Race Report: Superior 25K 2018

Official Results:
Time: 3:49:45 (16 minute improvement over last year, 62 minute improvement over 2016)
Pace: 14:48
Placing:
Overall: 217/297
Gender: 98/164
AG (F 1-39): 54/83

Watch Results:
Time: 3:49:53
Pace: 15:48
Distance: 14.54 mi (somehow the exact same GPS distance as last year!)
Heart Rate: N/A

Goals:
A: 3:59:59

Food:
What I ate the night before: salmon BLT with fries, bagel and cream cheese
What I ate on race morning: bagel with cream cheese
What I carried with me: 2 gel packets (I ate 2 and grabbed 2 at the AS), water. I ate 2 cookies, 2 cups of Coke, and a cup of ginger ale at the AS.

Gear:
What I wore: t-shirt, shorts, ball cap, buff,
Gadgets: GPS watch, fitness tracker, hydration pack

Discussion: Oh man, I really love this race! Of course I’m glowing because I finally got under 4 hours, but I always find myself more fulfilled and happy after a Rocksteady Running event.

This year has been a lot different as I no longer live in Duluth. The drive is now 4 hours instead of 1.5, which sucks. I feel so far away from home right now (and my cats!) There’s a lot of construction between St. Paul and Duluth, too, but we left early enough to avoid traffic since I was signed up to volunteer. I thought I had to be there at 3:00, so I was ridiculously early for the actual check-in (it began at 4), but there was plenty to do. I was tasked with selling merchandise again this year, which is fun. I like talking to other runners and I always like the other people who I’m working alongside. It is so great to see those people out on the trail, or volunteering the next day, when I need a pick-me-up during a race. Every friend I’ve made as a runner has been from volunteering, and every time I volunteer, I make new friends.

After my shift was over, I was pretty drained from all the talking and from being on my feet, and also very hungry. We had dinner at the lodge restaurant and then watched a movie (Munich, which is boring and long) before lights out. I actually slept, sort of! I woke up early, though, so I probably only got about 4 hours of sleep. That’s way better than normal. I still don’t understand why I woke up at 5:45 but whatever. I laid in bed til 7 regardless.

Usually I do a lot of prep work the night before a race: lay out all my stuff, stock my hydration pack, etc. This time, I did basically nothing. That was kind of dumb as I did waste some time finding stuff and prepping. I also didn’t make a checklist of race day to-dos, which resulted in me nearly forgetting to put on my bib. Whoops. I “made” my bagel and cream cheese, walked over to the race headquarters for the mandatory race day check-in, and decided it was warm enough to skip my arm warmers. It wasn’t even raining! Miraculous. It was fairly humid, though, and without a breeze, the air was very… present. I went back to the hotel room to finish getting ready, and finally made it out the door just after 7:45. Not bad for an 8 AM start! This is literally the greatest race for that reason specifically.

I didn’t bother to warm up, because I obviously didn’t have the time, but I hadn’t planned on it. I don’t think it’s as necessary for me in long runs like this, although the beginning of this race is fast since it’s on the road.

I’ve run this race two other times, plus I’ve done a few training runs on the same trails, and I’ve run the marathon which includes the same trail (in only one direction).  I really reaped the benefits of that this year. I knew when to take it easy (the switchbacks on Mystery), I ran quickly but in control down the back of Mystery Mountain, I ate a gel between Mystery and Moose Mountain, and I knew after I got down the back of Moose Mountain that I wasn’t that far from the turnaround, and there were plenty of runnable sections. I also knew when I was finally at the last downhill into the aid station and turned on the jets to ensure I got there under 2 hours. I made it to the one and only aid station at the Oberg trailhead in 1:57:56, which includes the time in the aid station, so I was on track for under 4 hours if I didn’t lose too much time on the way back.

I ate 2 cookies while walking uphill out of the aid station, and then started running once I hit the downhills. Once I got in the vicinity of Moose Mountain again, I started walking to conserve energy. I knew it would be painful on my legs and my lungs, so I walked some easier sections to save myself some of that pain. It paid off, because while Moose Mountain sucked, I was still able to go up in one sustained push – no stopping to catch my breath or try to put out the fire in my legs. It’s better to just get it over with. I remind myself that 100 milers have to do this with like 98 miles on their legs. I surely can do it with 10 or 11. It helps.

