Did you hear me? Did you hear me yell out YIPPEE as I crossed the finish line? Did you hear me scream NO WAY when I found out my results..where I placed in the Superior Trail 50 Mile Run.
I bet you did. I was loud .. and proud.
I headed Up North to Lutsen, MN around 830 Friday morning, just after the boys boarded the school bus.
Extremely excited to run, no pre run jitters, just excitement because I was going to spend the weekend with my favorite friends and spend a good 13 + hours on a beautiful trail. Gods Country. Truly.
I arrived in Lutsen earlier than my roomates so I checked in, unpacked and did some hiking out to the start line, onto the trail and up into the woods a few miles. I was thinking about the next morning, thinking about the race, wondering what would happen out here on the trail.
Would I be able to eat and drink without feeling sick, would I have blisters and would I again be stuck in the dark?
Friends arrived, we went to the packet pickup at the host hotel, where we were staying, mingled with everyone and settled down to the hotel's pasta special. Spaghetti, sauce, garlic bread and salad. Well, the spaghetti sauce was without meat, apparently the previous year 'too many people asked for meatless'. Unreal. So no meat for anyone. And the spaghetti, it was fat and water logged. I called it flobberworms (I'm reading Harry Potter). It sat in my stomach and grew even more.
I had a bad dream about the spaghetti that night. I dreamed that I had a spaghetti tail growing from my bottom. Oh man, a spaghetti nightmare. Should I cut it or let it grow? Please wake up. I did. No more flobberworms for me.
Race day morning was fun. I and Jeffrey were late checking in. We moved up to the front of the start. Runners were all around us, Race Directors Larry and Colleen were standing in the front, clipboards in hand. I and Jeffrey walked up to them and as they were checking us in I felt like it was an 'Amazing Race' moment. Of course I said what I was thinking out loud, as I usually do, and everyone laughed. It was a funny moment. I love 'Amazing Race'.
It was warm and dark. We began at 6 AM. I had a flashlight to carry and then drop off in my drop bag at Oberg Aid Station. I figured I could then pick it up on the way in if I was going to be running in the dark. I hoped I wouldn't need it.
Larry told us to head out, so out we went. At Voyaguer I and Jeffrey started out in the front pack, and that turned out to be a good thing. I figured I'd try it again. There were about 15 people in front of me as I ran the first section. I ran like hell. It was hot. I removed my long sleeved shirt before I hit mile 1. That was a sign of things to come.
It took about 1:40 to get to Oberg; 7 miles. I was happy with that. I dropped off my flashlight, said HI to Scott and Alicia who were working the aid station, had my bottles filled and was out of there.
I felt awesome, but it was early. The next section was 5 miles. Lots of climbing, lots of rocks and roots. This trail is so rough. SO rough. It's like nothing else I've ever run upon.
The fall colors were spectacular. I stopped along the way and took many pictures, I then told myself to cut it out and get running. No more picture taking. I will post the pics soon. There was beautiful scenery.
It took me 1:30 to cover the next 5 miles. Into the aid station, get both bottles filled (48 oz in 1:30!), grab a PB&J and out of there.
Onto the next 5 mile section. More climbing, climbing, climbing up the hills. But I felt good, felt strong. I told myself it was early, the bad patch would arrive soon.
The pack I had started out running with was dispersed and I was running most of the race alone. I was happy that the marathon was going one from our turn-around back to our start, so I could see some folks.
My friend Ann looked awesome in the marathon, she was in a bunch of 4-5 when I saw her, we said hello and good bye. Ann ended up finishing in 6:04, taking 2nd Master Woman. Go Ann. You rock!
This section is 8 miles long and goes on forever and a day. I drained both bottles of drink; one water, one Hammer Heed, had to dig into a Myloplex bar and finally arrived at the aid station. Filled up the bottles, grabbed a sandwich and was on my way.
5:45. 15 minutes ahead of schedule. Wow. A Miracle!!
I was feeling so good, I was hot, but not baking. It was 81F and very very humid. Some people were frying. I was eating, drinking, doing Ecaps every hour, no pain other than blister pain, but that's a given for me. I was feeling really strong.
I noticed the first woman on the way to the turn around, Deb Bennet, she rocks. She finished in 10:30. Yeah, 10:30. I spoke with her after the race for a long time, trying to glean some knowledge from her! An awesome strong woman, 46 years old.
Going back toward the start was awesome. I love out and backs. I was able to see all of the runners, get a few high fives, a few shocked glances, lots of encouragement. These ultra runners are just the best.
I just kept moving forward. No pain, no cramps, no bad patch. It was a miracle. Ouch, I did get stung by a bee a few times. It didn't bother for too long though.
I was trying to figure out the math in my head, trying to figure out the miles and the time I may finish. Then I thought I was becomming too cocky and just better run. My luck I'd fall down and break an ankle as I'm dreaming of a 13 hour finish. Just run, woman, run.
All alone to my thoughts, not a person to be found after the 50 Milers reached the turn around was real lonely. I yelled out "TOPIE WOPIE" for Topaz. I actually thanked him out loud for being my faithful training partner this past year. For helping me to go out and snow shoe for 20 mile snow shoe runs during the winter when I was cold and lazy and didn't feel like it. For always being at my side with a wag of a tail and a wet kiss for me. He's the best.
When I reached Oberg at 430 I was pretty amazed. I think Scott was shocked. I asked him if I needed my lights and he laughed at me "No, Jul, you don't need your lights. You'll finish this thing in the day light" He gave me a big hug and a bunch of encouragement and I was going to run in the last 7 miles. I was going to run my ass off.
I started crying as I was running that last section. Crying because I was doing something I never thought I could. Finish WITHIN the time limit? I hadn't done that here before. I was always the slow, fat chick. Barely finishing before the cut off's or even after. 17:50 last year and 15:30 the year before.
I might finish in 12:45. But I might crash and burn. I might get sick or fall or who knows what.
I was running along and saw Kim Holak running towards me on the trail. She has won this race in the past. She wasn't running because she is doing Bear 100 in three weeks. Her husband, Andy, won the race (tied with his friend) in 8:xx. Anyway, I asked Kim how much farther. "1.5 miles Julie, and it is all downhill"
Crying again, I ran as fast as I could. It probably wasn't that fast but boy it felt like I was flying. It was all downhill, over the rocks, the roots, over the final river. I told myself DON'T LEAVE ANYTHING INSIDE. LEAVE IT ON THE TRAIL. LEAVE IT ALL ON THE TRAIL. All the blood sweat and tears. Leave it here. Run hard. Run hard.
Man I ran hard. I was bawling. I was embarassed. Nobody saw me though. I came out to the road, up the hill, saw the Caribou Highlands. Saw the pool. Oh my god. I'm here.
Ann yelled. They all began clapping. I crossed the finish line in 12:20. Second Woman. First Master Woman. 11th Overall.
11th Overall. That's what really gets to me, inside. 11th Overall. It's shocking. It makes me cry..happy tears :)