishing before the cutoff but this was also my worst finish for the 50k. Surprisingly I was not disappointed  in the least. It just is what it is.

Surprised they do not look muddier with the mud puddles I ran through at the end.

Cool bibs this year!

Next race on the horizon is Fans 12 hour run beginning of June. No hills but definitely a race with it's own mental challenges.

Until next time, Happy Trails!

April 22, 2018

4/14/18 Zumbro Trail Races - 50 Mile DNF

All roads lead to Zumbro River Bottoms or do they? This year's Zumbro race will be remembered for a very long time by those that were able to run either part of the race or those that were fortunate enough to finish their races.

I had signed up for the 50 mile race late fall when I felt like I would not have a problem getting back into some serious training. My right foot with the neuroma seems to be holding up well with the neuroma pads and I felt like I could pick up the mileage again without any problem. My injury did not keep me from training but life's stresses and the busyness of life definitely got in the way. If you want to know how NOT to train for a 50 mile trail race just ask me as I seem to have that all figured out.

As the race kept getting closer and I was, at best, averaging 20 mile weeks the thoughts of finishing this race were diminishing. I went into this race thinking if I did get it done it would be by stubborness alone because it would definitely not be as a result of my training. This winter brought lots of snow and ice on the trails and the addition of a Grandson that we found ourselves watching a lot. We love spending time with Ezra but with all my children being adults now I guess I forgot how much work it takes to watch a baby.

Love spending time with my Grandson Ezra! (but it does cut into the training)
I had fun training with with my friend Tina who would be making Zumbro her first 50 mile race. Of course she was another reason I had my doubts about finishing this race as she was killing it with her training runs.

The week before Zumbro weather checking was being done by everybody headed to the race, be it runner or volunteer. The reports were not looking good. With snow still on the ground and some colder than normal temperatures in March and now into April it was promising to be some interesting trail conditions. Somehow the snow on the course managed to melt for the most part by Friday morning but it was predicted to rain, sleet and then snow Friday through Sunday morning with predictions of epic levels of snow accumulation Friday night and Saturday.

Big Red, my bed on wheels!
I pulled out Big Red, the minivan or campervan as I like to call it. Race season has started and this is my vehicle of choice to use for far away races that involve sleeping before or after the race.  I left work at 4 pm after meeting with Tina who would be driving down with me. I ordered my traditional Domino's pizza for the road for dinner on the go.
Pizza for the road!
The plan was to arrive at Zumbro around 5, talk with fellow runners and volunteers for a bit and then try to catch some sleep in the van from at least 7 until 11 pm before the 12:01 am race start. When we arrived the campground where the Start/Finish Aid Station is there was no snow to be seen. There was excitement in the air and I chatted with fellow runners, Bob Marsh, Robyn Reed and a few others. We headed into the van around 6 and I put together as much stuff as I could for the race start. It started raining shortly after laying down to try to sleep. Not a very wanted sound at this point. I managed to fall asleep and when I woke up intermittently I could not hear the patter of rain or sleet on the van roof. Good, it stopped raining. That's a good sign right?


My alarm went off at 11 pm and it was time to start getting ready for the race. Remember when I thought it was good when I no longer heard the rain? Well upon opening the van door I discovered that while it had stopped raining that rain turned into snow! What was once brown was now covered in inches of snow! Not at all what I wanted to see.
Flat Janet
Despite the snow I would give it my all. As promised at 11:55 John started his race announcements which were unlike any pre-race announcements I have ever heard. The trail conditions were really bad and there was already a 50% drop rate for the 100 milers. The mud and water were intense and with the added snow the trail conditions were deteriorating quickly. He had actually debated allowing us to start the race at all. The first 3 miles of the course were suppose to be the worse. Rescue off the trail would be near impossible. So if by the first Aid Station, after just 3 miles, we were not confident that we could complete the entire 17 mile loop we should drop and take the shortcut back to the start/finish.

With those dire warnings we went to the official start line and counted down the start of the race. It was snowing and the snow was very wet. I was actually wearing my Frog Togg rain jacket (hiking rain jacket) over my winter running jacket as my running rain jacket would not fit over that. I knew we would be moving slow and if I got too hot I would just tie it around my waist. I just did not want to get wet and then get cold at any point out on the trail. Being wet in near freezing temperatures is something I am not willing to risk.

