Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Lean Horse 100 Mile Trail Run: Am I Dreaming?

I feel very emotional today; in a good way. Tears of relief and amazement. I find myself feeling overwhelmed, feeling gratitude and joy. Yesterday on the drive home from Lean Horse I was feeling numb and feeling relief. I had an absolutely fabulous trip to Lean Horse and an even better race. The outcome was better than I ever dreamed was possible. That is one of my (many) shortcomings. I don't always dream big enough or set my goals high enough.

I have been training hard for Lean Horse. I have been adding in speed workouts at the track, hills at the ski hill and tempo runs. As I have stated before, the track workouts and tempo runs are new to me. I haven't run them consistently in the past. I wasn't sure if it would make a difference in a 100 miler.

Some people run 30-50 miles a week and can finish 100's, I and others (I think?) run 80-100 miles a week in preparation. Some don't run speed or hill works, some of do. This is such an individualized sport, I think an 100 mile runner needs to experiment with what works. We are each so different.

Because I post publicly my training, my race results, my eating patterns, etc. I receive constructive criticism and some not so constructive criticism. The negative: I've been told that I over train. That I run too much, that I put in too many 'junk' miles with Topaz on my daily runs, that hills, speed and tempo don't go together, that I need to eat a high carbohydrate (processed) diet to recover, that I shouldn't eat a high raw, vegan diet, that I shouldn't lift, that I should put away the crutch (iPod) and run like a real woman.

I also receive many comments that are quite positive. The love I have for running, the passion that I feel for the running lifestyle, the time I spend with my boys, that I am open to trying new things, that I am willing to reach out to beginners and show them that they, too, can run and follow their dream.

I often wonder why I blog. I began blogging 5 years ago, before blogging was what everyone was doing. I began to blog while trying to change my body from a 23% body fat form to a leaner body at sub 10%. I thought I could shed some light on the process, share the journey and see what the outcome would be on the other side. Pretty soon this blog changed from a Body For Life journey to a Julie Journey. I grew into a runner, into an ultra runner, I changed from the inside to the outside, I have grown as a person and many of you dear readers have followed my journey. I think that I now blog to show the beginning runners, the people that aren't quite sure of themselves, those of us that trying to reach our goals..that we can! We can put our mind to what we want to do, we can set our goals and we can achieve them!

For quite some time I was the last place runner (Ice Age and Voyager), fighting the cut offs and barely finishing. It's OK. It's OK to be last! The winners are those of us who are standing at the start line, stretching out of our comfort zone, getting out there, trying it, dreaming it, doing it.

I had such a shock when I realized that people that I knew in real life read this blog and I was just never comfortable knowing that. Strange, I know. Now that time has passed on I am finally comfortable knowing that those that I know in real life are reading this blog. Now that others are blogging I guess I am not so embarrassed by it. I think I am going to change my tune, I'm going to write knowing that many of my readers are people that I know, that I have met in races, etc. and I am OK with this. I am now going to celebrate that you, dear readers, are out here, reading this blog and must be enjoying it, or you wouldn't be here. Thank you for being a part of my journey.

OK, I'm going off course here. this is going to be a post about Lean Horse, really, I will get there. I'm just feeling so many emotions right now.

For so long I have felt like an impostor runner. You know, I put in the miles, I am coaching, I'm passionate and loving the running lifestyle..but yet, I felt like maybe I was an impostor..the feelings of inadequacy, the feelings of not being a 'real' runner. I was expressing these feelings to a friend this weekend and realized how absurd this was! I have finished 14 100 mile races. The first only 5 years ago. I think that qualifies me as a 'real' runner, one that can give advice when asked, etc. What a concept, hu?

OK.. Lean Horse 100 Mile Trail Run. What a Trip, Man.

This will be long..so scroll to the end for the outcome if you prefer.

I was very excited to travel with Tom, Nancy and Alicia. We travelled to Ice Age and Vermont together and had a wonderful time. I knew it would be just as fun, and it was. Fabulous. We get along well together, we have a similar lifestyle, it's all good.

Having never been away from home before for a full five nights I had many preparations to take care of for my family. I really don't need to do all that I do, but I like to take care of all that I can. I made a few pans of lasagna, about 20 burritos, a big pot of chicken dumpling soup, a bunch of pancakes. They weren't going to get hungry while I was away!

The only guilt I felt about leaving was that Tyler began his first day of college (PSEO as a Senior in High School) yesterday and I would miss it. Tyler gave me a huge eye roll when I told him I felt bad about not being home when he would be going off to his first class. He told me it was no big deal and that I could send him off on day two. I did that this morning.

