Where to Begin?
This weekend was a total blast. After spending a few days at the cabin with my family, enjoying the lake, the sunshine, fishing, boating, tubing, fireworks and fun, I drove back home without the family to unpack and repack for my weekend up at Beaver Bay, MN with a dozen friends.
I spend Wednesday and Thursday peacefully in my quiet home, except for my cat, Toffee, who created grief for me. Wednesday afternoon I went downstairs to clean the kitty box and refeed Toffee. Much to my horror there was a dead grey mouse laying in his food bowl. Good kitty for killing the mousie and placing in the bowl, but still, ishy.
Thursday night I crawl into my nice King size bed, all to myself, enjoying clean sheets and a good book. At 130 AM I hear this "SQUEAK SQUEAK"! I open my eyes just in time for my wonderful killer of a cat drop a live grey mouse on my neck. He was so proud of his find. OH GOD! I flew out of bed in a panic and watched mousie and Toffee fly down the stairs. Oh man. I closed my bedroom door and tried to forget about it. In the morning there was no mouse in his bowl so I called Steve at the lake and told him I knew there was another in the house. I feared a whole family.
We have an attached garage and I know that there are mice living in the garage every now and again. The garage walks into my laundry room and last week when I was brining in groceries, a mouse ran between my feet, right into the house! I think it was a pregnant mama. Oh man.
OK, so I went off the track here and became involved with the mouse story. Back to the weekend of fun.
Jeffrey decided to car pool with me so Friday morning he drove to Big Lake from Minneapolis and left his truck here. We were headed up north by 1030.
Maria (who was running 50 and is entered in the Superior 100 along with me) and her husband Doug (who was crewing for us) went up Thursday evening; as well as Scott and John (running the 50). Eve, Duke, Alicia, Al, Pierre, Seth, Bodhan, Kathy were all arriving at different times on Friday.
OK, so Scott got online and found this house for us: http://www.vrbo.com/46061 We all agreed this would be a great house (from the pics and description online) and told Scott to go ahead with it.
Oh My Gosh. As Jeffrey and I pulled up to the house, we were perplexed. There was a iron bridge of sorts going to the front door. We walked inside and it seemed old. The picture looked brand new. The top level had a fireplace as big as a room right in the center of the living room. The main floor was all open with one bedroom and bathroom, a beautiful, all around the home, deck, all windows, but old. They provided dishes, cleaning supplies, towels, etc. Very nice. The view! Oh my gosh, it sat right upon Lake Superior. You couldn't see any neighbors, there was beautiful big rock pile to walk upon to the lake. A crazy iron spiral staircase walked off the deck down to the lake.
We went to the lower level. 5 brand new bedrooms, each with it's own fireplace and bathroom! Nice big King beds, great linens, great lighting, each bedroom had a french door that opened up to the lake. Incredible. New windows, window seats, awesome.
It was an incredible house. But weird. There was a loft above the kitchen with another bedroom as well. There was a big picture of the Last Supper hanging in the main room and the bedroom up there had a big wall made of stained glass from a church. It was weird. But beautiful and so awesome that we'd like to stay again, maybe for Ed Fitz 100K in October.
We spent Friday afternoon laying on the hot rocks of Lake Superior out in front of the house. It was fantastic.
Everyone brought a cooler of food; we had way too much. The fridges were full, coolers were full, there was a food orgy of sorts.
By 8:00 everyone had arrived and we began to plan the run for Saturday. 6 of us were planning on running the full 50 miles from Gooseberry Falls to Finland. Scott wanted an estimate of how long it took us-at 100 mile effort-so he could plan out how long the aid stations for the 100 mile race needed to be staffed. Alicia, Bohdan and Doug were crewing and Eve, Duke, Seth and Jeffrey were running shorter distances.We packed up our gear, got all of the sandwiches, drink, snacks, etc. ready for Saturday morning.
410 AM and John woke I and Alicia up for the run. We were all up and ready to rock at 445 in the kitchen. We were all out the door and ready to run at 5:11 AM for a start. A few pictures and we were on our way.
I decided to wear my 2 24 oz bottle pack and one 24 oz handheld. There were sections of 8-10 miles where there would be no aid so I figured 70+ ounces would be sufficient. It was. I drained every bottle inbetween aid stations but never ran out. Usually as I was 10 minutes out from the next station I'd polish off my water, knowing I could refill soon.
