I will start this out on a good note,
Back to back PR's!
I forgot to mention that I PR's last weekend at Ice Age, but I realized yesterday when I hit the trail head on the way home. I was going to pr twice in 8 days. Something I have never done. AND, it was legit, no sandbagging.
The event started with the night before race briefing. Gretchen and Mike were in charge, and they did an excellent job. They gave the usual 411 (course markings, checking in, etc.) Some "kids" behind me said "just follow the runners in front of you". Ahh, youth. They obviously were new to trail running. I told them that even the front runners get lost, or at least the people in front you often do.....(foreshadowing).
The trail boss mentioned some "downed trees" on the course. As I recall, this course always has downed trees. How much different could this be......... (que suspense music).
After the meeting, it was back to the hotel and an early bedtime for me. Carl, sorry about the beer I promised you. I owe you.
I was not nervous. My plan was to take it easy and learn from my mistakes in the past. I slept well except for the hotel alarm clock going off at midnight. Again, an alarm blunder.
The start was perfect weather. It was great to see "the gang". Pierre and Steve were there as well as repeats from Ice Age. How stupid were we. I gave no times or expectations to anybody. Although, I did tell my wife I might be done in 5.5 hours. I did say that I might not be able to run at the turnaround. I just did not know.
Curt King was there. I did not recognize him becuase he had lost 45 pounds since I last saw him at Whistlestop in October! What was his reason for the drastic change? Well, as he put, he had two DFL's last year. And for those Homer Simpson's out there. L=Last D= Dead and F= well, you can figure it out. Nice job Curt!
We lined up, and we were off!
What is going on here? Why are these people running so fast! Some of them even looked like roadies, with no water! I found Carl Gammon and laughed, "do these people not know what lies ahead?" I was going out easy and sticking to it.
One of things I learned from the last two races is that my quads hold up fine when everything else goes south. My plan, then, was to walk the hills and run down them (fast). I figured I would use gravity to my advantage.
The first mile of this race is on open dirt road, but immediately hits the Superior Hiking Trail. The trail is full of roots, rocks, mud, etc. Right away we were going up the staging climbs to Mystery Mountain. Many people were forging ahead of us, but Carl kept me in check (thanks buddy). I was waiting for my heart rate to calm, and the first big down hill. The back side of Mystery Mountain was my first chance. I blasted down it, ducking under Carl's favorite tree. I thought "how on earth can someone run into a tree?".....(I would soon find out first hand).
I caught up to some runners on the down and settled into a new pack to climb Moose Mtn. I talked to the now legend, Julie Berg. She was looking strong as usual.
Then we came upon those fallen trees they were talking about. Holy cow, they were not kidding. These were not things you could just jump over. At one point, it was easier to army crawl under a few. Some of them you had to carefully leg over. They looked like primitive torture devices. Some men may have been sterilized on this race.
Once atop Moose, I tried to get in front of the pack so I could take advantage of the downhill. The other runners were gracious, and it helped. I burned down Moose at full speed.
I caught up to Patrick Susnick, a veteran who helped me through this course 2 years ago. I was slightly ahead of him, crossing Rollins Creek when I hear him say No! No!. Wrong Way! I had missed the turn. He had saved me a major blunder. It was an easy mistake. I wonder how many people made that one? (I know of 4-5 that did, and went .5 miles up hill the wrong way).
The rest of the out was pretty uneventful. I saw Wynn, leading the pack, not even looking tired. He had this one in the bag. Joe was looking strong too. Steve Schuder and Eric Lindstrom were bringing up 3 and 4 respectively. They held that rank.
On the way up to Carlton Peak I saw Brent Bjerkness. I heard him yell to me about a wrong turn. Hmmmm, I wonder where that happened. I made it to the top. 2:45. 5.5 hour pace. Not bad. When was I going to crash, and how bad would it be? My muscles were sore but still fully functional. My mental facilities were still there 100%. Let's see how the run to Oberg station is.
From Britton Aid station to Oberg, I felt great. I kept running the down hills, and felt like I was flying. Another lesson I learned was to drink more water and less Heed. I was doing that and it felt better. I was still coherent. No crash yet.
I ended up doing this middle section 1:02 on the way out, and 1:02 on the way back. How is the way back. Sweet! that is a good sign.
At Oberg I reloaded and got my game face on. He we go Moose Mtn.
The whole way to Moose was a mental prep. For those of you not familiar with it, Moose Mtn. this direction is 800ft of serious climb. No hands required, but close to it. It is famous because it is long. I got to the top and let out a primal scream. I was past the hardest part of a back to back week ultra. The scream charged me.
I was climbing over trees and ducking under them..... Boom! I did not duck enough. Laying flat on my back, dizzy and compressed by an inch, I realized I nailed that tree. Everything seemed to work, though. I pressed on...... It took me a few to get the gas back in my tank.
Once down Moose, I only had mystery left. I power hiked it. Got to the top, and one more primal scream. I asked the backpackers to join me, but they declined. I was on again. I Ran. Hard. Why did I not have this Mojo in me at Ice Age? I was making up for last week. I made it to the trail head, 5:29. I had 10 minutes to pr. I turned it up.
I caught Jeff Allen just on the other side of the river. Here was the conversation.
Jeff, "Tuba Player?" (He was correct)
I thought I left him behind. I hit the road and kept the hard run home. I turned around at the gondola to see him right behind me. I heard him yell "tuba" or something like that. I ran as hard as I could. Not really to beat him, but to make up for all of the people who passed me last week.
I came in at 5:36.
My lovely wife greeted me. I talked to Keith, a few other finishers, and then it was off to Grand Marais for rock hunting. Part of the deal for me to do this race was giving my wife "us" time.
I made it back to talk to Pete, Phillip, Carl, Wayne, and many others.
It was a blast.
That night I said "I should have signed up for Kettle 100 instead of focusing on Superior, I am just about trained for it".
"why don't you do it?"