Oh man, what a day!
Because of the State of Minnesota shutdown (government couldn't pass a budget)the non essential areas of government are closed. This includes the State Parks. Afton State Park is the location of the Afton 50K.
John Storkamp, our incredible RD, could have just canceled the race. We would have expected it. Instead he chose to go through more planning and headache and was granted permission to hold the Afton 50K at the Afton Alps, just next door to the Afton State Park. SWEET!
This meant yes, that the race would be held upon the ski hills and mountain bike trails. Would it be more difficult that Afton 50K or easier. I knew it would be more difficult. In the past I have spent many a day getting in ski hill repeats-ouch, but never along with a 50K run. Lordy.
Parking was fabulous. When Bill P guided me into a spot I had to ask "Bill, is this a Team Ortho race?" It was awesome!
Afton Alps gave the race the chalet and all of the fixings for the day. Amazing.
I looked at the beginning of the course and saw the flags going right up the frickin' first ski hill. Really?
After mingling a short while we were ready to get this party started. I walked to the back of the line-yup, dead last. I didn't care if I was DFL today (deaf effing last) it was better than a DNF (did not finish) and that was my mantra going into and while running the race.
It was hot. I was already sweating buckets. I reminded myself to take SCaps today at the aid stations, which I normally don't do. My body is different after the hysterectomy a few months back. It sweats more among other things!
I found myself with Les Martisko, a runner in his 60s who I began my ultrarunning with. I always used to run with Les in my early races, then I moved toward the front, now I was enjoying company with him upon the trail again. We had great conversations during the first half of the first loop.
Pretty soon I was running with Tom Andrews and Pat Gorman. We finished out the loop together, I really enjoyed running with them. I was quite worried about the race after finishing this first loop in 156. Climbing the ski hills at the end was crazy bad. It was hot-at 830 in the morning-I was sweating and gasping for air. Shitpie.
Into the start finish to crazy loud cheering "JULIE" it was so awesome! All of my friends, what a great experience! My bottle was filled, I grabbed Scaps and Hammergels and was out of there. I needed to keep this pace. I had heard 9 hours was the cut off so off I went.
Pretty soon Tom caught up to me. He explained we should run the flats and downhills, walk the ups of course and that way we would get in under 9. He was right on. I climbed the switchbacks, ski hills and ran the flats-which were few-as was shade-and ran the downhills. Hot hot hot. Wet wet wet. I don't know if I've ever sweat so much.
2nd loop was 200 again. OK, good deal. I can do this. I was happy to be 1/2 through. Again a chorus of "ICE BERG" "GO JULIE" it was fabulous fun. I took a bow and made everyone laugh. Or was that the 3rd loop? Who knows.
3rd loop I was on my own. I didn't really see anyone but sure was happy to get into the aid stations! Doug Barton was at AS1 and I was so happy to tell him "next time I see you I'll be on my 4th loop"! He filled my bottle and gave me ice and I was off. I was really enjoying this.
During the 3rd loop Duke Rembleski came upon me! I love Duke! I hadn't seen him in forever and was thankful that this was a 4 loop course so that I could walk and talk with him. He was on his 4th loop. It was so great to visit.
At 4.4 miles Helen Lavin and Maria Barton and crew were manning the station. It was great to come in each time and chat with happy smiling people! After a cooling off of ice water and sponges I felt revitalized! Off to get loop 3 finished.
At about 1 mile to the start/finish I heard JULIE! Oh my goodness, Eve Rembleski! Yahhoo I love Eve too! She was running strong in back of me, I waited for her to catch up and pass so I could run after her a yell out a few words! Eve took 1st woman/7th overall. So great to see you!
The 3rd loop came to an end, another loud chorus of HERE COMES JULIE and I could only laugh! I had the worse chaffing ever. My shorts and top were so soaked and rubbing on me, completely rubbed me raw. Cheri brought me over a big canister of Vaseline that really helped. Nancy washed me off with ice water oh, so wonderful. Holly filled my hat with ice, I grabbed watermelon and proceeded to drop it upon Eves toes! Nancy did the bending down for me to pick it up.
3rd lap was 2:11 OK, let's get this party moving.
The 4th lap I was just so darn grateful that I was going to finish this beast! It was truly a beast. I had chafing from hell but that was the only complaint. My legs weren't tired (why??), no blisters-Foot Potion-and I was truly happy to be out on the course.
As the 4th lap came to an end I surprised myself by tearing up. Pretty soon I was sobbing. On one hand I tend to think I should be able to run as fast and as hard as pre hysterectomy and on the other, more sane hand, I am just so grateful to be running again. I was crying because I am so thankful to be able run again. This felt like my McNaughton 100 wins. Really.
I finished the race in 830, in good form. I was able to run my fastest as I ran over the finish line.
Thank you so much to all of the volunteers, Cheri and John, all of you out there. It was an incredible day and I'm just so thankful that I was able to experience it.
Now I must pack up my food and head up to the Lake. Happy 4th of July :)