Twin Cities Marathon Training: Week 2

Bleccch. Not a great week, but I got it done.

Monday: rest
Tuesday: 5.5 mi, pavement (River to River Greenway; 4 x 0.5 mi interval workout)
Wednesday: 7.2 mi, road
Thursday: 5.8 mi, pavement (Mississippi River Trail; 20 min tempo)
Friday: 4.8 mi, pavement (Mississippi River Trail)
Saturday: 7.2 mi, pavement (Mississippi River Trail; 6 mi @ marathon effort)
Sunday: 10.1 mi, pavement (Mississippi River Trail)
Total: 40.6 mi

Every workout I had this week sucked. Well, maybe Wednesday’s was okay, I don’t remember anything about it so it can’t have been too bad.

Tuesday I planned to do a track workout. I drove to a nearby high school and discovered that there was some kind of youth sports group using the track, and also the track had no lines and the surface was possibly uneven, so I ended up having to improvise. Unfortunately, improvising involved doing my half mile repeats on varied terrain, including hills, road crossings, and some quick course corrections. I got it done, but it was annoying. Now I need to find a different track option. Every other high school in the area appears to be 5 miles away from me. Hmm.

Thursday I tried to do a 30 minute tempo run and after 20 minutes I just gave up. It was hot and I was hungry, so I basically bonked the stupid run. Friday I ran in 95F weather and deliberately went slowly just to manage the heat. I even brought a water bottle, which I don’t normally do for short runs. Saturday was “cooler” than Friday, but because there was no breeze, it felt just as yucky. I tried to do a marathon pace workout but couldn’t muster any sort of speed. It was still pretty darn hard, which is why I call it a “marathon effort” workout. I think it’s better to focus on hitting an effort level (5K effort, 10K effort, marathon effort) rather than pace, because on any given day, the effort it takes to maintain a pace varies.

Sunday was also pretty miserable. I thought it would be a better run because it was cooler – in the 70s F! However, it was still humid, and I was still feeling the after effects of several hot workouts in a row. I barely kept my pace faster than 14 min/mile, which I could look at as an indicator that perhaps I am going to absolutely suck at this marathon and that my goals are wildly inconsistent with my abilities — but I’m trying not to. It was a hard training week. The heat was tough. I got through it. I’ll be better for running in that hot weather.

Sunday’s run was my first double digit run since FANS. It’s hard to believe that was only a month ago. It feels like a lifetime ago! It’s also hard to believe I ran more in one day than I did this last week. I’m going to have to pat myself on the back — that achievement was pretty cool. And it turns out my foot injury was minor, I haven’t had any pain in a long time! Let’s hope that’s not a jinx.

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Birkie Trail Run Goals

I was feeling super chill about the Birkie Trail Run until yesterday, when I started making my time chart and realized what kind of paces I needed to run. I hadn’t realized until recently that my goal of 7 hours was actually also the cutoff time for the “marathon” (the race is 25.6 miles, something I don’t quite understand, is there not a way to eke another 0.6 miles out of the course?) and I was going to have to readjust my thinking.

So I set my goal times:
A Standard: 6:00:00
B Standard: 6:30:00
C Standard: 6:59:59

And then I started working up my spreadsheet to figure out what time I’d need to be at each aid station. And then I realized all of the paces are faster than I’ve ever run a marathon before. And that for the first 14 or so miles, I’d need to be on that 6:30 pace to hit an intermediate cutoff. (There’s one cutoff before and one cutoff after that one that are 7 hour pace cutoffs so I’m confused.)

So now I’m really anxious about the race, and about getting enough sleep, and about driving an hour and a half each way to get there, and about my slight weight gain, and about the cold-like symptoms I’m experiencing today (the downside of a short taper must be getting that “taper flu” during race week, argh), and about how I have a work trip on Monday morning… worry came rushing in to fill the space left by nonchalance.

I know that I consistently limit myself, with my fears and my doubts. I hold back when I should push. I worry about what might happen a mile down the trail, 10 miles down the trail, instead of focusing on the mile that I’m in. I know that I am a risk-averse runner.

