Race Report: Wild Duluth 50K 2017

I’m leaning against a tree, probably only 400m from the Grand Portage Aid Station, feeling my heart thudding against my chest. This isn’t normal. Last year, I spent a minute at this aid station. This year, I spent probably 5 minutes there, drinking pop, trying to slow my racing pulse and calm my breathing. And here I am, minutes after leaving, the aid station still in sight through the trees, wondering if I should turn back. Take more time there. Pack in the race. I’m sweating, not an exhilarating sweat from a hard race effort, but a panicky, sick sweat. The kind of spontaneous, uneasy sweat that usually means I need to sit down, immediately. But I’m standing.

I stand there for probably 10 minutes. I don’t really know how long I stand there because later I realize I hit pause instead of lap when I left the aid station. I’m only passed by 3 people, since I was already in the back of the pack (though I didn’t think that far back), which means I don’t have to keep explaining myself. Keep saying I’m fine, I’m fine, even though I’m not sure I’m fine. I ran 6 power line hills in July at Curnow in heat with a half marathon in the books already and I cruised. I did two of them, slowly, only five miles into the race, and I’m destroyed. They were slick and muddy from the rain that’s fallen since the race start, and I slipped and fell 4 or 5 times while trying to scramble up and over, but that shouldn’t take this much out of me. What am I doing?

I can’t quit now. I had 5 great miles, slow but steady. I felt good. I walked the uphills, ran the flats and downhills. It’s the easiest part of the course. This next section isn’t bad, but it’s got a few short-but-steep uphills. You can do this. You can take it slow. Put one foot in front of the other. So you’ve stopped, so you’ve just lost all progress you made toward beating last year. You can still rally. Let’s go, start walking. So I do. I feel terrible and am blowing my nose into my hand every 30 seconds, it seems. I don’t want to do this anymore. I’m quitting. I’m done. I should turn around and go back to Grand Portage. I see that my watch is paused. It makes me want to quit even more. I’m not even getting a correct pace anymore. I have no idea how slow I’m actually going, and I have no idea how far I’ve gone with the watch paused. Maybe a mile?

Eventually my heart calms down, and it doesn’t feel like my heart is playing a Slayer drum track on my thoracic wall. I even run a little on a nice downhill and some flat sections. I’m not running very fast, but I’m running. I figure I can keep this up, maybe rally a bit more at the next aid station. I can finish this race. It won’t be fast, but it’ll be badass. I remember I don’t have a headlamp, that complicates things if I slow down a lot.

I hit another hill and I can’t handle it. It’s not really that hard of a hill – a steepish grade, but it’s short. It’s one I can power through on a normal day even though it feels crappy. Just keep those legs moving. But I can’t. My heart’s racing again, I’m breathing heavily. I’m stopped. I’m leaning against a tree. I’m crouching on the trail, hoping there’s no one else who’s going to come up behind me. Hoping I won’t run into a 100K runner when I look this pathetic. I’m in last place (second to last, I later learn, as a man hiking with trekking poles overtakes me with a mile or so left to the aid station) and I’m breathing this hard only 7 or 8 miles in? It’s not who I am as a runner. It’s not what I trained to do.

I think about what’s realistic. I think about the logistics of dropping. What do I do? Am I supposed to call someone? I don’t have a crew. My husband is asleep. My dad is probably 30 minutes away. My friends are all busy. Do I have to beg someone for a ride? I need to keep going. I need to get closer to town before I drop. So I keep walking, make it up the hill, let my heart calm down. Ok, maybe I can make it to Magney. That would be good. It’s the halfway point, it’s more than a half marathon.

I start running into 100Kers going the other way. They are so kind, so sincere in their encouragement. It only makes me feel more frustrated, though I paste a smile on my face and wish them well. The trail is slippery due to the intermittent rain. I slip on a switchback and come closer than I’d like to falling down a steep hill. I try to keep sure footing, but my feet still have moments where they could slide out from underneath me at any moment. I grab onto trees and try to stay upright. The trail is going to be a disaster once all these folks come through. Twice.

