Sunday, September 07, 2008

Superior Sawtooth 102.6 Mile Trail Run: Bad Ass

First off, thank you so very much to Larry and Colleen Pederson for the months spent planning and preparing for this race. It's just incredible, top notch. The volunteers have the show down pat, from marking to set up to sweeping to drop bags, aid stations and awards. It's amazing. They allow the selfish ultra runners to experience a weekend of fun. While you are standing at the awards, it is fun. While you are running the race it is fun and pain. Lots of pain.

Friday morning was spectacular. The sun was shining, it was cool and dry. I caught a ride to the start with Carl, Deb and Charlie. Carl was running the 100, Deb was pacing him and Charlie had crew detail. They made up an awesome team for Carl.

Before the race we shot pictures, reminisced of past races and talked of the forecast. We were all just happy that it wasn't pouring rain! I had many people come up to me and introduce themselves. Thank you for doing so! So many said they 'met' me through this blog and read here for motivation and inspiration. I love that I am able to inspire others. I'm just regular girl, doing what she loves..and so can others. I asked a few why they read this intrigues me. Most replies were that it was interesting, that they enjoyed the race reports and that it was inspirational. It was great to meet so many new faces at the races this weekend.

At 8 AM Larry shouted GO and off we went! Off for 38 hours of fun on the trail. Oh lord. Here I go again. Didn't I tell myself during the race last year that I was going to volunteer this year? I wonder why I am doing this, yet again. Because it is the SHT and I can't get enough of it.

Gooseberry Falls to Split Rock 9.3 Miles
This is one of the few runnable sections. Much of it is on ski trails through birch and pine. Much of the trail was longer grass with a few rocks. There are lots of footbridges across the creeks. The creeks looked to be pretty dry.Eventually we came to Split Rock River valley. This area is just beautiful. There really is a big huge split red rock on the side of the trail overlooking the waterfall. Splendid. There is a lot of red rock, apparently called rhyolite, formed from a massive lava flow. The trail is covered in loose chips of this rock and the trail.

I was bunched with a fun group: Steve, Mollie, Kami, Casey. Lots of conversation and laughs.

We came into the aid station just a few minutes after 10. Too fast for me. I was a bit concerned, but knew I wanted to run a PR here. I decided not to worry and to slowly build an hour cushion, finishing in 33-34 hours instead of the 35:35 I finished last year. I decided I'd run the run ables as hard as I could while I could.

We had a large group come into the aid station. The volunteers were pros. Bonnie grabbed my bottles, I was given a sandwich and I saw Pierre as he yelled "go, go" to Matt. Pierre was right. In and out of those aid station as fast as you can go is key. You could waste a lot of time there. This was a station where the volunteers had to carry everything in, there was no access so there were was no crew or drop bags.

I felt great, so far, so good.

Split Rock to Beaver Bay: 10.1 Miles
Another long section before aid. I again carried my GoLite Rush Pack without a bladder. With a bladder I drink too much and can't measure the amount I am consuming. I carried 2 24 oz bottles of Heed in each bottle holster along with a 24 oz bottle of Heed in the back for back up. I normally consume 24 oz an hour, during the first 50 I drank this amount, the second 50 my drinking was much less as it had cooled and I wasn't running as hard.

This is a tough, slow, rocky section. Lots of boulders and it looks like you are running up a dry stream bed. Lots of picking up the legs high and trying to find good footing. NO ROOTS though, a good thing. I was still in a bunch of 7-9 runners which was a lot of fun. Matt, Steve, Kami, the guy from Faribault who I ran with at Vermont last year, Molly, Pierre, Casey. It was fun to listen to snipets of conversation. I knew that eventually I'd be by myself and with my own thoughts.

I saw Steve fall through this section, on his already broken hand. His shirt was covered with blood and he looked bad. I felt horrible for him. I couldn't believe he even started the race with his bad hand. I assumed, incorrectly, that he would drop at the next aid station as he told me he was the first casualty of the race. I said 'you were a casualty before the race began' I didn't mean this to mean he was a DNF casualty before the race began. I meant that his hand was a casualty. Poor guy. He kept on though! All the way through Sonju, like 56 miles or so. Amazing.

There were some very pretty view through this section. I took many pictures and then decided I needed to spend more time running. Remember the PR? Stop stopping all of the time!