The top of Moose Mountain seemed longer this year than it has in years past, but I also was able to run most of it. I only needed a little bit of recovery after the climb before I was able to run again. Maybe not that fast, but I was still running! And it was kind of cold up there, with a lot more wind than I’ve ever experienced up there. I started wishing for my arm warmers, as the only things cold were my hands (which were also puffy, ugh) and forearms. I walked the few uphills I came across, but it seemed like that descent was never going to come. I had no idea how many miles were left in the race at this point, and I was worried I was getting farther and farther away from my sub-4 goal. I hate going down that side of Moose Mountain a lot more, because it’s steeper with more big drops down that are hard on my knees. Maybe it’s not a big step down for a normal sized person, but I’m short, and my legs are short.

I got to the bottom and ran for a bit, until I got to the last footbridge before Mystery Mountain. Once again, I wanted to save myself some pain and started walking before I ran out of runnable terrain. I ate a gel and starting singing “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” to pass the time. To give readers a sense of time, I made it to 49 bottles before I got to the top. But it worked! It kept me going. My hope was that if I got to the top of Mystery Mountain with half an hour or more remaining, I’d make it under 4 hours, because I think it’s around 2 miles from there to the finish, and it’s almost entirely downhill. I took off once I reached the top, and was running technical downhills better and faster than I ever have before. Somehow, I was flying, as if I hadn’t run 13.5 miles already. I just wanted to get to the river, because then I knew that I’d be on the road imminently, and could speed up more. I heard the Poplar River and knew it was close, and I plowed through the remaining mud as best I could. I crossed the bridge grinning, and then I walked the one final evil uphill that I swear was not there when we started.

I’m not really sure how fast I ended up going since my GPS was so off, but my watch says I ran the last full mile (mile 14) in 12:16 and the last 0.54 miles in 9:03. Uh, that is faster than my 5K PR. Granted, it is all downhill, but still, wut. Whatever my actual pace was, it felt very fast and yet I didn’t worry for even a second that I had dropped the hammer too soon. I actually caught one of my friends on the final descent toward Caribou Highlands, after we’d left the ski hill – so within the last 0.25 miles of the race! What a jerk move on my part, haha. There was a huge crowd of people at the finish line cheering for me, both friends and strangers, and the race announcer called me “our good friend Donna” which always makes me feel like I belong. I was so thrilled so have made it under 4 hours, by a LOT, and really pleased with pretty much everything about my race prep and execution.

I cleaned off my shoes, strode off to take a shower (I had hardly any stiffness in my legs, and NO chafing, not even from my sports bra), and then went back to have my post-run chili. I considered returning to volunteer for awhile longer, but I was feeling a bit tired at that point and didn’t have warm enough clothes for standing around. Plus my husband was back in the room, hoping we could do some exploring. One of these days I’m going to be one of those badazzes who finishes a race and hops right into volunteering.

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FANS 24 Hour Training: Weeks 1 and 2

Transitioning to FANS training now!

Monday (4/30): 4 mi, road
Tuesday: 4.6 mi, road
Wednesday: rest
Thursday: 6.8 mi, paved trail (MRT)
Friday: 7.4 mi, road
Saturday: 7.1 mi, paved trail (MRT)
Sunday: 11.3 mi, paved trail (MRT/Harriet Island)
Total: 41.1 mi

Monday (5/7): 5.5 mi, pavement (MRT)
Tuesday: 6.1 mi, treadmill
Wednesday: 2.8 mi, pavement (Centennial Lakes)
Thursday: 7.7 mi, paved trail/road (3 mi @ Centennial Lakes, 4.7 mi around Harriet Island)
Friday: rest
Saturday: 4 mi, road (Be the Match 5K @ Lake Harriet + warmup)
Sunday: 16.1 mi, paved trail (MRT)
Total: 42.1 mi

Week 1:
Not bad for the week after a 50K! Monday I was still hurting, but a bit less – I just had a hard time walking after sitting for awhile. Tuesday I felt pretty decent and was almost back to a normal pace. I took Wednesday off running to get a massage. Now that I am back in the Twin Cities, I can see my previous massage therapist/friend. She is the best, although we end up gossiping through the session, so maybe I have to curb that.

I felt amazing on Thursday when I got back out to run. I ran across the Wabasha Street Bridge, came back across the Robert Street Bridge, and then ran along the Mississippi River Trail until the flooding began near Lilydale. That section of the MRT is going to be inaccessible for awhile until the water recedes, so I’ve knocked it off my route. It wasn’t especially washed out where I turned around, but there was no reason for me to run through water on the road.