I go up another hill and realize it’s all over. I am not going to finish this race. I’m not going to go any further than Munger. There’s no point. The climb up and over Ely’s Peak is going to do me in. I’ve completely underestimated the effect that this cold/crud has had on me. I walk it in, slowly, every hill taking me forever and a day. I feel dejected and embarrassed walking into the aid station. They probably thought all the 50K runners were through. The aid station folks try to convince me to keep going. They kind of stop once they hear the baritone cough that erupts from my lungs. I take off my bib and they figure out what to do with me. I have some pop and cookies, and it takes three people to get my Houdini jacket pouch open, because there’s crud in the zipper. I put it on and stand under the canopy as the rain intensifies. I wait while they tend to a 100K runner with a deep gash in his hand. They clean it out, wrap it up, and he goes out. I feel like an idiot. A real trail runner wouldn’t have quit. I feel like a fraud.

Two lovely volunteers take me back to the start, but we have to stop and pick up supplies first. Just as we pick up supplies and head to the aid station, we get a call that they need other stuff. Bread and oranges. So we head back to the store. Go to the aid station. I sit in the car in my wet clothes, semi-wrapped in a blanket, feeling chilled. Feeling like a nuisance. We have a fun conversation in the car, talking about the weather (the worst weather in the young history of this race, by far), other races, all kinds of stuff. I still feel like an inconvenience. We finally go back to the start, I thank them, I get in my car, drive home, shower, and then eventually take a nap when I realize there’s no other way I’m going to get warm.

So, there’s my first DNF. 11 miles into a 31 mile race. It took me 4 hours to cover those 11 miles (20 minutes slower than last year, and that is after running the first 5.4 miles at the same pace [technically faster, but I spent longer at the aid station this year]), and I had given up well before then. Part of me is like, I am so soft. A real runner would have gutted it out. I wasn’t missing cutoffs. There were 13 and 14 hour finishers. Those people are amazing. I am less than amazing. I was angry about a lot of things, mostly around getting sick, staying sick, not doing enough to get healthy sooner, not doing enough to avoid getting sick, traveling too much which led to me being both run down and exposed to germy people in close quarters. Angry that I had already skipped the Birkie because I hadn’t slept the night before, and had consoled myself by saying this was the real goal race.

Another part of me is like, look, you were sick. Maybe another runner would have gutted it out, yeah. But you felt like garbage all day Saturday, and felt pretty crappy on Sunday, too. And you had to get a plane on Tuesday (I’m writing this from Edmonton). What shape would you have been in if you had finished the race, if this is what you’re like after 11 miles? How do people with heroic tales of destroying themselves during ultras get up and to go work a day or two later? In reality, I shouldn’t have started the race. But I didn’t know that. I didn’t know how running would feel so different than just going through my day to day life. I thought I’d given myself enough time to heal, but I hadn’t.

I’m still not completely over it, but that’s mostly because I haven’t raced in a long time, and I’m missing that great feeling of running miles and miles in nature, as fast as I can handle. I’m missing the triumphant payoff of months of training. I have another race in mind (Fall Back Blast 50K in Eau Claire) that I’ll run, provided I’m able to get some miles in this week and next, and the cough goes away. Maybe then the sting of frustration from this race will fade, but for now, I’m still pretty annoyed about it. Now I feel like I have something to prove to myself. I have to show myself I’m not a quitter, that I made the right choice and that under different circumstances, I’d have dug in and finished.

On the bright side, I actually got a couple hours of sleep before the race! I thought at the time that would be a good sign. Silly me!

Wild Duluth 50K 2017: Week 14

Wow! Look at that revisionist title!

Monday: 4.3 mi, treadmill
Tuesday: 5.1 mi, treadmill
Wednesday: rest
Thursday: 4 mi, treadmill
Friday: rest
Saturday: 8.4 mi, trail (Superior Hiking Trail – Fox Farm Rd to Sucker River & back)
Sunday: 11.2 mi, trail (Superior Hiking Trail – Reeves Rd to Lake County Rd 301 & back)
Total: 32.9 mi

I’m still training for Wild Duluth! So this still works as a training week.

Since up til Saturday, I was still planning on running a marathon on Saturday, I did short runs in a controlled environment while watching Game of Thrones on HBOGO. My cats watched the whole time, judged me on my form, and then swarmed onto the treadmill the moment I stopped it. They love plopping over on it, I suppose because the belt is warm.

