Monday, August 19, 2013

Running the Superior Hiking Trail: Superior 100 Training Runs

I'm thrilled to report that my ankle is feeling much better. It seemed as though during Week 4 I really noticed a difference. I didn't feel the need to ice every few hours and there were even a few walking/running stretches in which I forgot all about it. Good stuff!

Early last week Maria let me know that she and Doug would be heading up to the SHT and asked if I'd like to go along. Yes! I asked Steve and Troy if they were interested but sadly they declined. I would leave Friday after work and stay until Sunday. 

Maria was able to reserve a campsite at Lamb's Resort. We weren't sure if we would be able to get one of the unreservables at the State Campgrounds, so Lamb's it was.  We were able to pitch both tents on one site so it only cost me a whopping $22 for the weekend!

It wasn't that wasn't that bad. We had a family of drunks next to us and with only a few trees inbetween -it made for sleepless nights. Oh well.

Saturday I ran the Crosby-Manitou to Temperance section - 23 miles and Sunday ran the Temperance to Oberg section-11 miles. I had absolutely NO ankle pain so I consider this a huge success. I feel great today-no swelling. I still have the climbing muscles I reinvented on the ski hills at Hyland earlier this summer. 

Manitou is the most difficult section for me. It took me about 3 hours to run during the day, fresh. It takes me over 4 hours to run in the dark, at mile 62, very unfresh!  It felt good to run again, without wonking out my ankle.  

Doug, bless his heart, met us at each trail head with water. I was able to get the training run complete with only water, scaps and gels. 

Having had to take a full three weeks off and then only running a few miles the past few weeks does make me nervous about the 100. I'm not going to sit and cry about it. Because this time on the trail went well I will be at the start line. This past weekend could have gone very poorly or very well. I'm thankful it was the latter!

Less than three weeks to the big one! Weee!


Friday, August 02, 2013

Voyageur 50 Mile Trail Run: Volunteer!

Early last week it became apparent to me that I wasn't going to be able to run the Voyageur 50 Mile Trail Run. Physically I suppose I knew that I wasn't going to, but emotionally...I was still holding onto hope. 

In the past-during my recovery from hysterectomy and than the herniated discs from that recovery-I chose not to volunteer at races, nor did I socialize with my very best friends in the world. I felt that I was no longer a runner, that my fragile eggshell mind couldn't handle the fact that I wasn't running while around my friends. I'm so thankful that I have learned from that experience.

Bill posted to FB that he was heading up an UMTR aid station and was looking for volunteers. I received confirmation that I would not be running and reached out to Bill about volunteering. I'm so glad that I did! 

UMTR Aid Station at Peterson's. Mile 16 and 32. Rocking it Out!

I slept in, was working the aid station from 730-330 so didn't leave for Duluth until 5 AM.  I missed a few signs so didn't get there until after 8, but it was OK. The station was well-manned!  

It was freezing outside!  A bit of rain, some wind, 43F baby. Crazy. I was so happy I hauled my down vest, jacket and full length coat. Yup, I wore my full length down Patagonia coat. I wished I brought gloves!!  It was cold for us but not so much for the runners. Many runners in sleeveless tops, shirtless guys, they were not freezing.

I had so much fun!  I don't believe I've worked an aid station for an Ultra before. I have been at registration and road races but not an ultra. Wow, so much fun.  I laughed so hard and so much that my face hurt. Bill talked so much that he lost his voice!  I, Victoria and Misty rang cowbell, made drums, cheered, it was crazy fun.  

Helping others to obtain their goals..that was what this was all about. Offering an Oreo Brownie, filling a water bottle, offering to fill a bladder..a kind word or hug..that's what I could do for the runner. I met so many new people-many of which will become good friends, I just know it. I rekindled so many great relationships with my friends, it was just what I needed. 

No more hunkering down and isolating myself from others during time of injury. I become depressed, withdrawn, unhappy. Laughing with the others..this is what I choose to do.

We broke down the aid station at 330 and headed to the finish line. John was already done-finishing in under 9 hours. Most of the rest of the group sprinkled through the finish line between 10 and 13 hours. I had more brownies to offer-they absolutely loved them-and more hugs and cheers. What a great day! Fabulous runners!  Great volunteers and incredible RDs. What more can a person want? If I can't run the race I'll help you to run the race :)

I am on the mend..Superior Sawtooth is still on the calendar. I need to find lodging..up next.

Me, Misty and Victoria representing UMTR.

Gene Curnow Trail Marathon - Formerly Half Voyageur 50

Amy and I at the finish, all smiles!

A few weeks ago I headed off to Duluth to run the newly named Gene Curnow Trail Marathon. Gene was a wonderful man who recently passed away. The 1/2 50 has been renamed for Gene and has been lengthened to 26.2 miles for a marathon instead of the 25 miles for the 1/2 Voyageur. I have such fond memories of Gene. He allowed me to finish my first 50 miler at Voyageur-in the thunder, lightening and hail. It took me over an hour past the time limit of 13 hours, in 2003, to finish, but Gene allowed it. He kept telling me "You look good Julie, you are just slow..keep on going!" I kept on going. He cheered me on as I came back each year, bettering my time, until most recently, I finished just over 10 hours. He said "You look good Julie, you are no longer slow..girl!"  We miss you Gene!

