Monday, May 18, 2009

Spring Superior 50K Race Report

The Superior Hiking Trail is a very special place to me. I tend to go up to run along the trail at least half a dozen times each year; sometimes even more than that.

This year Steve decided to stay home to paint the house, Tyler decided to stay with him so it was only Troy and I going up to Lutsen for the weekend. In all honesty, if Troy had decided not to go along with me, I may have decided not to go at all.

I'm finding that I'm just not at all psyched up like I have been in the past about races. I've been running ultras for 6 years; in that 6 years I've run over 60 of them. In the beginning I was running races to see if I could..could I really run the distance .. be it 50K, 50M, 100K or 100M? I really didn't know if I could and that was what brought me to the race start. I was thrilled beyond belief when I could actually finish a 50 miler and not be dead last..that took a few years!

I had never left home for a full weekend before I began racing, this was new and exciting for me too. I met a ton of new, wonderful people, I began to finish at faster times and even began to place .. and win. It was all so crazy and exciting.

This past year I've found that I just don't enjoy it as much as I did before. I don't feel the need to prove anything to myself anymore. It's never been about competing or proving anything to anyone else; it's been all about me.

Last year I wanted to do a family vacation out to Colorado while I ran Leadville. It was fabulous; then I wanted to run Javelina solo. It was marvelous. This year I don't really know what I want to do..

Troy and I left for Lutsen on Friday. We hiked Temperance for a few hours and enjoyed it fully. Troy showed me the bracket fungi with the spore deposits. WHAT? It was a lot of fun, he gave me a science lesson. We made our way to Lusten in time for packet pickup and swimming before crawling into bed.

Saturday morning the race began at 7. Maria told me the wind chill was 22F. There was snow on the ground! After a few hugs and hellos we were on our way.

I decided to run without my iPod. I wanted to listen to myself. I decided to run a full minute slower per mile than last year, I wanted to take care of my torn vastus medialis. I told myself no Advil, slow down if it hurts and feel what is going on there. I wanted to talk to myself, to listen to myself. Was I enjoying the race? Feel the emotions.

I started out in the back of the pack. I picked my way along the trail. Not many of the leaves were out yet, the winds, oh my gosh, they were loud and raw; heavy steady winds. I could hear trees breaking off in the woods, I was hoping one wouldn't break on me.

As I began to pick myself all the trail I began to think. Was I enjoying this? Well, I was enjoying running in the woods. Was I enjoying the race? Mmmmm..not so much. I could run through the SHT without a race. Gretchen and Mike put on a fabulous race, and my feelings have nothing to do with the race itself. I'm using the word 'race' as generic, as in any 'race'. I just don't need all of the hype anymore. I can run by myself; I don't need a race to get out and do a 50K, or 50M or whatever distance. I thought I might like to be with Troy, hiking another section of the trail instead.

As Carl passed me I began to explain to him what I was feeling. I told him I was tired of being away a weekend each month, I told him Troy had a baseball game during FANS and I might rather go to the baseball tournament this year. He told me the race marked his 40th ultra since 1989. Maybe I have been running too many of these things!?

Pretty soon I began to fall. I wasn't picking up my feet high enough to get over all of the roots and rocks. I went down over a dozen times. Two times Maria was with me when I fell;how embarrassing! I told her I was looking at a beaver dam..right.

I felt great physically. My leg never gave me pain, I didn't need Advil. The Hammerheed and Hammergel on the course was all that I needed. The volunteers were wonderful. It was so cold out, and there they were, serving us faithfully.

At the half way point my time was 3:11. I had stuck to my plan, I would finish in 630 or so, exactly a minute per mile longer than last year.

The second half of the race was wonderful. I ran solo most of the way, running into Steve Quick for a bit and then seeing Jeffrey and Lynette along the course.

The day warmed up a bit, into the 40s-clear and windy. Oh, the wind. It was howling. The trail was beautiful as always. I love that trail.