Friday I decided to try to run to the Upper Landing Park, which is across the river from Harriet Island. It was not as easy to access as I thought. I ended up running down 2nd Street, which is VERY SHADY and smelled of urine. Then I ended up in a parking lot and got trapped by the railroad. I accidentally trespassed on the railroad right of way before getting the heck out of there. I finally realized there was no trail access from where I was, turned around, and ran up Kellogg until I passed the Xcel Energy Center and went down Eagle Street. From there I could reach Shepard Rd. and Upper Landing Park, but it was time to turn around and head for home at that point. I ran by several promgoers heading to the X, and then I ran by 2 guys, one of whom imitated me running. Thanks, fella.

Saturday I parked at Upper Landing Park, since I now know how to get there! I attempted to do some fartleks on the Mississippi River Trail, but after the first couple miles I realized it was too hot and ended up in survival mode. Sunday was also hot. I planned on parking at Lower Landing Park and couldn’t figure out how to get there, but accidentally found a new spot to run. I ran through Indian Mounds Regional Park and then joined up with the Mississippi River Trail (right around where I turned around the day prior) until I turned off to follow Battle Creek. I felt pretty hot and miserable the last few miles and walked some of the uphills.

Week 2:
I felt basically back to normal this last week. It was like I’d never run a 50K! Ha. Monday I parked at Upper Landing Park and ran in the Minneapolis direction. (West? I’m not sure. The river really winds around.) Tuesday I thought it was going to rain so I ran on the treadmill. Wednesday and Thursday I ran at lunchtime around the lake at work; my pre- and post-run processes need some improvements for efficiency and hygiene/comfort. That’s deserving of its own post. I ran a second short run on Thursday as well, which I kind of liked – getting in a decent mileage day without having to spend my whole evening running!

I rested Friday for my 5K on Saturday. I had actually planned on either doing a longer warmup or a cooldown after, in order to have a higher total mileage day, but did no running cooldown at all, and couldn’t even run a mile to warm up. Sunday I hit the Mississippi River Trail again, starting at Lower Landing Park and turning around just past Hidden Falls Regional Park. I am finding all kinds of cool new places! To get in a little more practice for FANS, I employed a run/walk strategy. On the way out, I ran 10 minutes/walked 2 minutes. On the way back, I ran 12 minutes/walked 2 minutes. The way back was significantly harder than I thought it would be, although I’m not sure if that was because of the 2 extra minutes of running or if I was just getting too warm. I had my hydration pack on me so I had plenty of water, but I forgot to wear a hat (I planned to but didn’t grab it) and got too much sun on my face. Overall I liked the run/walk strategy – it broke things up nicely and I still had an overall pace of 13:14, and that included stopping at a couple traffic lights.

My office is doing a push-up challenge (we are cumulatively trying to reach 30,000 push-ups), so my strength training got a bit of a boost the first week of the month, but I started feeling some muscle pain in my lower abdomen, only on the left side, so I stopped. The pain has gone away, so clearly I was just overdoing it with the pushups (we were literally on the floor in our cubicles doing pushups multiple times a day), but I am cautious about continuing.

This upcoming week, I have Superior Spring 25K to look forward to! I’m excited to return to the Superior Hiking Trail.

Race Report: Be the Match 5K 2018

Official Results:
Time: 29:00
Pace: 9:21
Placing:
Overall: 75/211 (this is a walk/run so take that with a grain of salt)
F30-39: 7/37

Watch Results:
Time: 28:30
Pace: 8:51
Distance: 3.22 mi
Heart Rate: N/A

Goals:
A: 29:20
B: 29:42
C: 29:59

Food:
What I ate the night before: pizza
What I ate on race day: bagel and cream cheese
What I carried with me: nothing

Gear:
What I wore: t-shirt, shorts
Gadgets: GPS watch, fitness tracker

Discussion: Yay! A PR! After I sandbagged like crazy in my race goals post. Not really, I just had a lot of self-doubt and very little evidence to suggest any improvement in my speed. I’m an engineer. I like evidence. Anyway I’m also annoyed because they listed the final result as my gun time, rather than chip time. What is the point of having an elaborate timing setup if you’re only going to have gun times? Yesterday they had an even slower time on there, for some odd reason. The timing company has some issues!