I drove up Saturday morning toward Duluth. Another thunderstorm!  I had to pull over to the side of the highway three different times as I couldn't see a thing. Dark, wet morning, high winds. Oh joy!  I continued on.

I was planning on parking in Carlton, taking the shuttle bus to the start in Duluth. However, with the pulling over to the side of the road time, I approached Carlton with 8  minutes to spare before the busses were going to leave. I decided to head straight to Duluth. I'd just be really early. Better early than late!  I pulled into the lot at Spirit Mountain and was the third car parked. Yeah, a bit early. Plenty of time to get ready.

Paulette, Kathy and Amy all arrived. I couldn't believe it when I saw Donna and Scott!  They were at that first Voyageur I ran and here they were again. So awesome!  

My plan was to take this easy..a nice training run before the 50. I had been running very well recently-lots of hill repeats out at Hyland, good interval work..I was really excited. The course was longer and rerouted from last year when I ran so I really didn't have a time goal. Just finish healthy was my mantra.

Only it didn't go that way.

I was running along, coming up to MILE ONE. Smiling, falling into a line with Holly in front when all of a sudden I slipped upon a wet flat rock, going down a hill. My ankle twisted and it crunched to the ground. I could feel it drop..and pop. Before I knew it I had catapulted from the trail to the side of the trail, in the woods, on my butt. I was stunned. What the hell just happened? Holly turned around immediately. Did I scream? Swear? Probably. Not sure. There she was, handing me Advil without a second passing by. I tried to get up, to put weight on my foot..but couldn't. Holy hell. I gingerly stepped further from the trail so the long train of people could pass. Dear sweet Scott grabbed my hand and hefted me up. Geeze. I couldn't put weight on it. Fuck. I have never ever twisted an ankle like this before. I've had a twist, where the pain goes from foot to head, but then I run along and all is well. This wasn't all well. 

I told everyone thank you for your concern, as they passed, I'll be ok, I'll get to the next aid station or turn around..I'll figure it out. I hobbled along and pretty soon it didn't hurt quite so bad..pretty soon I placed weight on it and began to jog. I could still feel that it wasn't normal but it didn't become any worse. I figured as long as it wasn't worse I was A OK.

I went through the aid stations, began to pass people who asked about my ankle.  I let them know I was doing OK, it didn't feel worse. I asked myself at each aid station 'how are you doing?' I was fine. By mile 18 I was running quite well, I felt awesome and just kept running. I had fallen to almost last so I passed many people between 18-26 miles. I counted 43 people. That pumped me up and I suppose the endorphins and the swelling that I couldn't see because I had gaiters on, allowed me to continue my run. 

As I picked my way through Jarrow's Beach-tons of rock-boulder climbing crap and through the powerlines, I was just so relieved that I was able to get in this training run. I was so grateful that the ankle twist didn't knock me out. I asked myself "now this is only a training run, stop if this is know what it is like to not be able to I ok?" I told myself yes. I'm running, if I couldn't run I would have dropped to save myself for Voyageur 50 in two weeks. Dropping out of a training run is a dud, but hurting myself just to finish was an even bigger dud. I didn't feel like I was doing that. 

I felt great and had bundles of energy as I began the race so slow. As I crested the final portion of the trail and landed on the bike path into the finish line I was so thrilled to be racing. I was actually running fast at the end of a race.

Once I stopped, sat down, pulled off my shoes and socks I saw what was there. A big fat foot and red lump. Ugh. I stretched out and asked for some ice. The sweet volunteer placed a bag upon my foot. Now I was nervous. What the hell? Maybe this was something more than a simple twist of the ankle. 

I began to think about my Hokas. I had only been wearing them for a few runs-I had loved them. My feet and legs were not feeling tired at all and I was getting in some higher mileage weeks. Did that high platform cause an ankle twist, the ankle had further to drop to the ground because of that high platform. Shit. Maybe so. Ugh.  

Stinson Evo Hoka:

I congratulated many of my friends and cheered in more to the finish. Amy and I didn't have  a ride back to our cars so we went on the look out for someone with a nice face.  Luckily we found a guy with plenty of room who didn't mind driving us back to Duluth!

The fear of my ankle kind of stripped away the fun factor that I was so enjoying. I left Amy and drove home. Stopping for ice along the way.

I went in for x-rays and yes, I have a bad sprain. The x-ray also showed a distal fibular avulsion  which could be new or could be an old injury. The avulsion is treated the same way as a sprain-RICE-a boot when necessary. After a week of RICE he put me in a boot. It's very cumbersome and I couldn't wear it for very long.

Fat Foot: 

I am now at week 3 of RICE. The swelling is gone, I have full range of motion and began walking last week. Slow, 1 mile, then 1.5 miles. This week I was able to add running minutes. Today was a bright one-I ran 3 miles without additional swelling or pain. It's getting better. Sheesh.

I'm afraid now, to wear the Hokas. They really freaked me out. I went shoe shopping and instead purchased the fit like a glove Solomon S-Lab Sense Ultra. Huge difference. I've only worn them once and they felt fabulous. Time will tell.

For Sale: Stinson Evo Hoka, less than 50 Miles. Size 10! 

So, I am healing. Superior Sawtooth is still on the calendar. My foot is no longer fat. Life is good.