I realized what I would like to do is run the trail point to point, slow and easy. I could take 10 days, and run 30 miles each day. That's what I'll be planning..either this July or next. Now THAT sounds like fun :)

The finish brought me in at 630-feeling happy and strong. I placed 4th among the women. No pain. Leg felt strong.

After catching up with friends at the award ceremony and having my hair braided by Debbie, Troy and I headed off to hike Artists Point in Grand Marais. After an hour of scrambling over the rocks we headed back to Lutsen for hottubbing and swimming. That was what was so much fun, spending the time with Troy.

Sunday we were up early and well rested, off we went to hike the Split Rock River Loop. Troy hadn't seen the waterfalls upon this section and was quite taken with the sights. I loved seeing the trail through his eyes.

Spending time with Troy made this one special weekend..and the race, that was secondary. I feel a shift taking place within me. It's whisper is beginning to get louder and more clear.


Greg Allen said...

Sounds like a good day in the woods even if the weather wasn't great.

You can do Fans and watch baseball. Go do a lap and then leave to watch baseball. Come back when it cools off and run some more. I did that one year and they gave me an award. (longest break between laps, not for watching the most baseball games)

SteveQ said...

There's what Al Lawrence calls "The Battered Mind Syndrome," where you just don't care any more. I know it well; race after race becomes a grind and the excitement of the challenge is gone. The secret to overcoming it for me has been to recognize that running has so many different challenges that one can shift from one to another, meet new people trying to do the new challenge and see things afresh. For me, it took shifting to ultras; you know you can run as long as anyone, so maybe a complete shift like tring for a 6 minute mile on a track is the way to go (bonus: you get to buy weird new shoes!)

Robin said...


It does not surprise me that your injury is serving as a wake-up call as to how much time (whether physically away for a race or just hours spent training) you have spent away from your family at a time when your kids are really becoming people that you will want to know.
I have been running marathons and ultras since 1984 and never let training or racing interfer with ANYTHING that was important to my family. And to me that was time with my kids. Family was always number one. Races were scheduled close to home, training was always done before they woke or they gone with friends. Of course I ran fewer miles for training, but I feel i have had a wonderful balance. And i feel i have been a decent runner for many years.
I never pushed but as my kids got older they developed an interest in living healthy lifestyles, consistant fitness, and even running.
They are both now wonderful adults, successful in relationships, education and work. Plus I believe they have a great sense of family. Our entire family (including their spouses) go for runs everytime we are together.

I have posted this saying to you before....I had the choice to decide whether running was going to be an activity that enhanced my life, or just one more area of my life in which i wasn't able to live up to my own unrealistic expectations. I chose to view running--any running-- as a gift.

You have a great gift in your running and your family. Enjoy

Macaire said...

Sorry to wander off topic a bit, but I wanted to let you know that your baking adventures inspired me. I bought the Sky High cake book and made the chai cake -- it was great! This weekend, I made the Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Almond Cream Cheese Frosting, and it was FANTASTIC. I've never made a triple-layer cake before (too much work and too intimidating), and now I've made TWO that turned out great. Thanks for providing me with the push to do it!

Matthew Patten said...

A couple of us commented a while back how we got the feeling that you were getting bored.

I think it was the preponderance of baking posts.

If you have not already done so, go back and look at your older posts of SST100 and McNaughton. You have grown up.

Sometimes achieving your goals kind of sucks.

Someone once asked my why so many people followed you (blog). My response was something like, "Because she was just an average Joe (Jane) like many of us. She was not a runner in high school, and started the sport as a back of packer. She got to where she is today through SERIOUS hard work and dedication, not by genetics or raw talent"

Take a break. But don't forget how many people you have inspired... who are now ultra dudes and dudettes.

I am one of them.

johnmaas said...

Count me in as another average non-runner you inspired.
It's your life, your what is best for Julie.
Sounds like you had a great weekend - just a little different perspective than usual.
Maybe see you at FANS...I'll be sure to compliment you on the pink spats.