As I left my driveway on Wednesday morning I saw that a light was lit up on my dashboard that I hadn't seen before. It didn't blink off, it stayed on. After a few miles I pulled over and looked at my manual. Damn. The manual showed me that the light meant that the air pressure was low in one of my tires. Tom and Nancy's was about 35 miles away, I didn't want to risk a flat tire on the way. I turned around and headed back home. I saw that I needed 44 pounds of pressure in my tire. The gauge told me I only had 19 pounds. I figured out how to put in the air and watched it inflate. OK, back on the road. I was glad that I always leave early so that I won't be late for 'just in case' emergencies. There was a bit of early morning rush hour traffic but I did make my arrival at 6 AM as scheduled.

Tom had a Pathfinder for our trip; it was a great vehicle to pack all of our stuff into. We packed in my items and went off to pick up Alicia. After a stop at Caribou we were hitting the road.

A few stops for potty breaks, lunch of a fabulous salad that I brought along, a hike through the Badlands, and pretty soon we were in Rapid City, our first destination, about 10 hours later. We had an awesome hike up Harney Peak, another great picnic of Nancy's fruits and veggies, spent some time some Custer Park and headed off to Hot Springs on Friday.

South Dakota is Beef Country. I've been eating a mostly raw/all vegan diet for the past 6 weeks. I felt wonderful and wasn't about to change this. My traveling companions did not bat an eye when I told them how I was eating. They embraced it. Wonderful! We found a restaurant in Hot Springs with a salad bar. A salad bar of iceberg lettuce and cherry tomatoes! Oh, and veggie soup. I had two cups. Back at the room we had our stash of veggies and fruits. Thank goodness.

It was hot in Hot Springs. My iPhone was showing me that the Saturday high was 93, Sunday was 96. It was very warm and quite windy. I felt like I was in a blow dryer. Now I like heat, but running 100 miles in this heat and on this exposed trail was kind of worrying me.

We scouted part of the race course. The course is an out and back; beginning in Hot Springs, up to Hill City and back to Hot Springs. The first 16 miles is upon a rolling gravel road, much like the road I run upon near our cabin on Lake Vermillion. Lots of hills with a chunkier gravel. After the 16 miles of gravel we would run upon the Michaelson Trail for the remainder of the course, up to the 50 mile turnaround in Hill City and back on home. The trail would go through the cities of Custer and Pringle, along the highway for quite some time, even past the Crazy Horse monument. We were told that the course had a net gain of 2000 some feet on the way out so I was looking forward to the way back, figuring it would be all downhill and easy going.

100 miles is never easy going.

Race day! After sleeping for a good hard 5 hours I awoke at 3 AM and couldn't fall back to sleep.I I began to complete the visualization/affirmation exercises I had been practicing since reading Running Within. I did this for about an hour and then climbed out of bed for the pre race rituals of breakfast, Foot Potion, dressing, bottle and vest. I decided on one 24 oz handheld and my Nathan Vest without hydration, just the pockets for gels and things (thanks to Krissy Moehl!), a skirt, tank top and hat. I decided to wear Ascis Gel Kayano road shoes instead of trail since there were no roots or rocks on the trail. This was not a Superior Sawtooth!

Alicia and I, Tom and Nancy walked over to the start and began to visit with everyone. We had about a half an hour to start time. The high was still forecast in the mid 90's, the low in the mid 70's, pretty warm. There were quite a few Minnesotans at the race. Wynn Davis, Zac Pierce, Matt Long (WI), Eric, Kel and Helen Lavin were running the 50 mile, Steve Quick, Daryl Saari, John Taylor, Pierre Ostor, Dawn Long (WI), Alicia Gordon, and myself were running the 100. It was fun to see so many familiar faces. There were 28 women entered in the 100! How exciting!

The first four miles took out us through and out of Hot Springs, we followed markers up to Aid Station 1 at a campground at the four mile mark. I don't think anyone was wearing sleeves by this time, already 70F and 630 AM. Yikes. I filled up my bottle and mosied along the way, remembering the warning relating to the rattlesnakes upon the course as I ran through the grassy field up to Argyle Road.

Argyle Road is approximately 11 miles of rolling gravel through cattle farms. I hooked up with Dale from Texas who was running his first 50 mile and Jenny from New Jersey who was running her 9th 100. AS 2 (11 miles) came along and I found that a box of raisins sounded good. I sucked back a gel and placed the raisins in my vest.

