Sunday, November 28, 2010

Friends are Gifts

Yesterday The Pederson Benefit Run took place at Afton State Park. 'This Benefit Run was created to support our friends Colleen & Larry Pederson, who sustained a tremendous amount of damage to their home during the recent flood in Zumbro Falls, Minnesota. After the flood, many people who were able to do so, volunteered to help Colleen & Larry with cleaning up the mess & the damage left behind after the water receded. The work seemed endless, with many hours spent cleaning, tearing down walls, ceilings, pulling out the floor and the fireplace, before rebuilding could begin. Still many, especially those who were not able to be there in person, asked what more can we do? As trail runners we thought let’s do what we do best…Run! And the idea for the benefit run was born.

Over the years Larry and Colleen have become familiar faces in the Trail Running Community, dedicating countless hours of their time so that runners may enjoy the sport they love so much. Each year some of the fun that we get to experience on the trails because of them are The Fall Superior Races, Zumbro 100 & In Yan Teopa. Larry also founded the Upper Midwest Trail Runners Association'

The schedule of events slated were as follows: 1)Run either a 7 AM or 9 AM start, depending on mileage 2) Silent auction 3) Pot luck

What a great day!

I left home by 530, then stopping for gas, making my commute long enough to miss the 7 AM start. My plan was to run 6 hours, more of a time on feet than a total mileage run.

As I pulled into the lot I saw a group of 7:00 ers on their way out. A few stragglers made their way to the course start as I lubed up and added layers. My car said 6F so I put on a heavier shirt, knowing I'd be back in the lot after the first 25K I could change again if necessary.

I had consumed berries and cream at home, sucked back a VESPA enroute, grabbed Hammergel Espresso for my pockets, filled my handheld bottle with water and removed myself from the car.

Half way to Afton I wondered about the trail conditions. Were they snow covered, ice covered, should I have screws or snowshoes? It was too late. My Gortex Inov-8 winter shoes were probably fine.

As I began my run I was relieved that the trail only had about an inch of snow. Enough to make the run slower than usual but not a big deal. The tread on my shoes was enough to keep me upright. In the first mile I ran past Afton Ski Alps base hill and they were making snow. The snow was floating across the trail and here I walked as the snow was a good 4" deep. I was thankful I wasn't going to be running through that all day sans snowshoe!

I followed the trail and noticed a fat tire track from a bike and some yak track tracks amongst a few other tracks of runners somewhere in front of me. I turned to take a right up a steep hill and was surprised to see that the trail was closed due to erosion. Hmm..I trotted back onto the main trail and ran along. Pretty soon I noticed arrows pointing me to take the trail to the right. WOW, trail markings to mark the 50K course. How awesome was this! I noticed that the trail marker had a big railroad tie spike holding it upright. It had to be tough to drive that nail into the frozen ground-and the ground was rocky here. I said a thank you to the one who marked the trail.

Since I was running solo I was really paying close attention to the trail and made a point to look for these nifty arrows on the ground and each trail intersection. What a blessing.

About 4 miles into my run I came running down the hill and there was a big cooler of water at the first 50K aid station when the summer Afton Trail Race is held here. What a treat. My bottle was frozen up and the water was more ice chunk than water. I smacked my bottle on the table and filled it up with the warm water, gulping it down before it froze. Wonderful. Filled my bottle back up, said thank you to the water deliver-er and headed off.

I was so happy to be out running, to be enjoying this wonderful day. It was sunny, not much of a breeze, the day would warm to mid 20's. Perfect.

I kept marveling at the fact that here I was, running solo, and enjoying the winter run. I was comfortable in 2 pr of gloves, hat, neck gaiter, my Patagonia heavy pants and jacket. I like my pants and jacket so much for winter running. I'm always comfortable. I've had this set for 4 years and almost think I should buy another because as soon as I get a hole or tear and need another..Patagonia will have discontinued the items. I loved my Houdini jacket and lost it at a I can't find another! The jacket they market as a replacement is not as light.

As I was saying, I was totally enjoying this run. I felt awesome, the sun was shining on my face, I felt as though I was in meditation.

As I came up near mile 9 I saw the bike I had been following leaning upon the bridge but couldn't tell who was near it. A water station was set up here so I cracked my bottle on the bench, emptied out the ice and refilled with water, sucked it back and refilled again. I looked up and there was Don Clark.

I should have figured it was him. He is Chief Course Marker and I did see his name as one of the entrants for Arrowhead 100 in the bike category. Here he was, out on the course, riding and marking. I thanked him and gave him a huge hug and stood there, yakking at him for a long time. Finally I pulled myself away from our conversation and continued my run, smiling all the way. So good to see and talk with Don. Pretty soon I hear something coming down the path. Don yells 'hey, you are running faster than I can ride this thing!' I ran with him biking along the trail for some time. What a treat.

A few miles prior to the finish of my first 25K I spotted a pair of runners ahead of me. I trotted on and came upon Tom and Carl. It was good to say hello. Tom and I began to run toward the Visitor Center. We had plenty to talk about as we rounded back into the parking lot. Tom was finished with his run, headed back to the Visitor Center and I headed to my car for a refill of VESPA, grabbed a few gels changed into a lighter shirt to wear under my jacket.

During my second 25K loop I didn't see a soul. I don't know if everybody ran 25K or less or if I was just missing everyone. It was warming up, I noticed my water was no longer freezing and my gels were no longer the consistency of frozen frosting! About 4 hours in I began to feel like I was urinating too often. I was paying close attention to how much I was drinking and then realized I hadn't taken any S-CAPS. I dug into my handheld pocket looking for some but they were not there. I couldn't help but think of my first 50K, also at Afton, where I bonked and blacked out, pretty much having Don carry me off the trail. That was 7 years ago!

I began to feel a bit loopy but nothing to fear. I ate two gels to see if that would put my mind at ease. It did. I only had two hours left to run and felt in good shape. Because I didn't stop to chat with anyone during this lap I ended up running it faster than the first.

Pretty soon I was back to the lot, then decided to walk through the picnic area for a cool down. I've noticed that walking before and after running seems to help recovery for me more than stretching does.

What a great run. I stopped at my car, collected a bag of warm clothes and headed to the Visitor Center. It was just full of people wanting to support and give to Larry and Colleen. Amazing. There was hot coffee, pop, tables of food. Tables of silent auction items and just a feeling of compassion in the air.

I quickly changed into dry clothes and began to visit. What a great group of people. Larry and Colleen didn't feel deserving of this treatment and that is because they are so humble and so giving of themselves. They couldn't get over the fact that we were there for them and we were all so happy to be able to help them out.

After a few hours of visiting I had to say my goodbyes to get on the road for home and evening plans.

Thanks to all who turned out yesterday. Together we can do anything!


Kel said...

It was great to see you and everyone else out there! Perfect Thanksgiving :)

Shoshanna said...

Hi, I really like your blog! My goal is to run outside through this winter - in Oregon - and your stories about running in MN are humbling and really put it in perspective. I'm learning to see running in the elements and ice as an adventure, not a barrier.

Lyndi said...

you look good at running! :o)