6 days to Grandma's! Which means the haunting of weather.com has begun! I'm feeling ridiculously ready right now which makes me worry about still having another week to go. I don't think I've been this raring to go for a race in a while, which I'm going to take as a good sign.
But! Another day, another overdue race report. I don't know why I've gotten so bad about posting about a race on time . . .
The Superior 50K (3 weeks ago yesterday) was awesome! I am very delighted to report that I had pretty much no stomach/nausea issues for the whole race. I decided to try S-caps for the race since everyone kept pushing the salt/electrolyte imbalance possibility on me. For some reason, I'd been very resistant. I was so sure that I had my salt intake figured out with my new gel and I didn't want to experiment with this type of a thing for some reason. Go figure. So finally I decided that it was worth a go and Lisa was nice enough to let me try hers before buying a massive bottle of something I might not use. I now have a lovely massive bottle of my own :)
So the race starts up a tar and then dirt road to get to the Superior Hiking Trail. I was taking it nice and slow from the start even as it seemed as though an awful lot of people were blasting up the hill. Once we got into the single track, I continued heeding advice from Lisa to start slower than I thought necessary and hung out with whoever was in front of me without stressing about any sort of pace so early on. I did decide not too much later that I wanted to go a titch faster, though, so I made my way around a handful of people and then stretched out some. It's absolutely beautiful for most of this course. There were so many lovely views that made me just want to stop and take it in and many places that made me vocalize (usually to myself) how pretty it was.
I was passed in here by Maria and who I thought was Mark but now I'm thinking I have his name wrong. He's very nice and we've been talking at a few races and I should really remember his name AND he reads my blog - I'm sorry! So they cruised along in front of me. Heading down the back end of the first climb, I was on my own but could see Mark's yellow shirt from time to time and could hear him and Maria talking and a group of people behind me somewhere talking - sounds were echoing a bit in the valley and when I started to get a little annoyed at the noise injection itself into the lovely surroundings, I just reminded myself how lonely Chippewa was getting just before halfway when I had no-one around me. Things didn't look nearly so beautiful and green on the way back which is strange but I suppose at that point the sky was darkening for rain and I bet the sun angle probably had a ton do with it as well but the valley didn't even seem like the same place when I came back through.
Up the next climb and on to more beautiful vistas! Up here there were tons of downed trees over the trail that had to be climbed over and dodged around and ducked under. A bit of an annoyance since it would be a nice place to get a rhythm going again, but not a big deal - this is a trail race after all! Let me tell you, though, those trees were much more annoying on the way back and I felt like I almost got stuck trying to get over one. Much more annoying.
The first aid station is at 7 miles and I did a quick peruse of the table . . . peanut butter sandwiches, cookies, M&Ms, gummy bears, peanut butter and M&M sandwiches?? Hm. Okay! So I grabbed a square of that (to the delight of the two girls who apparently made them) and headed out. Amazingly tasty, actually! Where I couldn't quit find the interest for PB&J at Chippewa, the PJMM was a great mix. Mmmmmmmm. After the first aid station, it's nice and easy to get into a good rhythm as the big climbs are over with and things are more rolling. I focused on keeping an even effort level - this meant more control with downhills and figuring out what steepness of hill should be walked. I think I did a pretty rocking job with this, if I may say so myself :) I passed a lot of people in here and actually, I think this whole race noone who passed me stayed in front of me which is rather shockingly new for me in a 50K!
I keep forgetting to look at the winning guy's time but he passed me on his way back ridiculously early. In fact, a lot of people did, including Cristy (she's a friend and also the female winner) so that I started thinking I had read the map wrong. Could these people really be so many miles in front of me already? Yes. Yes they could!
The second aid station was pure chaos. Between those of us heading out and those heading back there were people EVERYWHERE. I didn't want to wait in line for the water coolers so I just grabbed a cup of water to add to my handheld, since I'd be back in a couple of miles anyway, and got the heck of out dodge. On my way to the turnaround, I started seeing more and more people I knew. Shane said he wasn't happy but he said it so cheerfully I wasn't sure I believed him. I was getting worried, though, as I was going further and further and hadn't seen Marcus. The way up Carlton peak (though we don't go all the way up) is tough to run simply because of the boulders you're trying to pick your way through. It's even harder to try to run your way down. So then I got to the turnaround and still no sign of Marcus. Hmmmm. Worrisome. I ask Rick and Wayne about him, though, and was told he was running awesome which made me more confused as to how I would have missed him as we passed each other. Turns out he was in the massive chaos that was the second aid station so that explains that.
That aid station was much calmer on the way back, by the way, and I was even able to pet my second puppy of the day there. I continued chugging along, making good time and catching people when all of a sudden there was a familiar form in front of me. Shane! I picked up the pace to see what was going on. A most unhappy and full of swears Shane was gimping his way along the trail. He would join for the next 8 or so miles as he worked through some painful sounding ankle issues. I was amused, though, as he kept apologizing for talking so much - we might have annoyed a couple of people as we passed, I think, but I didn't mind a bit. He might have slowed me down a couple of places but generally, having someone run right on your shoulder, even if they're not trying to push the pace, can help you push a little more. Especially as we slogged it back up Moose Mountain. That's a heck of a steep little climb, there. And then the damn trees. There were definitely more down over the trail then had been there on the way out. Plus, sometimes it's just nice to share the trail for a while with a friend.
Shane scooted around me right after the trees and I was on my own for most of the rest. I felt good but I knew my legs weren't so interested in pushing much faster so I hung out at the pace I was at rather than trying to pick it up and keep with Shane. Which seemed smart since he quickly booked it out of sight range. I couldn't remember at all how far there was to go (and that lovely valley didn't look nearly the same anymore) so I was trying to judge my chances of a PR and of beating the clearly oncoming rain and wondering if we were close enough for Shane to break 6 hours (we did some talking about our chances of doing so). I did get rained on but only for the last few minutes so it actually felt quite good. Until I was done and my dry clothes were at the condo and not right at the finish line. Oops.
A woman passed by me in the last mile. I let her go for a bit as we caught back up to Shane and they both picked it up with the widening of the trail. But as we came out of the hiking trail and on to the road, I saw she wasn't gaining on me anymore and I decided to stretch the legs out and see what happened. I couldn't believe that I felt good enough to kick it down another notch! Not only were my legs able to move faster but it was downhill and my quads weren't in such pain that they couldn't take it. How exciting! As the woman in front of me made the last turn up a tiny little bump, she slowed way down. I wasn't sure if she didn't know where to go or wasn't sure how far was left or just couldn't take this one last uphill bump but I sprinted past her in the last 100 meters or so.
I'm a bit torn about this - it seems a bit cruel to sprint it out for a 50K finish. If I had that in me than maybe I should have just stayed in front of her in the first place. But then again, it IS a race so I probably shouldn't feel bad about racing it in . . . I don't know. All I know is that it felt awesome to bring it in strong, run a PR on a harder course, clearly have more left (even if it is to the point of having too much left) and feeling as though I could have run further.
So a great race on a beautiful course, a PR, a great weekend with friends and another favorite shirt. I even ran the next day and did a good 20 mile the next weekend.
Next up: Grandma's Marathon! I wonder what weather.com says now . . .