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. 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:
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

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