These are pictures from Friday night, the evening before Voyageur. Carlton is just south of Duluth, for those not familiar with the area.
SR starts out with a smile.
But is soundly beaten by Sammy Korir, who ran the 5k as a practice run in a time of just over 14 minutes. Here were the first three men with Korir in the middle. SR ended up taking fourth with a time of 16:32, which he was quite pleased with on a nearly 90 degree night.
Later that night, I had my standard pre-ultra panic attack, this time my problem was my S-caps hadn’t arrived in the mail and we couldn’t find anywhere that sold them. They told us at the packet pick-up that there wouldn’t be S-caps at the aid stations, so I started freaking out. Especially if it were going to be near 90 Fahrenheit.
But I calmed down as we, just like last year, ate dinner at the Indian Palace in Duluth. We went to bed at 10 and I slept almost 8 hours. That is one great thing about being pregnant: when you lay down to sleep, you sleep. For someone who constantly has trouble sleeping, this is wonderful. Or maybe it was just my continued jetlag.
We made it to the race 20 minutes before the start and, yay, there was Helen Lavin greeting everyone. She came up and gave me a big hug, like a good old friend. It was so nice to hear her beautiful Irish accent again. AND she had a baggy filled with S-caps and she gave me the whole thing for the race. Now I was really ready. Thanks, Helen!
There were actually a bunch of people who welcomed me and they were all wondering how they all separately knew me and I felt like I was at some sort of reunion. Valeria, who narrowly beat me last year, came up to me and said, well I’m guessing that since you’re pregnant, I won’t need to worry about you giving me a challenge. Well that was true. Though I didn't know exactly HOW true it was.
After Andly Holak started the race, Dusty Olson took off sprinting, far ahead of everyone else. The crowd laughed, and at least I didn’t guess he actually would end up one of the leaders at the end. A bunch of women started off at what I considered lightning speed and I just did my own thing, enjoying the cool morning and technical riverside trails. I made it to the swinging bridge and the first 3.4 miles at a leisurely pace. SR was relieved to see me, as he was certain I had dropped out since I was so far behind the lead women. Nope. No complaints so far.
Helen Lavin risks her life for a good photo of Sea Legs Girl.
I was already happy I had worn a Camelbak. I hadn’t run with one since the Trans-Alpine and had never run with one in a compact Camelbak backpack. I found myself loving the fact I could take small sips whenever I wanted and was never annoyed by the little pack. I refilled it five times with sports drink and I am certain I drank more than twice the amount I have ever drunk in an ultra and felt a lot better because of it. I can’t imagine I will ever run an ultra without one now. The shadows make it look like there are wires under my shirt, but there were no wires there to my knowledge.
The guy you see me running with on the bridge in the red shirt is Chris, who I would run much of the race with. We passed one person after another, including at least 3 women, and made it through the first 25 miles in 4:35. This was 15 minutes slower than last year, but I wasn’t complaining. I was at a bit of a low and really needed a nut roll and Helen Lavin to cheer me up. Luckily both of those things were at the aid station.
It was raining at this point and that felt wonderful. It hadn’t gotten nearly as hot as I had expected it to. I had a quiet moment of celebration as I completed my first pregnant marathon and, though I was tired, I knew I would make it to the end. My hip had given me no problems whatsoever and it was as if running that far and on that diverse of terrain had jarred something back into place. Incredible. Who knows.
Then I saw SR. He ran with me and joked and, though I wasn’t quite in the mood to laugh, sometimes I did despite myself. Then I made up a rule that only I could initiate conversation after he brought up some stressful subject, which I can’t recall, and induced an asthma attack, but my rule lasted about 30 seconds, at which point he initiated conversation again. I learned a long time ago that SR is incapable of being silent for more than 30 seconds. I told him about 40 times that “only I initiate conversation” and it failed 40 times. But I have to admit, he kept me happy. He took a bunch of pictures of me around this time.
He told me I was in 8th place for the women. And I could see when I had met the women turning around that there would be a lot faster times this year compared to last year, except for Helen Lavin's time last year. Kim Holak was pretty solidly in the lead. And I didn’t know the women in 2nd and 3rd. Valeria was in 4th, looked good, and was going significatly faster than last year..
With 20 miles to go, my red-shirted friend, Chris, caught up again. We really pushed each other and enjoyed a pretty runnable section. When we came to the fabled powerlines, the mood changed and the race really became work. Because it had rained, these very steep hills became mud slides and nearly intraversable. At some point, I realized it was easier to crawl on my hands and knees than to walk up since there was no traction on my now mud-caked shoes. I heard Chris yelling loudly at the last hill. Then he took off in a burst of energy. Cool! Sadly, there would be no bursting on my part. I was feeling like a brontosaurus might feel: incapable of doing anything quickly. But I also didn’t slow down too much.
SR joined me again for the last 8 miles. I needed company at that point, so it was nice. I didn’t convey to him that it was nice, but it was. I didn’t actually feel sore.
This is also when I announced to SR my idea of taking a good dose of magnesium that night to help prevent both muscle cramps and uterine cramps. Maybe this will be a standard for pregnant racers in the future. It is safer that ibuprofen.
Finally we emerged from the woods and there was just a half a mile to the finish. I realized I could make it under 10:35, so I started sprinting to the finish line, much to the crowd’s amusement, and came in in 10:34:48. Okay, it was 50 minutes slower than last year, but I also didn’t push myself like last year and felt tired, but not a ripped apart. Andy Holak handed me a super cool Voyageur mug, which all of the top 10 finishers received. I was 8th place the entire second half and that is where I stayed. There were 156 registered runners.
I saw my trail friend Chris again and he said his burst of energy had taken him to the finish line in 10:10. Wow. I was impressed. Valeria shaved a good 40 minutes off her time from last year to take 4th. She explained how she had really been pushed along by the top 3 women. But she revealed her real training secret, which is she is getting a divorce and has found herself with tons of time to train. Divorces are rarely happy events, but I found myself swept up in her optimism and fresh outlook on life.
Top three women were: Kim Holak, Connie Lutkevich and Angie Radosevich. The third place woman, Angie, is new in the ultra scene, but has a 2:48 marathon PR. She told me she ran her first marathon without "much” training in 2:50. If that is true, “talent” is more important than I’d like to admit. But interestingly, it takes more than just the ability to run a fast marathon to really excel at a trail ultra, as both the male and female winners were experienced trail runners. Chris Gardner finished first for the men in 6:55, outrunning another new ultra runner, Chris Lundstrom, who has a sub 2:20 marathon PR.
Everything about this race went better than I expected. But then again, I didn’t really know what to expect. I was glad my hip didn't bother me at all. And the longest race I had run pregnant was a half marathon. I didn’t know if I’d faint or die or have uterine cramping, but everything went smoothly. I got nauseated at the end, but other than that, I was really in heaven the whole day. I took all pressure off of myself and just went out to enjoy it. And I sure did. I was smiling the entire time. I absolutely LOVE the sport of ultramarathoning. AND I wouldn’t hesitate to run another pregnant.
Thanks to SR for his sense of humor and encouragement as my pacer. I love you!
Running song of the day: well, I didn’t listen to my ipod the entire race, since I never got bored, but one great song from our bike ride today is “Wasted Daylight” by The Stars.