Hm, that reminds me, I need to lube the treadmill deck.

To salvage the weekend, I decided to hit 2 more segments of the SHT. I ran 8.4 kinda sucky miles on Saturday. The segment is nice, with a few lovely views. On a cooler day I might have liked it more, but the sun was hot! It ended up in the high 60s F, maybe even 70, and I forget that those temps can feel fairly warm when running. I was really glad that the thru-hike distance was much shorter than the advertised distance, because I was ready to get that run over with. It’s a bit hillier than I thought it would be, but another day it might be a perfect section.

Sunday’s segment would have been really pleasant and runnable if not for the mud. The first half mile is along a county road, then the next half mile is on a snowmobile trail. A word to the wise: snowmobile trail = mud + standing water + long grass. Yuck. The rest of the trail alternated between pleasant single track and ankle deep mud. My shoes are in rough shape.

I had to hose myself off after getting home, and completely rinse out my shoes. I stuffed them with newspaper, which absorbed a bit of the water, and I’m out of town until Thursday, so they will have a chance to further dry out, but we’ll see. They only have to make it 3 more weeks.

When I wasn’t slopping through the mud, I was running along Silver Creek and LOVING IT. There are a lot of very easy to run portions of this section of trail, and I would love to get back there when it’s drier. It was a bit more of a drive than I’d have liked, but it is the farthest section of the Duluth to Two Harbors segment (and would have been even farther if I’d started at the Co Rd 301 trailhead) and is a bit beyond what I usually like to drive for a medium-length run.

I’m hoping for one more higher mileage week and then I’ll step down a bit, and then do something similar to the beginning of this week for that final race week – it seemed to work.

I’m considering running another race the weekend after WD50K, but I’m not sure. It would require travel, and I’m already doing a TON of traveling this month (I’m writing this post from Kansas, and next week I’ll be in Massachusetts. Right after WD, I’ll be going to Edmonton). On the other hand, it sounds like fun, and could be a chance for redemption on two accounts – one summer goal, and one fall goal. We’ll see.

Wild Duluth 50K Training: Weeks 4 and 5

The last two weeks leading up to the race were a bit haphazard.

Week 4:
Monday: rest (hockey thing)
Tuesday: rest (work)
Wednesday: rest (tired)
Thursday: 7.3 mi, paved trail (Lakewalk)
Friday: 9 mi, trail (SHT, Becks Rd toward Grand Portage)
Saturday: 4.3 mi, paved trail (Lakewalk)
Sunday: 13.2 mi, paved trail (Munger Trail)
Total: 33.8 mi

Week 5:
Monday: rest
Tuesday: 4.2 mi, paved trail (Lakewalk)
Wednesday: rest
Thursday: 3.8 mi, paved trail (Lakewalk)
Friday: rest
Saturday: 31 miles, trail (Wild Duluth 50K)
Sunday: rest
Total: 39 mi

Week 4, I had to cram in mileage into four days, thanks to my lingering cold and a big project at work. Friday I had taken a day off to relax, and planned to do a longer day run. I tried to find the southern terminus of the Superior Hiking Trail and failed. I ended up driving around for over an hour before accidentally ended up back in Duluth. I had planned on doing 10 miles, but I didn’t have time to do 10 miles before dark and before the hockey game started, thanks to lollygagging on getting started, and then all the confused driving. So I cut it to 9 miles and even then I was late to the hockey game.

Saturday I also had to cut my 5 miles down to 4, due to a late start. I have to figure that out. It was beautiful out.

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Perfect day. #conservationofmomentum #lakewalk #lakesuperior

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Sunday was also an absolutely beautiful day to run.

I started at Becks Rd and ran on the Munger Trail to just past the dam. Midway through my run, I decided maybe I could try to get under 3 hours for a half and get a Strava PR. (Ugh, Strava, so competitive.) Well, I did, Strava says my half PR is now 2:59:43. Whoopity do. Not too bad considering I didn’t start trying til I was over halfway in. I did have to push it at the end.

