Eugene Curnow Trail Marathon Training: Week 1

Yes, I signed up for another marathon. I was feeling extremely unsure of myself after running Superior 25K, especially since the Moose Mountain Marathon is on the same course. I will be climbing those tough climbs after 20 miles of running, which is frightening. I decided I couldn’t let my first crack at the distance be on such a tough course. The Eugene Curnow Trail Marathon is on July 16th and starts in Duluth, so I will not need to travel. The elevation profile is a lot kinder than Superior’s, and there are a lot more aid stations. The only thing that will be an issue is heat, and I am definitely concerned about it.

This means I will not run the Park Point 5 Miler this year. It’s just a few days before the marathon, so I can’t do both. It’s kind of a bummer, but I’m not too put out. I am still signed up to do Midnight Sun Midnight Run in 4 weeks.

I am rolling over my training session from Superior 25K, and I hope to get 6 weeks of higher-mileage training followed by a gentle 2-week taper before the race. 8 weeks after that, I’ll have the Moose Mountain Marathon, and then 6 weeks after that, I’ll have Wild Duluth 50K. Unless Curnow goes HORRIBLY wrong, then I might just to the Harder ‘n Hell Half and leave my ultra debut for 2017.

Monday: 5.3 mi, trail (Lakewalk), 133 bpm
Tuesday: rest
Wednesday: 6.3 mi, treadmill (4x 0.5 mi @ 3% incline), 146 bpm
Thursday: 7.2 mi, trail (SHT @ Spirit Mountain to Cody St), 146 bpm
Friday: 8 mi, treadmill, 146 bpm
Saturday: rest
Sunday: 7.7 mi, road, 144 bpm
Total: 34.5 mi

The weather was a bit dicey this past week. Monday I ran partially in the rain, Wednesday I ran inside because of rain, Thursday I ran in mist, and Friday I stayed in because it was cold and damp and awful. Sunday I ran in full sun and 70+ F temps (and forgot sunscreen, because it was cloudy when I left. Oops.)

I felt pretty good Monday but didn’t have much pep in my step, as demonstrated by the low HR. My two treadmill sessions went pretty well, I am getting a lot better at running on treadmills. Both overall treadmill runs were done at an average pace below 15 min/mile, which is really good for me! That pace includes warm-up and cool down, too.

My one road run of the week was done at the cabin my family has rented for the summer. It was mostly done on the shoulder of a county road or on the side of a paved back road. It was really boring and I felt like crap. I had slept poorly the night before, so it’s not surprising I felt like a slug running. I did remind myself to pick up the pace at times, because it was really dragging, and I need to stop running that same, slow, mindless pace I was running in the winter; I’m better conditioned now.

My trail run was slow, but did involve a couple of significant climbs. I felt good climbing, so that is a good sign. I still have lots of room for improvement in my power hiking ability. I also need to figure out how to run faster on the runnable parts of trails. I think I’m going a decent speed and then look down at my watch and I’m running 19:XX. I suppose it could be a watch error but that’s not something I’m going to count on. I have noticed some serious GPS errors lately, both in regard to elevation and location. Take a look:


Altitude data for an out & back run


Location date for an out & back run

It is fairly obvious there are some GPS errors occurring, since I ran the exact same route going out as I did on the return trip. The course profile should be symmetric, but instead there are odd skips and jumps. There are spots on the route map that make it look like I skipped over/cut parts of the trail, which I didn’t. I am not sure how to fix it, since I am plugging in and getting updates almost daily.

In the long term, it doesn’t matter. The time on my feet and the time spent climbing is important, not the exact number of miles run or feet climbed. I can relax about the data errors and trust in my training.

I did a few sets of pushups/planks here and there during the week, but my main source of “strength training” was water-skiing, knee-boarding, and tubing. Yes, hanging on for dear life on a tight, fast turn while on an inner tube is quite strenuous. There was a bit of swimming in there too — swimming after the knee board when I fell off, swimming after the tube when I was thrown off and went skipping across the water on my butt, swimming back to the boat when I was beat. It was a pretty good long weekend!

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