I’m super excited, regardless. I finally ran a decent 5K! I don’t mean time-wise, I mean execution-wise. I am pretty happy about everything, from pre-race (I had enough to eat and drink) to the finish. The race started off as it usually does, with all kinds of people in my way, but I stayed within myself instead of getting frustrated and trying to weave and dodge. Once things opened up a little more, I sped up as I always to, to try to “make up” for the slow start, and then I was able to hang on. I’d check my watch every once in awhile, expecting to see a slower pace – I often think I’m running faster than I am. But this time, nope, I was still holding steady in the low 9s/high 8s. When I felt tempted to back off the pace, I didn’t. At least, not until the final mile. At that point I did let myself get a little lazy – a few times, I thought “well, you’re in good shape for a PR, even if you back off a little!” which was kind of stupid, but I didn’t let it last long. I looked at my watch results and even then, I don’t think I slowed that much for that long, so that was good. I had enough at the end to really push toward the finish, maybe too much left, but I’ve still got a lot of work to do.

I find the 5K harder than 50K. That might seem a little backward, but the margin for error is so slim in the 5K. Maybe if I pushed harder in 50K races, I’d think differently, but at the same time, how hard can I sustainably run for 8 hours? It’s a balance. In the 5K, it’s over so quickly that there’s no excuse for giving less than a hard effort – but the slower I am, the longer I have to give that hard effort. I admit that part of the reason I don’t train specifically for middle-distance races like 5Ks and 10Ks is because it feels sort of stupid and futile to train specifically for a race I’m so pathetically slow at, compared to the general public. (Yes, whatever, comparison is the thief of joy and everything, blah blah. I’m human.) Maybe someday I’ll give it a shot again, but maybe I’ll just do 5Ks for kicks and leave all my long-term goals for the longer races.

Be the Match 5K 2018 Race Goals

This will be the fourth Be the Match 5K I’ve participated in! I enjoy running it every year, even if it does seem to be less of an “event” each year for my extended family. We used to have a fairly large group (10-15 people) walking or running the race, but now it’s down to my immediate family. It does make logistics a lot easier, though.

I haven’t run a 5K since December, and that race really sucked. I would like to think that I ran a much slower than expected 5K at Jingle Bell Run (and at the Gobble Gallop) because I was worn out, and that I can bounce back now with a better time, closer to where I was last spring/summer. I haven’t done much to ensure that, doing very little speed work and continuing my training without any time off after running the Chippewa Moraine 50K a couple weeks ago. I did lose a little bit of weight, but eh, I’m not convinced that’s going to be a difference maker.

I haven’t felt “fast” since July, when I ran the Park Point 5 Miler. I have been focusing on running longer distances, but I thought with my inexperience and general lack of fitness prior to 2015 (approximately), I could still make some gains with shorter distances. It’s just not the same thing, though. A lot of what I train for in ultras/marathons is the opposite of what I would need to do for a 5K. I don’t push enough, and that shows in my race results.

I will say that I’m fortunate to have been relatively injury-free over my short running “career,” and that’s probably in part because I am not doing a ton of speed work. So there’s some benefit to staying slow and doing a lot of “easy” running. (Running up the Ohio Street hill is not easy.) So there’s an upside here.

My goals for tomorrow’s race are:

A Standard: 29:20
B Standard: 29:42
C Standard: 29:59

Lol. What is the difference, even? It’s quibbling over seconds, really. But in a 5K, seconds matter. In a marathon or 50K, minutes matter. And in longer races, hours matter. It’s such a perspective change! The A standard is a PR, B standard is a course PR (is that even a thing in a road 5K?), and the C standard is just to get myself below 30 minutes again.

Anything worse and I’ll quit running. Ok, just kidding. Middle-distance speed is just not a priority for me right now, but I’d like to stop regressing.

Spring/Summer Gear Wish List

I require some stuff and I have a lot of gift cards.

  1. Smaller volume hydration pack
    For races like Superior 25K, I find that my usual pack is too big, but I also want my hands free. So I’m looking for a lighter weight pack with a couple of bottles or soft flasks (maybe? I don’t know, filling them is a pain) so that I can cut down on the amount of stuff I’m carrying around.
  2. Squirrel’s Nut Butter anti-chafe
    I need something that works better than Body Glide but isn’t as messy as Vaniply. Scotty from Ten Junk Miles uses this stuff and touts it all the time, so let’s see if it’s really as good as he says. If FANS is as hot as last year, I need something that will keep the chafing at bay.
  3. Waist flashlight
    This year, I plan on running at night at FANS, because I plan on not sucking as much. I have heard the combination of a waist light and a headlamp is better than a headlamp alone. It’ll also be a good backup if I can’t stand having the headlamp on anymore.
  4. Trail shoes with a rock plate but no lugs
    Last year at FANS, I wore my road shoes because I figured it would be mostly pavement. It turned out to have a significant gravel portion. The bottoms of my feet hurt like crazy and I switched to my trail shoes to protect them a bit more. My feet felt way better with the trail shoes on, but the shoes have giant lugs on them that kept kicking the gravel. Why yes, I should pick my feet up more, but whatever. I need a rock plate but no lugs, or at least smaller ones than my Speedcross shoes have.
  5. New sports bras
    Maybe 1 or 2. My old ones are wearing out and I need to find an option that doesn’t cause massive painful chafing on my back.