I know that this trail won’t be full of rocks and roots, won’t have long climbs like Moose Mountain (although it has a billion short climbs), and won’t be hot and sticky. I know that I’ve put in a lot of miles (although the average mileage is only a few miles higher than my previous races, due to some low or no mileage weeks) and I’ve run this distance (or farther) five times in the 12ish months.

My non-time-related goal for this race is to be bold. This doesn’t mean charging up the first hill of the race and wearing myself out. It does mean running uncomfortably at times. It does mean forcing myself through the low points in the race rather than babying myself until I get out of them. It does mean this race is gonna hurt. But if I don’t start running more bravely, I’m never going to progress. I’m never going to be anything other than a back of the pack runner who is limited from entering some races due to cutoffs.

Tonight and tomorrow, I’m going to do my best to relax, have fun with my family, eat some chocolate birthday cake (not my bday, my Gramps’), and get my prep work done early so I can wake up and drive to Cable on Saturday morning feeling confident and relaxed.

Birkie Trail Run Training: Week 10

Last big week of this training cycle!

Monday: 10.5 mi, road
Tuesday: 7.6 mi, road
Wednesday: 7 mi, treadmill
Thursday: rest
Friday: 6.1 mi, trail (Hartley)
Saturday: 11.8 mi, trail + pavement (various Jay Cooke trails, Munger trail)
Sunday: 8.4 mi, road
Total: 51.4 mi

I’m very glad this is the last big week I’ll be running for awhile. Maybe. I haven’t decided if I’m going to full-on taper or what, since I am no longer running the ultra and I have WD50K coming up. I hadn’t even thought about it until I started writing this post, so I guess I’ll have to consider it some more. It depends on how much running I’m able to do during vacation, and how I feel physically and mentally.

This week really sucked though. Pretty much every run was horribly slow. Obviously my “cutback” week didn’t really change much. It was kind of interesting to get to 50+ miles without a true “long” run. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be to fit that in. While I might not have thought of whether or not I’m going to taper fully, I am absolutely certain I’m not going to do any long runs from now til the race. This is solely because I don’t want to have to run with my hydration pack on. The pack + the clasp of my sports bra (Moving Comfort – it’s a great bra but the hooks dig into my skin, even through the fabric) are a bad combination and the middle of my back is all torn up. It happens even without the pack so it’s not a complete fix, but the pressure/friction of the pack (even with various anti-chafing unguents) makes it worse.

None of my runs were really that interesting or fun. That’s probably a bad sign. The trails have been so muddy that I’ve been avoiding them for the most part (Hartley and Jay Cooke had plenty of sloppy spots), so I’m running the same old boring road routes. I suppose I’m also avoiding trails so that I can get running over with sooner, and also because the few times I ventured out on the usual Duluth sections of the Superior Hiking Trail, I kind of hated them. Maybe I ran a few sections too many times last summer.

I am excited to have some time off from running, or at least some new spots to run. I’m going to take vacation as it comes and see what I have time for, but beyond that, the 2 weeks are going to be unstructured and I’m not going to feel bad about it for even a second.

Fall Running Goals: 2017

It’s meteorological fall! Time for some new goals!

  1. Course personal best at WD50K.
    The time to beat is 10:25:27. Obviously an overall 50K personal best would be amazing, too, but the course is harder.
  2. Set another marathon PR.
    This is tricky, because the Birkie is not actually a marathon distance. So I’ll look at overall pace in addition to overall time.
  3. Run all the remaining segments of the Superior Hiking Trail between Duluth and Two Harbors.
    Segments remaining: Sucker River to Fox Farm Road, Fox Farm Road to Rossini Road, Rossini Road to Lake County Demonstration Forest, Lake County Demonstration Forest to Reeves Road (11 miles, yikes!), and Reeves Road to Lake County Road 301.
  4. Take 2 weeks off deliberately.
    Once I’ve finished Wild Duluth, I’m going to give myself 2 weeks off, for real, with no guilt. I need the mental reset, and to let the blisters and scabs and twinges truly heal. I’ve taken time off before, but usually due to either illness or a mental funk, so it’s never as satisfying as planned time off.