The aid station was beehive of activity! First drop bags and crew access. I saw Deb and Charlie right away, waiting for Carl. Deb filled my bottles and Charlie handed me my drop bag..what a treat! It's nice to be able to 'use' other's crew members! I was so grateful for all of the help I received. Just having someone take your bottles to refill is a great help. I disposed of my gel foils and took some more out of my drop bag and headed on out. As I was leaving I was shocked to see Jerry from Missouri and Stuart from Kansas! I ran 35 hours with Stuart last year and 12 with Jerry. I thought they were up ahead of me. It was great to see them again. I hung with them for a very very long time :)

Beaver Bay to Silver Bay: 4.9 Miles
Only 4.9 miles! What a treat! Stuart, Jerry, Kami and I headed out of the aid station together. We had lots of catching up to do. We followed the Beaver River along the trail and then to an ATV/snowmobile trail uphill to an outlook over the City. Lots of climbing of big rocks, it began to get pretty warm, but was probably only 60F or so. We were climbing and working hard, scrambling over the rocky ascents and steep steep descents. I began to worry about my knees. I remembered how badly they hurt last year during this section. Thankfully, my knees didn't bother me through the whole race. At the aid station I dropped off my gel foils, refilled more gels and grabbed my night lights. There weren't drop bags at Tettegouche so I had to pick them up here. I yelled out to the runner to remember their lights here, it would be getting dark for most of us at Co Rd 6. Some didn't have their lights here. . .

Silver Bay to Tettegouche:.9.9 Miles
This is one of my favorite sections, but not my favorite. It's up there, though. There are beautiful views here. I'll post a picture of Stuart, Jerry and myself. The lake in the background is Bean or Bear Lake. The views are just incredible. We climbed, climbed and climbed, eventually making it to the Bean Lake Overlook. Absolutely amazing. Lots of oak, maple and birch..I did see many Mountain Ash in full red berries. This is challenging section with all of the climbing, but it is early enough in the 100 where it doesn't completely kick the butt yet. Mt. Trudee is in this section, a huge climb with a flat top, overlooking the city of Silver Bay. It's called a weather resistant anorthosite dome. After cruising over Mt. Trudee I remembered the "drainpipe" was in this section. It is a 150 foot rock crevice with rock steps. It's just nuts. It's steep steep steep and the rock steps are a foot apart or more. I had to sit on a step, stretch my legs out and somehow get to the next. Thank god my knees were holding up. I can't imagine what this would be like with sore knees. There is a wooden railing next to the drainpipe that shouldn't be there. It is rickety and moves around. I finally realized it was more of a hindrance than help! I was SO looking forward to the lumber in the trail showing me that Tettegouche was coming up. Soon enough I began to see 'normal people', hiking out from the Tettegouche wayside. I knew I was getting close.

I was starving! When I am moving this slowly and it is cool, I can really eat during a race. So far I had consumed 3 full sandwiches, potato chips and gels. I had plenty of calories in the tank, but not too many. As I came into Tettegouche I broke into a huge whoop! I was stoked. FOOD and friends!

Alicia fixed a baggie for me with a sandwich, chips and other goodies. My bottles were filled and off I went. Jerry, Stuart and I began down the trail. We were 1:40 ahead of last year's pace. I was feeling great.

Tettegouche to Co Rd 6: 8.6 miles.
We ran out of the aid station and I told Jerry and Stuart I was still starving. I couldn't believe it. I had consumed a whole sandwich, grapes and chips and I was hungry. I told them to go ahead and I'd get some food I always keep in m pack for emergency. I pulled out another sandwich (!) and a banana and some licorice. I chowed down and caught up with them on the suspension bridge.

This section crosses Crystal Creek. I could see the Sawtooth summits ahead. Yikes, pretty soon I'll be up in that stuff. The trail climbed steeply toward the summits.

The first 4 miles of this section is tough. Lots of climbing, lots of descents, just tough stuff to get through and oh so slow. There are some great views of Lake Superior and the mountains of Fantasia, Marshall and Mystical.

Pretty soon I was at Sawmill Dome. Man, all I could think of was when John Storkamp was running the BETA with us and crashed hard here. I pictured him layed out on that rock acting as though he were dying. Good memories, hu? Thanks for the smile!

This section is where the crazy beaver dam is. It wasn't quite dark, when I was here last year it was pitch dark. I went across, carefully, and noticed that the water was much lower than last year. I didn't hear the beaver whack his tail as me either!

