Monday, September 12, 2011

Sawtooth chewed me up and spit me out…

Another Superior report...This one is from LPTR Jodie Taylor who made Superior her 50 mile debut! :

When you tell someone you’re going to run an ultra, do they tell you they think you’re crazy? What is crazier, sitting on the couch watching tv for several hours or running on a beautiful trail in the woods for several hours?

I recall looking up races last June after the 38 mile fun run and feeling inspired to set a goal to run my first 50 mile race in the fall. I came upon the Sawtooth website and thought, wow it’s beautiful there! That’s where I want to run. I talked about it with Marcel and Jose. Then Jose was talking about it with Sam at LP on a rainy wed. night and after a few beers, Sam was convinced. After no beers, Jose, Marcel and I were convinced…wait, does that make us crazy?
Of course, I make my decision after getting the details from the experienced runners, of which I really appreciate all of the heads up information from Jim Blanchard. Well, there was no turning back; I had already accepted the ass-kicking. I’ve had ass-kickings before from field hockey and lacrosse, as well as from Kung Fu, so I figured at least I’ll be mentally ready if I’m not physically ready.

It’s Friday night and we are sitting on the grass listening to the race director. Meanwhile I feel like I’m back in high school, ignoring the coach’s pre-game speech because Mary, Deb, Jim and Melinda are clowning around making me laugh. I think it was mostly Mary, Deb and Jim, because Melinda and I were being super serious…NOT!

Sat. morning, time to get up! Hair braided…check…Melinda’s hair braided…check…Krishna’s hair braided…next race…

I think it’s funny that I’m being driven 52 miles away on the Freddy Kruger bus at 5am, dropped off and even funnier that I have chosen to run back. AND there are 70 something other people in it with me! So many thoughts are going through my head, besides Freddy Kruger, should I wear my long sleeve shirt to start? Should I use the bathroom again? Will it still be dark? Or will the sunlight start coming through the trees? Should I take a nap? Should I take some pictures? How long is this going to take me?

I spent the whole summer looking forward to Sawtooth, thinking how it seemed so far into the future, and in a flash it was time to start the race. Where did all of my preparation time go? This is it…ready or not!

During the first few miles, I was full of nervous excitement. It was fun to start running in an LPTR train. Eventually, we all started breaking off into smaller groups. Running with Jose and Sam the 1st half was entertaining to say the least. I think around mile 20, I started falling behind. Climbing the rocky steeps were wearing out my legs on top of maintaining the pace. I’d slowly catch up to them and then the rock climbing would slow me down again. I soon decided that I’d just listen for Sam’s “Wooooooooo!!!!!” to make sure I was still heading in the right direction and wasn’t falling too far behind. I’d hear Sam and Jose yell out my name and I’d yell back. Fun games. Sometime in the middle of those games, Marty caught up to us from a 20 min set back! Wow Marty! Way to kick it up a notch! The 4 of us ran together for a bit and then it was Marty and I, going through lows and highs together. It would have been awesome to try to catch up to Marcel (who I knew was definitely having a good race, so there was no way we were catching up to him) and it would have been great to stay on pace with Jose and Sam and finish with all of them, but I knew my legs didn’t want to go any faster, especially when I reached mile 40.

I’m one of those people that when things get tough, I shut out outside influences and instead I dig deep inside to pull myself up, out or forward. I stop talking and just turn on auto-pilot. It almost looks like my eyes are glazed over (well, they probably were). I just stop thinking about everything to drop into the zone. But what I’ve learned from this race is that sometimes a little outside help mixed in can make a big difference.  Seeing Robyn, Kevin and Allison at the aid stations was a huge boost! Robyn filling me up with Mountain Dew Code Red was awesome! I think we should get sponsored by Mountain Dew. And Kevin filling my hydration pack for me, what a saviour! I dropped that thing so many times in the dirt at the aid stations, it was brown instead of blue and then I was covered in a mix of sweat, dirt, perpetuem and water…lovely a brown paste all over me. I looked like I had been rolling in the dirt instead of running a trail race.

Meanwhile, I noticed Marty was getting his 2nd wind and I was not. I kept telling him to go ahead, I’ll be ok. He kept telling me no, we are going to finish together. Good thing he didn’t listen to me, because I don’t think I was making any sense the last 12 miles. I’d come into the aid stations and everyone would ask me what I needed and I’d respond slowly with “IIII dooooon’t knooooow…” Yes, that slowly. And as I would say that, I would be thinking in my head, ‘I don’t know? Really Jodie? That’s all you can get out of your mouth?’ Then I’d come out of my daze and realize what I wanted refilled. Oh this is another great moment. I’m super dirty and salty and just want to wash my face. So what do I wash my face with?...Heed…After my face is all wiped down, I’m thinking, geez, why does Heed smell so strongly to me right now? Duh! Because it’s all over my face! Hahahaha! So the lady at the aid station offers me water to rinse off the Heed…and what do I say? “Oh no, I’ll be ok.” Hahahaha! Then I took a moment to think about what I just said and was like “What am I saying?! Yes, please may I have some water?!” Like I said, I’m glad Marty didn’t listen to me. I wanted him to run ahead and get a better time, but selfishly, when it got dark, I was really thankful he was there. I’m afraid of the dark, shhh…don’t tell anyone. Marty is a great team player and selfless. He put up with me stopping several times because I needed to get the stones out of my shoes. The 2nd time, he said, maybe they’re just blisters. I’m all “Oh no, I don’t have any blisters…” The 3rd time, yeah, there were no stones stuck between my toes…Marty was right, they were blisters. I guess I’d better stop wearing kids’ socks.

Climbing up Moose Mountain was painful, but watching the sun set was beautiful and made it mostly worth it. 

Now we are in the pitch dark…what? Another hill to climb? What is this Mystery Mountain? No, no mysteries! I don’t need a mystery…just the finish line please!
Did anyone else see the fiery red moon in the pitch black? That was amazing and creepy at the same time.  Good thing I wasn’t by myself, I would have started thinking about Texas chainsaw massacre, Freddy Kruger again and so on…

Now I’m starting to hear the cheers as people are crossing the finish line…Oh we are sooooo close and still so far away. When we came out of the trees and onto the road by the gondola, all I kept thinking was, “do the flags lead us to the gondola and the gondola will take us to the finish line? No no Jodie, that doesn’t make any sense, they said we finish by the pool” But little did I realize, the finish line was right around the corner behind the wedding reception! Yay!
After 15 hours, it was exhilarating to hear everyone cheering at the finish line and to see all of the LPTRs smiling faces. Marcel, who introduced me to trail running, Jose who always boxes me in on our training runs, so I don’t fall behind, Melinda who cracks me up and speaks the same language as me (aka - nonsense) and all of the other LPTRs that I’m getting to know more and more. 

This weekend has been such an amazing experience, and very inspirational. Jim running while recovering from Lyme’s disease, Julie coming first in the open division for women for the 100 miler, Christine who has been away for a bit coming back and finishing as the second women in the  masters 50 mile, wow! Kevin kept saying he DNF’ed, but what I remember is his energy at the aid stations for us 50 milers and finding Angela along her 100 mile race and pacing her to the finish line under the cut off! I’m so fortunate to know all of these crazy and amazing people!

Thanks everyone for another great race, I’m looking forward to the next one!

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