As we were running along Jenny and I were talking about our past races, our favorites and our goals for today. She mentioned 20-22 hours and I just became scared. She voiced the 22 hour that I was kind of hoping for but hadn't said out loud. My 100 mile PR is at Javelina Jundred at 23:13 but I was too afraid to think 22 something. I was hoping for a PR, but thought 24-25 was more of a reality and of course the main goal was a finish. As we were talking I re planned my goals. I was now going to strive 1) 22:45, 2) 23:12 and 3) 29:59. Jenny helped me to reach higher.

At AS 3 (16.6 miles) there was crew and drop bag access. As I was coming in I glanced at my watch and think it said 3:08. I was planning on reaching AS 3 in 4 hours. A bit ahead of schedule, but I was feeling great and not pushing at all. I had walked all of the hills. Tom was sitting in his chair, Nancy was taking pictures, Lynn was crewing for Daryl, Jen for Zac; it was great to see familiar faces. I filled up my bottle, dumped gel packs, grabbed another box of raisins and grabbed gels from my bag. I was in and out of the AS in less than a minute as I was most of the AS during the race. No time to linger.

After this station we were running on the Mickelson Trail; a slight upgrade but it seemed like it was going down hill. I kept looking in back of me to see if I was going up or down. It was really strange. I knew that the course should be going up hill but it wasn't hard to run, so I ran, passing many runners and thinking to myself maybe I should be walking? I decided to just do what felt good: run.

Before I knew it I was at mile 20 AS. I couldn't believe 20 miles had already passed. I was drinking more than I had anticipated. I was wondering if one 24 ounce bottle was going to be sufficient. I didn't think it would be. I was sweating quite a bit, too. I hadn't peed at all so that was a concern. I didn't feel hot yet, but was getting there. Someone told me it was 85F. I didn't want to know that. I began to see the 50K runners coming back but I didn't know any of them. They looked hot.

The course seemed that it was going uphill but it didn't seem very steep so I was able to run most of it. I was beginning to worry about the heat. Mile 24 brought Pringle AS. I clicked my heels together in excitement! 24 miles and I felt great, I was happy, I was high on the endorphins. Pringle is a small town, mostly a trailer court and a few bars. My drop bag was here so I grabbed more gels from it, had my bottle filled and grabbed another box of raisins. I also ate a few slices of potato with salt added. Now I was hot. I felt like I was running in a blow dryer.

As I left Pringle I began to think about Pierre. He has run Badwater a number of times, most recently finishing this past July. I knew he was out on the course today and began to think that this is nothing compared to the Badwater heat. He runs 135 miles upon asphalt at 125F. I could run 100 miles at 100F. Get going and quit complaining!

During this next section I saw Wynn approach, the 50 mile lead man. Unfortunately Wynn suffered cramps and had to drop at mile 36. This must have happened shortly after I saw him. Pretty soon I saw Helen Lavin! First 50 Mile woman approaching. Helen went on to WIN the 50 Mile race OUTRIGHT. Yeah, she beat all the boys. She broke the woman's course record, too. She's a rockstar.

I wasn't keeping track of my fluids from mile 24 to 30. I was thirsty and drinking without rationing. Before I knew it I only had 4 or so ounces left in my bottle. I looked at my Garmin 50 and saw that I still had approximately 3 miles to go to the next AS. Damn. How could I make such an error? How could I run without two bottles? I knew it was going to be in the 90's (it was the 100's). I didn't take any S or E caps because usually HammerHeed is enough. Hammerheed wasn't on the course, Poweraid was. These temperatures weren't usual. Luckily I had Alicia place two packets of caps in my vest on our way out to the start for just in case. It was just in case time. I began to walk at mile 27 because I could feel my stomach begin to cramp. I hadn't had this happen before. I could imagine my body organs looking for water and not finding any. I could picture my stomach rolling upon itself, begging for water. I sipped a bit of water every 8 minutes.

I was in a line of about 5 people. We were all hot and thirsty. Most of us were walking. A man on a bike came toward us and the man in front of me begged him for water. The man on the bike stated he didn't have very much but that he could give him a few ounces. I was surprised the runner even asked for any. It was our own fault that we ran out. We should have planned better. I didn't ask for any. I continued on, walking, because I was afraid to tax my body any more than it already was. Here I was, 28 miles now into the race and I was already dehydrated and putting my race finish in jeopardy. I couldn't believe that I was so stupid. Was I going to be able to come back from this? Geeze.