I came across the glacial erratic, a huge rock that is over 25 feet tall. I knew I was getting close.

I was looking forward to Nancy and Tom's aid station. I knew that Jeffery and Jason would be there, too. There is nothing like seeing friends along the course. The aid stations become everything.

As I was coming down to Co Rd 6 it began to get dark. I kept trying to get down the steep path of rocks and roots in the dark and knew I needed to take the time to get my flashlight. I kept hoping I could make it without having to take the time. Eventually I realized this was ridiculous, get out the flashlight and look where you are going! I did. I retrieved my hand held and figured I'd put on my big Black Diamond headlamp at Nancy's. I was able to get to Co Rd 6 1:35 earlier than last year.

As I was running down into the aid station I heard "JULIE BERG"! It was awesome. Jason took my bottles, Jeff checked me in, Lynn gave me hot broth and a sandwich while I retrieved a jacket, long sleeved shirt and gels from my pack. I placed my Black Diamond headlamp on my head and was ready to rock and roll .. I mean rock and root the night away.

Co Rd 6 to Finland: 7.7 Miles
Jerry told us he was feeling inspired to run faster (finishing in 30:17!!!) and that he was going to go ahead. Stuart spent more time in the aid stations that I cared to so I would leave and he'd catch me a bit later. This was our routine most of the night.

This is a hard section. We'll they are all hard from miles 1-77; really. They are bad ass tough trails. You have no idea until you have run the 100 year. You know, my 50 mile time on the SHT is 12 hours. I need to DOUBLE my 50 mile SHT time and ADD 10 hours to get my 100 mile time. There are NO comparisons between the two races.

It was dark, I was happy with my lights. I was almost half way finished, I was trying not to think of the 20 more hours left of the race. Just think about the next aid station in 8 miles; that is all that matters. Aid station to aid station. The trail goes up the high cliffs overlooking Baptism River and the high cliffs called Section 13. It's nuts. It's climbing climbing climbing and steep descents where I am holding onto the trees, or ground, trying to get down. Most of the time I had my handheld in my mouth as I needed both hands to guide me down the rocky cliffs. Yikes.

This is the area that the bugs are so bad in the summer. You go down down down into the bowels of the earth. Into the mossy muddy stinky swampy ishy area. There are long boardwalks all over the place, most are covered with chicken wire so they weren't real slippery.

Eventually I reached the Finland ski trail and new aid was getting close. I was able to do a bit of running on the grassy trail and took the sharp right turn, remembering that Maria and I had missed this turn two times during training runs.

Amen. The Finland Rec Center parking lot. 1/2 way there, baby!

Finland Rec Center to Sonju Lake Road: 4.4 Miles

This aid station is always wonderful. I could hear the generator in the distance. THANK GOD. I needed to see some civilization. I felt like I had been in the woods forever. My feet were aching, my legs were skin was beginning to hurt. My headlamp was giving my a head ache. I was going to switch my hat for my nice fleece hat I bought at Leadville.

Dawn Long does this station. She makes a fabulous home made chicken noodle soup with garlic in it that is absolutely fantastic. I had a cup of soup and a wonderful warm grilled cheese with ham. Oh man. After gobbling that down she offered me a cookie with coconut oil and organic 65% chocolate..oh lord. It was so good. I took care of my drop bag business and began to hear of all of the people that had dropped here. I couldn't believe all of the incredible runners that the race had taken out. I was warm, my tummy was full and I was ready to hit the cold slow trail of doom.

Finland Rec Center to Sonju Lake Road: 4.4 Miles
4.4 Sounded like a treat! Man, the miles just began to take for fricken ever. It is so hard to stop looking at the whole race and to instead focus on running aid station to aid station. I knew I had to do this, it was too big to think about the 50 miles that were left. I left the aid station with Kami and her pacer, Tania. Tani was going to run 7 miles with Kami. Guess what, she ended up doing 27 miles! We left the aid station together, Stuart was taking care of his drop bag and would catch us in a bit. It was getting cold and colder and slow and slower. I knew what was coming up. My second worst section. Sonju Root Fest. It's awful after 50 miles and in the dark. It's constant slowness, pick up the foot and leg 12" and do it again over and over, hoping that I can find a piece of earth to put my foot down upon instead of another stupid root. Really. It's terrible. It makes my feet black and blue on the bottoms. No blisters (thank you foot potion!) but tons of bruising. We trudged on.

