Another excellent adventure...
As I posted on Friday, I was a bit, well, a lot apprehensive about the Voyageur 50 Mile Trail Run (www.voyageurtrailrun.com) as I had two root canals last week, there were thunderstorms forecast along with 100F temperatures. The Voyageur is an out and back course that crosses rivers, rocks, roots, nice grassy ski trails and the 'powerlines'. The powerlines are in a crazy hilly area that is covered with clay soils. When they are wet, they are slick. Some of the hills are so steep that at times my nose is only a few inches from the ground. Crazy.
Friday afternoon I stepped out of my car into the furnace that was Cloquet. Oh man, it was 100F. Holy cow. I walked into the hotel and Jeffrey told me that the desk clerk told him I had cancelled my reservations in May for this past weekend! WHAT? I certainly did no such thing! Luckily, I guess, there was one room available but it was a smoking room. I can't even believe hotels still offer smoking rooms. I think it may have been the only smoking room in the hotel. We had to take it. The housekeeper came and changed the bedding, thank goodness, because all night long I had to breathe into my sheet as I couldn't stand the smell of nicotine, and she dropped off an air ionizer or some gadget that supposedly cleaned the air. We were able to use it for 30 minutes. We were promised a non smoking room for the following night.
As we were waiting to go to Carlton to pick up our packets a thunderstorm went through that dropped hail and torrential rains. Great.
We waited for Maria and then all headed to packet pickup, met up with Kevin (running his first 50) and John. We followed them to Pizza Luce for dinner. At Pizza Luce we met up with Duke (also running his first 50 mile) and Eve who was crewing. We had a great dinner, then awesome coffee, and headed back to smokeville.
It stormed all night long. Saturday morning there were sprinkles, forecast said a cool off of 78F and 70% thunderstorms all day. The thunderstorms forecast scared me as I ran my first V during a thunderstorm. It was scary in the powerlines as the lightening hit all around me, the earth was a clay-ey mess and I slid down each hill on my butt. It was miserable. And it took me 14:07 to finish. Damn. I had a 10:30 goal I wanted to keep alive!
By race start the sprinkles had stopped, I could see some blue patches in the sky, the humidity was oppressive. We were wet just standing around, it was crazy.
We had a fun party at the start. Kevin, Alicia, Duke and Bohdan were all running there first 50 mile races. I was so excited for them all!
I and Jeffrey had a plan to start out at the front of the pack because sometimes we get stuck in the back on the single track and it's quicker in the front. We figured we'd run hard to the turn around, getting there at 445. The fast people keep us moving. We began pretty fast. I felt foolish as I only saw two other women up in our pack and they were Kim Holak, who wins many, and the winner of this race. We kept on pace and followed. I took a horrible fall. The rocks were wet and slimy, I was trying to go fast and boom! Down I went. I have a great bruise that hurts like hell.
It took us 36 minutes to run the first section, which is 4 miles I believe, too fast for me. We dialed it down a notch and kept on running.
I couldn't believe how soaked my clothing was. I was dripping sweat, it was crazy. I carried one hand held bottle as the aid stations are only 3 miles apart and I typically drink 24 oz of drink an hour. Yesterday I was drinking 24 oz every half hour. The one hand held was sufficient.
Before I hit the powerlines I saw Eve walking..without her puppy, Daisy! I asked Eve where Daisy was and she said because she was wet she was able to slip out of her collar. I was sick with worry about Daisy. She's a beautiful malamute pup but is a timid girl, just becoming used to people. I didn't know how Eve was going to find her out in the wild woods. I didn't think Daisy would dare come out of the woods to the people at the aid station. Oh poor Eve!
The powerlines were incredible! They were in awesome condition. They were a bit sticky on the way out but so much better than I ever imagined, with all of the rain we had the night before. Thank goodness!
After the powerlines Jeffrey told me to go ahead, he was going to go a bit easier. Off I went. I was hoping to reach the 25 mile mark at 4:45.
My root canals were beginning to bother me. One was infected, I had taken antibiotics in the morning and had enough Advil to take every 6 hours per Dr. Recommendations. I tried to ignore the pain.
I was at the turn around at 4:50; I took the time to dig into my drop bag and reapply my foot potion. That stuff has been a lifesaver! NO BLISTERS! Crazy.
It's all uphill coming out of the turnaround. I ran as much as I could, having to take a few walk breaks up some of the steep hills. I love coming back from the turnaround. You are able to see everyone in the race. I was 7th woman.