Start

After the countdown we were off. I enjoy running at night in the dark and enjoy this midnight race start. One of the things I do like about running in the dark is that you can't see the climbs coming and often have no idea how long they will last. I also enjoy just seeing the ground in front of me and concentrating on those few feet of space. I like the quiet of the night and the forest.

Destination: Aid Station 1

 

As promised the first 3 miles were in rough shape. With the 100 milers on the trail during the day and the amount of rain that fell even the snow could not make the mud go away. The trail was cut fairly wide with all the runners trying to go around the deepest mud. At one point I thought I would quit trying to skirt the mud and stepped into it and proceeded to go up to my ankles in mud and water. Wow that was cold and my feet were now completely soaked. What was once warm feet quickly became wet and very cold.  My feet became uncomfortable for several miles and I started to get concerned they would get too cold. We finally took that last turn and came out onto the wide trail and popped out into Aid Station 1/4. We made it through what we were told was the worst section of trail conditions and neither of us had any thoughts of quitting that loop at all. I will admit though that I was definitely having thoughts of getting only one loop done for this year and being okay with that. I knew with the conditions and the pace we were moving that unless things improved greatly we would not meet the time cutoff for a full 50 miles.

The snow and trail at night

Hobbit Forest. This section is especially magical.



There is something peaceful about the quiet woods at night.


Destination: Aid Station 2

I ate a few items off the table and downed a quick cup of coffee and we headed back out and over the bridge aiming for AS 2/3. This next section was muddy as well. At one point when we were headed up the long double wide trail Tina lost her shoe in the mud. I have done that here at this race in the past and it is not fun putting your foot back into your shoe covered in mud. At one point I stepped into deep mud trying to get to the other side of the trail as it looked 'drier'. The conditions did not seem to be improving and we were still moving much too slowly. Despite the trail conditions I was yet to regret starting this race. This would definitely be a Zumbro to remember. We made it into AS 2 and refueled. I had not used any drop bags so just grabbed food off the table. The volunteers offered warm soup and I drank and ate that down. Here I saw John Taylor and Dawn Klaes volunteering. If we thought the conditions out on the trail were bad the volunteers at the aid stations probably had it worse than we did. The wind was howling through the aid station and the snow was blowing. There was ice all over the food on the tables and the challenge was keeping the items ice/snow free and dry. They were definitely being challenged. Then you add in the cold weather to deal with standing for hours on end and it made me glad I was running this race rather than volunteering. I really do believe the volunteers have a harder time keeping warm than us runners do.

Destination: Aid Station 3


This next section was a dream compared to the first two sections. If the entire race had been like these miles in the sand coulee I easily would have seen myself finishing all 50 miles. Just shortly out of the aid station with Tina running in front of me my headlamp went dark. Wow was I glad that I was still near Tina so I could use her light to change the batteries in mine. I was using the rechargeable batteries in my headlamp but had some regular batteries to swap out. After fumbling with the lamp to get the dead batteries out and new ones in we were ready to get moving again. I realized here that in the future when I run through the night I will be bringing a small hand held flashlight in my pack. Had I left my headlamp on in the aid station I am sure the volunteers would have noticed my headlamp was dying but I had the habit of turning it off in aid stations so I would not blind the volunteers.  So the next roughly 3 miles were very runnable with the snow covering all the sand. I was enjoying the solitude of the woods and found myself running ahead. At one point I stopped and turned off my headlamp just to see the darkness around me. Tina was behind me and I decided I would just wait in the aid station for her as I was enjoying running my own pace in the solitude. She did catch up with me just before the aid station though after I stopped on the side of the trail to pee. Advantage of night running is that you don't have to go very far off trail to not be seen. Before we knew it we were running back into AS 3 and found the volunteers still hard at work trying to keep things dry. The wind was whipping through and at one point tried to take two of the awnings with it! It almost succeeded as I was standing next to two of the legs and caught one of them as it lifted off the ground! Who knows where the stakes went as I think they went flying as well.