Checking in on my summer running goals:

  1. Reach a personal best in distance.
    Nope.
  2. PR at the marathon distance.
    I ran 7:22:17 at the Eugene Curnow Trail Marathon, a PR of 1:01:12.
  3. Run from home to my dad’s place on Pike Lake.
    I never made the time to do this. I still need to plan a route and then drive it to see how safe the roads look.
  4. Run from Gooseberry Falls to Split Rock Lighthouse.
    I did this at the end of July. It was ok. I might try it again and go all the way to the lighthouse.

Only 50%? That’s not a very good showing. I did a lot of other fun stuff this summer so I don’t mind.

Post-Mortem: Eugene Curnow Trail Marathon

Refreshers
Race Report
All Eugene Curnow Trail Marathon Posts

Good Things
Pacing. I ran sometimes when I felt like walking. I tried to push the pace when I could, though I did have to be careful with the heat. I’m still generally a conservative runner, but I held back a lot less than I normally do. I ran portions of the powerlines, even! (Obviously the sections between the hills, not the hills themselves.)

Nutrition. This was partially luck, but I didn’t have any stomach issues nor did I bonk. I probably could have used one more gel before the final section, but I didn’t know that it was going to be so challenging. The closeness of the aid stations made it really easy to hydrate and eat. I could eat a couple cookies every hour or so, and I was able to have plenty of pop. I didn’t have any issues with dehydration, either, although I’ll spare everyone the details there.

Attitude. I barely slept, but I made it to the start. I ran my own race, and didn’t get too caught up in people who passed me, or who I passed. (Other than Flypaper Guy and Book on Tape Guy, for reasons already discussed. Flypaper Guy was really nice!) I didn’t let the powerlines overwhelm me. I didn’t let myself get too frustrated with the seemingly endless climb in the middle.

Bad Things
Sleep. Always. I don’t know how to fix this. I cut caffeine, I did a shakeout race, I went to bed fairly early, I didn’t think too much about the race during the week. It seems the easiest way to fix it is to have already done a similar race before. I thought that would work, since I’ve already run a marathon (as well as 3 ultras), but I guess because of last year’s DNF, I got anxious. I can also improve upon my sleep in the days leading up to the race – that has nothing to do with anxiety and everything to do with me staying up too late.

Training volume. This wasn’t a goal race, and I had other stuff going on in my life, but I had pretty low average mileage. I’m not too upset about it, but it could have gone better. (This race went really well for me! It’s hard to come up with negatives. Not that I have to, but I’m always looking for ways to improve.)

Logistics. Usually I am really good at this, but my laissez-faire attitude about this race left me scrambling in the morning, and I left too late to get the bus from the finish back to the start. Now that I know it’s not too hard to park at the start, next time I do this, I will park at the start and get someone to pick me up at the finish.

Gear. I didn’t need the hydration pack – I ate maybe one gel and reapplied sunscreen and lip balm, but otherwise didn’t dip into it – but I couldn’t get by with a handheld in this race due to the powerlines. Not that I need to spend more money on gear, but a vest with no bladder might be a good solution.

Race Report: Eugene Curnow Trail Marathon

Official Results: (added 7/16)
Time: 7:22:17
Pace: 16:53
Placing:
Overall: 358/440
Gender: 117/157

Watch Results:
Time: 7:22:22
Pace: 16:49
Distance: 26.28
Heart Rate: N/A

Goals: (I didn’t make the time to do a goals post on Friday, but I swear these were my goals! I have the time chart to prove it.)
A: 7:15
B: 7:30
C: 8:00

Food:
What I ate the night before: Thai steak salad
What I ate on race morning: bagel and peanut butter
What I carried with me: 5 gels (ate one), water, some candy I didn’t eat

Gear:
What I wore: t-shirt, shorts, trucker hat, prescription sunglasses
Gadgets: GPS watch, fitness tracker, hydration vest

Discussion: I love a good revenge race!

Last year, after training hard for Curnow after I added to my calendar out of fear I wasn’t even close to ready for the Moose Mountain Marathon, I did not start the race. It was a low moment, one I didn’t crawl out of until 2 weeks later when I volunteered at Voyageur. I was afraid to start my first ever marathon without any sleep, so I didn’t run it.

I improved on that sleep total by about 30 minutes this year. Despite feeling calm about the race this week or just ignoring its looming presence, running the PP5M on Thursday to get out pre-race jitters, minimizing my caffeine intake on Friday, and taking a relaxed approach to race prep, I went to bed around 10:45 and immediately felt anxiety about the race hit me. I actually considered not running, again, once I realized my chances for sleep were dwindling.