I ran with two women for quite a while, up to the 50K point, then one took off like a bat out of hell and one slowed way down. I kept my steady pace. I was on target for a 10:30. I couldn't believe it! I was still on pace. Woo Hoo.
My iPod was loaded, I listened from three hours onto the finish. It really helps to get rid of negative thinking. The hard rock just carried me on through the trails. I was able to eat bananas, potatoes, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and lots of powerdrink. All was going well. Real well.
Going over the powerlines on the way back I had 2.5 hours left to my goal. I just had to keep this pace up. I knew that the last 4 miles really sucks. It is the section that I fell upon, where it is all rocks and roots and bad footing. It takes forever and a day to get through on the way back. I figured I'd probably double my time in that section. The powerlines were dry and wonderful coming back. I was able to climb up easily and run down quickly. Never have I run through the section like this before.
I saw no one. I felt like I was the only one running the race. When I finished the powerlines I really felt like a had a chance to get a 10:30. But anything could happen. I could get sick, injured, anything and everything could go wrong. I just kept running. I almost ran the whole way back. I only walked the steepest of hills.
I hit the second to the last aid station (8.8 miles left) and Ed told me I was 6th woman. I didn't know where I lost one. I had 2 hours to go 8.8 miles. That was close, but damnit, I was going to run my hardest. I told myself to pretend I am qualiftying for Boston Marathon and I have 2 hours to make it. So go! Run!
I was running through the grassy ski trails, enjoying every step, enjoying the feeling of my body working hard, my breathing heavy, the sweat rolling off of my body. I was so happy. So happy that I was able to run, to work my body, to see what it could do, to dig deep into myself, mentally and physically, to talk to myself, take part of this wonderful race. To tap into myself, to set a goal and see if I could reach it. It was a wonderful feeling. I was so happy that I began to laugh and enjoy the moment. I wasn't only happy because I just might make that goal, I was happy to be there..at that moment and enjoying myself fully. If I didn't make my goal, that was OK because I sure had a damn good time trying, I was giving it all that I could.
I came upon the last aid station at 9:40, 4 miles left to go. 4 miles and a whole lot of it is the toughest part of the course for me. I yelled out my number to the aid station workers and told them I wasn't stopping; I had water and a gel and I was going on through. They cheered and I flew across the swinging bridge.
Gosh, this next section is hard. It's all wet and rocky and mossy and rooty and it just sucks. I had saved some good hard music for this section, I had just taken the dentist approved Advil and sucked back 2 of my favorite gels: Chocolate Espresso by Hammergel. OK, this was it. Run Julie Run. Shit. I fell again. Same place!! OK, pay attention..it isn't going to do any good to fall and become injured and have your race finished at 47 miles. I backed off and began to pay closer attention. Gosh, this section sucks. It takes forever and a day. Come on. Where is the asphalt and the city. I want the finish. FINALLY! The trail went up and I could see where the bike path was. Oh yeah. 11 minutes left and less than a mile of asphalt to the Carlton School and good lord I'm going to make the 10:30! I am I am I am!!
I turn off of the bike path onto the city road and there is the school and the clock and I hear someone yelling "It's Julie Berg, it's Julie" Oh my god, I'm here. I'm done. I met my goal. I ran to the finish and John clicked a picture and it was 10:26!!
I was thrilled. I am thrilled. You just don't know what you can do unless you set that goal and give it all you got.
John's goal was 9 hours, he got in at 8:54. Duke ran his first 50 mile and finished in 8:28.
I saw Eve, and was afraid to ask her about Daisy. I did, and she found her! She was hiding in the woods where she was first lost. Eve walked all over looking for her, then was calling her at the original location and Daisy would peek out at her, but then a runner would go past, Daisy would become afraid and tuck back into the woods. Eventually Eve was able to coax her out. THANK GOD!
John drove my car over and unloaded my chairs, cooler and duffel bag. That was such a treat. I just sat there and everything was brought right to me. Thank you! I showered and sat in my chair with Duke, Eve and John; waiting for all of our friends to cross the finish line. It was so much fun! So much fun!
Everyone finished! Pierre finished shortly after me, I believe that Jeffrey and Maria were 1130 or so, Kevin and Bohdan, running their first 50's were under 12 and Alicia and Scott finished under 1230. It was so awesome!
Everyone was able to shower at the school, then a great meal of lasagna, salads, break, cake and ice cream was served. The awards were handed out. Every person receives a finisher bowl with cover and goes up to receive it as the announcer calls their name, placing and time.
It was an awesome weekend!