Finally, thank God, finally I saw Carroll Creek AS at mile 30. Good grief I was dieing of heat and thirst. I stood at the aid station table and filled my 24 oz bottle with cold water. I guzzled it down. I then refilled it drank down another. I was still thirsty. I drank 10 ounces of cold coke and 5 ounces of cold iced tea. I couldn't get enough. My stomach was bulging out from my skirt and my top. Oh well. I didn't feel sick, or stuffed, just thirsty. I asked the woman if she had a spare bottle..I'd take anything. She didn't so we looked through the garbage for a bottle someone may have thrown away. I found a discarded Aquafina bottle, without a cap. I didn't care. I told her I'd fill it and just put my hand over it as I ran. I figured if I was going to get the flu or something it would happen after the race. If I didn't have another bottle I may not make it to the end of the race. That wasn't going to happen.

I filled both bottles, grabbed a box of raisins, a few slices of potato and walked out of the aid station, so relieved that I had water and was no longer thirsty. I walked another half mile, letting my body drink in the water. I removed my vest and found the E caps Alicia had tucked into the back pocket. I took 4 of them, the first of the day. The first of the past few years. I could feel cramping in my calves and feet. I had to stop and work out the cramps. I had never had cramping before. I walked along, telling my body to use the water and salt that I gave to it, and hurry, because I'm ready to rock and roll. Pretty soon the cramping went away and I was running. Amazingly there was no sloshing in my stomach! I felt new life. I was going to recover and I was going to go on.

I began running and was so thankful for the water bottle and the E caps. AS Harbaugh at Custer was next at 35.5 miles. I was running alone, hadn't seen anyone in quite some time, I was just enjoying the race and enjoying the fact that I was able to run and that I had an adequate water supply!

At Harbaugh I had a drop bag so grabbed a few more gels, dropped off my empties and had both bottles filled. I saw Lynn waiting for Daryl; she asked if I could use anything so I told her E Caps. She dug out a pack for me and noticed my half assed bottle situation. I told her it was better than nothing!

I was feeling very good running out of Custer, the heat was unbearable but I tried to block it out and just kept on placing one foot in front of the other. I kept thinking that as I went north the temperatures would cool but they didn't. It was 97F as I left Custer. Egads.

Mile 40.5 AS and I couldn't believe it. I was recovered from the cramping and running well. I hadn't had to walk since miles 27-30 so I was feeling pretty strong. I kept on saying my affirmations out loud 'I am strong..I can run long'. I hadn't used my iPod yet, but I was getting about ready for it. I was breathing loudly because of the exertion of the heat, I believe. The AS volunteers were worried about each runner, making sure we had what we needed. At this point I asked for some ice for my hat. It felt awesome!

Before I knew it I began to see many runners coming back toward me. I knew I must be coming up on the turnaround. My watch had gone kaput on me so I didn't know what time it was or how many more miles I had inbetween aid stations. I wasn't so worried now that I had two bottles.

Sure enough, I came upon the final AS before the half way point, I just ran through and shouted my number as I knew the turn around was a half mile or so ahead and I would be right back. I saw Jenny, who I had run the early miles of Argyle Road with. She looked great, I was hoping she was on pace for 20-22 as I was not far behind her.

I turned around and headed back toward home! I was high high high, feeling so good, on my way home. I asked at the AS for the time and was told it was 4:30 PM. I made it 50 miles in 10.5 hours. I was feeling very good about that. My feet felt great, I had no aches or pains, I was good to go. It was early, but here I had my lights and warm clothing. I asked a volunteer to place my lights into my back vest pocket. I then filled my two bottles, grabbed a box of raisins and headed out. Then I came back. I decided to grab a long sleeved shirt for my vest just in case it became cool before I reached my next drop bag in 15 miles at Custer. It wasn't necessary. The volunteer rolled it up for me and placed it into my vest.

Off I went. I loved the out and back. It was nice to see John Taylor, only 15 or so minutes in back of me, fun to see all of the other runners heading for the turnaround. John had a PR Race, finishing in 23:something.

I came across Sue from Canada. She had contacted me about McNaughton and I saw her at Leadville, too. She's a great runner and person. She had hurt her knee at mile 20 and had been hiking since. She ran a 24 hour just two weeks ago and was feeling it. Get this: she PASSED me while she was hiking and I was running. I just cheered her on and said you go girl! She hiked for 40 freaking miles and finished 10 minutes before me, who ran the whole race but the three miles between 27-30. At mile 60 Sue was able to begin running again and I never saw her again until the finish. Great job, Sue!

On the way back to the next AS I saw Dawn Long, running her first 100. She was having difficutly with her stomach. She was knocking out the miles, making her way to the turn around.

