Another fantastic weekend with friends! You know, it is not only the races that are fun..but spending a weekend with a bunch of friends, with like minded interests is really a cool way to spend a few days.
I arrived Duluth Friday afternoon and met up with John and Cheri Storkamp at the DECC. We then had an early dinner at Pizza Luce'. I, of course, had my pre race staple of spaghetti. They do a superb spaghetti and meatball with a ceaser salad and breadsticks. I had the same meal at Luce' the night before Voyageur.
We then visited quite a few shops in Canal Park. We stopped by a Chocolatier. I purchased Troy a caramel apple covered in Oreo cookie and gummy worms (dirt and worms) and bought Tyler a caramel apple covered in peanut butter and chocolate chips (peanut butter cup). John purchased 4 decadent chocolates that I and Cheri helped him to consume as we walked back to the DECC for our race packets.
There was a 30 mile an hour wind and SNOW! It was horrible. We stopped at Caribou for a hot coffee to take off the chill. There was even snow accumulating on the ground.
At the DECC we were able to pick up the race packets for Scott and Kevin, as they would be arriving later with Alicia, who was crewing for us. Pierre would meet us at Kathy's a bit later as well.
Back to Kathy's to unload everything, set up camp, meet up with the others and go to bed. We all slept together in a separate little guest house that Kathy has. It was very nice and cozy, although, by the time we left this morning, the little guest house and taken on an order of garlic and sweaty tired runners. I and Alicia were very priveliged, as we were able to sleep together in the pull out bed. The others had the floor and mats.
Our alarms went on at 245 AM. Oh lord, what in the world were we thinking? The wind was howling-howling, and the snow flakes were falling. Brrrrr. Who wants to do this? I, Pierre, Scott, Alicia and Kevin headed out at 315; John and Cheri were able to sleep in a bit later as John was taking the 7 AM start. If you think it will take you over 10 hours, you are encouraged to take a 5 AM start. John is fast. It wouldn't take him that long to cover the distance.
We drove to Finland and arrived with 15 minutes to spare. We checked in with the race director and headed back to the car to sit with Alicia until the start. It was SO cold. 25F and windy with snow flakes. Ick. Finally, we got out of the car and noticed that people were already running down the street. I asked a woman if the race had begun. Infact, it had. We missed the "START". Oh well. We began to run, only catching one person during the next 50 miles! We caught one other soloist at about 55 miles. Unbelievable.
The race is for soloists, running the 100K, and there is also a team relay taking place, as well as a 50K solo/relay. The soloists are allowed a crew vehicle to follow, and you can take aid from the vehicle at each 5K aid station. Alicia followed I, Scott and Kevin during the whole race. At each 5K checkpoint she would pull over and ask us what we needed. It was such a treat! I had a cooler of sandwiches, HEED and Ensure to pick from. There were cookies and snicker candy bars at each aid station. No sandwiches, potatoes, bananas or the usual ultra food. Having Alicia is the best. She would take my gloves, get me my sunglasses, get my food and drink; she is awesome. She is always positive and smiling, just what we needed. She even went to get hot coffee for Kevin and Scott.
The relay teams could begin between 5 and 7 AM. Each person does a "leg" of the race, carries a baton to hand off to the next team member, the vehicle driving along, following them.
What's so much fun is that the relayers really think that the ultra runners are rockstars. They cheer for us, bow to us, tell us we are an inspiration, crazy, etc. It's amazing. You have cheerleaders all along the course.
Before we left John and Cheri at Kathy's, I told John to make us proud. I thought he was going to go for the win and knew he could win the race. He told me that if all worked out he'd see us at 40 miles. Last year he passed Scott and I at 40 miles.
Yesterday he passed us at 21 miles!! All of a sudden, here comes Cheri, driving along...I damn near died. Here comes John, yelling and screaming "run until they are bloody stumps!" He was flying. Flying I say! Man, what a sight. Flying up the road, nobody anywhere near him, running fast. We were all in awe and wished him well. He flew on and Cheri told us that the nearest competion was a mile back. Go John. Kick ass and take names.
