Superior Fall 50 Mile Trail Race-Lutsen, MN 09-12-15
Where to begin??? I’m having a hard time putting the race into words as some of if feels fresh as a rose and other parts are complete haze.
Never in a million years thought I would be crazy enough to sign up for a 50 mile race and more importantly think I was capable of it. Said to be one of the toughest in the nation. Am I nuts? I wanted to run the marathon just to get back up north and hit this terrain as the spring 50k was a brutal blast that I was missing terribly. However, there were only 300 spots for the marathon and wouldn’t you know like 309 tried to get in an I didn’t get picked. WORST LUCK EVER. So another crazy (& inspiring friend of mine Brian) said you know there’s always the 50! You had to have a qualifying race to get in and fortunately (or unfortunate) being that I ran the spring 50K I was in!
Race Strategy-I’ve always sucked at this. I went into this race with a horrible sinus infection and very little sleep the nights leading up to it so just planned to run when I felt good, slow down when I left ok, and walk when I felt like shit. BAD IDEA! I can be super competitiveitive with myself. When I say I’m just going out to have fun I always try but always end up pushing harder than planned so once again started to fast.
Race morning-Didn’t sleep a wink the night before. Pre-race gitters and excitement mixed with a gross combo of a head that felt like it was about to explode like an overblown balloon left me self doudting myself. 2:00 am I said F’it went into the bathroom with all my race gear laid out. Set out a towel on the bathroom floor as though it was my table (didn’t want to wake the boys) ate, got dressed, “dropped the kids off at the pool”, pee’d, dropped the kids off again, pee’d about 3 more times and slapped on some lipstick YES lipstick! This is something I’ve been doing for years as my Grandma always said you should never leave the house without lipstick. Even though she’s no longer here it makes me feel close to her, protected and a tad glamorous in my gear.
Walked out the hotel room @ 3:30 am to an eerie but peaceful morning silence. The sky was electrifying with stars shining ohhhh so bright. Got to the shuttle bus which would take us to Finland and met a gal from WI. You could hear a pin drop on that bus had it not been for our non-stop chit chat. Assuming most were catching some last minute zzzzzs. Much smarter idea!
5:30 am we were off in the dark sky with nothing but headlamps and stars lighting the way. First 20 miles were pretty uneventful. Most of it was spent me watching my footing and listening to a gal from MA (who ended up being the 1st place female) chat with her 2 friends. I knew I was going to fast for this early in the race. My sinuses were the only thing I could think about. I felt miserable and literally every couple minutes was blowing snot rockets or using my sleeves as the latest Kleenex invention. VERY LADY LIKE but that’s how I rolllllllllll or blowwwwwwwww!
About the 20 mile mark I started to feel a blister which felt the size of TX forming on the bottom of my foot. I noticed I was changing my stride to try and keep pressure off it which is never a good thing. The only plus was for a moment I forgot about my sinuses. Mile per mile it got worse. I knew if it popped it was probably game over for me so pretended I didn’t have feet 🙂 and kept trucking on knowing in a few miles Will and Brysen were going to be waiting for me. Sugarloaf (21.1) couldn’t come quick enough. I’ve never been sooooo excited to see 2 of my biggest fans.
I needed to re-stock my vest but more importantly just needed a hug and reassurance that I COULD DO IT! They provided both. I decided at this point to leave the blister alone. I was only 21 in and still had over 30 to go and about 6 until I would see them again! Trail vs road is so so so different for a billion different reasons but 1 being time. Those 6 miles felt like forever and now my blister felt aweful and I was also getting them on my toes UGGGGGHHHH no pain no gain?
