Date: Fri, 2 Aug 2013 12:15:58 -0500
From: Juli Aistars
Subject: — Running through the ages
Improvement is a wonderful thing, especially when you are getting older…
Burning River is one of my favorite 100s because it is point-to-point, the course changes every year in some way and it has such a varied topography.
It is scenic and historic, starting at an old castle and running along the Cuyahoga River in parts. It is a labor of love by both the 3 RDs and the dedicated volunteers.
This was my 3rd running of Burning River and it is the 3rd 100 in the Midwest Grand Slam of Running. A Grand Slam without altitude — thank you Dale! Anastasia and I decided that we would both run USATF and we would stick together as long as it was mutually beneficial. She is better known as Super Girl Rolek, or “the tutu girl”. At one point, I passed a lady who asked why I was no longer with “the pink lady” We lost each other a few times but then found each other again. We had a blast, as always. We are both in the Grand Slam and 2 of the 3 women still standing. The 3rd is Karen Erba who I finally got to talk to online, but have not met in person. We are ages 33, 44 and 54.
So I keep getting older, and some ask me how much longer I will run 100s. It is beginning to feel like that question, “When are you retiring?” My answer is, “I intend to run 100s as long as I enjoy them.” Translation: “as long as I am addicted.” I haven’t even reached my number of years walking this Earth yet in finishes, but that IS a lot of finishes…
In 2009, I was 50 years old when I ran Burning River 100. I was DFL, barely finishing at 29:51. Granted it was hot and poured rain all night with lots of mud but I was just not well enough trained for it and I was surprised by how challenging a course in Ohio could be. I struggled and had a pacer for the last 30 miles. I don’t believe I would have finished without Julie.
In 2011, I was 52 and ran Burning River in 28:52. The weather was hot but I thought the course seemed somewhat easier than 2009. I was happy with the 1 hour improvement — but it didn’t pour rain all night and they took the little mountain out of the course. Or did I hallucinate the rock ledges hanging over my head as we went ’round and ’round the little mountain in 2009? Julie?
This year, it rained but it was a pleasant rain, not hard, keeping us cool. It was the mud that made it difficult. The course is surprisingly hilly in the single-track trail sections, with roots and rocks. There are also stairs, not as much as Laurel Valley, but there are stairs. There are cinder block stairs, railroad ties, stone steps and wood stairs. There had been rain in the previous week so the rain last Saturday made for lots of shoe-sucking mud. I finished in 26:37, reaching the 50.5 mile mark in 10:40. Mud was my main excuse for a very positive split. But I was happy, because this was a big improvement, even though I am older at age 54 with a birthday looming in the fall…
I used to run events of all distances on an average of 50-55 miles a week. Since recovering from the injuries and 3 months off, I decided to experiment a little. My average is now 70 miles a week. I put in 358 miles in the month of June. A big reason for it is eating differently. Recovery seems very quick these days, even though I am older… I can run 10 miles
at a 9 minute pace within a few days of finishing 100. I could not do that in the past. I followed one 100 mile finish with 70 miles the very next week. In the past, I pretty much barely ran the week following a 100 mile event.
So my times are not great on trails, but they are getting better, even though I am getting older.
Val crewed me, though crew can’t see the runners often. I had no pacer since I ran USATF. I spent very little time alone though, either running with Anastasia or Ramon. Ramon was always smiling and happy. He asked me if I wanted a date. I thought he liked older women until I realized he was talking about the dates that you eat . He wore minimal slippers and I
stayed with him when he was slipping and falling in the mud as he had no tread on his shoes. He said he had shoes at mile 86 that were better and he would change. He finally got too far behind me and I went on, finding Anastasia again after I had lost her for a while. Then Ramon caught up, looking strong. He stayed with us because he couldn’t resist the great
company . When my lights were going dim, he lit the trail for both of us. We found our way together, being very careful not to miss markers. There had been some cases of runners missing aid stations. Except for once when we couldn’t find a marker and a whole group of us fanned out to solve the puzzle, the markers seemed good, with a flag about every 1/10 of a
mile. There were white arrows on the road, ribbons in the trees in confusing spots, and lots of ground flags on the right side.
Val loaned Ramon his sweatshirt when it was getting cool in the morning. In the last 10 miles, I told Ramon to go ahead if he felt like going faster. He said he didn’t want to run too fast or he would sweat on Val’s shirt. He is funny… “We can wash it,” I said Ramon lives in New York city and he is super polite. He thought the surroundings were so beautiful. He loves
getting out of the city and on the trails. This was his first 100 mile finish. Congratulations Ramon! Thank you for your great company, for the light, for the dates!
I fell in the mud twice. I sat in it and got covered by it as I tried to get back on my feet. The 2nd time, a lady runner helped me up. I didn’t want to give her my muddy hand. She said something like, “It doesn’t matter, we are all in this together.” I didn’t thank her properly. If you are on the list, please write to me so I can tell you how much I appreciated your “helping hand”.
Gotta love ultras! Gotta love life!
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