Well, I finished my first Trail Mix!
Thanks Wayne and Rick (and many others) for talking me in to signing up. Now to resist the siren call(or is that arm twisting?) to run a 50K. Hard to do with one running right through my proverbial backyard this fall!
Prior to the start of the 50K the race director was apologizing for the nice weather, and hoping for a change. The dry spring made for a firm trail, other than in the sandy and wood chip spots. For a Duluthian the temperatures were quite balmy - low 50's at the start and not much wind. This was probably the largest race I have run in since the three years I ran the Garry Bjorklund Half marathon (shudder - road races!). The start was so low key I pretty much missed it and clued in when people started moving.
I ran with Wayne (see link above) for the first loop which was helpful in understanding where the course was going. I had puzzled out that it was a bit of a figure eight, with some extra loops stuck on, by looking at course maps and listening to explanations. My plan was to run conservatively during the first loop - trying to remember landmarks - and then decide what to do for the second loop based on how I was feeling.
While I heard some of the Twin City runners describe this as a hilly course I found it to be more rolling than steep - with the exception of running down the ski hill. That was fun! I have made it a personal goal in the last couple of years to learn to run downhills better. I think I did okay with this on Saturday (and have not had to pay too high of a price since then).
The first loop went by pretty quickly and then next thing I knew we were approaching the finish area where I could see my sister and another friend waiting. Jenny had her camera ready and caught some nice shots (that is Wayne in the black shirt, me in the blue):
Hollered at my friend Jim to cheer for me as I ran by(resulting in others joining in and his meeting my sister - they had arrived at different times so hadn't been introduced). Came through the first loop in 1:15 to 1:16 - right where Rick had predicted I would be.
Some time after passing through the parking area Wayne and I parted and I headed off alone. Met up with friends running the 50K and ran with them for a short while and saw some other Duluthians down for the race. At this point my feet were starting to hurt and I was rethinking my decision to run in the old Saucony's. The cushioning is shot, which would have been okay for a softer course (ie: typical Trail Mix) but was hard on me with the dry conditions. I was also having some pain up near my left big toe - knew that meant a blister - but was not overly worried as it wasn't too bad.
As the morning progressed the wind picked up and by the time I hit the ski hill for the second time it was strong enough I was not very worried about falling forward on the descent. The wind was blowing straight up the hill, allowing me to lean into it for support on the way down (yes, I was that kid that was blown backwards and off her feet in elementary school by a strong gust of wind).
The second time around I had a better sense of where I was so was able to think about things like "When is the next aid station and port-a-potty?" Trouble was there was a line and I was unwilling to stop, thereby losing time. Kept figuring on stopping at the next one if I needed to, but then again, didn't want to take the time and then the next thing I knew there was only about 5K left and, well, why stop now?!?
Somewhere in the last 5 miles I decided I would no longer check my heart rate monitor and just run at what felt like a good pace. I did need to remind myself not to pick it up too soon as I did want to finish running. The nice thing about this race being a loop course is that you know what to expect at the finish line. And like many trail runs, it is uphill(though hard to see that in the following photos).
Heading into the finishing chute:
My sister did a great job of getting some action shots and was able to capture both me and my time in this one:
Yup - even splits! I was pretty happy about that, and with my time overall. It was 31 minutes faster than my only other 25K (Superior 25K last May - much hillier course and on single-track).
After walking back along the race course a bit and cheering on other runners I knew it was time to watch for friends Rick and Shelly running the 50K. This was Shelly's first 50K and she looked pretty good coming through the finish area. I jogged along with them a bit until we reached their drop area, visited and then wished them luck.
It was time to get my shoes off at this point and see what was going on (and let them breathe). Removed my right shoe and sock - not too bad. Removed my left shoe and sock and found this:
Surprisingly it didn't hurt all that much (but was good for grossing out friends and family ;->). Will need to figure out what exactly is the problem with my left shoe before Superior - or just cover the area with blister pads and hope for the best. Needless to say, no shoes were going back on that foot for awhile.
The other problem I had was extreme swelling of my hands and fingers. Not sure why this happens - diversion of blood from my arms? Over-hydration? Dehydration? Electrolyte imbalance? Not sure - but my hands also swell a lot when it is hot, so it is not limited to exercise. Knowing this I keep my watch band loose at the start of a long run and try to shake my hands and arms out occasionally in hopes of decreasing the swelling. It took a long time for the swelling to subside and by then I was so chilled that the Raynauds kicked in and I had fat, colorless hands. Yippee! By the time we headed out I was wearing three long sleeve layers on top (including a fleece coat) and fleece pants - on a 60 degree day. Getting into my car, with the heat on and solar gain was the only way I warmed up and got circulation back into my hands.
I really enjoyed running this race. Thanks to O.C. Williams, the Race Director, and all the volunteers for your efforts!