We came to the Old Trappers Cabin, another beaver pond and across Sonju Creek. All I wanted was to be out of this god forsaken section. Why was I running this race? This hurts. This hurts badly. I still have 20 hours left. Ugh. The WORST section is next. Shit pie.

I could hear the generator. I saw lights. Oh, Happy Days! I was smiling and whooping and hollering. They aid station workers clapped and hollered back to us. Oh yippee!! There were Christmas lights strung along a wonderful manicured grassy section up to the trailer. It looked like I was coming into a fancy park or something. It was! There were no runners at the aid station other than myself, Stuart, Kami and Tania. One person took my bottles, another put a hot sandwich and soup in my hand, another changed my batteries in my headlamp and my handheld. I was so happy I took some pictures of these wonderful workers! I loved it. A little bit of warm food, smiling and laughing and fabulous aid station volunteers was just what I needed. Heaven.

Crosby Manitou State Park to Sugarloaf: Longest 9.4 miles. Ever.
I knew this was going to be bad. It always is. I've run the 100 here three years in a row and I've run this section during night training runs 3x and day training runs 3x. I know what it is. It sucks during the day on fresh legs and who day hikes this anyway? I wonder if anyone does. The only good thing was that I knew Maria and Doug had the aid station here and that was something to look forward too!

More roots..roots upon roots. Remember HR Puffinstuff..or something like that..there were bad trees with big roots that tried to grab people and pull them in. That what these roots are like. I was on a narrow trail with bad mean roots 6=12" thick upon the ground and they were trying to trip me, to make me fall, to bruise my feet. It was SO slow. Ugh. Get me out of here..yeah, out of here into Crosby Manitou. Oh lord.

As I hit the bit of gravel road into Crosby ManitouI was so exited for Doug and Maria's aid station. I was able to actually RUN a bit and stretch my legs out. It felt wonderful, I was able to warm up a bit. The rain had stopped, but I still felt wet and cold. My headache had gone away since I changed hats and loosened up my headlamp.

Maria had paper bags along the route with candles inside. Nice touch! We ran into the aid station and there wasn't another runner in there! Deb and Charlie were waiting for Carl. Deb would begin to pace Carl here. Charlie filled my bottles and gave me my drop bag. I didn't need anything here. I was taken care of. I still had gels for the next section in my bag. Doug asked what I would like. Maria had a menu set up! I saw homemade beef stew on the menu. Oh, yeah! Maria scooped me hot stew into a cup and gave me one of her wraps. I then went to grab some potato chips and my flashlight fell into the bowl, knocking them all over. Yikes. Her food was wonderful. Hot beef stew? Wow. Good stuff. It was really nice to leave the 100K mark with hot food in my belly and good luck wishes from good friends. I was still an hour and 10 minutes ahead of last year. I wondered what Manitou would do to that?

Do you know that the Superior Sawtooth 100 has 21000 feet elevation? Do you know that there are mountains in Minnesota? Do you know that the Sawtooth Mountain Range exists? This is a tough course. It's constant rocks, constant roots and ascents and descents like you would not believe. Yeah, in Minnesota.

So..Crosby Manitou to Sugarloaf: 9.4 Miles

Terrible. Just Terrible. It took me 4 hours to get through this 9.4 mile section. Yup, 4 hours. Most of the time I had a flashlight in my mouth as I again needed two hands to get down the tough steep descents. They were worse than the ascents. It went on and on. I knew it was going to be horrible so at least I knew this in advance. I felt badly for those who didn't know that this section was as bad as at was. Two years ago when I ran this section of the race the bridge was out. A poor soul volunteered to help cross each runner across the river. We both fell down that year. I fell on top of him and hit my head. At least this year there was a bridge. I was thankful for that. I kept telling myself that after this section was finished the sun would come up, the course flattens a bit and I would be able to run a bit. Good things to look forward to. I kept pushing the fact that I had 40 miles to run in the back of my brain. That didn't help anything at all. I kept pushing positive thoughts toward my brain and it really helped turn things around.

