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.

Grand Traverse Duluth Goals

I mentioned on Monday that I signed up for another race on Saturday, a race which is two days from now. A race whose website has crashed for the moment.

I had an epiphany while running last Saturday. I had been thinking about running a 5K just to see if I could squeak under 30 minutes finally, but then I realized I could run the Grand Traverse instead. I wasn’t even sure of the date of the race while I was running, or what the distance options where, so I plotted as I ran, unsure of whether or not I could actually put those thoughts into fruition.

I had considered running the Grand Traverse before, but I thought that it would be too soon after the marathon. I thought I’d be totally wrecked by the MMM, and it would take weeks of recovery. I wasn’t even certain I could run Wild Duluth, which is why I didn’t sign up until I had completed the MMM. But I recovered well, so I’m in good shape to run it.

I realized I would be running the trails anyway, so I might as well take advantage of a fun event, a chance to do a point to point run rather than a dreaded out & back, and a couple of aid stations along the way. It will also ensure I get up and get going early enough to complete my long run in time to attend the UMD-Whitecaps hockey game in the afternoon.

I chose the ~16 mile option, though I’d have preferred more like an 18 mile option. 20 seemed too long. I hope I can complete it in maybe 4:30, but I haven’t put much effort into looking at what that would take. If their website stays down, I’ll just have to wing it. From what I gather, this race is very low key. The time starts when you get off the bus. That’s it. It’s certainly a good opportunity to run a race without being a slave to my watch.

I’m going to use this as a long, challenging training run for Wild Duluth. I’m going to run hard, but not race-level effort. I can compare the pace to my pace from this spring’s Zumbro and last year’s Harder n Hell half and see how I’ve improved. I am also going to practice consuming more food and drink while racing, to try to improve my on-the-go nutrition. Wild Duluth is twice as long, so I’m not sure I’ll get anything else out of this race that will be applicable to WD. Just time on my feet on the course, and that’s pretty darn good.

So, finish around 4.5 hours without giving max race effort, eat and drink more, avoid barfing/incontinence/injury/death, and have fun. There are my race goals!

Wild Duluth 50K Training: Week 1

Back to the grind.

My heart rate monitor is still malfunctioning, so I won’t be reporting those numbers until it gets fixed. I’m fairly certain I’m not running trails with an average of 72 bpm.
Tuesday: rest (massage!)
Wednesday: 7.3 mi, paved trail (Lakewalk)
Thursday: 6.3 mi, paved trail (Munger)
Friday: 5.5 mi, trail (Lester Park)
Saturday: 10.1 mi, trail (SHT @ 24th Ave W)
Sunday: 4.1 mi, trail (SHT, Brewer’s Park loop)
Total: 33.3 mi

Super boring week of training. I could have run Monday but didn’t, because I wanted to be lazy. I eased my body back into running by choosing a couple of paved, flatter trails to start off.

Friday I ran Lester Park for the first time and I am stupid for not running it sooner! It’s gorgeous! I ran uphill along the river and cruised along enjoying the view, then turned around and headed back the way I came after I got to 2.75 miles. I will do some more exploring soon and take some photos.

Saturday I made a slight error in judgement. I brought one handheld water bottle and two gels. It was not enough. I didn’t bonk/die/collapse or anything, but I was SO HUNGRY the last couple miles. I think it would have been enough if I’d eaten closer to the time I’d started my run, but I lollygagged around for too long after eating my brunch. Oh well, lesson learned. I felt pretty good during most of the run.

Sunday I had no energy or drive to run the sad 4 miles of the new Brewer’s Park loop. Which is just a shorter way to get from Highland/Getchell to Haines Rd, btw. It was just OK. I felt like a diplodocus, with slow, heavy feet. Yuck. The loop was shorter than I thought it would be, but I was glad of it.

I am hoping to have a couple of higher volume weeks for weeks 2-4 of this plan, but we’ll see. This week should be fun, I signed up to run a race this Saturday.