I was starting to struggling taking in any food. I was forcing it in but hating every bite. Fluid was not an issue but if I had to take 1 more GU Chomp I was going to hurl all over myself. It’s this section that I started chatting with fellow runners. I’m kind of a hermit when I race and tend to keep to myself at times but ended up “packing” up with 3 other guys. We didn’t necessarily run together but were never to far apart, briefly would chat and always had words of encouragement when we would pass each other. This was a great distrattion to get me to the next aid station in where not only was I on cloud 9 to see my boys but was geeted by Dan & Sabrina 2 of my besties from back from back home who were there to pace Brian a 100 mile (yes 100) friend. They hadn’t slept but made a point to come crew me! Pretty frickin incredibl. I have the BEST friends ever. Sabrina is like the crew chief. She knows her shit and knows exactly what needs to be done. If she says eat I eat…even if I can’t swallow. Drink…eye eye captain Hoppe 😉 I decided her to be VERY brave and face the unknown….those feet. Will helped me peel off my dirty, wet socks to get a view of the blister brewing…I about threw up from the sexy sexy blister with fluid “garggeling” in it but I had one a cute neon polish which made it better. I put on fresh socks and made a point here to show Brysen I had on the lucky bracelet he had made me. I must add the day before he spent hours making runners bracelets and when we went to cheer on the 100 milers Fri he stood on the trail with me handing out “good luck braceltes” as they would pass. Pretty fricking cool if you ask me!
The next aid station was Temperance at mile 33.8 where no crew access was allowed. This was a long stretch as it wasn’t until mile 39 that I would see my “crew” again. About mile 35 I started hating everything and had my Negative panties on…Why am I doing this? I’m only trying to prove I can do this to myself so why beat myself up like this? Haven’t you done enough in life to prove you can push yourself to the core? Is this even fun? This is brutal! This sucks! Should I quite? I’m clausterphopic and want an open field. Is this what near death feels like? Is my body really going to hold up?
Then I pulled my head out of my ass! Heidi You CAN DO THIS. This is what you love, your in the woods taking in the glory of Gods world, your in pain yes…. horrible pain but it’s…. temporary so suck it up! Put away the potty brain and bring back that positive person that doesn’t let much in life get her down. This is your therapy quite whining and climb those MOFO “hills”.
That was that and I turned into a fruit loop on the trail singing You are my sunshine and Jesus Loves Me. Laughing at myself not giving a flying fox if anyone heard me. Power of the brain and positive thinking is truly remarkable. Within about a mile I was bouncing in my steps again. Somewhere in this section I saw my friend Andy who was doing the 100 miler. He had been up since 8:00 the morning prior and was like a drunking slurry sailor with trekking poles slowly moving along. I stopped and chatted with him sending him words of encouragement, giving him a big ol trail hug and leaving insprired. All the 100 milers had on a pink ribbon to be easily identified. It was so fun to give them a pat on the pat, a smile, and a little inspiration. THESE people are badass and made me feel like a little sissy!
Into Sawbill (39.5) where I was greeted by Will, Brysen, Sabrina and Dan!!! Once again they all worked their magic and put a smile on my face even. I left this aid station a little sad knowing (or thinking) I would not see them again until the finish.
These next 5 miles were really tough for me. I had my 1st official fall at mile 43. It gets to a point where your legs are so tired and to try and them lift them high enough to scale the rocks and roots seems impossible at times. That’s exactly what happened. Hit a root, sideways planted in the grass, laid there about 10 seconds got up brushed off NO BLOOD and walked it out a bit. I was starting to feel nauseous, dizzy, groggy, tired and delusional. At one point I thought I saw a runner down only to get closer and see it was a fallen tree. I spotted a gorilla….or yet another tree with yellow leaves. YIKES! Again started questioning why I’m doing this walked much more than I wanted and started feeling sorry for myself. It’s about this section I met a guy from Fergus he was a breath of fresh air and a major distraction as we chatted into Oberg (45)
Once in Oberg I about fell over. Not because I was shot beyond repair but because again my besties Dan and Sabrina were there. This time along with Brian who ran 100 miles and his girlfriend Kate. None had slept the night before! They gave me what I needed, encouraged me and it was this point I broke out in tears for the first time. Happy tears that someone would go through the hassle to find me, go off of no sleep just to support ME. All I could say was thank you as tears rolled down my face hugging each of them. Kate left me with the words “just go have fun” and I was off.
