I stripped down, in my normal clod-like stripper fashion, into my sports bra and shorts, and stood up on a grassy noll in front of the starters of yesterday's Chippewa 50k. What should I wear? Or rather, "you have three minutes to decides, SLG, are you going to run this race fast or slow?" Alicia Hudelson nuzzled her way into the starting pack bare shouldered and my question was answered. I was going to get rid of the long-sleeved shirt and go for it.
Alicia, who we had shared fine chocolates and jokes with in our Edgewater Motel room the night before, had created an algorithm of the women's finishing times based on a very complex set of factors. SR and I found it extremely entertaining. As much as I adored the spreasheet, I refused to tell her if I was going to attempt to run fast. When she had mentioned on my blog that she had to add another fudge factor into the Chippewa equation after Syllamo, I thought she was joking.
I have been injured since the Mad City 50k 4 weeks ago and since 3 Days of Syllamo 3 weeks before that. I haven't been able to run more than a few miles without tightness in my ITB. The problem stems from a serious tear in my left quadriceps. I hadn't run for 6 days, though, prior to yesterday... and I am an optimist by nature.
Yet, I knew it was stupid to race. But when we were two miles in and I felt nothing except a growing inner warmth and the feeling of flight up down and around the twists of the trails, I was transported - to my version of heaven. My speed and happiness increased. By 10k, I was on track to running around 4:35, which would have been good enough for a course record. If my left quad could take it, I had no doubt the rest of my body could hold the pace. I was close to passing the first female, Christine Crawford.
But then my left foot started to go lame. I tripped twice over things I would normally be able to step over. And then the pain came in my left knee and gluteal insertions. By mile 9, I had to walk. I walked to the mile 10 aid station where Helen "roll it out" Lavin and Karen Schoenrock awaited. One could never ask for more at an aid station than these two smiling faces (and some snacks). Helen was prepared for me with a foam roller. What does she not think of? Oh and a long-sleeved shirt. "Roll it out, put this on, and get going!" Despite the fact that I look up to Helen in every way, this was not good advice. I rolled that mangled mess of a muscle out and, heck, it felt better - for a mile - and then I started crying. It KILLED. I turned around, greeted the runners who were behind me. I was happy to see Maria, who I had met the night before, fellow lover of Sonic Youth and NB minimalist trail shoes, and to finally meet Julie Treder. It is hard not to keep smiling, when people who have no real reason to - pull for you, care about you.
Rice is great when you're hungry and you want 2,000 of something. - Mitch Hedberg
Then I was wrapped up in my own misery. "I will never run again because I have a sarcoma (or maybe a metastasis) in my left thigh and to make matters even worse, I ate about 10,000 calories last night of Indian food to get ready for 31 miles - and I've only made it 10. Plus I'm cold. This sucks."
I made it back to Helen and Karen at just about the time SR flew through on the way back, in first place, way ahead of pace for a course record. He had no time to talk. There were four fast men in running jerseys and stockings on their arms ready to pass if he were to flounder or even slow.
"Why don't you ride with me back to the start?" says a mysterious 60 something man. I would soon learn this was Tony Ovesen, who just ran Zumbro 50 miler on a broken foot. I hope I am like him when I am 65. He laughed when I said that and said he was so bored with life that he was going to move to Germany. He really must be bored...
And he was wearing these Hokas (as were Alicia H and Chris Scotch!)
"Oh, he's coming!" I shouted. "Here comes... The Dane!" announces Randy.
SR had tears in his eyes and was wincing and gasping in pain. He was cramping. I started screaming - shouting him on- "You have the course record - by 15 minutes - you HAVE to keep going" he kept going, though very slowly for him. We gathered at the finish and I ran out to run with him. I wanted to push him on the rear up the hill because he was in so much pain. He was easily on track for the course record. I just kept screaming in excitment. This was almost more fun than racing myself! He had tears in his eyes again, I would later learn, because I was there to do it with him."
He crossed the finish line in 3:51:27. 8 minutes faster than Brian Peterson's record from last year.
Here is what Randy wrote on Facebook:
1. Rasmussen Goes - CHAMPION - 3:51:27! Running in road shoes and a 79cent water bottle from a Walmart. Go figure.
(okay, so I actually changed the name to what Randy tweeted, but he did get it right on Facebook :)
Then four guys came in shortly after him, all beating Brian's time from last year. The third place guy, Jake Hegge, is a 20 year old from UW La Crosse who just dropped out of the track team to have more time to run long on trails. One should mention, the conditions were perfect for trail running yesterday.
In the women's race, Christine Crawford won with a course record of 4:35 something despite a sprained ankle from mile 8! Alicia Hudelson
took second and beat her own carefully-calculated expectations with an awesome time of 4:58 and beating the 3rd place woman by mere seconds. I was so proud of her. Seriously, to know this woman is to love her.
SR is in the shape of his life and it was such a chance opportunity that I got to witness the best running performance of his life to date. On the drive home, we both got tears in our eyes, talking about the magic that just happened, the magic that can continue to happen when we are in it together and there to support each other.