I came upon Pierre. He gave me a huge smile and told me I was really moving along, told me to have a great race and to keep it up. I told him I was thinking about him running at Badwater while I was whining to myself about being warm. He was an inspiration to me. Pierre finished in 27 something.

Pretty soon I came upon Alicia. It was SO wonderful to see her! She had suffered through the heat of the morning and was on her way to the turn around. We gave one another a good luck hug and kiss and went on down the trail in opposite directions.

As I headed into Custer the sun began to set. It didn't feel quite as hot, the sun was losing some of it's steam. I crossed a street in Custer and noticed 4 deer in a front yard, eating out of the owner's garden. Too cute! I continued on, into the AS. As I stated my number (5), a woman spoke up: Julie Berg! Come over here! I have something for you! I'm wondering what in the world is she talking about. She pulls out a Nathan hand held! OH, happy days! I said Oh, I can throw away this garbage bottle? Yes, you can! I asked her who dropped it off. She told me a man. I assumed that Tom had dropped it for me after Alicia had seen what I was carrying. I assumed wrong. Get this: Here Lynn had told Nancy that I had a bad bottle, Nancy told Tom, Tom had a spare and Matt offered to drop it off at the AS for me. I was so grateful! A bottle with a lid, one that didn't leak! Woohoo! I dug into my drop bag and grabbed a jacket, asked a volunteer to pack it into my vest. I could see lightening in the distance. I was hoping that I wasn't going to run into a storm at this point.

I went off, feeling so happy that I had two working real running bottles! I felt like I was on fire, like I could run forever. The grade of the trail was going downhill, the running was easy. As I was going down the trail I noticed a big huge buck off of the trail. I counted his 12 points. I had my lamp on my head and was staring right at him. He didn't move. He stared me down. I finally drug my eyes away from him and continued on. He was beautiful.

I ran into mile 70, the aid station where the woman helped me find the used bottle. I thanked her over and over, telling her how grateful I was that she dug it out of the garbage for me. She saved my race.

I ran onto the next AS, Pringle. It was dark now, mile 75 or so. I was still running the race solo. There was nobody near me. I saw no headlamps in front or back of me. I just kept on running, running as well as I could which wasn't too bad. I was feeling good. Pringle was kind of freaky. Trailer Courts and bars. I could hear loud drinking voices in the distance and just felt weird, out there running through town alone in my pink and black skirt and tank top. I would turn off my lamp when I came near a group of people that were not involved in the race.

Pretty soon I heard "Julie, is that you" Yeah, it was Helen! What a treat. Helen and Eric were there, with my drop bag in hand. It was just a treat. Helen asked what I needed, I told her caffeine gels from my bag and vaseline. She was right on it. She placed all that I asked for in front of me and made it so easy for me. Eric asked if I knew how the 50 mile race ended. No, I didn't. He told me Helen broke the woman's course record and WON the race outright! Woohoo. Way to go Helen girl. Eric finished the 50 mile, too. They were fabulous. I spent a few minutes in the AS, longer than I had the whole race, so I had to get out of there. I said my goodbyes, congratulations and thank yous and headed out into the darkness. Alone.

Mile 80 was coming up next. During the whole race I was thinking about mile 80. I knew that once 80 came I was nearing the end. I didn't want to get too excited yet, but boy, I was feeling great about it. I was cooling a bit, now it was in the 80's and the sky was FULL of stars. I could see the big and little dipper and make out some of the other constellations. I loved it. I was running hard .. well, as hard as running feels as mile 80! I was now singing to Ozzie and enjoying it all. As I came upon the AS I turned my iPod off as well as my light. I approached the AS and heard all of this clapping. Wow, I grinned, feeling kind of foolish that all of this clapping was for me. As I came up closer and could make out faces I noticed one of the people there was Nancy! Oh what a treat! Nancy, Tom, Alicia, Helen and Eric were all there clapping and supporting me. It was amazing. I didn't stay more than a minute. Enough time to grab a box of raisins, fill my bottle, give hugs and thank yous and move on out of there.

I left the AS feeling real good emotionally, but real tired physically. The bottoms of my feet were so tired and achy. I kept telling myself you made 80 miles! 83, 89, 96 AS and you are home! Come on Jul, keep on moving.

Pretty soon I was at mile 83. Wow. I couldn't believe I was here. Back at Argyle. I had thought about being back at Argyle all during the race and what it would mean to me. It would mean that I was going to make it. It would mean that I was on the final leg of the race. My final drop bag and onto Argyle Road. Wow. Surreal.

