Well, I maybe didn't learn to love it, but for the first time in my experience with the Superior races I got to cover this section without being in a complete physical and mental pain, fighting to just keep moving forward, close enough to know I would finish, but far enough away to know I still had some work to do.
There's a good portion of this section that is very runnable! I had no idea. In my previous experience I remembered it as a miserable section that never ends.
I finished yesterday running up the gravel road all the way to the finish, instead of my past finishes where I would burst into tears when I got to the gravel road and slowly drag myself to the end.
I finished the 50K yesterday in 6:22. I was guessing/aiming for about 6 hours, but since the treadmill-to-trail time estimation is always a tough one to do, I never really know what to expect. I'm happy with my time. I think that maybe if I'd really pushed it I could have cut 3-5 minutes off, but not much more. My time was good enough for 3rd place women's open.
I was very lucky to meet Rachel early on in the race and we ran from probably mile 4 to the finish together. This was her first trail run (and she loved it) and her first ultra! It was great to have the company and camaraderie throughout the run, and it worked out great because we seemed to have a very similar pace for the race.
I fell only once, an "uphill" fall leaving just a slight scrape. I started to fall and caught myself a dozen or more times. Rachel did a "downhill" fall, a.k.a. the "superman" and has an awesome bruise/scrape badge of honor.
Starting the run I was not "feeling it". I had pulled myself out of bed at 6:30a, not really wanting to go. I ran the first couple miles thinking to myself that it'd be awfully easy to just turn around and walk back. Ultimately I'm glad I worked myself through the rough spots.
I stayed the night at the Mountain Inn. I had been planning on sleeping in my car, but once I arrived in Lutsen I realized I really didn't want to do that. I have a feeling my car sleeping days might be over (unless I literally don't have the choice). I slept in my car before the Superior 50 mile in 2005 and before the Fargo Marathon (where I qualified for Boston) in 2006.