Friday, May 23, 2014

Savage 100 Mile Trail Run: Race Report

Savage 100 Mile Trail Run: Believing in Myself Gives me an Edge

I wear this necklace all of the time. I wore it for the race, too.

Where to begin? It’s been a long haul but I feel like I’m finally breaking through the injury, the menopause and the depression. I feel as though I am coming out on the other side.

When I learned that Les Martisko was creating The Savage 100 Mile Trail Run so that he could finish a 100 mile ultramarathon as a way to celebrate his 70th birthday I wanted to be a part of the celebration.  Les and I have run many many miles together over the years.

When I first began Ultra I was fighting the cut offs and Les would patiently coach me during our races, letting me know that we were in fact going to finish.  He was always correct. He was always steady. I’ve learned so much from him.

Happy Birthday to Les, may we all be running 100 mile ultramarathons for our 70th birthday! 

Going into The Savage 100 I felt very confident that I could finish. Zumbro 50 was a dream come true five weeks prior. I had been having NO ankle pain, I believed in myself. Believing in myself gives me an edge.

The race course was held at Murphy-Hanrehan Park, a Dakota County Park located in Savage MN. It was a 16+ mile loop-plenty of hills, beaver dam water crossing, woods  and open prairie areas. It was all trail but for a short-maybe .50 mile tops each lap was dirt road.   It reminded me of McNaughton 100 in more than one way.

I chose to begin the race at 300 AM. We could start at 300 AM or at 600 AM. The race was finished at 1 PM Sunday for a total of 34 hours.  I figured I could use every spare hour I could take. My ‘goal’ was to  finish each loop in 5 hours-giving me a 30 hour finish.

Because gels, water and electrolyte worked 100% at Zumbro I was going to use the same plan. I'm so grateful to Karl for getting me off of the solid food leading to  stomach aches, gas, bloat and energy crashes and making such a strong case to me to try gels, only gels!  He always says to me IT IS WHAT THE BODY NEEDS, Jule! I had multiple changes of shoes, socks and clothing. Batteries, gels, electrolytes, foot potion, etc. I loved that I could use my car as my drop bag, reaching it every 17 miles. Woohoo.

I pulled on my Nathan Vest, filled one 20 oz bottle with water, my headlamp and handheld flashlight and walked toward the start area. I didn’t recognize anyone at first out of the 60 entrants. I didn’t know who was going to begin at 300 or 600 so wasn’t sure who to look for. Eventually Misty and Victoria meandered to the start and Bob took photos of us.  Let’s get this party started. Seriously. That was my thought. Party on the trail.

Misty, Me and Victoria <3 br="">

Kim Martin, our RD, gave us a lowdown on the course, the markings, the beaver dam, etc. and told us to go. We went! 

Interesting way that we began..all looking down!

As I began to run up the trail I looked up to the full moon, the stars and just felt such deep gratitude for being able to start this 100 miler. My ankle had been feeling solid, my training leading up to the race had been spot on. I was so grateful to be right where I was. Other than my nutrition for the week prior I had been 100%. I was going to be OK. I was going to finish. Those were my thoughts.

I picked my way along the trail, looking for the first crack of dawn. Pretty soon I could see the sky becoming  a bright pink, then deep purple and light blue. So beautiful. We were going to have a great day.

At each aid station I made sure I had an adequate supply of gels and filled my water bottle. The stations were amazing. As I approached I’d be asked what I wanted: do you want a burrito, a pancake, soup, potato? Um, no, gel and water please! Simple.

I caught Anjanette along the first loop and ended up running the first 53 miles with her!  We’ve never run together before. I first met Anjanette at Superior 100 last fall and I don’t think I had seen her since.  She told me she was going to try to hang with me for the next few loops but that she would run her own race. I told her that was fine. I was going to do what felt good, no pressure. 

As I finished up loop1 I headed to my car to wash my feet, lube them up, change socks. I dropped my jacket, changed out of long sleeved shirt into short sleeves, dropped my gloves, exchanged headlamp for sunglasses. I was ready to go after 6 minutes.  I believe loop one was less that 4 hours. I thought that was probably too fast.

Loop 2 went very well. It was fun to see the surroundings in daylight.  Again, the aid stations were amazing-lots of variety-lots of welcoming smiles. All I needed was a gel and water.

Loop 2 ended up taking under 4 hours too. I needed to slow down but I didn’t feel overtaxed or anything, so maybe I’d just go with it. I again washed my feet and changed socks. The rocks were chewing up my feet along with the mud. The bottoms of my feet were becoming raw and my stupid little toes were covered in callus with blister wanting to form. Honest to god, they end up smushed up in my shoes into the shapes of little wedges with deep points. My socks had a ton of grit in them even though I was wearing gaiters. All I could do was wash them down and clean them off. I had two jugs of water at my car so I’d just pour water over them, dry them off and lube them up. Hoping for the best!

