An Athlete's Diary
Saturday afternoon – The only thing keeping me going is my commitment to finishing this event. My mind is stronger than it has ever been before. I have long ago separated it from my body because my body has been screaming to quit for some time now.
I have typically written about an event after the race has been run. This time, however, I’ll write about it before it takes place. This time I will document the vision I have for completing the Sawtooth 100.
A footrace through the reaches of dark and ethereal northern boreal forests. Not for the faint of heart or the weak willed. Each and every single footfall is greeted by earth bound by roots and littered with rocks. A challenge fit only for champions. The ultimate test of man and woman. Thus, giving rise to its eternal name; RUGGED, RELENTLESS, REMOTE – Superior
It’s three weeks and one day before my second attempt at Superior 100. I’ve finished the 50 mile twice and learned a lot in my only attempt at the 100 mile distance on the Superior Hiking Trail. Superior100 is a point to point 103 mile footrace along the north shore of Lake Superior in North Eastern Minnesota.
This summer I’ve completed two other ultras with a DNF at Zumbro due to lightning and torrential rain. It has all built to this. The next three weeks will play a big role in how I fair at Superior. In this writing I’m going to write a story detailing my vision of success leading up to and eventually finishing the Superior 100 Mile.
Let me start with my starting point. Right now, as I sit here writing this, I’m looking forward to some miles on Saturday, August 16th at Interstate State Park with my cousin and one of my pacers for this year’s event Dann. I haven’t run much with Dann but if there is anyone I would want pushing me and seeing me to the finish it’s Dann, who is a veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan. We have spent many days together in the north woods and I’m looking forward to having him by my side on Saturday, September 6th. My other pacer is my brother, Jesse. He’s been with me at all of my events save a few. He was with me through the night in 2013 and we settled in to a pretty good rhythm as the sun was coming up Saturday morning a year ago. I’m looking forward to having him there to help me through the night again in a few weeks.
On the 26th of July I finished my 11th ultra, the Voyageur 50 Mile. It was a hot day and I was able to avoid cramping or crashing too bad. The trail was tame in comparison to the one we will attempt to conquer upcoming, however. Late in Voyageur, at an aid station, I had the honor of meeting John Taylor, who at Superior 13’ carried us and a group of others into Sonju Lake Aid. Jesse and I did not leave with that group which ultimately contributed to my not finishing the event. I am encouraged going into Superior this time around knowing I have so much support coming from inside the ultra-community and beyond.
I have spent the past week on vacation with family, then at father/son camp with Caden. We had a blast. I was able to sneak away with my brother – in – law for 9 miles in the middle of our trip. At camp, we did a lot of running and playing games and I treated most of that activity like training too. More speed than I’m used to so it’ll be vital that I settle in to a good power pace before toeing the line at Superior.
A few weeks back I went through and created a detailed timeline with cutoffs and what my average pace needs to be in order to cross the finish line before the 10:00pm time limit on Saturday night. Here’s that (the min/mile is from the start of the event and it reads
miles – hrs – minutes – min/mile):
24.9 – 8 – 480 – 19.28
34.8 – 11:30 – 690 – 19.83
43.4 – 14 – 840 – 19.35
51.1 – 17:30 – 1050 – 20.55
72.2 – 27:45 – 1665 – 23.01
77.8 – 29:40 – 1780 – 22.88
90.6 – 33:30 – 2010 – 22.19
96.1 – 25 – 2100 – 21.85
103.2 – 38 – 2280 – 22.09
There you have it. The aid stations go Gooseberry, Split Rock, Beaver Bay, Silver Bay, Tettagouche, County Road 6, Finland (50 mile), Sonju Lake Road, Crosby, Sugarloaf, Cramer Road, Temperance, Sawbill, Oberg, Lutsen (FINISH).
Three weeks out I will do a number of miles on a trail similar to SHT at Interstate with Dann, then on the 22nd, Jesse and I will head up to the trail and cover a few of the most challenging sections to train on the course. We’ll likely hit the first section or two to establish pace, the overnight section, Crosby, the south side of Carlton’s Peak and will likely finish our weekend with the Oberg section which I have the most experience on of any other section and know what to expect. The plan is to move from 2 – 7 on Friday, 8 – 6 on Saturday and 8 – 10 or 11 on Sunday. We may camp on the trail or camp off the trail, TBD on the fly. This will be the second year of our training on the trail and I’m looking forward to getting some miles in on the track. Our BIG BLOCK on the trail will be a contributing factor to our success this year at Superior.
My vision continues to refine itself as September 5 and 6 approaches. I am focused. I am committed. I am determined. I am excited. I am preparing and will be prepared when the time comes to move.
I’ll eat and drink early and go out slower than my body will want. I will take my medicine on parts of the course that don’t allow for speed and I will take what the trail gives when gravity helps. I will leverage my crew, pacers and aid station workers, who will likely be able to see things that I will not. I will trust my judgment even when it might seem cloudy. I will be decisive and continue moving forward. I will persevere until I reach the end. My mind will be strong. I will not give up. I will be successful. I will make decisions that get me to the finish line within the allotted time. I will succeed. My mind will be sharp. My attitude will be positive. I will be grateful for the opportunity to compete with myself and challenge myself in a way that will push me further than I’ve ever been pushed before. I am grateful for the opportunity to differentiate myself by overcoming barriers in my mind that will tell me to stop. I will keep going. I will put one foot in front of the other. I will eat. I will drink. I will be positive. I will finish. My feet will be fleet. My mind will be sharp. I am focused. I am trained. I am ready. I am prepared to finish my training strong. I have amazing support. I am focused.
That was fun. Proclaim it to be and it will become. What in your life do you want? What are you committed to? What is your vision? Do you see it clearly? Search for it and find it. Once you do, it will become clearer and begin to manifest itself. You first need to see it, and then it will happen. Focus and refine your vision. Keep moving by taking committed action towards that vision. Reinforce your dreams by talking about them often. You’ll begin living them and your life will become one that you had only dreamed of!
Thank you for your support.
Jon Howard – Husband and Father of 3 | Ultra Endurance Athlete | Owner – Training Edge Sports
Training Edge Sports, LLC