Woof, that’s going to be a bit spendy. Good thing I have a lot of gift cards, like I said!

Post-Mortem: Chippewa Moraine 50K 2018

Refreshers
Race Report
All CM50K 2018 posts

Good Things
Adaptivity. I went into this race knowing I was undertrained, not even sure if I was going to be able to make it to the start line due to my cold. I had so many opportunities to back out, and I didn’t. I watched as all my goals slipped out of reach, but I didn’t let that frustrate me, I just kept pushing to the finish. I figured out some good in-race strategies (like walking the muddy sections rather than attempting to run them) and I managed to execute the most important part of the race (making the cutoff) perfectly. I mean, relatively speaking.

Planning. I’m trying to cut down on the amount of stuff I bring to races and the amount of stuff I carry with me, because I have been going overboard, mostly out of fear. I used almost everything I brought with me, with the exception of a towel, a pair of pants, and a book, a pair of socks, and all 3 of those things had logical, probable purposes. I didn’t bring a ton of extra food (just a few extraneous cans of pop), clothes, or “emergency” items (I didn’t even bring Pepto, which was unintentional, but I survived without it). It was SO much easier to pack and organize without a bunch of extra stuff.

Bad Things
Training. This training cycle sucked. There’s just no other way to put it. It started out great, I was getting in 50 mile weeks, but things started to slide once I closed on my house and the move was imminent. That’s life. I don’t regret sacrificing my training to enjoy UMD’s journey to their second national championship in men’s ice hockey, but it did obviously take a toll. And yet again, I sucked at strength training, but as my personal training journal and my whiny posts on here attest, I was in a terrible mental funk for a couple months. I did what I could mentally handle, but it wasn’t ideal training. I only had a few long runs, with the longest being 16 miles. I definitely needed to pack in a lot more of those, considering this training cycle was 19 weeks long (my count was off by one, whoops).

Nutrition. I started off okay, but I definitely needed to eat more along the way. I think two more gels would have been sufficient, if eaten at the right time. I carry gels and end up not eating them, in favor of solid food, but what I probably need to do is eat the same amount of food, and then add in a couple more gels. I was clearly bonking/running out of gas at the end of the race, and making stupid decisions as a result (specifically, the stupid decision to not eat more).

Chippewa Moraine 50K Training: Week 18

Race week! What a disaster.

Monday: 4 mi, paved trail (Mississippi River Trail)
Tuesday: 2.5 mi, treadmill walk
Wednesday: 2.7 mi, treadmill walk
Thursday: 3.1 mi, treadmill
Friday: rest
Saturday: 31.1 mi, trail (Ice Age Trail)
Sunday: 3.4 mi, paved trail (MRT/Harriet Island)
Total: 46.8 mi

Not exactly the week I was looking for. I am not sure if my allergies kicked in or what, but I had sneezes/stuffy head/cough symptoms for most of the week (excepting Monday, clearly, since I ran). In the mornings I felt like crud, but by afternoons I usually had energy, so I did walk on the treadmill Tuesday and Wednesday to keep my legs active, and did a test run on Thursday.

I tried out some active recovery on Sunday, because I didn’t feel like sitting around the house on a gorgeous day, and also because I have other races to do. I ran a 15:50 overall pace and that was without any walking. I know some people can’t even fathom moving that slowly and still maintaining a running gait, but here I am, living proof that it’s possible! I did feel better afterward, and less like a slug, so it’s definitely something I’m going to do in the future, unless I’m suffering from an actual injury rather than just running-related soreness.

This training will segue right into my training for FANS in June, so I’ll be trying to find a balance of mileage that won’t leave me too worn out, but won’t be too light, considering I only have 4 more weeks before FANS race week (holy crap).