I began to list the things I am grateful for. My family. My healthy boys that love me. I still have a job, I wasn't cut with the budget cuts, I am healthy, I'm 20 pounds lighter than the last time I ran this race, I have met some incredible people through running. I am thankful that I can do this. I CAN DO THIS. I CAN DO THIS. Tomorrow night I'll be in a bed, with sheets, with a finish buckle, and this is only one day out of my life. So buck up and get it done.

As the sun came up I thanked God. I was so thankful that I was of the Wild Manitou River Gorge.

I finally came upon the Caribou Wayside with the bridge and knew that the aid station was about 2.5 miles away. Thank goodness. I began to run. Oh my gosh, to stretch my legs, to stretch out my back, to see the sun rise. Good stuff all around. My legs weren't dead. I was still moving. I kept saying Amen ?

72 miles down and I came into Sugarloaf. I love Sugarloaf. It lets me know that I'm done with the worst of the worst. Manitou is in the past, the sun is up, I can look at views, I can remove my lights, my night shirt and get onto the business of finishing this race. From here on out the race is more runable.

Sugarloaf to Cramer Road: 5.6 Miles
Kami's dad was at Sugarloaf and he said that he thought Helen was going to finish in 26:30! I couldn't even imagine such a possibility. 26:30!! This is Helen's first 100, and yeah, she finished in 26:30. Isn't that incredible?? Wow. Yes, it is.

After getting some soup and removing my hat and shirt, lights into my drop bag I was in pretty good spirits. My stomach was good, I was drinking, I was warm, I wasn't in as rough shape as last year and I still had an hour cushion on last year's time. I was shocked that Manitou didn't take that away.

I ran along this section pretty nicely. The trail was a bit softer, still lots of roots, but nice birch forest, some good running sections. My feet were toast. No blisters but major bruising and pain. I kept putting away the pain, pretending they didn't hurt. What good did it do to dwell upon? I wasn't going to drop for sore freaking feet.

I enjoyed coming into Cramer Road. This is where I dropped two years ago. It's nice to come in and feel good, strong, and know that there is no way I'm dropping here today. Kami's Dad had a hot latte' for her! What a nice Pa! I ate a chocolate brownie here. After I did so I worried it may make me sickThis gave Kami another lift and she began to run again. I would pass her, then pee, then she'd pass again. Tania was still pacing her and they were moving right along, getting the job done. I ate a chocolate brownie. The volunteer told me he made them and I ate it. It was good, then I worried it could upset my stomach. It didn't though, but it made me want more of them!

Cramer Road to Temperance River State Park: 7.1 Miles
Now I was getting into the race. Now the doom of the night had left, barring an injury I was finishing. I LOVE the last 25 miles. This part of the course is beautiful and it is daylight so I get to see it all. The Temperance River in all of her beauty, the incredible rapids, the cool rocky areas to run over, the climb of a zillion wooden steps, the 'normal' people out for day hikes. I turned on my iPod and put in one ear bud so that I could still hear runners. I hadn't seen one 50 miler yet, I assumed they'd be coming upon me soon. Kami and Tania dropped back when I began to run, I didn't see them again. I ran as hard as I could..which wasn't very hard..but felt good.

I was happy.

The views in this section are incredible. Huge maple forests, turning color, wildflowers, mushrooms, Tower Overlook, the awesome water falls, it is the best.

As I came into Temperance the aid workers commented on my smile. I told them I wouldn't do this if it wasn't fun. Sure, it was hard as hell, I was tired and sore but man, this is something special. I was joyful. I didn't need anything from my bag, I had some soup and left running, still 1:10 ahead of last year's schedule. Amazing.

Temperance River State Park to Sawbill: 5.7
I couldn't believe I was already this far into the race. On one hand, when I thought about the 20 miles to go, it felt overwhelming, but on the other hand, when I thought that there were only 2 aid stations left, I couldn't believe it. Every once in a while I would begin to cry because it was all so overwhelming. I was running alone, visiting with hikers along the route whom were totally amazed that I was out running 102.6 miles. My number was 1001 in big red numbers, so they would as what I was running. I told them and their mouths would fall open. I'm sure I looked like a crazy woman; laughing and crying along the trail, running as hard as I could, all hunched up with a pack upon my back..but I had on a pretty pink skirt with pretty pink gaiters :)

Carlton Peak is absolutly fantastic. It is my favorite section. It's amazing. There are huge blocks of anorthosite rock, somehow they are positioned 50-75 feet above the trail, but are easy to climb, as there are plenty of knobs to hold onto as you climb. It's so very very beautiful. Tyler and Troy love this section as well. I smile the whole time I'm through this piece. I ran down down down from Carlton and finally saw the first 50 miler of the day. He was so complimentary of me. He told me I looked fresh, that he was amazed that I could run 100 miles. As he ran away I realized he gave me a lift. On I went, onto Sawbill. Crazy.

