Monday, July 16, 2012

Voyageur Trail Marathon

I'm second row in pink/black skirt with ponytail. Hard to find!

With the recent floods in Duluth nobody really thought that the Voyageur Trail Marathon would take place this summer. Much of the course no longer exists as raging water took it away. It's horrifying and amazing at the same time.

Last week we learned that the 1/2 Voyageur (Marathon) and Voyageur 50 Mile Ultramarathon would in fact take place. Our RD's, the City and many volunteers created a reroute. We are still unsure of the whole course route for the 50 Miler taking place in two weeks but we know that it will be taking place. This is nothing short of amazing!  Andy and Kris could have slated trail work days instead of races on these dates and we would have been understood and been ready to lend a hand. Instead they saved the race for the runners. Amazing.

I didn't decide to run the Trail Marathon until after I ran 25K at Afton the week before. I really wasn't sure how my herniated discs would hold up. They were fine after 3.5 hours of trail running so I wanted to see how they would do in the 6 hour range.  I mailed in my entry and was set to go.

2 AM came quite quickly on race day. I wanted to be at Troy's Friday night baseball game so decided to leave dark and early from home by 3 AM.  I prepped a chicken breast to eat on the drive to Duluth the night before along with a post race fruit salad with another chicken breast.  I've found that grains really send the inflammation sky high and have been able to run without the usual oats, breads and pasta carbo load of the past.  Fruits and veggies, good clean  proteins are working just fine. Today I complete cycle 2 of TheWhole 30. It works for me.

I arrived to the Duluth Zoo, start and finish, by 515 so had plenty of time to check in and visit. I wasn't too apprehensive about this distance, I was more apprehensive as to making a decision about the 50 miler two weeks later on relatively the same course.  Today I'd have my answer.

We began running at 6, 100 some of us, I believe. I saw many old friends who I hadn't seen in quite some time. I hadn't run this race since 2003!  I was looking forward to it.

About a mile into the race we climbed Spirit Mountain-the ski area in Duluth. Straight up that sucker! It reminded me of all the days I've spent climbing the ski hills in preparation for Superior Sawtooth 100 miler. I will be having more of those days in the future. Up Up Up. I was looking forward to the way back, we'd be running right on down, into the finish!

After the ski hill we crossed an area that reminded me of the Superior Hiking Trail-which we actually followed once or twice. I did spy the telltale blue blazes here and there. Lots of roots, rocks - beautiful trail through pines. I stopped and hugged a huge white pine. It smelled SO wonderful and I was just SO happy to be out there.

We ran through Jarrows Beach which is a jumble of boulders. Well, more like walked and hopped through, rather than run!  I kept thinking I was so glad we weren't doing this in the rain or in the dark. It would have been so much more difficult. I didn't know if we were doing this section on the way back or not.

Here is a photo from Lisa Messerer of the section. You can see the pink flagging depicting the trail. Yeah, that's pretty rocky!

I was glad to get out of this section on onto a more level piece of trail!

The course took us along Skyline, I was able to recognize much of that area, past the Beck's Road aid station of the 50 Miler, into the grassy, rolling ski trails of Magney. When I hit the bike path, which is was washed away near Carlton, I knew I was approaching the Power Lines-the trademark of the Voyageur Races.  They were in great shape this race!  A little tacky for good grip, not muddy or dusty. Really seemed strange that they weren't the toughest section of the race. We didn't do all of them, maybe 3 or 4 is all. We didn't even go through them on the way back - we made a left turn and came back through Mission-bypassing all of them. Wow. Shocker.

The way back was much easier. I seemed to be running downhill most of the time. I wasn't tired, I felt in good shape. The aid stations were sparse on food. I needed to remember this was  a marathon, not an ultra, so ultra food (lots of fruit, potato, etc) wouldn't be around. I was able to find grapes and they were serving Ultima. I remembered that Ultima was not an energy supplement, it is an electrolyte. I used only one SCAP and ate bananas and grapes for fuel.

I just enjoyed the day. I looked at my watch at approximately 13 miles and was at 315 or so. I figured 630 would get me to the finish. With the earlier start time of the 50 miler, 6 vrs 7 am, I would have 7 hours to get to Mile 25. This was doable in my current state.

As I returned back toward the start, now the finish, I took time to ask how I was feeling. I felt good, had energy, feet were in good shape. I asked myself if I wanted to try 50 miles in two weeks. Am I ready? What if my discs hurt? Am I willing to DNF if they cause pain? Can my fragile egg shell brain take a DNF? I won't know if I can run 50 miles unless I try it. Am I willing NOT to try it because I'm afraid of a DNF?  Round and round my brain went, asking these questions.

As I neared the last few miles I began to have emotional outbursts. I KNEW I wanted to run 50 miles again. I KNEW I wanted to press down the fear and try it anyway. I KNEW I could do it. I began to sob. Yes, I'll try the 50 miler. It's been a long time. It will be uncomfortable, it will be difficult, but being able to complete it..will be worth it. I may not have any disc pain at all. If I do, I'll have to stop. I won't know unless I try.

At the next aid station I asked about Jarrow's Beach. I was told I wasn't going to be running through it again. Yay!  Happy day!  I was ready to run onto the finish.

Down the ski hill this time, letting the gravity take me down. I was enjoying the view of the lake and the feel of the finish coming before me.

I ran into the finish and heard a lot of clapping and one voice above all the rest. ICE BERG!  Yup, John Storkamp, cheering me on.  I finished in 607, felt strong and happy.

I couldn't pull myself away. I visited for a few hours with so many friends that I haven't seen in too long. It really was a great day. Thank you to the RDs for saving the race, all of the volunteers and my friends. To Lisa, who took these photos. What a fun time I had. I'm looking forward to the 50 in two weeks. Scared as hell, but looking forward to it.


SteveQ said...

Good to have you back on the trails. I would've stopped by (I was in the area), but I was having my own little adventure in the north woods. Maybe I'll stop by the 50.

Julie B said...

Thanks, Steve. It was fun to be back where my ultras first began. The 50 this Saturday will certainly be a challenge.Maybe I'll see you there.

Willie said...

ICE BERG! I love it!
You will be back at a 50 miler before you know it.

Voyager sounds awesome and the photos are amazing.

Julie B said...

Thanks Willie!! Yes, you are SO right!

AJ said...

Wow ! ! !! I was so excited as I read thru the post. GOOD! All the best for your future marathon runs. This is so inspiring.


Anonymous said...

This was my first official marathon. I think I may have started out near you. I stumbled onto your blog and am enjoying reading about your past races. I think I'm doing Zumbro so will say hi if I recognize you.