Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Superior 50K

I last ran the Superior 50K in 2013!  I can’t believe that 6 years have passed. I then went on to run Superior 100 in September of 2014. I have not done any training or running on the Superior Hiking Trail since. I have volunteered by marking, sweeping and working the aid stations but no running or training. The SHT is like nothing else that I train on. 

I went up north early and spent a lot of time hiking the north shore.  Gooseberry Falls, Crosby Manitou,  Cascade River, Bally Creek, Grand Marais,  I had a blast.  I really enjoy time in the woods by myself.

Friday I made my way to Caribou Highlands. I had a great lodge room with a window seat overlooking the finish area. I could watch people mingle about for check in.  I walked over and picked up my bib, visited with friends, had a fun time.

Race day morning was cool but dry. 31F so I wore tights, long sleeve top, gloves and packed my windbreaker. I filled my pack with 60 oz of tailwind, gels and a few advil. I was hoping the rain that was forecast would hold off.

John started us off and away we went, running down the short asphalt stretch to the beauty of the trail. We were clustered up, 200 of us trying to find our place.  Climbing right away, navigating the rock and roots reminded me of what this portion of trail was like during a race. I had to slow down a bit, catch my breath, let others pass and collect myself.  I was finding my pace.

I came into Oberg Aid Station 7.5 miles at 1:40. I didn’t need  anything from the station, just the smiles and high fives. I ran through, thanking all of the volunteers. It felt good to run fast through the flat parking lot! 

The climbs were no longer taking a toll on me, I seemed to become more strong as I went along. I wasn’t having any pain, no tiredness or anxiety. I was pushing it as fast as I dared to push without tripping or getting hung up in the mud.  There was a lot of mud.  I found that I was holding back. I don’t quite have the confidence back to let loose on the trail and really run hard.

I came into the second aid station as hail began to pelt me. I couldn’t stop laughing. What else is one going to do? I had my wind breaker in my pack but didn’t feel like pulling it out.  I ran through the aid station, not needing anything, toward the turn around.

As I was climbing up the mountain I ran into Amy Clark, whom I’ve been running  with each Monday since December. It was so great to get a big huge smile and hug from her. She was coming down the mountain with her friend, Erin, whom I hadn’t met before. I felt a real boost as I continued to climb.

The turnaround was a blast, of course. Hail pounding all around me, festive volunteers offering twinkies  and fireball (no thanks). I had a few laughs and began my trek to the finish line.  3:36 to the half way mark. Could I finish in 715?

As I came into the next aid station I decided to fill my pack. More tailwind, emptied out my gel foils. I was ready to move. I spent less than 2 minutes getting ready.  As I left the aid station I noticed that the mud was pulling my sock down into my shoe. My sock was so heavy and wet that it wasn’t staying up on my ankle;  it kept falling down. Although I was wearing gaiters me  feet were still covered with mud and it was grinding between my shoe and ankle. This was  causing friction and pain. Dang. I didn’t want to stop to try to deal with this. How was I going to make it better? I didn’t have any other socks, I hadn’t packed any drop bags. I didn’t have anything to make this situation any better…so I just continued to run, hoping for the best but figuring a painful blister was forming. Hmm. A blister might keep me from my 4 and 5 h our runs Saturday and Sunday. I don’t want that. Hmm..well, keep running. I will buy longer socks in the future, that is for sure!  This rookie mistake caused negative space into my brain which I didn’t need. I began to ignore the growing blister and ran on.

As I came into Oberg I was still feeling so great.  I hadn’t had any lows , no crashes, I was steadily moving along. I cruised over Mystery and Moose mountain without any problem. My neuroma were quiet, I was so blessed. 

I thought about the Superior 100 in 4 short months  and then this thought gave me anxiety. Man, I need to begin to wrap my head around that race again.  I’ve finished 3 of the Superior 100’s, the last one in 2014. It was the muddiest of years and I almost quit at one point. I don’t believe that anything can be as difficult as that race was for me, which makes me feel OK about any other attempts.  Any other attempts just can’t be as difficult as 2014 was.

I realized that I didn’t think I’d ever run on this trail again. This is a rough trail and I was in no shape to run it just a short year ago. Now, here I was, sailing through, feeling like I could push it, yet afraid to. 

Afraid of what? Afraid that I might fall. Or that I might hurt myself. Afraid that I might become tired or low on energy. Um, afraid to stretch out of my comfort zone. So many fears that I can over come.

Before I knew it I was on the pavement, ready for the finish line. I felt a twinge of sorrow as I wasn’t quite ready to be finished with this grand adventure. I then ran around the pool, into the finish line. I was greeted by an explosion of clapping and yelling of my name, photos and hugs. It was amazing.

7:18 First Women's Grand Master. Almost an even split. 

A few days after the race and I am back to 100% I believe that soaking in a cold bath helped decrease the inflammation. I no longer binge post race on sugary items. Post race I eat as I do any other time.  I walked Sunday and Monday. Tuesday I ran for thirty minutes and today I’ll run for 45 minutes. I have back to back long runs this weekend. 4 hours Saturday and 5 hours Sunday. I’m working toward a 50 mile finish at Black Hills, where I ran the 50K last year. I’m getting there. I am back and I couldn’t be happier about that!