Pretty soon the Big Lake Run Club team came by. My friends that I run Wednesday night Run Club with. It was so great to see them out on the course. I look forward to it every year. We came up to a 5K check point and they all piled out, hugged and wished me well. They were having a fun time, Kevin was running the next leg so I high fived him and off he went. We didn't see them again.
I tried something new. I've never tried Ensure before but figured I'd give it a whirl. I purchased some Vanilla Ensure with High Protein. It was on ice and went down quickly and easily. I drank one container every 10K and didn't feel sick to the stomach or anything from it. Each container had 230 calories, a good fast way to get energy down. I packed sandwiches but didn't want the heavy full feeling they provide. I ate one sandwich at the beginning and carried one with me for 6 hours until I finally pitched it.
I, Kevin and Scott ran the whole 100K together. It was Kevin's first 100K. He ran his first 50K at Afton this July, his first 50 Mile at Voyaguer in July and his first 100K yesterday. That is so awesome! This was Scott's 6th Ed Fitz; my 4th. We had so much fun. I was one of the guys for the day. I burped, farted and swore with them. We sang songs and had great conversation. Scott knows every tree, sign and landmark along the course. He was our tour guide. He would say "we'll run up to the No Passing Zone." We would run up to the sign, take a walk break "we'll run to the far end of the guard rail" and we would. We took many walk breaks, did a lot of hard running. We were so damn tired.
At 50K Scott looked at his watch and couldn't believe we were over 6 hours. He was in shock. How can we be over 6 hours? It's never taken me 6 hours to get over 50K he said. We're running hard. The effort is tough. What the hell? I and Kevin were like, yeah, whatever, who cares about the time? I really didn't. I was EXHAUSTED. I was doing great mentally, which is where I usually check out, but I was tired physically. I have many miles on my legs this year and I didn't taper at all. I ran 60 last week and Twin Cities Marathon the week before. I knew I'd be tired. Scott ran Twin Cities and just came back from hiking the Grand Canyon for the better part of a week. He was tired too. Kevin ran Twin Cities too and just wanted to finish the 100K. Me too.
As we ran on, Scott was still perplexed at the time. Eventually he said he wasn't going to look at his watch any more. He'd look at the sun as a sundial as it was more our pace. It was too, we were slow, but felt like we were going as fast as we could. I could not push it one bit faster. No way no how and I was fine with that.
I had to take 4 Advil during the first 10K, the back of my damn knees were stiff and sore. I didn't feel any more pain until the last 5K, so that was good. I was just tired.
The last 20K was a grind. We knew we would finish, but when the hell were we going to finish? We all felt like walking but that would have taken forever so we kept grinding out the running sections, walking every now and again.
Alicia told us John's nearest competion was over 30 minutes behind him and Pierre was a few miles ahead of us.
We kept on grinding out the miles.
Finally, the finish was in sight. Another mile and we'd be there. Alicia had parked the car at the finish and walked back out to us. We all ran into the finish together. We had Kevin first, me second and Scott third. I think we finished 13:10 or so. I don't recall a clock and looked at my watch a bit later at 13:30, so I'm guessing. We did it. Thank God it was over. The wind, oh my gosh, it was an extremely tough day!
Pierre finished in 11:50.
JOHN WON THE RACE! HE WON THE RACE IN 8:08. Can you imagine??? He held that blistering pace where he blew by us the whole freaking way? He won the race and the second place finisher was AN HOUR behind him. Oh yeah.
We all went back to Kathy's for showers and then went to the DECC for the finishing ceremony. They call up each soloist, introduce us one at a time, we ring the bell, get our jar of taconite and take a place on stage. John, as the winner, had to give a speech. He thanked Cheri for crewing him the past three years at the race, all of the relayers for cheering him on, and his group of friends that make it all so much fun.
We were so damn tired. And hungry. We went back to Pizza Luce' where I had a huge ceasar salad with chicken and almost fell asleep at the table. At 1100 we had been awake for 20 hours, we climbed into our sleeping bags and were instantly asleep.
What an awesome weekend. Thanks for the memories you guys!