During Loop 3 I began to feel antsy. I was changing my plan. I was feeling the endorphin rush. Screw the 5 hour laps! I felt like I should try to get in as many miles as I could before the darkness of night arrived. I felt like stretching out my legs and running hard! Anjanette said that she would probably walk Loop 4 so I thought that would be when I’d put the hammer down.

We reached 50 mile in 11:40. Great pace, I was feeling good. After Loop 3 I walked up to the start/finish and finally recognized a few friends. I gave E a big hug and yacked with Jeff for so long that when I took off to run away from the aid station I realized I had forgotten to fill my water bottle!  Oops!  Oh well, the next aid station was 4 miles away and I didn’t feel like it was a do or die situation. After running a few miles I told Anjanette was going to listen to my tunes and peel out. I was going to get as many miles in as I could before night fall.  Off I peeled.

Once I was by myself I was able to think deeply about where I was and what I was doing. I was feeling my strength, my weaknesses, my emotions. I was moving along so well and was quite surprised at how great this race was going.

As I ran into Natchez Arika, Jim, Ryan, Vickie, BJ  and Bob began to clap and cheer. Every time I ran in to Natchez Arika was there yahooing me!  I heard Hey Sugar, what can I get you? Oh, water and gel will do. Well, I think you should try a Red Bull. Oh, really? Well, I never have. Oh, you need to. OK, I will. Shall I drink it with moderation or guzzle it down? Well, I don’t really do moderation…yeah, we’d make a great pair..I don’t either. I guzzled down that Red Bull and grew wings!  I couldn’t believe the quick energy it gave me.

Before I knew it I was running with a pep in my step and a goofy grin on my face. I figured I might as well get a full bump of energy  so took down an espresso hammergel and a few advil. Might as well get a big bang!  I did! I felt like I was flying and I was nothing but pure positive in my mind. I have been practicing positive thinking for a long time.

I began to think about Superior 100, where I broke my ankle in September. I really want to go back and get another finish. As I felt like I was flying down the trail I said aloud “Ok, Superior Sawtooth..I’m coming after you and I am going to make you my bitch!” I had to laugh at myself, I don’t normally speak that way!  It was hilarious. I was totally enjoying myself.

Each time I ran into Horse Camp Aid Station the captain would exclaim 'Here she comes again, smiling as always!' I was. I was truly beaming, full of euphoria.

I hadn't listened to any music yet. I decided to turn on my iPod and enjoy, running along the trail, loving the solitary moment. I needed to be by myself, to think deeply. I love the social aspect of ultrarunning-the training with others, the races with friends, but I also crave the solitary moments. I mostly train by myself. I need the time alone where I can go deeply into my mind, my soul, for hours on end.  It’s good medicine.

I hit 68 miles at 15:30 and felt on top of the world.  At my car I refilled my gels, an electrolyte caplet, a bandana for my head, headlamp. It was still relatively warm -55F-so I would wait until the next lap to change into pants if necessary.

The 5th loop just amazed me. I couldn’t believe that I had been running so well for so long. I knew that when darkness arrived I would slow down miserable. I have horrible night vision. Even with two lights and brand new batteries my eyes fail.

The sunset was glorious. Deep magenta with purple streaks across the sky. I stood there with tears in my eyes. I was so thankful to again be able to do what I love. To  do what fills me up. 

The moon and stars popped out, lighting the way. So gorgeous. I stood still, turned my lights off and extended my arms to the moon. I cried. I was so thankful.

For the final 17 I added a pair of pants and gloves. I was getting really cold. I turned on my car along with the heat and thawed out for a few minutes. Some more gels, a bottle refill, change of batteries, wash of feet and I was on my way. I noticed that my Garmin 310 XT had died. I decided I’d consume a gel every other mile by the mile markers on the course. I was sticking with the gels for my nutrition and it was proving to work 100% again. No stomach upset and plenty of energy.

I couldn’t believe I was on my final loop. I reminded myself how a 100 mile race can be much like life. Ups, downs..many emotions. I had felt them all.

I had wished my family had an interest in coming out to check in during the race. It was only an hour from home and I thought maybe they would. I had extended the invitation to family and friends.

My perception of the enormity of running 100 miles has changed since my hysterectomy. Prior to that I ran 14 100 milers in 5 years. Since hysterectomy I’ve taken on one battle after another head on.  Recovery from hysterectomy, herniated discs, avulsion fracture, break, depression. All related to hysterectomy-of this I am certain. I may have been knocked down but never knocked out. I’ve come out on the other side and I am getting there, back to where I want to be.  To the person I will be.

As I posted earlier, May is my RECONNECT. It’s become my RESET as well. I truly felt like I pressed my reset button. I had made the recovery, I was ready to stop dwelling on the past and I was ready to move on to the future. A bright, bright future!  RESET.

As I ran into the final stretch I wasn’t sure of the time. The sky was beginning to lighten, the moon went away. I made a final pit stop and guessed it to be about 26 hours.  I began to get choked up, to speak my gratitude out loud. I had made my peace.