Destination: Aid Station 4

 

Out of Aid Station 3 we now headed up to the Ridge. This climb always feels so long and just when you think you are at the top you have to keep climbing. The ridge running is normally a nice section after you get through with the climb. This time? The wind was fierce and blowing so much that the trail got lost in the drifting snow. I was somewhat ahead of Tina but when I hit the section where the trail disappeared I waited for Tina to catch up. I found myself looking around just to make sure we had not lost the trail. There were no footprints to follow. This section was also cold with the wind blowing on us. I was anxious to get back into the woods and also Ant Hill to start the descent. Having run this course in past training runs in the snow I knew getting down Ant Hill is actually easier when those rocks are snow covered. I still had to be careful to make sure I did not turn an ankle or slip but it was an easier descent than normal.  After the descent you then pop out onto the road section. This is about a mile of flat gravel road running. In no snow conditions this is normally easy running. Well as easy as it gets when your mileage keeps adding up during each subsequent loop. I like to just get a steady slog going mixed in with some walk breaks to get through this section. I am always grateful when I finally see the bridge and AS 4 knowing there is just one more short section and the loop is complete.

This AS has a porta potty which I was grateful for at this point in my loop. I got in ahead of Tina hoping she did not think I left without her. Luckily she was still at the aid station when I got out.

Destination: Aid Station Start/Finish

 

I had been telling Tina that I thought this would be my only loop and she was trying her best to convince me that I needed to run at least one more loop with her. While I was thinking I might possibly do that I did not want to let on it was a possibility because I did not want to disappoint her if I changed my mind. She was quite determined during these last 2ish miles that I should continue on with her. 

It was starting to get light out and even though I was unable to see the sunrise there is definitely a feeling of energy when it starts to get light out. It was 2 years ago that I ran Zumbro 50 mile and this one was definitely going slower as I was well into the second loop before the sun rose during that race. As I checked my watch we were over 6 hours into the loop. I imagine this section was fairly muddy for the 100 milers on Friday.

Daylight trail. That is pure mud under the snow although it was starting to firm up with the overnight cold.
There is a magical feeling in the woods in the snow.
Getting to the finish line aid station was a quiet affair this year over previous years. The campground looked empty in the light. I crossed the line just shy of 6 1/2 hours at around 6:30 am. The volunteers were all bundled up in the cold with tarps hanging from the shelter trying to keep the wind out. I had heard rumor that the 17 mile race had been cancelled but that was confirmed at the aid station. I mentioned that Tina and I would probably be going out for at least one more loop and was informed that we were being pulled from the race instead due to the blizzard happening all around us. I wasn't too disappointed with the decision as it would ultimately be a DNF for me anyway but I was prepared to go out for that second loop with Tina to say we at least completed 34 miles at Zumbro. Hmmm...Zumbro 50k has a nice ring to it? Wouldn't that distance be just perfect for an early spring race?

We did not stay to hang around after we were pulled as we thought it would be wise to start the drive home after changing into dry and warm clothes. We made it into Red Wing and Tina arranged for her husband to pick her up. I got home mid morning and decided to just crawl into bed. After several hours sleep I woke up with a cold! Thanks to my Grandson for sharing that cold with me. So instead of recovering from a 50 mile race I spent the week trying to recover from a severe cold.

Next up is Chippewa 50K on the Ice Age Trail. It will be my 5th 50k and the 6th year running  Chippewa.





April 18, 2018

September 22, 2017 Goosebumps 24 Hour Run



The plan was to get a good nights sleep on Thursday night, wake up around 7 am and head to the race about 8 am for a 10 am arrival. That was the plan. We unexpectedly had our grandson, Ezra, on Thursday overnight. Good thing I packed early for this race. I loaded up the van while Ezra was taking a nap after getting home at 6 pm. The nap was short and the evening was spent playing with my 5 month old grandson. When it was time for bed he was not ready. I ended up being up until 12:30 am with him. Then up again at 4:30 am to hand him over to Grandpa and crawl back into bed. All in all I probably got 5 to 6 hours sleep tops. Not really how I wanted to go into my 24 hour race. Well if anything he was a great distration so I did not get too nervous about the race or the predicted temps of 95 degrees with humidity to give us a real feel of 98 degrees on Friday. Things were looking hot. After sending Terry off with Ezra in the morning to return him home to Mom before he went to work. I tried to sleep a bit but I was wide awake at that point.