The finish was 7.1 miles away and this was hands down the most mentally and phsycally challenging section. I kept trying to listen to Kates words “just have fun” but I was stuggling. I found myself tearing up not knowing why. Pain? Fear? Pride? It felt like miles on that section with nothing but chipmunks and me. Good news I could pee whenever bad news I thought I was lost and began getting paranoid. The blue mark on the tree finally came and I knew I was on track. At this point every ounce of me hurt. I looked down at my Suunto as it felt like I had been going forever and it said 53 miles! WTF!!!! Am I lost? Where’s the river? Out of nowhere came a couple I asked them the mileage they said 48.5 FUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Are you kidding me!!! Then I came upon another guy. I asked him if we were done climbing and he said yes just small switch backs….wrong OH SOOOOOO wrong. I still had to climb one of the highest points and descend. This is where I think I had a case of the turrets. I was muttering things uncontrollably, again tearing up wondering where the hell the river was as once I heard the river I was almost “home”. On the decent a lady with a headlamp came walking toward me. I asked her how far to the road and her response (bless her heart but her words ripped my core that moment) “Oh honey your doing great only about 30 minutes away”! You have GOT to be F’in kidding me. I found myself then sobbing as I thought I was much closer. Again I was on the pitty train but fortunalty she was not 100% accurate as shortly there after I heard the river. MUSIC TO MY EARS! I’ve never felt such a sense of relief in my life!
Once off the SHT I hit the pavement about a 1/4 mile down the road I saw Brysen…no Will?? I immediatly started crying (again) and told Bysen to run with me (he was willing able and excited). Will was out since 8 in the morning following this adventure and ran to the lodge for 1 minute to grab a sweatshirt for Brysen and missed me! So Brysen listened and ran the last stretch in with me. Coming up behind Caribou Highlands there were a group of people cheering in the grass. I started sobbing. I could hear the announcer and see the finishing line flags. I put my hands to my face blew them all kisses thanked them relentlessly and ran to the finish to be greeted by once again my besties. I gave them all hugs as tears contiuned to roll down my face had a bad ass 50 mile “medal” placed around my neck and wattled to a picnic bench to moments later be welcomed by Will who was sooooo pissed he missed it. He has been amazing through this journey and I was so bummed he missed it but was so greatful he came along and supported me!
The race-Beautiful, brutal, relentless, rugged, remote (the 3 R’s its so well known for). The climbs seemed never ending. Descents felt like I was going to a new place south of the Earth (kicking my quads butt which each step). Roots that seemed to explode like the 4th of July, rocks that you either had to climb or jump over and it’s those little bastards that make me fall about 2 dozen times causing my calves to ball up as I was trying to hold myself back from face planting. We were able to get a few mud spa treatments in certain spots with mud/slop covering the trail.
And there was beauty…did I say beauty? It was difficult to take it all in as you constantly had to make a point to watch your footing but there were a few points that I forced myself to stop and take in the breathtaking views.
This was the 2nd race I’ve done with Rocksteady Running and there is something about it that doesn’t make it feel like a race. I’m new to this “ultra” world but it feels more like family than a race. The volunteers are amazing, the race director puts on a race like no other and there is just something that leaves me walking (or crawling) away from these races with a major case of the post race blues. In my heart I feel like I belong here. I don’t want to leave. I crave the next “one”.
So what is the next “one”. I have a few road races I’ve committed to Twin Cities Marathon in 2 weeks, Carlsbad Marathon and LA but trails are where my heart is. It’s my therapy! I’ve committed to vounteer at a few trail races within the next month to give back to this awesome community but hope to start replacing more road races with trail races.
Your crazy, your nuts, your hurting your body…. all phrases I hear over and over again. I’ve never been “normal”. Sure it may be a crazy to some but those that share this “world” so closely with me they “get it”. I really don’t care what other people think as this is not for others to understand. It’s for me and only me. One of my favorite phrases “Do what you love, love what you do”. I love pushing myself and if it means I’m “hurting” my body soooooo be it! It makes me a better mom, wife, employee and person (in my opinion).
So DO WHAT YOU LOVE & LOVE WHAT YOU DO and don’t have a care in the world if anyone else approves!