I only ran twice in week 5 (other than the race), which wasn’t my intention. I had planned to run three days (Tuesday Wednesday Thursday) but I decided to run errands and relax on Wednesday instead. Friday I worked a half day from home, and then went to a hockey game. It was nice to keep my mind off the race, but didn’t help with the sleep.

This is the last race I’m training for this year. I will be doing a 5K on Thanksgiving and I’ll still be running to get ready for that, but I’m not doing anything formal. I am taking this entire week off to recover from Wild Duluth mentally and physically. I came down with a cold last night so that’s made the decision not to run even easier. If I don’t get a sub-30 5K this time around I’ll probably have to see if there’s one in December, but considering I was only 3 seconds off in June, I think I can do it.

It feels good not to have anything big looming, although I do need to sit down and plan for what I want to do in 2017. The same races. Different races. Every race.

Race Report: Wild Duluth 50K

Official Results:
Time: 10:25:37
Pace: 20:11
Overall: 136/144

Watch Results:
Time: 10:25:47
Pace: 19:23/mi
Distance: 32.25 mi (more accurate than Superior, at least!)
Heart Rate: N/A (still haven’t fixed this)

A: 9:45
B: 10:00
C: 10:59:59

What I ate the night before: half a spicy chicken frozen pizza, bagel and cream cheese
What I ate on race morning: bagel and cream cheese, part of a vanilla Coke
What I carried with me: 2 Clif bars, 9 Gu packets, Hammer Endurolytes Fizz (one pre-mixed, one extra tablet)

What I wore: t-shirt, shorts, ball cap, buff (which I took off right away)
Gadgets: GPS watch, fitness tracker

Discussion: This was really, really hard for me. I struggled with low energy/fatigue for most of the race, which was very frustrating, but is a rite of passage in distance running, I suppose. I wanted to quit a little more than a third of the way into the race, but I never let myself say it (other than in a joking way) or truly consider it. I became afraid at one point that I physically couldn’t continue because I was sleepy and worried I’d get sleepier, but I guess I was able to fight it off.

Friday night I hosted my friend David, who was running the Harder’n Hell Half Marathon. We don’t have any tasty bagel shops in Duluth (only one in Superior which I don’t go to anymore because TWICE I have been served while a baby was in the kitchen area) so I asked him to bring me up a half dozen bagels and cream cheese. So tasty, such a good decision. We went to the Bulldogs men’s hockey game, which was a nice distraction. I avoided caffeine for most of the day, with the exception of one latte mid-morning. I wanted to do everything I could to avoid a sleepless night.

Alas, adrenaline got the best of me and I spent most of the night tossing and turning, unable to relax. I am certain I got at least one hour of sleep, but unfortunately that hour was spent dreaming that I was late for the race. So restful. I really think I need a minimum of 3-4 hours of sleep before a long race. I know everyone says it’s not the night before the race that matters, it’s the night before the night before the race, but I am not sure that adage applies to me. Either that or my sleep was insufficient on Thursday night.

I got most of my stuff ready the night before the race, so I was able to munch on a bagel and dink around on the internet for a little bit before I left for the race. It was balmy and around 60 F, even at 6:30 AM, probably 30 degrees warmer than it was last year at the race start. (I think it was around 37 F when I started the half marathon last year, but I don’t remember exactly.) I arrived around 6:45, checked in, met up with my friend Rita, who I’d be running with, and then we boarded the bus. I spent the bus ride talking with my seatmate, who was running his first 50K in order to get into the Superior 50 Mile next year.

We arrived at the race start at Chambers Grove Park, which is way out in the Fond du Lac neighborhood in west Duluth. There was still half an hour to kill, which was kind of annoying, but at least it wasn’t cold. I probably should have eaten something else, since I went over an hour between my bagel and the race start. I didn’t warm up, Rita and I did a bit of walking around, trying to figure out where the start was.