This might sound off the wall, but even half an hour (estimated) of sleep is better than none. Giving my conscious mind even a small amount of time to shut off is preferable to staying awake all night. I would have liked a few hours of sleep, but at least I got a little bit. It turned out, I could have gotten about an hour more, thanks to some dumb mistakes.

I hadn’t done much race prep on Friday night, because I thought I didn’t have much to do. I didn’t, but it took enough time that by the time I left my house, I realized I wouldn’t make it to Carlton in time to take the bus. This was all really stupid stuff, like getting dressed, putting condiments on a bagel (I spent probably 5 minutes looking for cream cheese, only to realize in a moment of absent-mindedness, I had thrown it in the trash Friday morning instead of putting it back in the fridge), and filling my pack. I realized once on the road that I would have to drive to the start after all, which meant I needed to tell my husband (fortunately, he was still up) that I would need a ride after the race. It also meant I was ridiculously early to the start – I could have slept another 45 minutes! But at that point there was no reason to go home and sit for half an hour. I ended up lounging in my car listening to music until about 5:30, when I joined the line for the bathroom. At least I got a great parking spot at the race!

The start was very low-key. Everyone lined up near the parking lot, the RD gave a short speech acknowledging the members of Gene Curnow’s family who were running the race (I ran near 3 of them for awhile and they were a blast) and acknowledging a runner going for his 25th finish (Dick Hogan, who I ran with for a short time at Moose Mountain Marathon last year), and then we started.

Start to Skyline Parkway (3.5 mi, 53:28, 15:17 section pace)
After leaving the zoo, there are a few bottlenecks as the trail contracts and widens, and I found myself walking quite a bit. Then I found myself running uphill, which was stupid but I had early-race eagerness to get out. The first 2 miles are uphill, first gradually, then steeply as the course climbs toward Spirit Mountain. One of the interesting things about this race was finding out “oh, that’s where that goes” for several trails I’d seen from my usual routes. This section went past the “Stairway to Heaven” climb out of Spirit Mountain on the SHT, so I figured out where I’d end up if I went straight down instead of turning off to the stairs on the Spirit Mountain – Kingsbury Creek section of the SHT. We turned onto an access road about halfway up the ski hills, and followed that through the ski area. The ski hills give a sweeping view of the St. Louis River and the Duluth-Superior harbor, so several people stopped to take pictures. I’m super uptight when racing so I don’t take time for pictures, but sometimes I wish I could run a trail race (or even a training run) for enjoyment and take time to enjoy the views and take some photos.

The course comes out onto Skyline Parkway, which I’ve conveniently scouted a couple times over this short training cycle. This whole section is fairly runnable, but I walked the hills of Skyline in order to preserve my legs, even though they are relatively gentle hills. I went right through the first aid station set up near the Magney-Snively trailhead, and turned onto the Magney X-C ski trails (though a driver was for some reason stopped in the road and obstructing me from taking a clear route onto the trail). While I didn’t stop at the aid station, I did have a gel during this section (s’mores flavor! Actually tasty!), the only one I’d eat during the whole race. Real food (and by real, I mean store-bought, mass-produced cookies) seemed much more appealing than artificially flavored slime.

Skyline Parkway to Becks Rd (2.7 miles, 43:12, 16:00 section pace)
This section was ok. I don’t like the cross-country ski trail section, since I don’t like running in grass (especially not in my shoes, the traction nubbers on the bottom get caught in long grass), but it wasn’t a hard section. I trotted along at a decent clip, walking when needed. The trail jumped back onto Skyline Parkway, and then just before Beck’s Rd, took a quick turn, with a short but steep uphill. A volunteer was standing at the top of that hill offering continuous, enthusiastic encouragement, and there were funny signs like “This is a lot of work for a free banana.” The aid station was just across the road. I stopped there quickly to chug some pop and eat a cookie.

Since this was an odd year, this section included neither Jarrow’s Beach nor the ropes course. These are infamous sections of the course that I have yet to have the pleasure of experiencing. The 1.2 miles of the course removed here were added to the Peterson’s to Forbay Lake section later on.

