A great weekend with new friends. 5:53. Much slower than my goal was going in but I'll adjust my training a bit to hopefully improve my time. Also, part of this race was the conditions on race day. It was the hottest and muggiest day yet this spring for me and by mile 20+ it caught up with me and hydration became an issue. It was really nice to share this trail with some new friends as 4 of us went up and stayed at the Caribou Highlands Lodge,. ate at the Coho Cafe on Saturday afternoon, and hit up Betty's Pies for breakfast on the way back home Sunday morning.
Thanks B for giving my car a place to stay over the weekend and thanks T.J. for driving up the north shore. Thanks Todd for booking the condo, super nice and perfect for our group.
Tom had a good point later in the afternoon on Saturday. "Usually early on I'm a little bit cold, but today I felt a little bit too good starting out." We were warmed up when we walked out of the condo at 7am for the start of the 50k race. It was even warmer at 9 when the 25k started.
I woke up at 5:20 so I wouldn't have to be in a hurry getting ready, had 4 hard boiled eggs, a banana with peanut butter, some water, and 3 cups of coffee. I could have drank more water, probably should have, and will next time. I felt good though, went down to check in, and sat on the sofa to write a bit on my phone. Here's what I wrote:
"I'm excited today. It looks like it'll be a beautiful day out on the trail. My plan is this: use the first section as my warm up, use the rolling hills through the sawbill section to make up some ground, run the peak section until the big boulders begin and scamper as well as I can up to the peak. On the way down, do the same. I feel pretty good. My training was quite different for this race than for previous races in that I was more specific in my daily routine. Speed intervals, sprints, hills, and a long day on Sunday. My goal is to run at an overall 10 minute per mile pace. That'll mean that there will need to be portions that I'll need to really be cookin'. What a fun trip with Tom, Todd, and TJ. It's great when you enjoy the company of those around you. A neat group. I'm thinking of my family at home. I wonder what they think of the adventures that I travel and the miles I chose to run. I love them all and look forward to working some aid with the kids in the near future. A great experience for them and one that I haven't ever done myself. I appreciate all of the support I feel from family, friends, clients and know that your supportive words will keep me going today. I'm thinking about you today Dann. Praying for you Carlsons. Missing you back here at home in the north woods where we spent some of my most memorable weeks catching smallmouth, breaking paddles, and eating a ton of fish."
To the here and now... My legs are on fire today from my hips all the way to my feet. I probably shouldn’t have sprinted to beat my kids up the hill at the t ball game today. I was alright before that. I beat them up the hill and we tied the game. What fun!!
So, the first section was the warm up. That’s the way it worked out as I settled in with Dan, a 3rd time 50k runner from North Dakota for a few miles. I guess I used the 1st half of the first leg to warm-up, then I was feeling good so I picked it up a little bit and cruised into the first aid feeling great. I had left water bottles already mixed at the aid stations so I just swooped in, picked up my pre-mixed bottles, dropped the ones I’d carried on the Oberg section, and headed back out on the trail for the section that I thought I would really be able to gain some ground on. I did cruise on the way out and this section was pretty uneventful on the way out. I cruised right through the second aid. I guess I did stop for some water. Probably 3 glasses. The peak section wasn’t too bad on the way up, but the way down would prove to be a mistake. It didn’t show up until 5 miles or so later, but I’m sure the quick-stepping down the peak contributed to the extreme cramping that begun in the adductors.
Still feeling pretty good, I cruised into Sawbill aid with 13 miles to go, switched out the water bottles for the last time, drank some water, and headed down the trail into the section that I had hoped I’d be able to make up some ground on. My legs were getting heavy and I was starting to sweat less and less. That’s not good. I felt ok and was still able to cruise the hills up until about 2 miles to go in this section. I was running low on fluid and trying to ration my beans for the final section when I felt my right hamstring/adductor twinge in cramp. I knew that was not a good sign of things to come at all. That one twinge came and went and I didn’t feel anything else for about 10 minutes. Then, the left quad started to cramp with each step. As you run the trail, different pains come up and then you either just get used to them or they work themselves out. That must have happened here too but not for miles to come. It started getting nasty with about 9 to go. Right before I’d left the condo that morning, I grabbed an empty pack of sport beans and filled it up with EFS powder. I sure am glad that I did. I would not have had any electrolyte replenishment for the final leg had I not done that. My water bottles were empty when I got to Oberg aid and all I wanted were some bananas and water. The water was great but they were out of bananas at the aid station so I settled for a half dozen orange slices. It wasn’t enough as I started the last 7.5 knowing this one would not be a walk in the park. Turned out it was more of a walk through the woods than I would have liked.
My goal going into this race was a 10 minute pace. If I’d have been able to do that, I would have finished #22 in the race overall. As it turned out I would finish #45 at 5 hours and 53 minutes. The last section was a brutal one for me on this day. From the moment I left Oberg aid I was forced to mostly walk as my legs just wouldn’t work the way I wanted them to. I would take 4 or 5 sport beans and 5 minutes later I would be able to run for 5 or 10 minutes. Then, I would need to repeat. When I finally reached the lodge I had nothing left in either water bottle and no beans left either. I was completely out of fuel. There was a moment coming up the switchbacks on moose where I was passed by a couple of other 50k racers and I just had nothing left to keep my place. I walked with stiff legs for a good portion of the last 5 miles otherwise, my legs would lock up completely. There were a couple of times where I was unsure if I would be able to continue walking when everything would seize up at the same time. Fortunately it seemed that if I forced myself to move and keep gaining on my target, I would loosen up and be able to continue on. The last miles here are a bit of a fog really but I knew that once I heard the Poplar River I would make myself run the road and pass as many people as I could see. I had about 3 sips of drink left when I hit the road and I saw 6-8 people. The previous night I had written the names of my children on the tops of my water bottles as I knew they would help to motivate me as I got tired at the end or in moments of difficulty. They definitely did and in this instance, I looked down and saw Caden’s name on the top of my water bottle. A tear came to my eye and I was able to focus in a way that I was unsure I was able. It no longer became an option to run and catch each and every person I could see on the road ahead of me. It became my mission. I caught and passed each one moving up 3 or 4 spaces in the 50k finishers.
After resting a bit and hearing the last of the racers coming in past the finish line, the 4 of us drove down the coast to Coho Café. Three of us ordered 14” pizzas and TJ got a 6 incher. Tom and I ate all of ours, Todd had about half, and TJ downed his 6 incher too. Good food and the temperature dropped over 10 degrees in the mile between Lake Superior and the Caribou Highlands Lodge. It was a nice surprise to see the Twin’s pull out an extra inning victory while sitting in the bar at the Lodge with a cold Bavarian Wheat brew and talking over the morning’s adventure.
We were in bed by 9:30 and up to head back by 6:30 Sunday morning. After stopping at Betty’s Pies for breakfast just north of Two Harbors, we zipped back on 61 and headed back to the Twin Cities. I got back to pick up the car in Forest Lake at noon and headed to Life Time Plymouth to pick up Caden from a birthday party. Then it was home for rest time and off to our T Ball game at Kimberly Lane. So fun to see the kids improving already so early in the season.
There’s nothing like a few hours alone in the woods to recharge one’s batteries. Always a beautiful day on the trail up there. I truly do appreciate all of the support from my family and friends in going on these adventures. It means a lot to be able to share these experiences with ya’ll. My next race is Afton 50k on July 7th if anyone is interested in joining me. They have a 25k version too: