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Title:Voyageur 50 mile Race Report - Aging Gracefully!
Date:Sunday July 30th, 2017
Author:Juli Aistars
I used to be so sure of race finishes.

Not so much any longer.

I am getting older, not as strong, have to train harder and still the results are not as good.

But I love running and running events, enjoying the outdoors, seeing friends, meeting people. So I persist...

In trail runs, I've become one of the older women out there at age 58. I am running with people younger than my kids but still older than my grandson. I am a Grandma. Shouldn't I start acting like one? I certainly don't want to look like one... My friend, Sandy, started running in her 60s. Some told her, "Why don't you act your age?" as if this was an embarrassment.

I took on the Voyageur 50 mile yesterday, a tough race, old school, hand timing and lots of volunteers to check you in and out of aid stations. You can sign up race morning. Scott Kummer and Matt Condron drove up from the Chicago area so there were at least 3 Illinoisans there.

I admit, I was nervous about making the 14 hour cutoff and chasing cutoffs. A finish is no longer a given and yet when I finish a hard race, it means a lot more. I am tickled pink, as my Mom would say.

I had my 3rd graduate nursing student in the last 2 years this summer at work. I love students! We learn from each other but it always "tickles" me that they are so impressed with all I do. To me, it has come on gradually, that confidence in my ideas, experience, knowledge and ability to make people in a life threatening situation "less afraid". I also love that I say what's on my mind and fight for what is right without fear. Not only do I not get in trouble - they love me for it and I get awards. I can be a brat but only for the sake of others :)

In one sense, I have come into my own as I've aged. In the physical sphere, I am losing ground.

My student, Katie, gave me a parting gift of a running bracelet made of soft material with a metal plaque saying, "Neverthless, she persisted". Scott Kummer told me he would pass me at mile 44. He also told me he uses the Hoka Challenger for all his races. If you follow Scott, you know he's had a very good year knocking off the very races that were his nemesis in recent years. The fact that he was gunning for me, even all in good fun, kept me moving when I could have slowed down. Thank you, Scotty!!!

Armed with my new "Challengers" on my feet and Katie's bracelet on my wrist, and knowing my friends were out there too, I was determined to "persist".

The Voyageur 50, a race that's been on my list, did not disappoint. Though there are runnable sections, the tough sections are really tough. Steep ups and downs, rocks and roots, drop offs and dangerous ledges, water crossing, lots of mud - and more rocks. The temps were in the 80s so this made it easier than the 90s.

I met a local, Jeff, doing his first 50 who knew the course well. I saw Deb, Brad and Robert from Wisconsin and a few others I know. But mostly, I ran with young kids! I came upon a 20 something in the later miles who was very fast but blew up with a sick stomach. He said, "I'll make the cutoff but I feel like sh**!" He had no intention of quitting and you have to respect that. I gave him an electrolyte and moseyed on - as you would expect from a Grandma :)

A few times, when it got rough, cramps in my legs as I was trying to negotiate a very steep long muddy downhill and ended up with my legs flailing over the edge. I was screaming in pain with nothing to push my feet against but thin air - I remembered, "Nevertheless, she persisted." And I did. Others around me offered a hand but I politely declined. "On my own power" is all I could think.

Speaking of "own power", there was no rule about hiking poles and the terrain would have warranted them but I only saw one person with them besides Jeff Rock who made his own out of 2 sturdy sticks. Those Minnesotans are tough!!!

The volunteers were outstanding in every way! The cold water on my head after the power lines was amazing! There was a lady on the jeep roads with a portable sprayer to hose us down. Lots of ice available and I chewed it, put it in the jog bra and shorts as one of the volunteer ladies instructed :) I am an ice chewer and need to break this addiction before I break a tooth!

What an experience! As I ran into the finish line at 12 hours and 54 minutes, over an hour before the 14 hour cutoff, in my head I was thinking, "Nevertheless, she persisted" and "Gracefully done at any age!"

Riding shotgun home to IL - but it feels more like flying!

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Posted:July 30th, 2017 5:23 pm
Last View:June 6th, 2020 11:15 am
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