Start to Grand Portage, 5.4 mi, 1:39:55, 18:30 section pace
The race started at 8:05, and began with a short jaunt up Highway 210 before turning onto the Upper Cathedral bike trails. Rita and I were basically in last place at this point, as planned, and enjoyed the smoothness of the bike trail, the gorgeous foliage (take my word for it, I have no photographs), and even the switchbacks (much better than a steep climb). We had a couple very nice views of the St. Louis River, a lovely section through pine trees, and then… power lines. I never really understood what it meant to run power lines until now: it’s a steep climb, steep descent, steep climb, steep descent. And apparently when running the Curnow Marathon or Voyageur, they’re muddy. Woo! They weren’t muddy but they were steep. Annoying. I had one gel during this section, at mile 3 per my watch (which was measuring long). The first aid station was just after the second power line descent. I chugged some ginger ale and Coke, ate some potato chips and took a few more to go, and then we hit the Superior Hiking Trail, where we’d stay for the rest of the race. Despite the annoying power lines, I felt great and we were happy to be ahead of our goal pace leaving the aid station.

Grand Portage to Munger, 5.6 mi, 1:41:05, 18:03 section pace
Once we got a bit past the aid station we were in familiar territory for me. This section has some uphills, including a couple annoying ones with stairs, but it also has some sections to run. We shuffled through leaves for quite awhile, which gets old. The rustling is a nice sound, but kicking them out of the way was frustrating and they obscure roots and rocks from view. We were banging our toes a lot. This is one of the reasons I get running shoes that are half a size bigger than my regular shoe size. 100K runners started to appear, looking fresh somehow, and always encouraging us as much as we encouraged them. I had another gel during this stretch and maybe a mint, I can’t remember. We spent a lot of time marveling at the views and the fall colors, and reached Becks Road before I knew it. We sprinted across Becks Rd and into the aid station, where I had another Coke and some generic lemon-lime stuff, more chips, and I think a cookie. I remembered to throw my garbage away. Rita’s husband met us there and took our picture as we were leaving the aid station.


Lookin’ good with chips in my mouth

Munger to Magney-Snively, 4.3 mi, 1:28:42, 20:38 section pace
Everything kind of fell apart for me here. I knew this section would be hard, it includes a long, technical climb. Somewhere after we climbed up out of the aid station, I started to lose it. I knew there were smooth sections of easy running, but there were so many climbs and rocky sections that we reached before that portion that I began to get frustrated. I was feeling very fatigued and complaining a lot; I feel extremely fortunate that Rita was there to calm me down and I feel badly that I whined a lot during this section. I was sick of uphills and I felt like I had no energy. Mentally, I was feeling very tired, although I wasn’t having any vision problems, so I kept using that to remind myself I was ok when I worried maybe I couldn’t safely continue. It was such a contrast from Superior, where I felt confident and energetic for the majority of the race. I calmed down a little bit when we reached the downhill portion as we neared the aid station, even though I knew we’d lost a lot of ground. We climbed into the aid station and Rita refilled her pack with Heed (which she said was disgusting) while I ate some chips and drank some pop, and then took 4 cookies to go. I figured if I ate some more, I might feel better. I must have had a gel during this section, but I don’t remember. I did have a Jolly Rancher, which helped turn things around.

Magney-Snively to Spirit Mountain, 2.0 mi, 39:37, 19:49 section pace
For a mostly downhill section, this was much harder than I’d have liked. I was still feeling sluggish, plus the trail is very technical here. Both of us are prone to tripping, so we weren’t able to crush the downhills here. We also had to stop and wait for like 8 mountain bikers at a trail crossing. The aid station was unmanned and water only, so we stopped only for a little bit and I tried to douse my hat, since I was feeling a bit warm. It wasn’t extremely hot, and it was overcast, but the humidity was high so it was bugging me. I also wasn’t very diligent about applying sunscreen, and I did end up with a mild sunburn. In hindsight, that might have contributed to my fatigue. I should have done a better job of managing that, as I did have a spray with me. I ate the cookies I was carrying slowly; by the third one I was sick of them and had to force them down.

Spirit Mountain to Highland/Getchell, 4.9 mi, 1:57:50, 24:05 section pace
Yuck. This section took forever. It has two large climbs: the one out of Spirit Mountain, which culminates in my favorite staircase, and then the one out of Kingsbury Creek to the aid station. The Spirit Mountain climb isn’t that hard, it just takes a long time. There is a nice section to run between the stairs and the descent down to the Knowlton Creek crossing (which is technical and hard to really speed through), and I tried my best to speed up through that section, especially since it was lovely with lots of yellow leaves overhead. I don’t think we did very well at speeding through those sections, but it’s so hard to tell because the mileage is so off on my watch. We were both pretty excited knowing we had only a half marathon to go. We maybe spent a little too much time counting down (We’re under 20! We’re halfway! We’re in single digits!) but for the most part we only looked at the distance remaining in a positive way.