I made my way onto Argyle and still didn't see any lights! There were a few cars so the road was dusty and I couldn't see at all through the thick dust and my headlamp. It was horrible. The gravel was big and chunky and felt like it was cutting into my feet. I had to laugh. I imagined this portion would be all downhill, that I'd be running like the wind. In reality there were big climbs, then the downhills came but I couldn't run the whole downs. I would have to take a walk break half way down due to being exhausted! I cursed myself and told myself this is downhill baby, run, run! I didn't have a clue as to what time it was. There wasn't a hint of light in the sky so I knew it wasn't near 6 AM yet. Hmmm..how close to 24 hours am I?

I noticed a gal up in front of me walking the down hills. She looked pretty sore. She had a car driving along by her side, he was kicking up so much dust that I couldn't see the road. As I passed her I saw AS at mile 89.9 Holy crap. Now I'm getting excited. I'm going to finish this hot bastard. I only had one bottle filled here and asked the volunteer to place the other in my pack. I had a gel and was on my way out.

Running about two miles out of the AS I could hear a vehicle in back of me. I went to the side of the road to let him pass, a bit in the ditch. As I stepped down I noticed that I stepped into a snake!! It was curled into the shape of an 8 and I stepped right into the middle of it, onto the gravel. I looked down and quickly jumped out of the snake, back onto the road. The truck pulled over and asked if I was bit. No, I said I didn't have a bite. He told me he could hear it's rattle, that it was a rattlesnake. I told him I was pretending that it wasn't. He removed a shovel from his truck and shoveled the snake off of the road. He told me to be careful. Sure. One more thing to worry about.

I just wanted this done. I was tired and sore and sick and tired of this whole race. I was stinky and hot and icky. I wanted a shower and my bed. Be happy, you did it! You are finishing! Quit complaining, just put one foot in front of the other.

As I came into the final AS I went numb. I couldn't really believe that I had come this far in these hot conditions. The woman at the AS told me it was still 75F. She had a clock radio showing the time of 340. Is it 340 AM? Really? Oh my god. I'm going to break 24 hours. I have 4 miles left. I can break 23 hours. Oh my god. I can do this.

I filled my bottle and was on my way. This was it. I was so tired but I knew I was finishing. I looked for markers out of the campground into the town of Hot Springs. Many of the markings were on the ground, in the ditch, as cars moved them. They were glow necklaces placed upon the road. I became nervous, thinking I wouldn't find my way through the town. I tried to remember the way. Crew drove by and caused dust to cover up my light. It was horrible. I couldn't see. I continued on and was able to find my way. Pretty soon I saw the Evans Plunge pool. I remembered looking at my watch on the way out and seeing the Evans Plunge was 2 miles from the start. Oh my gosh, I'm almost done! I continued running the asphalt through town, hearing parties in the background, smelling cigarette smoke and hearing noise. I was kind of nervous, running through town alone at this hour. I continued on, knowing that I'd be finished soon.

Sure enough, there was the Dairy Queen, the hotel we were staying at, the Civic Center. Amen. Amen. Under the FINISH LINE banner. Done. A lone woman was sitting at the table with a clock. 22:36. Oh my god. I told her I was 5. She stood up and clapped and told me she was the cheering committe. I was numb. Just numb. I walked into the Civic Center, through the front door and across the parking lot to the hotel. I was so happy, so relived to be done with this furnace of a race. As I unlocked our room door I couldn't believe it when I saw Alicia standing, getting ready to leave. She couldn't believe I was at the door! Pretty soon there was Tom and Nancy. They had all woke up to see me finish at the finish line, but I beat them. They thought I'd finish at 23 hours or so. I was so flattered to see that they were going to get out of bed at this early of an hour just to watch me finish. Amazing, it truly is. Pretty soon Helen and Eric arrive. Oh my gosh, I was just stunned. Eric is a good friend of Helen's, I had just met him for the first time at dinner the day before. Amazing. I am truly blessed.

We talked and reminisced about the race, the last 20 miles, laying upon the beds, enjoying the accomplishment. Eventually everyone went back to bed and I hit the shower. It felt so good to wash the days dirt, grit, filth and heat from my body. I didn't have any chafing, hardly any muscle soreness, no Advil necessary during the whole race. My stomach was very upset. I had no appetitie or thirst. I just laid upon my bed, thinking about the accomplishment I had achieved. I couldn't believe it. 22:36.

