Birkie Trail Ultra Training: Week 4

Monday: 5 mi, road
Tuesday: 7.5 mi, road
Wednesday: rest
Thursday: 8.1 mi, road
Friday: 5.1 mi, trail & treadmill
Saturday: 10 mi, road & trail (Skyline Drive)
Sunday: 16.3 mi, paved trail (Gitchigami segment)
Total: 52 mi

Monday I was an idiot. I got a late start, and knew a thunderstorm was on the horizon. I thought maybe I could outrun it, or it wouldn’t be too strong at first. I was supposed to do a nice easy recovery run. With a mile and a half to go, I could sense the storm coming. I started imagining myself in a music video for “Riders on the Storm,” because what else can one do? With a mile to go it started pouring. And there was lightning. And I was kind of exposed, out at the end of the point. Long story short, I lived, but that was not the safest choice I’ve made running.

I made another delicious meal on Tuesday, inspired by The Sea Salt. I say inspired by because 1. I roasted the vegetables instead of grilling (and also didn’t use nearly the variety she does), 2. I left the garlic and green onion out of the dressing, and 3. I didn’t want to haul out my food processor and then have to clean it, so I made a “deconstructed” version of the dressing with two avocados instead of one, that had more of a guacamole texture, as you can see from the dollop on top.

It was delicious and I have a boatload of leftovers. Also roasting vegetables is very easy, even for me. I took some guidance on this from The Kitchn.

Tuesday and Thursday I did medium-length long runs on the road. The deer carcass I encountered before is still on Arrowhead Road, although it’s mostly bones now. Still, ew. Thursday, I ran a very fluid 7.5 miles along Brighton Beach and London Road. I turned around just after Glensheen, because there was some construction.

Friday I wanted to run trails, so I drove out to Lester Park. I didn’t get out there til later in the day, and I didn’t check the forecast. I heard a rumble of thunder after only a mile (and that was after encountering a vagrant’s sleeping spot, directly off the trail – thankfully no one was there, but it was startling and I’d hate to have surprised someone), and decided I’d better head back. A few times, I thought nah, I can keep going, maybe it’ll hold off, it’s just rain, etc. I am so glad I didn’t, because the storm that kicked up a few minutes after I got into my car was intense. There was a bit of hail and a lot of water, so much that I could barely see to drive home, and would have pulled off the road if I’d felt I could do so safely. I finished the rest of my run on the treadmill, which sucked. It was so humid and I was drenched at the end of the 3.2 miles.

Saturday’s run sucked. It was cooler, in the low 70s, so I thought hey, let’s give ol’ Skyline Drive a chance. It has sucked the other times I’ve run it, but it was hot then! Well, FYI, that was a bad take. I felt like death the whole time. Possibly, I needed more food, but also it didn’t seem much cooler once I got going. The whole run was slow and miserable. At Becks Road, I turned left on the snowmobile trail, thinking I’d take that until I reached 5 miles and it would be easy. It wasn’t too bad, until I reached a bridge with no railing, made of beams that had seen better days, with small gaps between them to make me trip if I wasn’t careful. So, that was terrifying, but for some reason I crossed it anyway. Meaning I had to cross it again on the way back. Stupid. The trail linked up with the trail to Ely’s Peak, and I turned around just after the spur trail to the Becks Rd SHT parking lot (the alternate one, not the main one by the Munger Trail). I might have to give this route a rest for awhile – it doesn’t seem to be doing anything for me. I also hate running on gravel. So really, why am I running this route again? I guess for something to prove.

Oh, also, I had to run the snowmobile trail route instead of running the whole thing on Skyline because someone had dumped a bunch of garbage on the Stewart Creek bridge that smelled so foul I had to drive by with the windows up. I really hate people.

Sunday’s run was awesome. Kind of. I ran from Gooseberry Falls to Split Rock and back on the Gitchigami Trail, fulfilling one of my goals for the summer. It wasn’t a warm day but with the sun and the poor air quality, it was a bit of a tough run. It ended up being over 16 miles instead of my planned 15, because I started at the trailhead. Whoops. I will do a trail review post on it separately. I felt pretty crummy at the start of the run – had a cough and a bit of a clogged head. I am paying for that today because I could barely crawl out of bed due to this cough and head cold. I don’t feel too badly about it because the cold was coming anyway, and skipping the run wasn’t going to change anything. I can’t ward off an illness or shorten its length by resting in advance – I’ve tried it many times. I don’t know when I’ll be able to run again this coming week, but at least I got in a good week of running this past week.

I’m still having a lot of doubts about the Birkie. And this cold isn’t helping – it’s only going to set back my training further. I regret the impulse I had to sign up for the race – but I’m also being a bit cowardly about it, too. Well, 10 weeks to go, a lot can still happen.

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