I came into Sawbill and was just stoked. Laughing, happy, feeling great. When the volunteer told me I had 5.5 miles to Oberg I became all choked up again and teared up. Man, emotional!! I didn't need anything from my drop bag, I wasn't hungry, I had a few pretzels, filled my Heed bottles and buzzed along, so very happy that I was actually happy..and having fun after the night of terror in Manitou!

Sawbill to Oberg Mountain: 7.1 Miles
I remembered that it took quite some time to get to Oberg for some reason. I think it is beause I am so excited to get there, to only have 7 miles left once through Oberg, that I end up disappointed that it takes so long. This year I didn't set myself up to become disappointed. I took each mile in, enjoyed every step, taking in the wonderful views. There are quite a few spur trails in this section and I purposely took one of them. The Cedar Overlook is a steep 300 yard climb that has a spectacular view of Lake Superior and the Sawtooth Mountains. It was well worth the additional time. I came back out to the SHT and past the campsites, then to the Onion River. I couldn't believe it. I was actually running, I was happy, I was signing, I was on my way to Oberg. Oh man.

Wow. I couldn't even believe that I was thinking about running into Oberg. I couldn't believe that Oberg was on the radar. I had been thinking about Oberg for 25 hours. I love this section!

At Oberg I saw Kate Havelin manning the station, Curt King was there, having dropped from the 50, and Ed Dallman was doing drop bag duty. I had an empty bag, I left one there just in case I wanted to drop something off. I really wanted to drop of my whole pack, take off my shirt and run in my bra and skirt. I was tired of my bad smell, my wet shirt and my heavy pack. I didn't though. I continued with my clothing.

Kate fixed me a bag of goodies, I was there for less than a minute, and ran along toward the finish. As I left Oberg I began to sob, quite loudly. I was so grateful for the weekend, so happy that I had made it. I did notice that I was dizzy, that my hands were double their normal swelling state, that my arms were huge. Oh well. 7 miles baby. Moose Mountain and Mystery were no problem. I climbed and climbed, enjoying stretching out those climbing muscles without having to hold on for dear life and having to hold a flashlight in my mouth. Gee, thankful for the little things! I really had a great 7 miles. I knew I was going to come in less than the 35:35 I had last year. I was hoping it would be a 34 something. I ran as hard as I could. It began to rain. Then rain hard. Pretty soon another 50 mile guy came upon me. He told me I looked spunky and like I just stepped out of the shower. Hello! I told him it was sweat, but it was sweet of him to say so. He was only the 2nd man I had seen from the 50. Where the hell were they all? Pretty soon I was climbing Mystery, which isn't too bad as it is a switchback. I saw a girl in a while shirt coming up on me. It was Valeria! I love her. She asked how long we had..I said about 1.5 miles, she was drenched without a jacket to wear but we were almost done. She'd hit the finish before me. She gave me a hug and I told her she was the first woman I had seen from the 50. She was the only! Go Valeria! As it began to pour, I began to run as fast as I could. I saw the Lutsen Chalet sign and ran harder. I saw the campsites and ran harder. Nothing hurt now, my dizziness was gone, my pain was gone, I put it all away and focused on finishing in less that 35. I heard the Poplar River and began to sob. Loud, wracking, gasping for air sobs. I was so thankful. So very thankful. I hit the gravel road. I ran hard. Harder. Fast. Faster. I came out of the trail head, onto the pavement. It was pouring rain. People honked their horns, screamed out of their windows. A girl got out of her car and yelled JULIE BERG..YOU GO GIRL! I told her she was getting wet, get back into your car, and thank you! A guy stood out on his deck "JULIE BERG..I RAN WITH YOU AT THE START. I DROPPED. RUN ON, YEAH!" I was crying. Sobbing. Down the road I went, turning into the grass, up to the swimming pool. "IT'S JULIE. JULIE BERG" Wow. I did it. RUN RUN RUN finish this bad ass race.