If Jenny Chow hadn't run with me in those early miles, chatting about our experiences and goals, I don't know if I would have set mine so high. You know, I don't really have any other multiple 100 mile woman runners as friends. I don't train with others. It was really nice to talk with her, to talk as 100 mile runner to 100 mile runner. I don't think I have done that before. She made me realize that I am an experienced ultra runner, that I am worthy of setting high goals, that I can achieve them. Thank you, Jenny. You inspired me to reach higher.

I woke up around 930 and my stomach was just nasty. I had no appetite. I walked out to the finish line and watched the runners come in. It was already 85F and sunny as could be. Amazingly hot. I was so glad I wasn't out there anymore.

Tom, Nancy, Alicia, Pierre, John, Dawn, Matt and I sat in the grass watching finishers arrive. Pierre and John headed back to Minneapolis and we stayed for the lunch and awards at 12. We added Lynn and Daryl, who also finished the 100, and listened to the awards. I went home with a Sub 24 Buckle and a 3rd Woman Age Group Award. I haven't yet seen the results so I'm not sure where I placed overall.

It was a hell of a hard day, but so worth it. I'm so grateful to Tom, Nancy, Alicia, Helen, Eric, Matt, Pierre, Lynn all of you volunteers and Jerry, our Race Director. What a day. What a memory. What a race.

I feel so good today. My coworkers commented that I didn't look sore or stiff today, that I didn't look tired. I don't! I feel great. The bottoms of my feet are sore but that is about it. After work today Topaz and I walked the trail for 5 miles, it felt great to stretch my legs after sitting all day. I don't know. This vegan thing seems to be working pretty damn well.

The trip home was safe and sound, the only catch was my tire was completely flat upon arrival to Tom and Nancy's. I bought new tires for my car today!

I still can't believe it. What a race.

Oh no. The spell checking isn't working on this. I apologize!

I'll post pictures this evening. Time to get some dinner cooked for this hungry family of mine :)


Helen said...

Awesome race Julie!!! I was bummed not to see you cross the finish line - I will know for again that you will be faster than you think :)

It was such a fun time out there and great to share it with everyone.

You absolutely are an experienced ultra runner and should continue to set your goals high - the training you've been putting in this summer on the hills and on the track are certainly paying off. Don't ever listen to the negative comments - it is great to share experiences and hear from others but only you know what is going to work best for yourself.

Congrats again - what a great PR for the 100!

Sonya said...

Hi Julie,

I am a long time lurker (almost 2 years) and am truly inspired by you. I hope to someday be able to run, I had surgery in April and cannot run right now. My hubby and I both are vegetarian, leaning more toward vegan. I wish I lived near you so that I could take your beginner running classes. Congratulations on your PR!!!


Sue said...

Hi Julie

Thanks for the nice comments on your blog. Quite a race wasn't it! So glad that we got to chat for a short time during the race. Hope to see you again at a race soon. Congrats on your 3rd place win you truly deserve it.

Sue (from Canada)

Unknown said...


You Rock! I am sorry the heat was on, but I am glad you enjoyed the race. I love the Black Hills.

I am so glad you are realizing the runner we all know you to be. We always seem to be doing the same "crazy" thing from BFL, to running and now the vegan thing. I am running my first 50K in October and KNOW I will run a 100 within a year or so. Most of my running motivation comes from you because you are a normal person accomplishing everything you set your sights on.

Good Job, Jenna

Londell said...

Julie you are awesome!!! You just never quit and write about it so well. Congrats many times over!

About your pre race report post. Your blog is great because for me, it is real. It is lie. Juggles of a family, job, running and so many other things. It is great to read that hard work pays off. You deserve it! You work hard and study hard. You are an inspiration, period.

And in my book, you are more than a runner. You are an outstanding runner and human being!

Way to go.

Iris said...

Thanks for the great race report Julie! You are always inspiring. Thanks for sharing your running - and life - stories with us all.

brent said...

wow, what an amazing race! awesome job!

Anonymous said...

Julie! I am so excited and proud of your latest race accomplishment! You did awesome! What a race!!! You are so inspiring, too. I'm hoping to do my first 25k (not a 100 or anything - but a big step for me), and may consider the Superior 25k next May. Keep setting high goals for yourself - you can do it!

Unknown said...

Terrific write-up Julie, so glad you spanked the crap out of your goals. That's a hell of a time, 22:36. You should feel incredibly proud. Congratulations on getting the results you deserve.

Chris (from JJ100)

johnmaas said...

Absolutely incredible run, Julie!
Your race report brought back so many memories of Lean Horse. You described the experience so well!
Congrats on the high placement - you crushed it in really tough conditions!
I remember all the dust coming into Argyle AS, and then on the Argyle road. That was a close call with the snake...wow.

Anonymous said...