Becks Rd to Fond du Lac (3.3 mi, 52:41, 15:58 section pace)
This section is awesome, thanks to its extremely runnable trail. I cruised along, splashing through a few creek crossings, which reminded me that I need to find some serious socks before my 100K attempt. I’ve been running in cheap socks without consequence for awhile, but I was really tempting fate by squishing along in crappy socks and wet shoes. During this section, I was leap-frogging with this guy who was listening to either a podcast or a book on tape, and I was not thrilled. I run trails so I can enjoy the scenery, not so I can listen to someone else’s music/podcast/gossipy conversation. I encountered him several times during the race, leapfrogging with him a lot due to his run/walk strategy (it was very odd, because he was often running the harder sections and walking the easier sections, but whatever works, I guess?), so I’m going to say with about 95% confidence it was a book on tape. My attention span is pretty short as it is, but during a race sometimes my mind goes completely blank for several minutes at a time, so I’m not sure what value a book on tape would have during a trail race. How much of the content could possibly register? Maybe other people have better concentration than I do. There was one final creek crossing before the aid station, at which I had pop and cookies, threw away my garbage, and continued.

Fond du Lac to Seven Bridges (2 mi, 35:26, 17:43 section pace)
I ran most of this section without seeing that many people. It consisted of a big climb and then a runnable section. I think. Now I can’t remember. I remember a lot of climbing, but my GPS data says that it flattened out a bit. This was another new section of trail for me that intersected with some familiar trails (including some of my least favorite parts of the SHT in this area, but at least they were short). I need to start being more adventurous and try out some new trails. I rolled into the aid station on the Munger Trail, grabbed some cookies and pop, and re-applied sunscreen.

Seven Bridges to Grand Portage (2.8 mi, 1:00:32, 21:37 section pace)
I joined up with my friend Rita (with whom I ran Wild Duluth) and her friend for the first part of this section. It was a bit technical, and we were all very apprehensive about the powerlines section ahead. Last year, Rita ran Curnow for the first time, and the powerlines section about killed her (that and not eating anything during the race – she had a massive bonk!), so we were all pretty anxious. And then we came out on the powerlines, and I saw why.

The powerlines portion of the race starts with a steep downhill. The other 2 ladies stopped to take a quick photo, and I started the descent (resulting in a photobomb, shown below), ready to get it over with. This photo of course does not do it justice.

Powerlines

The first ascent is by far the worst – it was so muddy I nearly lost my shoes as I put my feet in the footholes of other runners, grabbed at bushes and branches to pull myself up, and slipped a few times, covering my hands and legs in mud. And there’s not a lot of shade. It was fortunate that this came slightly earlier in the course than in other years – that meant I was a little less tired and the sun wasn’t quite as high yet.

I struggled to the top of the first hill, thinking there was no way I’d be able to complete several more climbs like that. It was steep and slippery and frustrating. Fortunately, it was the worst of them, and while I can’t say it was pleasant to duck-foot my way down the steep descents and then haul myself slowly up the next ascent, while the sun beat down on me (no tank top this time though, so my shoulders were covered!), I had imagined it being way worse.  One of the powerline hills had a skeleton wearing a hydration pack, shoes, and a 2013 race bib – it was a nice touch!

I ran most of this first section with a woman I recognized from the Harder ‘n Hell Half. I remembered her cheering me along at several sections along the course, and I told her that she had really made my day with her unexpected support. I saw her a few times during the race (though the powerlines was the last), and each time, she was offering helpful advice in a kind tone to any runner nearby.

There was a short shaded section of non-powerlines, then a couple more, and then one last little one before I rolled into the aid station feeling more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, etc. A few piece of this section are part of the Wild Duluth course, although it includes only that last one little powerline hill.

A woman in the aid station was dealing with nausea (certainly not the only person out there), the first signs the heat was starting to take its toll on runners. I drank some pop, had some cookies and potato chips, and left.