It is about a 2 hour drive to Lacrosse, WI but with a few stops along the way I arrived at the park about Noon, just in time for packet pickup. This gave me about 2 hours to get ready and to talk to other racers arriving. I was able to pull the van right up to the course again and I found out the race was actually being run in the opposite direction as last year on this portion of the course. That meant the van would be after the aid station and fairly close. I had planned to set up my bin and chair near the start line/aid station but with the close proximity of the Aid station to my van I decided to leave it in the van. I would have time in the aid station to figure out what I wanted or needed. It worked out great for the entire race.

With the race beginning at 2 pm it was really hot waiting for the race start. Too hot to try to rest at all unless I had run the van with the air conditioning on. That didn't seem sensible. I had the van set up for sleeping again. I was not sure if I would be resting or not but considering the temps predicted I was starting to back down on the expecations knowing it would be slow going while moving and probably spending more time in the aid station resting from the heat. I have always known I don't do well in heat and humidity. Just ask my family. When sweating I don't want any body contact or skin to skin at all. Raising my babies was challenging in the midwestern humidity. So I told myself to be ok with needing to back down the goals. I really just wanted 28 miles for sure and I knew that was doable even despite the high temps.

Start of the race at 2 pm Friday, hottest part of the day!
I definitely overpacked for this race including some cold weather gear that was definitely not needed. But having the van as an aid station of sorts overpacking was not a problem. I would rather be over prepared than under prepared. 

Loops 1 to 5; 15 miles total


Each loop is 3 miles with the one aid station at the start/finish line. There were a few announcements by the Race Director, Richard, with dire warnings to take it easy and hydrate due to the excessive heat.  I started out the race with Karen Gall. She had bigger mileage goals than I did but with the heat we started out slow with a run/walk which involved more walking than running. Despite this we were able to maintain a 15 min average pace. Even at the walk my heart rate stayed on the high end. Keeping the 15 minute pace our first few loops were 50 to 55 minutes with the Aid Station factored in. I had a hard time eating much but the cold fruit was amazing. Watermelons, tangerines, grapes always taste exceptional during hot weather races.
Karen and I trying to keep cool


Loops 6 to 10; 30 miles total


After the 5th loop I realized that I really needed to make myself eat more calories if I wanted to keep going. I told Karen that I was going to hang out at the AS longer to eat more and she could go on without me. The various food that is brought in throughout the event is great. Pizza was out and I ate a few slices along with other items. Loops 6 and maybe 7 were run by myself or with whoever was on the trail. Julio would be coming out to pace me around 8 pm or so. I was starting to get tired and I was getting somewhat negative as a result of the high temps. I felt like I should be moving faster and covering more miles if only it weren't so hot. Oh and bugs were a treat as well in the heat.

Sitting in the AS I received a text from Julio. He was having a hard time finding the race. I decided to wait until he arrived before heading out on loop 8. I made this decision for selfish reasons. I knew if I headed out on another loop without him he might try to get me to run more loops throughout the night! LOL I wanted to complete the 10 loops for 30 miles to earn my sweatshirt and then slepe in the van and after some sleep see how many more loops or miles I could get in towards completing 50 miles. So Julio arrived and we ran/walked another 3 loops. Nine miles of good conversation in the night time hours. I was starting to get tired after my interrupted night of sleep with my Grandson the night before.

I finished the 10th loop and Julio made sure I ate some soup before heading back to the van for some sleep. I decided I would sleep with no alarm to just wake up when my body decided to. Even through it was still quite humid once I fell asleep a little after 1 am I slept fairly good.