The second climb was torture, and went on forever. We were both pretty quiet on the climb, focusing on putting one foot in front of the other. I must have had another gel or two during this section but honestly do not remember. At this point I was sick of gels, out of my electrolyte water, and my regular water wasn’t washing them down completely. Rita put it this way: “Is there shag carpeting installed on your tongue?” Yes. I knew there was pop ahead at the aid station to deal with it but it felt like the climb would never end. We reached the aid station finally, feeling fairly defeated because we knew we were never going to reach our goal of under 10 hours, based both on how we were feeling, and on the terrain we had left. I drank pop, as usual, had a couple cookies, and had my second Endurolyte Fizz tablet. I think these tabs worked way better than Powerade, since I did not have puffy hands and fingers like I did at Grand Traverse or Superior.

Highland/Getchell to 24th Ave W, 5.7 mi, 2:02:56, 21:34 section pace
Well, we sped up a bit, but we didn’t get back to our goal pace to try to make up some ground. I still thought it was possible to get under 10:30, so we set our sights on finishing without headlamps and hopefully under 10:30. I took a couple cookies to go from the aid station, which was dumb because there’s a short but precarious descent along Keene Creek, as well as a short section where we had to stumble over rocks. The cookies survived, but carrying them was irritating. Once we climbed up out of the creek and crossed Skyline, there were a few sections we could run a little. Well, I ran, and Rita walked, because she is an amazing speed-walker and I am a very slow runner. There are some spots between the Brewer Park loop spur trail and the descent to Haines Rd that are easy to run, but not when you’re tired and cranky and everything hurts. I discovered my back was chafing in a couple spots I hadn’t known. It always chafes right under the clasp of my sports bra, but when I stuffed my shirt under the band to try to protect that spot, the bottom of my pack rubbed against two spots on my lower back. I didn’t notice til I touched one of the spots and the salt stung it. Yikes. Both of us were having foot pain and were sick of stepping on rocks. My heels had developed blisters, and though they weren’t exceptionally painful, they were enough to annoy me.

We began the final climb, which comes in sections and seems to go on forever, although it isn’t exceptionally difficult at any point. When we reached the top, we whooped it up a little bit, knowing we had a long descent which, while steep, was not an ascent, and then we had some flatter, easier sections. We met up with a runner from Omaha during the descent, and he ran with us for a bit. He was in good spirits and happy to run with us for a little while. We’d passed him earlier when he’d stopped to take rocks out of his shoes and eat a gel. I nearly fell when I saw him, not out of surprise, but because taking my focus off the trail for even a millisecond meant disaster. (I should note that I had only two actual falls and they weren’t bad; the first resulted in a scrape and the second didn’t make my back feel great as I caught myself with my arms and my back took a bit of that impact.) We hit a flat section and told him there was a bit of road running up ahead. “Is there an Uber waiting for us?” he asked, dismayed when he learned we do not have Uber here. When we hit the street, he remarked that he should have brought some leaves along with him to throw on top of the asphalt, it just didn’t seem right. We let him go ahead as we got back on the trail, since he was in better shape. The last section of little ups and downs before the aid station actually wasn’t too bad. Rita’s watch died somewhere in there, and my watch started to die, so I pulled out my portable charger and plugged it in. When we reached the Miller Creek crossing, I said “If there’s traffic keeping us from crossing the street [24th Ave W], I am going to break its windows.” There was a car coming but we dashed across the street before it could reach us. We were both SO excited to see the final aid station. I drank some pop of course, ate a few chips, and took some pretzels and a Fig Newton to go. I had had a gel during the segment but I was so sick of them that I wanted to make it the rest of the way without one.