I ran into the finish line, there was a lone woman standing there to take my bib and hand me my finish time. 26:07. I was totally thrilled. I wasn’t injured, I wasn’t tired, I was strong, happy and healthy.


I walked over to my car, stripped out of my wet muddy stinky clothes. Mixed up a shake and began to dress. It was  a long process.  My body felt that old, yet familiar, feeling…100 mile pain and fatigue. Yes, I had missed it.

I placed First Master Woman, 13th Overall.  Not bad for my comeback! My endurance is back-my speed and body composition will follow. I’m working on it, I’m bringing it!

I'm looking forward to a summer of training hard, reaching my goals. Up next is the Afton 50K, Voyageur 50 Mile, Superior Sawtooth 100 and TBunk. I got this.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014


This weekend I explored a brand ‘new to me’ state park. I feel  so fortunate to live in a state where lakes, rivers and state parks are abundant. Now if I lived in a state where it wasn’t below zero for 5 months of the year…

The Interstate State Park is a glorious place!  I was amazed at the topography of the trail: many roots, rocks and elevation and then open prairie, grasses and city running. It was amazing. There were times when I felt like I was on the Superior Hiking Trail, at Afton State Park and at Lake Maria. I loved it!!

While volunteering at Chippewa 50K last week Jeff Allen invited me to his T&A Run. (Trail and Asphalt)I recalled receiving an invite in the past but wasn’t able to take advantage of it due to injury. I was all over it this time.

I met up with 27 other awesome runners in the parking lot of the Interstate State Park at 800 AM-Wisconsin side, St. Croix Falls. Not only were many of my friends in attendance but I also met many new people!  What a great day.

The sun was shining, it was 43F, I wore shorts for the first time! WOOHOO!  My training schedule stated 17 miles for the day so as long as I ran 17, anything else was frosting.

Jeff went through the plan. Two groups: speedy and not speedy. Speedy would run 24 or so, not speedy would run 17. OK, perfect!  We’d meet paths every once in a while for aid and to regroup.

Let’s go!  The trail was magnificent. I will definitely go back to run at Interstate State Park. We went over rock, roots, great hills, open field, lots of trail, nice single-track and then we’d pop into the city of St Croix Falls-along the river, through a golf course, it was amazing.

I felt like I was back in my element. Back to being able to knock off a 20 miler without worry. Back to being able to run alongside my friends. Back to doing what I love.  Laughing. Belly laughing with great friends while running. What is better? It’s been a long time.  I ran with a smile on my face and joy in my heart.  I felt The me that I’ve missed and have been trying to get back to.

I’ve designated MAY as my month to reconnect. As I was running along the path I felt it taking place.  I am reconnecting. Reconnecting to myself and reconnecting my relationships. Reconnecting to the good habits that had become my lifestyle.  Reconnecting with Me.

One way to reconnect with the me of my past is to get my ass out of bed  to run early morning workouts again. I have SO missed them. I keep telling myself I’m going to reconnect with this habit..but I have made the decision to fail at this over and over again. It's in my hand and I have chosen to let it go .. over and over.

Last night I had it with myself. I pulled out my running clothes, my watch, my shoes, my banana and my gel. I thought about my sister who wakes up at 4-430 each day to run, about Heidi who wakes up at 345 each morning, about Karly who woke at 440 yesterday and Amy who is always waking early to get her run on.

Before falling to sleep I set my alarm for 430. I was going to do this. I thought about how running early makes me feel: accomplished, energized, in my happy place, set for the day. I thought about how running early revs my metabolism early, how I drink more water, how I care for myself during the day after an early morning run.  Running early frees up my afternoon. I can take Topaz for an easy hike in the woods, I can go to the gym for weight training, I can go to yoga. Running early makes me happy. Running early is what I used to do. Running early is something I have missed.

Yet…yet…I had been having trouble getting up. I had been turning my alarm off and sleeping longer..and  spending the day frustrated with myself. It's ridiculous.

Well today was the day. My alarm rang. I thought about my clothes all ready for me, I thought about how great I would feel after doing this. I thought about how this used to be my normal. My no big deal. My first run of a double much of the time. I pulled  my comforter down like it was my blanket of depression and rolled it away from my body. I stepped out of bed, into my clothing. I patted Topaz and explained to him that I had to do this for myself. I couldn’t take him along with me today.  It’s too tough for him at 12.5 years now. I told him I’d walk him after my run. He cried when I left but I had to do this..for me.

I did. I ran through the slightly brightening morning. I heard the birds singing, the frogs croaking, I spotted deer crossing the road in front of me. I felt my body moving swiftly through the darkness, my breathing easy. I watched the sunrise. I ran. I ran with joy. True joy. 

The morning was beautiful. No cars, no people, no music. A symphony of nature.

7 miles. I ran back home to Topaz. He welcomed me with kisses and leaped with excitement down the driveway as we jogged for his mile. I was beaming with happiness. We both were. It’s a great way to start the day. To start the reconnect. I'm looking forward to tomorrow morning. To do it again.