Friday, September 16, 2011

Great Expectations: A Superior Race

Superior 50 Mile Race Report by Marty Kanter-Cronin...
I had designs on a running an exceptional 50 mile race in Superior, and in the end I really did. It just didn’t turn out exactly as what I had planned: at the very least a 13 hour finish or better, maybe even pie in the sky 12- 12:30 hours. I wasn’t over-confident; I had pre-hiked much of the course back in July to help prepare for this day. I was feeling good, and had a great summer base, and had finished two 50 mile races in the last 60 days.

But reality often gets in the way of ‘plans’. Good training, planning and execution are paramount to a great race, but the ability to adjust to current conditions and make sound corrections should not be overlooked.

I am talking about getting ‘off’ course, of course.

I had started this race well, running almost in an entirely LPTR ‘pack’: Mary, Deb, Jim, Sam, Jose, Jodie, Marcel, Krishna and I were clumped tight in the early miles, with Marcel moving out to a few minute lead on the group. Krishna and I were the next two, as Jodie, Sam and Jose had their own ‘plan’, and were sticking to it tightly. I knew they were going for a 13:30, so I figured I needed to be ‘ahead’ of that pack to stay on my own plan of 13 hours (fact: 77 runners in the 50, 11 of them LPTR runners!)

Krishna and I were moving through the early aid stations with minimal stops, and the pace we were on had us at a 12:30 finish, something I knew would fall off with the later Carlton Peak and Moose Mountain climbs, so I figured 13 hour was still doable.

Then things started to go wrong. An earlier mis-read on the course I corrected with a small 5-7 minute loss. No big deal. Then Krishna and I really took an off course turn. How we both missed it is anyone’s guess. The first thing that ran through my mind was my advice to Marcel that “it’s almost impossible to get off course, just use the Superior markers”. Yeah, good advice!

This was not my worst mistake of the day, race wise. My biggest one came next, when after seeing Mary (for the third time) I started to try and ‘make up’ time. Big mistake. In the process, I left Krishna behind, got lost once more (ACK!) and thought I got lost again but wasn’t, back tracking until I saw another runner coming toward me. A sense of urgency is all well and good, but when it starts to cause more bad decisions, they just start compounding into a ton of lost time.  I actually caught Jose, Sam and Jodie in the next 10 mile stretch, making up 20- 30 minutes of perceived ‘lost’ time.

I was a bit gassed from the effort. So, I hung onto the three ‘young guns’ going for their first 50 miler. After about a few miles, I finally started to settle back into a comfortable rhythm again, and was especially glad to hear Marcel had just left the (26 mile) aid station as we arrived. Perfect. It wasn’t that I was racing Marcel, it’s just that I knew how well he runs, and if we were that close, my goal was still in reach.

The heat started to settle in, and Jose and Sam were moving a couple hundred yards ahead of Jodie and I, and it was getting harder for us to stay on their pace. I was really glad to see both of them still at the 34 mile AS, although they were leaving as we arrived. A short aid station break, and Jodie and I were off again; this time, up to the top of Carlton Peak. It was a tough climb, but I was ready on the back side of the peak to start cranking it back to our pace, and get back to a ‘salvageable’ 13:30 race just behind Sam and Jose.

But now it was Jodie’s turn to struggle. As we came down the peak, she wasn’t running, and when we reached the flat, the 2 mile stretch to the Sawbill aid station was taking its toll. We arrived with good time on the clock: it was 4:20, so that was a 10:20 for 39.5 miles. A 3:10 would get us there, but the next 5.25 miles from Sawbill to Oberg we would have to RUN, as the Moose Mountain section was going to be a lot slower. I told Jodie as much, but her eyes glazed over. Jodie looked at Robyn who had met as at the AS, and said “tell him he doesn’t have to run with me, its ok to leave without me”. I had a decision to make.

I don’t know why, but in both my 50 mile races I got a good second wind at around 37 miles, and I was getting it again. My own race goals shot, I figured I could try and really crank it up and maybe get in less than 13:30, or I could just hang with Jodie and see her to the end. I decided to stay with her, even though she implored me several times to go ahead. The last 12 miles took us 4:35, for a finish of 14:55.

Me? I still finished. I felt great, I got in some ‘bonus’ miles (no idea how many), left enough gas in the tank to do 20 more miles this week on the Superior trail, for my biggest weekly total ever of 75, after my longest run ever of 53 plus. How can that be a bad thing?

It wasn’t much of a race for me, but it was great run. Its not often you get a chance to experience a course like Superior, with the support of an unbelievable LPTR crew: thanks to all the DNF hundos for being at the AS, as well as Allison and Robyn! Aid Station volunteers: WOW, the best, simply. Congrats to the newly minted 50 milers, Jodie, Sam and Jose, as well as the vets! Congrats to Christine for a 2nd place Master finish in the 50! Congrats to Julie T for scoring a win in the HUNDO, wow! You tough cookie! Congrats to Angela for a finish on a very tough 102 mile course (and having more moxy than one person should ever have)! Yowza. And how cool was it that the whole LPTR gang was there, 8 hours from home to see it all happen?

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