24th Ave W to finish line, 3.1 mi, 55:41, 17:58 section pace
Leaving the aid station, we knew that we only had a 5K to go, and no huge climbs, and we were ecstatic. I got my second wind and felt more energetic than I had in hours. The Fig Newton was a good choice, it wasn’t chocolate or overly sweet. I was neutral on the pretzels. They weren’t gross but also weren’t tasty. We tried to speed up a little bit on the sections we could, and then took the last couple little climbs as we could. This is where my experience on the Duluth sections of the SHT comes in handy: I knew there were three uphills before Skyline, so we were mentally prepared. We tried to run everything we could, and rejoiced when we crossed Skyline again. We climbed up the last little hill into Enger and I rang the peace bell as we went by (I thought I wasn’t going to get to, because a child was ringing it, but it was free right as I passed). We met up with the guy from Omaha again, and he decided to stick with us til the end. “I got passed by a 100K runner and covered myself in leaves and gave up,” he said. In all, we were passed by 3 100K runners, so I consider that a success. The leader was the same guy leading when we first saw the 100Kers, so good for him! I’m not sure if he went on to win, but I would guess so, considering how strong he looked and the ~10 minute lead he had over the other runner. I’ll see when the results come in, I guess.

We reached the Superior Street crossing and a car was coming, of course just fast enough that we didn’t cross in front of it, but then it slowed down as it approached and finally turned. SO ANNOYING. I started to get a side stitch on the pedestrian bridge but breathed through it. We crossed the freeway and descended the ramp, and then had to wait for a car at Railroad St. (never mind that it was a CROSSWALK, sir, by all means, just drive on through) before crossing. I saw my car in the parking lot which was torturous for a moment, even though I had like 2 blocks to go. We turned the corner, turned again into Bayfront, and then started to really run. Rita and the Nebraska guy got ahead of me, because I had a lot less left in the tank than either of them did, but we all finished within a few seconds.

And now I am an ultramarathoner.

David and his parents arrived second after I finished, and Rita had friends and family to cheer us across as well. Nebraska guy even had another buddy who had already finished. So we had a nice crowd at the end. I walked a little bit with David & fam to cool down, and then walked back to chat with Rita & co. I got this picture from Rita’s friend Jo Ellyn.


I’m a little bit stunned.

I went and got soup in my finisher’s mug, the glorious wild rice soup I’d been dreaming about for hours. I talked with my friends for a bit while I ate a few bites of my soup, and then they went off to the hockey game and I wandered to my car. I was a little worried about driving since I was a little loopy, but it was a short drive. I ate my soup while stopped at a red light, which I found amusing. I hope someone was looking in my window and saw me spooning soup out of a mug like a boss. Once home, I ate a bagel and cream cheese, had a vanilla Coke, ate the other half of my pizza, and had a ginger ale. I watched the men’s hockey game on TV and then read for awhile before finally relaxing enough to fall asleep. Despite being tired, I was amped up on adrenaline and found it hard to go to sleep. It hurt (not a lot, but enough) when the sheets touched my blisters or the chafed spots on my back.

Today I feel all right. I ate a couple bagels, had a pumpkin spice latte because I am unapologetically basic, and had a ginger ale. I’m starting to rehydrate and feel human again. My back hurts a bit, my hips hurt a lot, but surprisingly, I didn’t have trouble going down the steps to my basement or outside my house. I am taking this entire week off work to recover. There’s still a lot to process about the race and how to improve for future races, but overall I feel while this was a less-than-ideal result, it was still a victory.

Wild Duluth 50K Goals

Well, tomorrow I’ll either be an ultrarunner, or I won’t. I’m pretty sure I will be.

A Standard: 9:45:00
B Standard: 9:59:59
C Standard: 10:59:59

I won’t be very happy with the C standard, but who knows? I don’t think this course has as challenging of an end as the Moose Mountain Marathon (specifically, it does not have a Moose Mountain!), so I don’t know why I couldn’t improve a little on overall pace. I know most of this course backward and forward, literally. It’s only the beginning that’s a bit of an unknown.

The weather forecast seems to be improving. It was looking like a 90% chance of rain the entire day as recently as Tuesday’s forecast, now it looks to be more like 40%, with a high of 65. I can handle that. Last year was much colder.