Loops 11 to 17; 51 miles total


I woke up around 5:15 needing to go to the bathroom. I decided I might as well walk the rest of that loop and hit the aid station to eat as I was hungry as well. As I got out of the van and started to the porta potty Deanna's daughter Roisin came out of her tent as well. She was going to walk another loop and was interested in having some company. It was still very dark out. So we walked the loop together and she chatted the entire way! My Dad would probably say that I was talkative like that when I was her age. A few well placed questions and she shared about the book she was writing and the books she was currently reading. Did I mention that she is 9 years old? Breakfast was out after this loop. It was now between 6:30 and 7:00 when we finished our loop together.

Roisin and I getting some good conversation in as the sun rose
With 11 loops completed I only needed 6 more loops to complete my next goal of 51 miles. I picked up Dave on the final 5 loops. We were walk/running these loops as well. The bugs were heavy in the early morning but we had a few good loops before it started getting hot again.

Julio, Dave and I on Saturday morning
I was able to get to 51 miles with some time still left on the clock but I was ready to call it good at the 51 miles. With the heat of this race being record high temps since the late 1800's I was satisfied with what I had achieved. Terry came out on his motorcycle but arrived after I was done running. We hung out and ate and waited for the awards. All three of us, Karen, Dave and I would be getting our Goosebumps sweatshirts with our first 100 mile patches! Next year I only need to run about 78 miles to get my next 200 mile patch! Here's to hoping that the September temperatures are more reasonable as I will definitely be back at this 24 hour race again!


I did actually run during this race.

A few Stats: 

Total time run (with sleep 12:30 until 5:25 am or so) 22 hrs 33min.
33rd place in mileage
13th female in mileage

 


September 13, 2017

09/09/17 Fall Superior Moose Mountain Marathon

Moose Mountain Marathon (and volunteering!)

Registering for Moose Mountain Marathon now involves entering into a lottery. They have 250 spots available and many more registrations than that so the lottery system was put into place a few years ago. I was lucky enough to get one of the lottery spots in 2017 so I could go back and run my 3rd Moose Mountain Marathon. After last years pacing gig I decided it was time to run my own race this year.

This is a trip I would not miss (and haven't for 4 years now!) so had I not gotten into the lottery I would have still gone up to volunteer and possibly see if anyone needed a pacer for the 100 mile race.

I headed up Friday morning and was scheduled to work the Tettegouche Aid station from Noon to 7:30 pm. If it was not busy toward 6:30 or so I was hoping I could head out early so that I could pick up my packet on Friday evening rather than at the start line on Saturday morning.

I always enjoy helping out at the aid stations for the 100 milers. I have volunteered at Silver Bay and Beaver Bay aid stations in the last two years so was excited to help out at a different location this year. When I arrived the station was already set up so we were able to just await the arrival of the first of the runners. This aid station is in Tettegouche State Park and it is about a 1/3 mile walk uphill to get to the aid station. There is not a lot of space in this area and the Superior Hiking Trail runs right past where the table is set up.

The area starts to fill up with crew and spectators awaiting their runners arrival. The front runners start to arrive one or two at a time and they do not stay long nor need much from the aid station. We concentrate on getting them back out on the trail quickly. This aid station is at 34.9 miles into the race and comes off a hard section. For the most part the runners are still looking strong and good at this aid station and there are very few drops here although I did notice one that appeared to be a drop due to a twisted ankle.

Julio from Defeat the Stigma was crewing a 100 mile runner.
In between runners I am able to visit with friends whom are crewing or spectating and it is fun catching up with those I have not seen in a while. I finished up my volunteer duties around 6 pm and headed back to the car to drive over to Caribou for packet pickup. I opted not to have a drop bag as I thought I would not make it Friday evening to drop one off. I reconsidered briefly while at packet pickup but realized that I really would not change socks in a marathon anyway. Takes too much time anyway and they would just get wet and muddy again very quickly.

I stayed at Sollbaken Resort this year which is just north of Lutsen about 5 miles. I shared a room with some friends. After laying out my gear for the morning I crawled into bed and shut the lights out around 10pm or so.

