Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Sawtooth 100 Impressions

The weather could not have been more perfect.

Sting of a yellow jacket on the ridges between Split Rock and Beaver Bay.

A heck of a bloody nose shortly thereafter (thank goodness I tied on a bandanna just in case of a "runny nose").

Incredible aid station volunteers.

Fun runners to hang with, though I quickly found myself on my own, which was also okay.

My crew: Mr. Wildknits, Ron and Rick. Can't ever thank them enough!

Paparazzi at several of the aid stations. Felt like some kind of rock star or maybe royalty.

Reaching Co. Rd. 6 before dark. Encountering an old friend volunteering there. Totally unexpected and so fun.

The joy of dry clothes.

Running through the night. The stars and milky way laid out above us. Stopping for a moment with lights off to just admire the beauty.

Mouse on the trail, confused by our lights and not sure which way to go to find safety.

Enormous glacial erratics looming out of the darkness.

Sketchy boardwalk leading to an almost fall into the creek/pond. Then watching another runner's pacer work his way across the same boardwalk on his hands and knees.

Signing in at every trail register I encountered along the way.

Watching the moon rise as we made our way from Finland to Sonju and then on to Crosby-Manitou.

Hot broth on a cool night.

Strong coffee with a dash of half & half.

A peach at Crosby-Manitou provided by Rick. The perfect solution at that moment.

My pacers: Rick and Ron. I noticed the quiet conversations you were having about me at aid stations!

Visual misinterpretations. "Why would someone leave a hydration pack hanging in the woods?"

"Looks trot-able here"

The climbs, on steps apparently designed by, and for, giants.


The wonders of a 13 gallon trash bag turned into a rain coat (and my pacer's runway description of the fashion statement it made).

Great music at an aid station (song originally written by Bruce Cockburn, followed by one originally performed by the Grateful Dead) to get me dancing and ready for the the final miles.

Feeling the legs and mind revive and being able to run much of the last 13+ miles (at least the bits that are usually runnable by mere mortals like me).

Turkey jerky from Old World Meats in Duluth = perfect mix of salt, spices, and protein.

Blister's on the balls of my feet. Hurt less to run than walk, so that is what I did.

Grabbing lights at Oberg, "just in case".

Turning the corner at the campsite and knowing it truly was "all downhill from here".

Crossing the Poplar River, cresting the final rise and heading down the road towards Caribou Highlands.

Final words from my pacer as we take our remaining steps towards the buildings.

Sprinting towards, and through, the finish line.

Finishing in a time that was at the upper limits of what I thought possible. 34:36:02(03)

The welcome by fellow runners, volunteers, race organizers, friends, crew.

Hot shower.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Travel + Taper = lots of time for knitting

In mid-August I joined Marcus and Sam on the SHT for an overnight run. This provided a last chance to test out my lighting system before Sawtooth.  We started at Tettagouche at about 9:00 pm, a little later than hoped for, and ran/walked 38 miles. It was a night of amphibians, with frequent sightings of toads and tree frogs. We also took time to enjoy the incredible stars revealed as we stood on the ridges with our lights off. Marcus had the good fortune to discover a water bottle and Gerber hatchet laying in the trail between Hwy 1 and Co. Rd 6. He carried these through the night until we reached my car/aid station on Sonju Lake Rd. At that point the extra items were dropped and Marcus and I took some time to warm up and refuel before heading back out to complete our run. Sam then drove the car to Sugarloaf Rd. to meet us at the end of our planned route. 

Lessons learned: I can't see worth s*** at night with my current lighting system; what is quite runnable in the daylight is a trail full of hidden items to trip over in the dark; I get really hungry in the middle of the night; my 70 oz hydration bladder will last at most 24-25 miles in temps averaging upper 50's.  

Results of the lessons: I ordered some new lights to supplement/supplant my current system; will plan to hold a steady walking/hiking pace through the night vs trying to run and repeatedly falling; aid stations and their supplementary food supplies are an ultra runners best friend!
Interesting bridge/boardwalk in section between Co. Rd 6 and Finland. The upper/right hand boardwalk was completely unstable. The lower/left hand section was fine, but a large step down for me. Per the SHTA this probably won't be fixed by race weekend. 
"Old" shoes on the right, new on the left. Notice the difference in width?
Early in the run I caught a stick in the lateral aspect of my right shoe and ripped a substantial hole in the upper. This, in combination with the holes on the medial side of my shoes, made the gaiters I wore rather pointless.  

The uppers on these shoes started to give out by the time I hit 300 miles in wear, much earlier than with previous models. As you can see from the above photo, my shoes were in dire need of replacement after that run. Fortunately I had another pair of the same model on order and they arrived in late August, just enough time to break them in (aka allow for the stretch needed to accommodate my bunions) before Superior 100. I will probably pack the old shoes along just in case I need a wider shoe at some point. But, as of tonights run, the new shoes are feeling much more comfortable.

I just crossed over the 1300 mile mark for 2012. If I had just taken today off I could have crossed that line, as well as 1400 miles in the same event (as was kindly pointed out to me by my pacer after the fact). 

 OKC (Obligatory Knitting Content)

Tapering means I have more time to knit. Combine this with a lot of travel for Mr. Wildknits work recently (one weekend had us down to the Twin Cities one day and up to Crane Lake the next) and the result is the completion of two major projects that I have been working away at all summer:
The second design in my Mathematical Constants Series. See here for first design.
"Arrowhead Mittens" - my design based on input from the recipient and traditional mitten patterns.

And the start of one new project:
Vortex Shawl in Mini Mochi. Like all shawls, looks odd till blocked. 
I also have a skein of sock yarn, with needles tucked into the ball band, waiting for the perfect opportunity to cast on.