Pierre and John were doing a self-supported run. They had packs filled with 8000 calories of food, were filtering their own water and didn't take a thing from the crew.
I found that each 3 hour stretch in-between aid I was starving. Normally, I carry bars and gels or a sandwich inbetween aid stations but wanted to try without. About 30-45 minutes before the aid station I would be fantasizing about PB&J sandwiches and oranges. As we came to the crew, I was ravenous. I ate at least 400 calories each stop.
The trail was tough. At the first aid station, 8 miles out, there was no food. I didn't listen to our crew, and didn't know this. They had to walk into the aid station so couldn't carry coolers, etc. They carried water in for us though so I'm having my 3 bottles refilled, looking for the food. Where's the food? Doug said 'we told you guys last night, no food at the first station'. Oh fuck. I haven't eaten in 2.5 hours and have another 10 miles to go. Shit. Alicia must of seen the look of fear in my eye..'are you going to be ok Julie'? 'No, I screwed up. I wasn't listening and didn't know there would be no food here. I'm sorry. I'm a dumb blonde, you know?' Bodhan told me he had brought a pb&j bagel for himself. 'WOuld you like 1/2 Julie' 'YES' 'Would you like it all?' 'YES. PLEASE'!!! It saved me.
The second section was the toughest for footing. Lost of crazy rocks to run over that are too big to really run over. I had to pick my way over them. I've never seen anything like it. It began to pour rain, the surface was all slippery and crazy. Split Rock Loop was so beautiful. Lots of RED rock and climbing and beauty. The whole trail is beautiful. The climbs are HUGE, the rocks are rough, the roots are the gnarliest, but ahhh, so beautiful. All so beautiful.
The rain cleared out, the sun came out and we began to bake. Really bake. I was drinking, salting, eating..but for some reason my face felt like it was on fire. It felt dry and feverish. I was as red as a strawberry. I don't know what that was all about.
It took me 7 hours to get to 25 miles. I took a few minutes to re goop my feet (NO BLISTERS!!!) I was hoping to finish 50 before dark, but I would be cutting it close.
I and Jeffrey ran the first 35 miles together, then he opted out. Bodhan was running the next section, not crewing, so I ran with him. We ran with John a bit. The trail was climb climb climb...climb climb climb..my quads were getting tired, but nothing hurt. I was feeling mentally sharp and physically strong. I got into the rivers a few times while John pumped water to cool down. My face was still on fire.
Bodhan and John were finished, I was told that Scott, Al and Pierre were stopping but that Maria was still running strong. I knew the last portion was 8 miles..it would take me at least 2 hours. I hoped that Maria would still be at the aid station so I could run it in with her.
She was! She waited for us to get there, eat, refill so that she could finish with someone. I and Maria were the only ones to finish the 50. We headed out and oh man oh man were we chowed upon by flies and mosquitoes. They were the worst I've ever seen.
My upper thighs have thousands of bites on them. We'd run down down down into the bog and wet and muddy and the bugs were thick thick thick. Then up up up we'd go, up to the cliffs, the lookouts, like you are on top of the world..and back down down down to the bowels of the earth. It was crazy.
They topography and vegetation is constantly changing on the SHT. Pine and rock, birch and moss, sheer cliff, bogs, beaver dams.
There was a section on the last part of the 50 that I and Maria are running up to. She's like "What is this?" I look around her and here is a lake. With two boards skimming the top of the water. We had to run over the boards, that are even with the top of the water, the water looked deep! This is a section that we will be running in the dark during the 100. I'm glad I will know to be very very careful!
As I and Maria were nearing the end I thought I heard voices. I didn't want to get too excited...I could be mistaken. Shortly thereafter we saw Alicia and Doug. They had hiked in 30 minutes from the end to meet us. It was wonderful! 1.5 miles left to finish the 50. Both I and Maria still felt strong, but happy to think of a shower and nice bed!
We ran into the finish at Finland, held hands and heard cheers! Here Eve, John, Jeffrey and Bodhan had come back to congratulate us on finishing the 50. It was sweet.
Maria looked at her watch: 15:52; and still daylight! She estimated it would take us between 15 and 16 hours, she was right on!
Both I and Maria felt strong and knew we could go along for another 50. Now that's a good thing!
Back to the house, shower, friends and fun.
What a sweet weekend! I feel a bit closer to finishing that 100 this fall. Still afraid, but hey; that fear allows me to become strong.