Sunday, May 18, 2008

A Slice of Heaven..on Earth

If there is such a thing as heaven, for me, it would resemble the Superior Hiking Trail. Tranquil, beautiful, majestic. I feel at home on the Superior Hiking Trial; I feel at peace. Even during the daunting mid morning hours on day two of the 100 mile race, the SHT is still a wonderful place to be.

This year Tyler and Troy decided to come along with me. I was thrilled! We always have a good time in Lutsen, the boys favorite thing is to climb around Temperance and hike the rocks of Grand Marais. We covered both of those activities after the Superior 50K, which I ran yesterday.

I had no goals for the 50K. I wanted to enjoy the run, build the 50K into my weekly training. No dietary changes, no taper (which I usually don't do anymore anyway). I decided to eat as I would during a training run: Hammer Heed and Hammergel, coffee and skim milk for breakfast.

After hiking Temperance River, we checked into our townhome early Friday afternoon. There was plenty of time to swim, hot tub and play ping pong. Time to fix a fabulous steak salad for me, ravioli for the boys. We were all in our bedrooms by 930, reading our books.

The sun rises early in Lutsen. I'm not kidding! Our townhome was all windows facing Moose Mountain. I didn't pull any shades before we went to bed. At 430 the sun was streaming in. I thought I overslept! Nope. Just bright.

I ground my Caribou Mocha Java, fixed my coffee in my french press, added a bit of splenda and skim and was ready for my race. I walked up to the race start, checked in and we were off!

I don't like getting stuck in the back of the group any longer. I begin to feel claustrophobic when I can't pass someone on the trail. We begin the race on a wide road, about a mile to the trail. I went out in the front of the pack, figuring I could slow whenever necessary.

I fell into a group of triathletes that were training for an Ironman in Canada. It was fun to listen to them talk of their different training regimens. There was much talk about bikes and how much they paid for them. Good grief.

The trail was beautiful, soft, covered with leaves. There wasn't a whole lot of mud, some wild flowers were just beginning to bud. I saw a snowman that someone had built! Yes, there was snow. The snowman even had little stick arms. I laughed.

I came into Oberg with a dry bottle. I was carrying a handheld of Heed and had a dozen Hammergel's in my Race Ready shorts. I was doing a gel every 30 minutes, drinking 24 oz of Heed roughly every hour.

There were a ton of downed trees. Some I climbed over, some I crawled under. One damn near killed me as I was straddled upon it and I FELL OFF. I was glad nobody was around to laugh at me. I had to laugh at myself.

By the time I reached the turn around I was sweating heavily. The guy at the turn around told me I looked like I was having the most fun and that I was smiling the biggest smile. Of course I am! It's a great day in the woods, I said. He said not all were feeling that way. Whatever. I enjoyed every mile. I took off my shirt and ran down as fast as I could. Then the cold breeze came along and back on went my shirt. It was like that all day. Hot and Cold. I was expecting 45F and rain, so 45-55 and sun was A OK with me.

By the time I made it back to Oberg I felt like I was flying. I hadn't looked at my watch yet, I was just running what felt good. I told myself I would look at my watch at the river crossing, right before I would get off of the trail.

I saw Tom and Nancy hiking, making their way off the trail. I looked at my watch. Holy shit! I'm going to PR this course. 5:49. I can break 6 hours. I saw Amy and Jason finishing up the 25K. I ran as fast as I could. A PR on a training run. Sweet stuff.

I saw Matt and yelled PR! Woohoo! Into the finish line I ran, 5:56. 4th Master. Amazing, and feeling so good. Tyler and Troy were at the finish waiting for me. It was great to see them there. Troy was freezing, so Tyler drove him back to the townhome and came back to pick me up.

After a shower I went back for the award ceremony and saw all of the gang. Everyone had a great time on the SHT. Gretchen and Mike gave the place winners heavy blaze orange microfiber hooded fleece sweatshirts! Troy wore mine last night on the shoreline. I also took home a medal, tshirt and a bandanna.

Back to pick up the boys and off to Grand Marais to rock climb. The shoreline of Lake Superior is incredible here. We climbed and ran and played in the rocks. We pointed out a tree that my Dad nearly punctured his eyeball with two years ago. The branch is broken off where it scratched him and broke off, the tree is still standing there.

We met Alicia, Larry, Kate, Tom, Nancy, Jo, Amy, Jason and Keith at Sven and Ollies for pizza; I had a double chicken ceaser salad. We arrived back to Caribou in time for one more swim and a game of ping pong. We were back in bed by 930 again last night.

This morning I was treated to the SHT solo. What a treat. I filled two bottles of HEED and a handful of gels and headed out the door at 5AM for Moose Mountain. It was cold and windy, but the sun was bright.

The trail was loud with birds waking and squirrels and chipmunks. They sounded like huge beasts in the woods! Nobody was out there. I had a great workout. My goal was 5 MM's. I did 10. I felt more tired after 10 Moose Mountains' than I did after the 50K yesterday!

I ran back to the townhome before the boys awoke. As I began to fry bacon and prepare pancakes they came alive.

What a great weekend :)

10 comments:

Kel said...

Julie, you are Iron Woman! It was great to finally meet you :)

Superior Hiking Trail is one of my favorite places on Earth.

Anonymous said...

Julie- I love to hear how your training has paid off, and now you are having great races and runs! It's very inspirational, at a time that I really need it. I cannot train my best right now with all the metabolic issues I have going on, but I read your blog and I start to see how maybe, down the road a bit, I can get there...thanks, Zoey

Anonymous said...

Sounds very amazing! We hike the SHT on Saturday. We did 9 miles in 4 hours and I thought we were fast!

Thanks for the great report! Glad you and the boys had a good time, that is awesome!!

Anonymous said...

Julie:
Congratulations on a very strong 50K and taking 4th masters. You look stronger than ever! It was nice to see you and meet your sons. All the best.
Jason H.

Dad said...

Hi, Julie Ann,

I did enjoy your report. Sounds as if you and the boys had a great time. Wish I could have joined you. Did you really see that infamous and dangerous tree lurking in the pathway to spear innocent walkers?! I bet y'all had a good chuckle.

And . . . . . . .CONGRATULATIONS.

Love, Dad

Rooster said...

Awesome run, congratulations! Hills the next day, wow you are amazing and crazy...I like it. Sounds like a great Mom and Son's weekend too.

SteveQ said...

As always, great race, Julie. For me, the trail was just a bit south of heaven, though.

keith said...

Yo Julie!

Fantastic race! You looked unbeatably strong out there. It was also good to see you again.

olga said...

Go Juls!!! This very same lay-out is my plan for this weekend as well:) You rock, girlie!

Carilyn said...

What a great trip! It really sounded wonderful!