Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Rugged and Relentless...

Rugged and Relentless not only describes the 102.6 stretch of trail that is covered during the Superior Sawtooth 100, it also describes the effort from the participants... Here is another report - This one from LPTRunner Angela Barbera...

Why do I run these ultra’s?  To feel just like I do now. This warm happy feeling – my brain is a bit cloudy my body is exhausted. To discover that I am stronger than what I thought and to add to that the sense of belonging to a community where friends and strangers support you and only wish you well.  It all  adds up to a feeling of absolute bliss – for a couple of days or a week – who knows. But THAT feeling is the one that I am always seeking….and I achieved it running Sawtooth 2011.

Before I get started with my report – I just want to say what a first class race this is! The trail markings, the beauty of the trails and surrounding scenary, and some of the best and experienced volunteers that I have ever seen.  I was always greeted by a volunteer at every aid station ready and willing to help me! WOW. Huge Thanks to the volunteers and the RD for providing such an exceptional race in the Midwest. I will be back.

Ok…my story… Within 17 miles of starting I found myself suffering from the heat needing to lie down and cool off. From that moment on – my hope was only to stay in the race as long as I possibly could. Choosing dinner over the pre-race meeting the night before, I did not know which or when the cut-offs would begin. Therefore my initial goal was to stay alive long enough to run in the night under the almost full moon. Unfortunately hills, technical trails, and running in the heat are not my strength (why did I sign up for this again???) and I had to talk myself continually into trying to turn my shuffle into something that vaguely resembled running. Dusk soon came with cooler temps and I suddenly felt like a completely new woman! I could run, I could laugh, I was having fun. My goal was to make it to the 50mile 2am cut-off and I thought I may have a tiny chance. Running into Cty 6 aid station feeling sick to my stomach and then promptly tossing up everything  I had just ingested I declared that I was dropping. The volunteers quickly accepted that – however I asked how far it was to the 50mile aid station. It was shorter than what I had thought. I said I can make it, the aid station volunteer provided me a toweling to wipe the puke off my face and off I went.

I rolled into the 50mile AS at 2:02 with a smile on my face and feeling fine. To my relief I found no one that ordered me out of the race. As my bladder was getting refilled and I was eating the AS Captain walked over to tell me I was past the cut-off but I could continue. I thanked him.  Jim finished up replacing batteries in my headlamp and Vickie applied some bees wax to my shoulders that were starting to get rubbed raw. They all wished me well and I was out back on the trail at 2:15.

My next goal was to make 77 mile Cramer Road by 1:30pm but I would need to get through the Crosby Manitou section first. This was a tough section that I had thought would take 4.5 hours to get through. The very cool thing however was when the fast 50mile runners started buzzing by me. I would step off the trail – every single one of them gave ME encouragement. Amazing!!!! What a community.  I surprised myself arriving at Sugarloaf AS a good 30minutes ahead of my prediction!!! It was the first time that I thought I had a chance of making the 1:30 cutoff and maybe even finishing! Miranda’s mom, Mary  and friend were waiting for Miranda to come in from the 50mile but sprang into action helping me out. A volunteer came over with ice. As planned I replaced my camelback with my fuel belt and felt 20 pounds lighter. I was out of the AS in 5minutes with adrenalin flowing and a new day starting!

In this section I started seeing many of the LPTR 50milers and other trail friends that would wish me well, give me hugs and off they would go.  Feeling confident that I had the next hard cut-off in the bag I inquired about the following one. The next one was Sawbill  90miles at 5:30. Ugh!!!! How could I do that? Ok, focus on where I am and see if I can get moving faster.  I arrived at the Cramer Road AS at 1:00. WHEW made another  cut-off!!! Wonderful  Mary  and friend were STILL there  (even though Miranda had already passed by) waiting to help  me out. WOW!! 

And then the Grabowski Support Team rolled into town. Encouragement Encouragement. As  Kevin was exclaiming how well I was doing I told him I was concerned about the 5:30 cut-off – his comment was these guys know what they are doing with cut-offs you will make it. My pea brain accepted it and off I went. However as the 50milers continued to run by me I started to question that reasoning. How did these smart guys know how fast I was moving? Grabowski’s and company continued to meet me everywhere– after talking with others and reading race reports I now realize they provided support not just for me but for everyone. HOW DID THEY DO THAT???

Kevin provided the stats for me at Temperance, the aid station prior to the 5:30 cut-off. I had to do 19min miles. I replied – oh I can do that (not realizing because of my pea brain that I had only been able to muster out 20 – 22+minute miles for the past day). He cautioned that there would be climbing to do – therefore when I could run I would really have to focus and RUN. He assured me that they would be waiting for me at the next AS. It entered my head that he was concerned and didn’t think I could do this. Off I went…..my pea brain thinking that I had to make this cut-off and then they would allow me to finish.  I pushed hard….Jen and her pacer Alicia ran by me – but I was intent on hanging onto them. I followed them up the mountain, over the rocks, and then down. Alicia was wonderful guiding us through it. I didn’t have to do any of the dangerous pea brain thinking because Alicia was navigating both of us through this. Kevin came out to meet me at Sawbill and was so excited to see me coming in early that it gave me even more  energy and confidence that I could finish.

He then  jumped into action telling me to sail through the aid station – assuring me that Allison will take care of me. He will pace me – just get going and he will change his clothes and catch up. WOW!! I will spare the details of this section other than saying Kevin did a great job pushing me just the right amount always making me feel like I was just zipping through at a fast pace when reality was it was probably an easy jog for him.  We got through the next section just a couple of minutes after 7pm and told that I was ok, but would need to stay ahead of the sweeper.

I still cannot believe that I was able to make it in. Really, I owe that push at the end all to Kevin. He was exactly in the spots that I needed some guidance and encouragement and he gave it to me 200%. Even the last leg , I was so tired and my body was just twitching everywhere (I think 37+ hours on the trail will do that) and I was telling myself that I would be ok with being a finisher...I didn't need to be an official finisher under 38 hours. BUT I didn't want to disappoint Kevin and pushed myself as hard as I could. For Kevin to provide that level of support in a run that he DNF’d the day before just again shows the wonderful type of people in this community.
  Under Kevin’s direction I completed this race 15minutes before the official cut-off. All of my LPTR and trail friends were there cheering me in. So many hugs that I felt like I had just jumped into a bowl of LPTR. WOW!!!! That will be a finish that will be in my memory bank a long long time.

So much thanks to so many people that helped me reach my goal!! Wow!! This is why I run these ultras!

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