Birkie Trail Run Training: Week 6

Yep, it doesn’t say ultra in the title.

Monday: 7.1 mi, road
Tuesday: 10.5 mi, road
Wednesday: 6 mi, trail (Bagley and Hartley)
Thursday: rest (it was cold! perfect rest day!)
Friday: 7.6 mi, road
Saturday: 3.1 mi, pavement & trail (Run Like An Animal 5K)
Sunday: 15.7 mi, trail (SHT – Jay Cooke to the southern terminus & back)
Total: 50.1 mi

I’ve officially thrown in the towel on running the Birkie Trail Ultra. I’m just not ready, nor have I put in the work that I knew I would need to. Part of that of course is because I was sick and I was studying for the FE exam, but part of it is also my own lack of commitment to the non-running side of training (diet and strength training, specifically). Rather than spend like $400 on lodging, transportation, and supplies, I can spend a small amount of money on an administrative fee to switch to the Birkie Marathon, which I can drive to and from on race day.

It is a weight off my shoulders. I am so thankful the race offers this option. Now I can run a new race in a new setting, and I can run Wild Duluth again for sure. I win! I will save my mileage personal best for another season. I signed up for the Birkie Ultra on an impulse, when I was feeling sorry for myself about FANS. I didn’t think it through. Maybe if the cutoff was easier, I’d still go for it. I just don’t want to miss an early time cut and end up spending a ton of money on a hotel for a disappointing race with an early end for the second time this year.

Speaking of FANS, I am in Tulsa, OK this week, and during the flight leg from Duluth to Minneapolis, our approach took us right over the FANS course. How nice.

I did have a great training week last week! I bounced right back from my cold (which I gave to my husband) and reached that coveted 50 mile mark for the week again. I intend to continue to increase my mileage over the next few weeks, before cutting back during my road trip to Maine, and then of course racing at the end of September.

I was pretty proud of myself for running over 10 miles on a weekday. When I started running, the idea of a double digit weekday run was unfathomable for me. I wouldn’t have the time! Especially if it was fall or winter. This route was a hilly 10 miles, too – I ran the steep hill on Glenwood, the long hill on Arrowhead, and the big hill on Rice Lake Road. It was a little darker than expected when I finished, but not headlamp-dark. My legs were heavy for the trail run the following day, but I just took it easy.

Friday’s run kind of wore me out for the 5K on Saturday, but I don’t mind. The 5K was a whim, and it was kind of interesting to try to run fast on less-than-fresh legs. I was once again racing a storm on Friday, and several times considered cutting my run short due to threatening skies, but I managed to beat out the rain by a fair amount of time.

Saturday’s run was of course covered in my race report. Sunday’s run was pretty awesome. I got a late start due to my strange anxiety over long runs. I knew I wanted to run 16 miles, and I knew it was going to take a long time. Instead of starting and getting it over with, I worried and procrastinated and stressed myself out about it. I don’t know why I care how long a training run takes – I had the day to myself and no obligations to fulfill.

I really love this section of the SHT. It’s got lots of spots to run, and then a couple tough hills. I like that mix. There was one stretch of overgrown trail that I hated – I imagined myself crawling with ticks from the long grass. I checked myself later and didn’t appear to have any on me. Ew ew ew. The new section of trail from Wild Valley Road to the southern terminus is nice! It’s a lot of ups and downs, but very shady and pleasant. Some really great work has been put into this trail!

Once I got through to the last 3 miles or so of the return trip, things just clicked. I realized that I was zipping along around 14-15 min pace, sometimes faster, even after 13+ miles. I even ran a few uphills. Granted, this section is more gentle as it’s ski trails, but I still was pretty amazed that even after laboring through some of the tough sections in the middle, barely slogging along uphill, I had plenty of energy in my legs for the last few miles, and I cruised. Things are starting to click. 16 miles (well, 15.7) might take me awhile still, but it feels a lot more natural than it used to. Maybe it’s the higher mileage weeks kicking in, or maybe it’s just overall experience. Either way, it felt great to finish a long trail run without being destroyed.

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