Race Report: Grand Traverse Duluth

Official Results:
Time: 4:57
Pace: 18:27
Overall: 32/48

Watch Results:
Time: 4:57:17
Pace: 17:09/mi
Distance: 17.33 mi (hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha)
Heart Rate: N/A (I didn’t wear it since it has been malfunctioning)

A: 4:30

What I ate the night before: burrito bowl (I’ve made better choices in life than this one)
What I ate on race morning: Clif bar
What I carried with me: 1 Clif bars, 5 Gu packets, Powerade

What I wore: t-shirt, shorts, ball cap, buff (which I took off right away)
Gadgets: GPS watch, fitness tracker

Discussion: Well, that was a new experience for me. Grand Traverse is a very low-key run, not even a race. At sign-up, it asks if you are hiking, running and hiking, or running. Why, I do not know. I said running and hiking, because that’s what I do! I like that it is not just for runners; it’s also a supported hike. There aren’t even timing chips or bibs, and there’s only a finisher token (a special rock?) for the 27 and 21 mile runners.

The morning started off ok. I had planned to get up early, get all my gear together, go get a coffee and snack, and then relax at home for a bit. I decided race morning that I’d rather sleep a bit more and skip the coffee. This was a very good decision, but a latte would have tasted nice. I filled my hydration pack, checked my gear, took a super fast shower since I’d run a few miles on the treadmill the night before and wanted to start the race smelling a little better, then got dressed and headed out. I poured most of a 30 oz Powerade bottle into a 20 oz bottle I re-use, and then tossed the rest of the bottle in my gear bag before I left. The lid was not on, so it spilled all over everything in my bag. It was a good thing I wasn’t planning on wearing my heart rate monitor.

I arrived at Fitgers at about 7:15 (15 minutes prior to bus departure), checked in (I told them my name, they put a check mark by it, that was it), and then talked to a guy for a little while until the bus showed up. We all trooped onto the bus (all the 16 mile runners fit on one bus!) and I chatted with a guy from northwestern MN who got stuck sitting with me. I gave him a few tips on the course from my experiences. We piled off the bus just outside the Magney-Snively parking lot, got off, listened to a very short speech, and then started running. We started the race on the road and crossed the bridge over Stewart Creek before getting on the Superior Hiking Trail, rather than starting on the spur trail from the Magney-Snively trailhead.

Start – Highland/Getchell: 5.9 mi, 2:04:40, 21:12 section pace
Ew, that section pace looks bad now that I’ve calculated it. My GPS was off by over a mile during this section and it was extremely annoying. I thought I was doing really well. I mean, I knew my GPS would be off a little bit, but the pace was off by almost 4 minutes. It was disheartening, for sure. I did realize that my goal was a bit ridiculous, but since I didn’t put too much thought into it or into the race in general, I’m unconcerned about missing it.

I was leapfrogging with a few groups of people during this section, but put them behind me once we got to the climbs. Since I know the course very well, I was able to be very strategic about my pacing. I knew when the stairs out of Spirit Mountain were coming, and I also knew the section that followed it is easy enough that I could keep running even though I felt like donkey crap after getting to the top. I thought I ran this section well, bombing down the hill to the Knowlton Creek crossing, pushing harder than I usually do, but I guess I had too many slowdowns. It’s a tough section with lots of uphill, so I need to cut myself a little slack. It’s going to be a lot harder 3 weeks from now.

I felt a little off for most of the run, thanks to the burrito bowl. I wasn’t stopping in the bushes or anything, but I felt really bloated and my abdomen was a bit distended which made running uncomfortable at times. It was a tasty burrito so whatever. I ate a gel right before the stairs at Spirit Mountain and another before the climb into the aid station at Highland/Getchell. I was in & out at the aid station; I ate a donut hole and took some pretzels to go. They didn’t have any pop or potato chips, alas.

I was passed by a couple of 27 mile runners during this section, which was a bit disheartening, but they did have an hour and a half head start and were of course faster than me.

Highland/Getchell to 24th Ave W: 5.7 mi, 1:39:41, 17:29 section pace
This section went a lot better, although I either misread the race map or it was mislabeled, because I thought this section was 5 miles long. I finally remembered that it was 5.7 miles and calmed myself down about it. I was really getting frustrated with my GPS at that point, and thinking even my backup plans of 5 hours and 5.25 hours were going to go out the window. So much for going with the flow in a low-key run.

