Sunday, July 27, 2008

Back in the saddle-Voyageur 50 mile race report

I know I haven't blogged in over a month but I have been having too much fun enjoying summer and it is going way too fast. Hopefully there are still a few people out there checking my blog from time to time and want to read a race report from the Voyageur 50 mile on Saturday.

I wasn't expecting much from myself performance-wise in this race, mostly due to the long recovery after KM100. I only had about 3 good weeks of training leading into this event and I was a little suspect of my durability (wondering if I am fully recovered). I was really just looking for a good training day in preparation for SS100 in six weeks.

From what I heard, 137 people signed up for this race, a record! It was a big group and for the first 3/4 of a mile it is on city streets and a paved bike path ,which helped spread out the group before entering the single track trail. I noticed how rocky and rooty it was on this section of trail, but running it on the return route would be the story of the day for me.

I settled into a good pace and really enjoyed running this course for the first time. The trail went from single track to ski/horse trails to single track again while in Jay Cook State Park. I was wondering where all the hills were but soon enough we were winding our way up and down some long switch backs that make this park famous. The "power lines" are what everyone talks about and I was surprised at how steep they really are. We were lucky it was dry because it would be a mess running these in the rain.

I ran for a while with Scott Meyers who was second last year at SS100 and Chris Hanson who won SS100 in 2004. They had a lot of good advice for Superior and I enjoyed their company and steady pace.

I think the dirty little secret about this course is in the long gradual hills that seem to never end. They are fun and easy to descend but they are a nightmare to go up because they are not steep enough to walk and take a big effort to run. I did however find a comfort level for running these that will surely help me in future events.

The last section of trail crosses Spirit Mountain and drops down to the 25 mile mark at the Zoo. This is where I saw the first runners on the return trip. Wynn Davis had a small lead with 4 other runners within a minute or two. The top two women were within a minute of each other and looking strong.

I reached the turn around in about 4:20 and had a drop bag waiting for me to re-supply my gels and drink mixes. For most of the run I was drinking Succeed Clip 2 and taking in gels and bananas with an occasional cup of Coke. I also drank 3 bottle of Ensure and took S-Caps every 45 min. increasing it to every 30 min for the last few hours.

The return trip was fairly uneventful until reaching the power line hills at which point my legs were beginning to ache quite a bit and gave me some discomfort on the steep downhills. The sun was beating down hard making it a hot exposed section of the trail. The breeze at the tops of the hills really felt great and I looked forward to cresting each hill in search of any cooling I could get.

Soon enough the trail dipped back into the woods and its shaded canape. It was at this point that I realized I had a shot at a sub 9 hour time but it was going to take 10min/mi. for the last 11-12 miles. I was holding close to this pace all the way to the last aid station at Jay Cook. Just before crossing the suspension bridge I looked down at my watch and I was at 8:25 with 3.4 miles to go. On the other side of the bridge I was reminded of what lie ahead...rocky rooty trails and legs that didn't like running anymore. I checked my watch a couple of times while running through some technical areas (I know it's not smart to take my eyes off the trail) and I was working hard to keep a 10:30-11:00 pace. I ran hard all the way to the finish knowing that I was going to come up a little short. It was fun running into town and finishing at the High School(with showers waiting) with a good cheering section to boot. 9:03(PR) and a fun day of running!

My crew for this race was my Mom and Dad, Jakob (son) and Hanna (daughter) and they did a fantastic job of meeting me at aid stations on the return trip and supplying me with what I needed. This was a new experience for my parents and they seemed to enjoy the company of aid station volunteers and other crew along the way.

Thanks to the RD- Rollie Everson and all the volunteers who put on a great event.

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Minneapolis, MN, United States