I will be starting the race off running with a friend, which is a first for me. Even when I’ve had friends at the starting line, our paces have been different enough that we’re separated almost immediately. I am not sure we’ll run the whole race together, as I’m not very good at running with other people, and I do like to be alone sometimes. I hate to be alone at the start, though. I’m so glad to have someone to ride the bus with.

The usual non-pace-related goals apply: no puking, no soiling myself, no medical emergencies. Keep moving. Don’t fart around at aid stations. Eat, and then take more food to go. Enjoy myself. Stay calm. Don’t get lost.

Tonight I’ve still got plenty to do to get ready, and a hockey game to attend after packet pickup. I won’t be eating a burrito bowl this time; going with pizza. And I’m not going to have caffeinated pop either, anything to try to prevent the sleepless night before Curnow.

Here goes nothing!

Wild Duluth 50K Training: Weeks 2 and 3

I’ve been mildly sick with a cold/sinus/whatever this past week.

Week 2:
Monday: 5.4 mi, trail (Enger Park out & back)
Tuesday: rest
Wednesday: 4 mi, treadmill (booooo)
Thursday: 6.4 mi, trail (Spirit Mountain to Kingsbury Creek & back)
Friday: 3 mi, treadmill (booooo again)
Saturday: 16.1 mi, trail (Grand Traverse)
Sunday: 8 mi, trail (Magney to Ely’s Peak and back)
Total: 43 mi

Week 3:
Monday: rest
Tuesday: rest
Wednesday: rest
Thursday: 4.5 mi, trail (Ely’s Peak)
Friday: rest
Saturday: rest
Sunday: 8 mi, paved trail (Munger Trail)
Total: 12.5 mi

I hate getting stupid colds. I tend to get a sneezing/coughing/fatigue illness around the equinoxes, and I’m not sure how to avoid it. Since my race is in less than two weeks, I ain’t playin’. I’m going to rest. I’m just fortunate I didn’t have to take the business trip I was scheduled to take. Last time I had a cold coming on and had to fly, I got some crud that lasted for weeks.

I guess it remains to be seen whether running Sunday was a mistake, but I couldn’t help it. It was near 70 F, sunny, and the leaves are changing. I had to get outside. I could have probably run Saturday, as well, if I had not had two hockey games to attend. Attending hockey games takes a lot of energy, let me tell you.

Wild Duluth 50K Training: Week 1

Back to the grind.

My heart rate monitor is still malfunctioning, so I won’t be reporting those numbers until it gets fixed. I’m fairly certain I’m not running trails with an average of 72 bpm.
Tuesday: rest (massage!)
Wednesday: 7.3 mi, paved trail (Lakewalk)
Thursday: 6.3 mi, paved trail (Munger)
Friday: 5.5 mi, trail (Lester Park)
Saturday: 10.1 mi, trail (SHT @ 24th Ave W)
Sunday: 4.1 mi, trail (SHT, Brewer’s Park loop)
Total: 33.3 mi

Super boring week of training. I could have run Monday but didn’t, because I wanted to be lazy. I eased my body back into running by choosing a couple of paved, flatter trails to start off.

Friday I ran Lester Park for the first time and I am stupid for not running it sooner! It’s gorgeous! I ran uphill along the river and cruised along enjoying the view, then turned around and headed back the way I came after I got to 2.75 miles. I will do some more exploring soon and take some photos.

Saturday I made a slight error in judgement. I brought one handheld water bottle and two gels. It was not enough. I didn’t bonk/die/collapse or anything, but I was SO HUNGRY the last couple miles. I think it would have been enough if I’d eaten closer to the time I’d started my run, but I lollygagged around for too long after eating my brunch. Oh well, lesson learned. I felt pretty good during most of the run.

Sunday I had no energy or drive to run the sad 4 miles of the new Brewer’s Park loop. Which is just a shorter way to get from Highland/Getchell to Haines Rd, btw. It was just OK. I felt like a diplodocus, with slow, heavy feet. Yuck. The loop was shorter than I thought it would be, but I was glad of it.

I am hoping to have a couple of higher volume weeks for weeks 2-4 of this plan, but we’ll see. This week should be fun, I signed up to run a race this Saturday.