Flat Janet ready for the morning!
The alarm was set for 5:25 am to leave around 6:15 or :6:30 for Caribou Highlands to catch the first bus over to the start line which is Cramer Road. This is a point to point race run totally on the Superior Hiking Trail. We had been getting reports that it was quite muddy with all the recent rains but the weather was suppose to be perfectly sunny with high temps somewhere in the high 60's. The start was colder at about 50 degrees but we really could not ask for a better day for running a race on the SHT.
On the bus waiting to leave for the start line

On the bus waiting to leave for the start line

Listening to the race announcements and the countdown to the start of the race.

My friend Amy at the start line. I had contacted her on facebook and said, "hey lets run together for awhile".
We arrived at the start line with about 45 minutes to wait for the 8 am race start. Got into line for the porta potties as I figured I would be standing around anyway so might as well make it productive. It turned out to be a good decision. I saw many of my friends either running or volunteering while waiting around for the start. It is always good to catch up with old friends.

John made his announcements (they added porta potties to the Temperance Aid Station which received some enthusiastic applause!) John kindly waited for those waiting for the porta potties to get their turns and then counted down to race start.  This race begins running Cramer road before it goes onto the Superior Hiking Trail. The idea is to spread the runners out so there is less of a bottle neck at the trail. It is also suppose to get the runners more in line with their pace so that the faster folks are out front and on down the line. Amy and I pushed forward to at least the middle of the group so we did not have everyone in the field in front of us. We hit the trail and came to a complete stop. I was expecting this though. It happens every year. Not much to be done to change it when you have 250 people trying to funnel onto a single track trail.

We got moving onto the trail and immediately we pop back out to cross the road where many spectators were waiting for us and cheering us on. We also ran past the Cramer Road Aid station as we came upon that very quickly. No aid needed so early in the race so no need to stop.

Researched the last two finishing times and determined the pace needed to PR.
 Cramer Road to Temperance

This first section is the longest distance for the Marathon at 7.9 miles. This section is very runnable (as runnable as rocks, roots and mud is!) and Amy and I were cruising along very well. We leap frogged this section with each other as well as many other runners. I managed to run splits that varied between 14, 15 and 16ish minute miles. I was well ahead of my overall average pace of 16:30 needed to PR and from experience knew that I needed this cushion to account for the big climbs coming up but especially for Moose and Mystery Mountain in the last leg of the race. Amy and I ran into this aid station together. I knew that I needed to get in and out of aid stations as quickly as possible if my PR was even going to be a possibility so with a full hydration bladder only planned on grabbing pb&j sandwiches and using the porta potty. I took one look at the line and quickly made the decision I would be using the woods instead of wasting precious time waiting in line. I saw my friends, Dave S. and Mike M. here but only had time to say a quick hi before leaving. If I spend too much time in aid stations my races would be really long!

Temperance to Sawbill
 
I left Amy behind in the aid station and headed out. The section running down along Temperance River is one of my favorite sections. #1 I enjoy running downhill and #2 it is running along side the river with great views and the sound of the running water! I quickly had to find the best spot get rid of that morning coffee and then hit the trail running yet again. After crossing Temperance River we run the north side of the river and this is where we slowly start what I call the long slow incline to the backside of Carlton Peak. Some of this section is runnable but with the climb many of it needs to be power hiked. I passed some runners throughout this section and I am sure many runners also passed me. There were groups of runners that I leapfrogged with many times on this section and even the next.


There were many opportunities for awesome pictures
 but I was so set on trying to PR this is it for trail pics!

At some point Amy caught up with me again and even passed me by. We swapped positions many times during this first half of the race. Some friendly competition ensued and I think we both pushed each other harder than we might have if we had been alone. One thing I have noticed in my races is that running or trying to keep up with someone can sometimes make a race not as enjoyable for me after a while. I think Amy even agrees with me (we discussed it on trail) that we both like to be out there on the trail running alone at times. Lots of company on the trail is not always welcome when running such long distances. I do know playing leap frog constantly can get uncomfortable after too long. The climb up the back side of Carlton Peak seemed to go on forever! I remember thinking that I was glad that I did not need to go all the way to the peak like during the Spring Superior 50k race. Running down the hill on the way north brought back memories of the difficult climb during my 50k race in 2016. For that race I had been trying to keep up with Robyn and that was when I realized that I enjoy myself much better if I am not trying to run someone else's race. I was still ahead of my average pace and was feeling good if not a bit tired up to this point. I had not paid attention to how far Sawbill was so when we were close to Sawbill aid station I was surprised. Sawbill was at mile 13.6 miles making it just slightly greater than the half way point. I ran into Sawbill and just grabbed more pb&j sandwiches and walked out of the aid station eating.

