Wild Duluth 2011 Recap

The other night I sat in bed, my legs were weary, but my mind was reeling with how Wild Duluth unfolded for me. I scribbled away feverishly on any scrap of paper I could find. I like to remember these kinds of adventures. It’s fun to find them a year later, buried at the bottom of my nightstand, stuffed between pages of a book I can’t get into or most likely under my bed, covered with dust bunnies. When I put down my pen the clock read 1 am. I’ll leave a somewhat condensed version here and spare you the mundane deets, like finding agates on the course. I’ve got agate fever, or Minnesota Gold as my brother likes to call it. We hunted agates in the parking lot after the race for 10 minutes for crying out loud! And we found some keepers.

Back to the task at hand here … distractions come easily these days …

Friday night after the carbo load party, I started to organize all my things for the next morning. I laid out what I was going to race in and even put my number on my shorts (a type-a personality trait that seldom makes an appearance in my life). Sleep didn’t come easy to me that night. I woke up about every hour with sharp pangs of anxiety and nerves shooting through my body. When the alarm buzzed, I jolted out of bed and my heart started thudding in my ears. I managed to gag down two pieces of peanut butter toast. I knew that I had to eat more even though it was making me sick. I heated some water on the stove and made some maple oats and topped it off with a banana. I chugged a few glasses of water, brushed my teeth, put in a fresh pair of contacts and splashed my face with water.

It’s cold at the start and that combined with the oncoming adventure makes all of us shiver and shake. All of the runners pile up towards the start and get briefed on the course and then we’re off. It’s hard to take it easy, I feel so good, but I step on the brakes a little and just take in the beautiful morning scenery. The first 11 miles go along so smoothly and I feel like I’m on cruise control. I’m running with mostly guys for much of the first half of the race and there’s not much chit chat. This is fine with me as I’m used to running solo and I like the quietness surrounding me, it feels familiar. We reach the Munger aid station and my folks and Andrea are there. I greet them with hugs and fill my handheld and grab a few salty things and off I go. I’m on the Munger when I run into Marcus, who’s 20 miles into his 100k. He looks like he’s running strong and has a smile on his face, as usual. We toss out a few jokes about running in underwear to each other and as we pass he yells back to me, “Hey Deb!” I turn around in time to see him lift the back of his shorts and show me his undies. I burst out laughing and I’m happy that he’s feeling so good. I start climbing Ely’s Peak and shortly between there and Magney I come alive. I know there is going to be a lot of climbing after the base of Spirit, so I decide to turn it up a notch and see what happens.

I always feel really good between 15-20 some miles, this is my zone. I take advantage of the terrain and cruise all the way to the Spirit aid station. I fill up a pocket will pretzels, pound a few banana slices and some gatorade. It’ll sit well with me as I fast hike for the next few miles. I kind of slowed a bit here until the next aid station, but never hit any big low point. I climb into the Getchell/Highland aid station with a growling belly. I know I have to eat, otherwise I know I will not make it through the next part of the course very easily. I grab a few things that look good, crack a few jokes and get a move on. I don’t even remember running the section between here and 40th Ave. West, my favorite section. This is where I hit my low point last year and it’s in the back of my mind, but I’m feeling pretty good still, so I just go with it. I still can’t believe I feel so good. I keep wondering if or when I’m going to bonk, but it never happens. I just keep going faster and faster. I stop questioning why and just let the experience of running so effortlessly flow through me. It was surreal and I can’t explain it. It was out of this world!

I pick off a handful of guys between here and the final aid station. I roll in happy as a clam and have a few laughs with my folks and friends, eat an orange slice for good luck and to fight off scurvy. There’s only a 5k left after this! The run from Enger is amazing. I feel like I’m floating above the city. The next thing I know, I’m crossing Superior Street and entering the foot bridge down to the lakewalk. As I’m on the sidewalk heading towards the finish, I hear honking. It’s my brother and Jenny, they’ve just arrived, perfect timing! I cross the finish line and stop my watch. It reads 6:28. One hour faster than last year’s time. I can’t believe it, I’m completely thrilled and so thankful for all my friends and family. To have them out there all day is truly amazing. I feel so blessed and fortunate. It was a beautiful day for a long run.

After the race, my family headed towards Two Harbors for a birthday party for my Grandpa, Tauno. He turned 88 that day. He made us laugh all through dinner, ordering the waitress around and getting giddy at all the lottery tickets he received as gifts. He likes to play Bingo, too. He won $180 last week. He’s the luckiest guy in the world. Jenny decided to stay with me that evening and when we got back to my apartment around 9 that night we made tea and watched Antique’s Roadshow, our favorite. I started to get sleepy and was having lucid dreams of trail running that would jolt me back to awake, my body thrashing on the couch. I finally decided to go to bed and fell asleep almost immediately. But, as luck would have it, I woke up every hour hungry as a bear fresh from hibernation. I fixed that situation in the morning with a trip to Duluth Grill with Amy and Jenny. Now, a few days post race, I’ve been taking it really easy. My legs are recovering pretty well, although the right one is being a pain in the rump. It does not like going down stairs. The left one is just dandy. It’s time for some swimming. The trails will have to wait a couple days…

Photo courtesy Jon LaCore. Thanks Jon for coming out to support your brother and I!

Coming into the final aid station and feeling good!


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