It was misty during this section of the course, which is a bit of a problem for a foureyes like me. I could still see through my glasses but I did have to wipe them off a few times. Good thing the bottom of my t-shirt wasn’t sopping with sweat. I slowed during rocky sections, as the mist had made the rocks wet. I was passed by a few more 27 milers, including one guy who said he had gotten off trail for awhile. I told him he was still only like the 6th or 7th runner and he seemed surprised and happy to hear it. I ate a gel a bit before the big climb of this section, and had a bit of a Clif bar as well.

I passed some 10 mile hikers during this section, and rolled into the aid station long enough to eat a cookie and take a cup of pretzels. And also to find out the final section was only about 4.5 miles, not 5.2 like I thought. I was elated.

24th Ave W to Fitger’s: 4.5 mi, 1:12:54, section pace 16:12
I left the aid station feeling really good, ate my pretzels while wishing they were chips, and then tried to pick up the pace a bit. I think overall I ran the section to Enger better than I usually do. I rang the peace bell as I ran through Enger Park, and then began my descent. I knew I would be on sidewalks and paved trail once I finished the descent, and I was excited, although my bloated tummy was making running a little uncomfortable. My hands were really puffy, as usual.


It me.

Once I got to Superior St, I was ready to start running. I crossed the highway and headed down by Bayfront. I crossed the railroad tracks, thinking how annoying it would be if I got stuck waiting for the scenic railroad to pass by. I crossed Railroad St. and passed the aquarium and AMSoil Arena, then enjoyed the cool (if a bit strong) wind off the lake as I hit the back end of the Lakewalk.

There were a lot of tourists around at this point, and I must have been a sight to behold, sweaty and salty with dirty legs and an air of sloppy desperation. I wanted to be done and I was still hoping to come in well ahead of 5 hours. I was nearly mowed down by a Segway tour while running behind the arena, and then I reached the slip bridge and realized it was up.

I had not considered that the stupid slip bridge would be on the course, but I was there just in time for a Vista Cruise departure. So I stood there for probably five minutes, as best I could tell, with no choice besides running all the way down the slip past the Irvin and then back around. That would prb take almost as long and would take a lot more energy than standing there. But I was fuming. I was like “I’m never running this again, this is so dumb, rahrhahrehsdkfhadk.” It finally went down and then a bunch of people were in my way and I managed to restrain myself from shoving them aside or at least making a rude comment, but just barely. I passed the real lift bridge and a bunch of people milling around the waterfront. Fortunately there weren’t too many tourists and it thinned out once I got past the canal. I could see the Fitger’s smokestack and was ready to be done.

I wasn’t exactly sure where the race ended. I thought it might end at the base of the stairs up to Fitger’s from the Lakewalk, but no, that was not the case. The race ended after I ascended the stairs and crossed the little bridge over the Lakewalk. There was a little table near the building, I told them my name, and they wrote down the time of day next to my name. That’s as formal as the timing was. They were out of race shirts in my size (they allow registration up til the day before the race, so this isn’t a shock; they are going to send me one) and none of the food at the table looked appealing (I did want a cookie, but they were out of everything but sugar cookies), so I walked through the Fitger’s shopping complex, stinking and filthy, and got in my car to drive back home.

I stopped to get a latte and a snack on the way home, and then hung out for a few hours, relaxing. Well, not relaxing, as I didn’t feel super great when I got home, but I felt well enough to go to the Bulldog hockey game with my mom at 4. I ate some fries there, and then ordered a pizza and breadsticks when I got home.

After the race, I thought I’d never do it again, and if I’d written my review right after I got home (it’s Saturday night right now), I’d have had a lot more negative things to say. But this race was supposed to be a training run, it was supposed to be low-key and fun, and I let myself forget that. I would like to do the full Grand Traverse at least once. The cutoff is kind, based on a 3 mph pace. I can do that for 27 miles, I think. I did it for 26.2, after all.

I did push the pace more than I normally do in a race, and I didn’t fall apart. I will need to give that a shot at Wild Duluth. I was very tentative during the Moose Mountain Marathon. Maybe I try not to be so tentative with WD50K. I don’t know, we’ll see how it feels. I still need to eat more. Like, why didn’t I take 3 donut holes instead of one? Or two cookies instead of one? These are easy fixes but I just don’t think of them in the moment.

I do know I am so, so excited to sleep as late as I feel like tomorrow. Man that is gonna be sweet.

One thought on “Race Report: Grand Traverse Duluth

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