Julie, you are truly exceptional. I could tell when you and I were running together that you would have a good race. You're the real deal! Reading your report made me cry, in a good way, and I can't thank you enough for your kind words.

Jenny Chow

Carl Gammon said...

Super job, and what a great time! Congrats.

Amy said...

Wow! Awesome Job!!!!! I've been reading your blog for a long time (a fellow tuesdays with dorie baker), but I think this is the first time I've commented.

Thanks for sharing the experience on the blog, it sounds amazing and makes me excited to one day run a 100 mile race.

Congrats again! Absolutely amazing!

Kel said...

Awesome race as usual!

I love reading your race reports - makes me feel like I was right there beside you the whole way. Actually, I was right beside you for about 20 feet this time ;)

You are one of the most experienced female ultra runners I know! Keep aiming high :)

SteveQ said...

Okay, you're making me feel guilty, first for probably being one who said you overtrain (if I did, it was long ago and you proved it works for you - big time) and now for pulling the plug on my blog.

Is saying that this great finish is partly due to not having run a 100 in almost a year constructive or not? Anyway, this wasn't just a great race for you, it was FANTASTIC. Congrats.

Unknown said...

"These runners, so tough, so adventurous, so happy in their seemingly impossible pursuit"

Julie, you model all three qualities in that quote everytime you run! Way to go...

Now I know two tough women who ran 100's last weekend, as Beth Simpson-Hall finished Leadville!

Hopefully I'll be back running next year once my knee is healthy,


Sue said...

Julie - you are an awesome inspiration. I'm a vegetarian runner (toying with the idea of vegan), six marathons under my belt and my first 50K coming up. I wouldn't be attempting it if not for inspirational reading such as your blog!

Anonymous said...

Julie, congratulations fellow vegan! Love your race reports. You have NO IDEA how many people you continue to inspire.

I think when more people discover how energized and light they feel on a vegan, or as in my case, raw vegan diet, they would give it a try. Simply put, the body doesn't need meat or dairy to perform at its peak. In fact, those hinder performance, IMHO.

So proud of you! Congrats again!


Carol said...

Wow! 22:36!?!?!? Way to go, Julie! Looking forward to seeing you soon!

Olga said...

Julie, you did awesome. And you do leave so much soul in your stories:) You are great! keep going!

blackestdog said...

Hi Julie,
Congrats on your great race.
It's never junk miles to run with your dog. :)
I remember last year in your post after Leadville you said I just have to run faster, simple as that. And the training you did worked for you! That's really the bottom line!
Great race reports.
Karen S

John W. Taylor said...

Great job Julie!-

It's so fun to hear your story. You do a great job of conveying your thoughts/feelings in your race reports. It makes it easy to learn something or get inspired from it. Thanks for spending the time to share it.

You are awesome!!!

John Taylor

Dale Hawkins said...

Hey great job! I trailed just behind you for miles. I even saw when Jared asked that biker for water (around mile 28 or so). I figured that they knew each other. That section was misery! And long! Ugh! I am working on my blog entry about my experience. The race generally went pretty well, but I had sleepiness issues for last 30 miles. Still trying to figure out how to deal with staying awake. Anyway, you inspired me to continue running when I wanted to walk. Thanks!

Kurt said...

man what a great race. Congrat's !!

Matthew Patten said...

I have 2 words for the people who say you should eat more carbs, that your runs with Topaz are "Junk Miles", and that the ipod is a crutch.

BITE ME! (I would say bite you, but not sure if that is nice)

I hear the same crap. But very few are willing to toe the line in the same race and put together a better result.

I guess 95% of my training is junk, then.

As usual.... You rock.

I still think you are one of the most tenacious runners out there. That is a major advantage in ultras.

Another thing to look at is to see how far you have come. I have heard the following comment a few times,

"I remember when Julie Berg was slow".

Way to go and kick some ass at Lean Horse. It hurt me just to think about the heat.

Travis said...

Julie, what an AWESOME time!! Sub-23 is sooo great! You are an awesome runner and I have been inspired by you for years and continue to be. Still heading to Superior? If so, I hope to see you there.

Jack said...

Great post. Really enjoyed your honest introspection. Thanks.

And for some inspiration and motivation for you and other veteran and aspiring ultra-runners, check out this video -- ahamoment.com/pg/moments/view/7216 -- about one man's "aha moment" experienced during a 104 mile race and how it changed his perspective on life. I think you'll enjoy it.

Anonymous said...


Great story. I ran the LH 100 and recall your cheerful nature on the trail. Hope to see you at another race.