Sawbill to Oberg
 
I don't remember much about this section except that my right knee was starting to hurt. It was hurting on the outside of the knee and behind the knee slightly. It felt fine walking or climbing but running flats and going downhill was starting to hurt considerably. I watched my cushion of time just melt away in this section. Amy also caught up with me just before coming into Oberg. This section is very runnable and I was starting to slow down considerably. I got into the Oberg aid station and was no longer smiling. I knew what was coming up and going downhill was no longer working for me. I typically love running downhill and try to use it to make up for time lost going uphill. Going into climbing Moose and Mystery without a cushion I knew that I would not be hitting my goal for this race. At this point I just wanted to be done and I knew I just needed to take the next section as best as I could.

Oberg to Finish

I grabbed some more food to go and headed out of the aid station as quickly as possible. I knew I had major climbs ahead and just concentrated on moving forward by running when I could and walking when I had to. This meant that I did a lot of walking down the hills. Oh well I would just finish the best I could and not stress out too bad and try not to beat myself up over missing my goal. When stuff like this happens I just reevaluate my priorities and get it done. I need to finish this race doing the least amount of damage to my knee as possible. If this meant slowing down so be it. Amy passed me up on this section and I just had to let it go. She was doing very well and feeling good. She looked like she was having a great race. I powered my way up Moose and hit my favorite section at the top. I tried to enjoy this section as much as possible. I ran my slow slog with some walking mixed in. I hit the downhill and moved through the downhill slowly but was still moving forward.

Next up is the long slow climb up Mystery Mountain. This is a more gradual climb with lots of switch backs as you move up the Mountain. Somewhere on this incline another runner came up behind me and passed me by. She was moving well. We power hiked together for awhile and talked about where we lived. Turns out she moved from the east coast to Illinois about the same time I moved out of my hometown of Kenosha which is not far from the Illinois border. It was nice having a short distraction as we kept moving forward. On this section there is much up and down throughout. I have learned that the trail is all downhill after we hit the campsite. Once I see that campsite I know it is all downhill following the Poplar River. Normally I enjoy this downhill but with the knee that was not happening this race. I just powered through knowing I had only about 1 mile left until I could cross that finish line for my 3rd Moose Mountain Marathon finish.

I finally hit the bridge over the river and knew I was close while at the same time knowing the rest was going to hurt. No problem, just keep moving forward. I really tried to pick up the pace once I hit that gravel road but my knee was not having any part of it. I got passed by a handful of runners on that last road section and while that killed me my main goal was not to injure myself further so I let it go.

Finally I crossed the finish line! I heard my name announced as I was running in and not sure why but it was announced that I ran the marathon without a drop bag. Still trying to figure out how they knew that. Finishing time was respectable, even though I missed my goal, of 7:36 and change. The race did not go as well as I would have liked but I am pleased that I finished.
Me glad that it was finally done!
 (Photo credit: Mike Wheeler)

This captures how I was feeling the last half of the race. Pain.
(Photo Credit: Mike Wheeler)

Finishing stats:
Finishing Time: 7:36:25
Overall Avg. Pace 17:40
Overall Place 196/302
Female Place 78/139
Grand Master Place 7/25


July 6, 2017

Spring Superior 25K Trail Race

May 20, 2017

When the lottery opened up for Spring Superior in January I was still not sure what the status of my Morton's Neuroma on my right foot would look like so I made the decision to register for the 25K. I believe this was the right decision. My level of training since last Septemeber was overall lower monthly mileage than in previous years. Add in some of life challenges that hit this year and deciding to keep my races to shorter distances is working well. So the 25k race was a comfortable enough distance that not getting a run in the week leading up to the race did not have me worried in the least.