34:34:05. Fabulous. As much as I stressed the PR and time, that isn't what it is all about. Really. You know what it is all about? It's about stretching yourself. It's about reaching out of your comfort zone, doing something that you are not sure you can do, trying as hard as you can, preparing as well as you can..and if you are able to reach that's magic. By reaching that goal you build confidence within yourself. You feel good about yourself. You begin to complete more tasks that are out of your comfort build more confidence. It's not all about running. It's about life. Sometimes it is tough and you don't succeed at your goal but that is good practice, you'll succeed next time, or the next. You will learn and you will do it. Oh yes, you will. If I can, we all can.

The people. People that are now my very good friends. Some of the best people in the world. Tom and Nancy. Standing out in the rain, watching me finish, telling me how proud they are of me, then heading out to get out of the cold rain. Amazing. John Taylor. Finished 1.5 hours before me. Had an awesome day. I enjoy running with John so much and kept asking on the course where he was..always a good hour ahead of me. Kudos John! To see Jim and Bohdan, Charlie and Deb, Helen (26:30!) went to get me a Diet Coke after running the blistering pace, all the great people. Larry and Colleen. Sara and Joe. Lynn. Doug and Marie. Wonderful people. Thank you for helping me.

After a quick warm shower I walked back to the finish for the award ceremony. I received 3rd Master and another great wall plaque with mirror that Larry made as well as the coveted Brooks red finishing jacket and buckle. It was great to see all of the finishers. Congratuling everyone, amazed at all that everyone did. I was cold and exhausted. At 9:00 I went back to the townhome to relax and read and reflect upon the day. Sleep eventaully came and this morning I couldn't wait to again thank everyone. I found Bonnie, Don, Maynard, Gretchen, Mike, John, Larry and Jo and chatted for a long time. Great people, great friends.

Those of you that didn't finish, don't despair. Don't beat yourself like I did two years ago. It did me no good. Learn from what happened. Each race is an experience. Like life; it's hard...but it is good and it takes practice.

This document stopped spell check half way through; it must be too long. Now I must go to sleep so will post pictures tomorrow after work.

Run On!


Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your SUPERIOR finish. You ran so strong and looked unphased when I saw you at County Road 6. Nice work.

Jason Husveth

keith said...

Congratulations, Julie! Nice job and great finish.

Travis said...

Great job Julie. This was an awesome report. I'm not sure how you recall this stuff. I can't generally remember more than start and finish in a 50 :)

Jerry(Frost) from Missouri is a great guy. We were just talking about you last weekend at the SLUGS picnic. Looking forward to the pictures, I've got this 100 on my radar.

Bev said...

Great report. I appreciate all the detail. It really makes me feel like I'm right there running with you.

SteveQ said...

I love the geology lessons (rhyolite? anorthosite?) and the descriptions where I find myself saying "Oh yeah, I DID see that.

One quibble: when you DNFed two years ago, you might've been down on yourself, but it made you the ultra runner you are now. You started training like a demon and ran the race the next year like a veteran.

I just learned that one can run 50 miles after first wanting to quit.

Cassie's Blog said...

Awesome job! Great report! Thanks so much for sharing :-)

Helen said...

Congrats on a great race Juile! You have trained so well and that all paid off. Loved your report - thanks for reminding me of so many spots along the trail. It sure is a beauty. Even if it felt more like a beast at times...


johnmaas said...

Congratulations on another Superior Sawtooth finish!
You are the Bad Ass - you're just wearing pink to fool everyone...
Thanks for writing up such a detailed report of the felt as though we were right there with you through all the miles.
This could be used as a trail description for the race.
You continue to inspire me and many others!
Thank you,

Anonymous said...

Julie - you're report is really the only one in previous years that appears for sawtooth searches on Google and it was my inspiration to run this race.

Like many others, that and the UL served as my first exposure to you.

Thanks for your contributions to our ultra-community and great job on your awesome finish!

Cheers! - see next year!


Ronda said...

Congratulations on your PR and a well run race. Awesome work out there in what sounds like not so great weather. I love your report.

Kel said...

Nice job Julie! Again!

It was nice catching a glimpse of you as you cruised through Tettagouche AS.

Anonymous said...

AWESOME BAD ASS as usual!!!!

As I was reading the post, one question was burning in my mind that did not get answered...

Did you skirt stay UP this time???

All kidding aside, way to go!!