I took Friday off work and headed up to Lutsen around noon after a detour to do some REI shopping. At the last minute the weekend plus changed slightly and I found myself car pooling with my friend Dawn K. for the second year in a row. After about 5 hours on the road we pulled into Lutsen at 6:30 pm just in time to quickly check into our room at the Mountain Inn and head over to packet pickup. We talked to a bunch of friends then decided to eat a late dinner at Moguls.

As the day progressed the weather started to look better for our race. It had rained almost all week and was predicted to be cloudy and rainy for the race. The start of the rain kept being bumped later into the day and we ended up with no rain during the race.

Flat Janet ready to run
I woke up Saturday morning after a pretty good nights sleep. I woke before the alarm went off and headed out to the lobby to get a cup of coffee to make sure it was not gone. In previous years this had been a problem and I don't like to start my morning without coffee! 

The race started at 8 am and we all gathered in the street for the traditional "John on the ladder" announcements. 5.4.3.2.1.... and we were off.


Waiting for the start with Dawn K and Jenn
 As usual I like to position myself towards the back of the pack or at least mid pack. The road is a great spot to allow the runners to get into pace position so there is not much of a congo line once we hit the single track. With all the rain during the week and as is normal on the SHT in May there was alot of mud in the first section of running. My goal was to finish the race under 4:02 which was my finish time in 2014 the last (and first) time I ran the 25k. This meant I needed to maintain a sub 15:30 per mile average pace. While I kept an eye on my average pace my goal was to run happy. I found myself around other runners that also wanted to run a sub 4 hour pace and we played leap frog through the entire race. It is 7.5 miles out to the turnaround and only aid station on the 25k. I tend to run out and back races happier after the turnaound but this is the SHT so ran happy for the entire race. This is not to say it was not hard climbing Mystery and Moose Mountain (especially Moose!) but I just walked or power hiked the ups and ran the downhills and flats. My favorite section of this trail is between Mystery and Moose as it is very runnable and also includes the ridge of Moose Mountain with all the pines.


Wouldn't be Spring Superior without the mud!

Running down to Oberg AS
I made it to Oberg, quickly downed a cup of coke and grabbed some PB & J sandwiches and headed back out. I must have only been in the aid station about a minute. I was on a mission and my garmin was showing me I had no time to spare. I climbed Oberg and then hit Moose. Wow this is the hardest climb of this race. It is steep coming up and going down and requires me to walk both the up and the down. After running Moose I noticed my average pace was starting to slip and I was positive that I was watching my sub 4 hour race slip away.

No time to waste at Aid Stations, must keep moving!
Anyone ever tell you it is hard to run and eat PB&J sandwiches at the same time?

As I was climbing Mystery I met back up with another runner, Joe, whom I had met earlier and had mentioned he was looking for a sub 4 hour race. I told him that we were not going to make it and he said yes we were going to make it. Apparently my GPS was not tracking correctly. Joe and I ran about the last 2 to 3 miles together but after we reached the downhill homestretch Joe got ahead of me running through a mud puddle and he managed to pull ahead of me a little. I tried to chase him down but realized that was not happening!  When I hit the gravel road after crossing the Poplar River (the sound of the Poplar River is music to your ears at this race!) I look at my watch and I had 15 minutes to get to the finish line and finish under 4 hours. I finally realized I was going to hit my goal. Every time I run this course I won't allow myself to walk the gravel or the paved road. My body is always screaming at me to walk. I just maintain a slow slog to the finish. Well I do manage to give a little kick once I leave the road to run the path to the finish. This year was no different. I finished in 3:50:43 with an average pace of 14:52. I killed my PR by 12 minutes and was quite pleased with my efforts. As always I really enjoy running the Superior Hiking Trail and Rocksteady races. I will be back in September to run Moose Mountain Marathon!

Finishing Stats:
3:50:43
Avg Pace 14:52
#98/185 female finishers
#10/ Grandmaster females
Lutsen Resort at bottom of the hill on the Superior

Awesome Breakfast Buffet as part of our Stay at Mountain Inn at the Lutsen Resort

4/28/18 Chippewa 50K #5

I was looking forward to this race, as I do every year. This would be my 5th running for the 50k distance and the 6th year in a row running ...