Grand Portage to Peterson’s (2 mi, 39:09, 19:35 section pace)
So while “the worst” was over, according to the volunteer at Grand Portage, that wasn’t entirely true. This section was pretty hard. It was basically all uphill, and I wasn’t interested in doing more climbing. I focused on putting one foot in front of the other. I had run parts of this section during a training run, so it was somewhat familiar, but it was still kind of frustrating. Peterson’s aid station is in the middle of the woods, which I thought was really cool. I got a high five from a young girl as I trotted in. The aid station was littered with tired looking runners, but I was in and out, despite the frustration of the climb, after grabbing – guess what – pop and cookies. I stuck with what worked.

Peterson’s to Forbay Lake (4.2 mi, 1:08:02, 16:12 section pace)
This section seemed to go on forever, although at first I was loving it, because there was a nice descent and I was cruising. But what goes down must come up, so up I went. Forever. At one point I swear I went up a trail that wound all the way around a hill twice. So that sucked. I knew at some point the trail would come out at the Munger Trail and I could pick up speed for a little while, although I was worried about getting hit with full sun. It was really getting warm (I reapplied sunscreen again during this section), and while it seemed pretty warm in the woods as there wasn’t much breeze, I knew direct exposure to sunlight would be worse. I’m not really sure what part was added to compensate for removing the Jarrow’s Beach section, as there were a couple trail intersections that could have led to the alternate routes. I suppose I’ll have to run it again to find out.

During this section I encountered a guy I dubbed “flypaper guy.” He was wearing a sticky piece of flypaper on his hat, to attract deer flies. It looked like it had been previously used, as the flypaper was blue but there were smears of yellowish-brown on it. So that was really, really disgusting, even if it was actually just some kind of bug repellent. I followed flypaper guy for awhile before I was able to get ahead of him for good. I also encountered two larger groups of people (one group of 4 and one group of 5) who seemed to be totally half-assing the race. I mean, one group actually admitted it as I passed them. I commented that didn’t make me feel that great, because I was working my butt off and it took me 18 (19? I don’t know) miles to catch them. Hooray for me, I beat both groups, but still, it’s somewhat demoralizing to know that people can saunter their way through a race at a pace that I’m working my butt off to achieve.

At this point I was trying to get back on track for a sub-7:30 finish. Before I hit the powerlines, I was ahead of 7:15 pace, but I gave that back and more over the powerlines, and during the Grand Portage-Peterson’s section, I gave back the rest. They aren’t fast sections, so I wasn’t mad about it, I was just hoping there was enough easy terrain remaining to make up time, or avoid losing time. I knew if I got to the aid station before… um… 11:56, maybe? I can’t remember. I think it must be, I know it was :56. Anyway, I knew if I made it there before that, I’d be on 7:30 pace again. I tried to run as best I could on the Munger Trail, and then turned onto the easy, flat section leading into Forbay, the aid station I’d volunteered at for Voyager last year. From that experience, I knew there was “less than 10K to the finish,” since I’d said it probably 100 times last year, and I was really excited to get in to the aid station. I made it at 11:55 and was out of there pretty quickly after slamming some Coke and ginger ale. No cookies though. I knew I wanted to run, and didn’t want to upset my stomach.

Forbay Lake to Jay Cooke (2.4 mi, 33:34, 13:59 section pace)
I cruised through this section. I couldn’t even believe it, I was so surprised I had the legs to run it. I even ran some of the gradual inclines. After leaving the aid station at Forbay, I crossed the dam and ran along the river for a short bit. The section along the river after the dam is kind of annoying, because it’s on smooth stone gravel, so I wasn’t getting a lot of spring out of my legs. It’s also exposed to the sun, but there was a breeze off the river. I turned onto a grassy section after maybe half a mile, and that took me the rest of the way to the aid station. I picked off a lot of people during this section; there were probably 4 or 5 people walking that I zipped past (“zipped” being a relative term). At the aid station, I drank one warm cup of ginger ale and left.

Jay Cooke to finish (3.3 mi, 56:14, 17:02 section pace)
I knew this section got technical but… it was not great. I read a race report from last year awhile ago and forgot about his description of this last section. Maybe I’d have managed my expectations better if I’d read it more recently. The previous section of the course had given me a false sense that the worst was over and it was all gravy to the finish. Nope.

I crossed the swinging bridge at Jay Cooke just grinning, knowing I was a little over 5K from the finish. I soon learned the rockiest, rootiest section of the course was saved for last, and it was so frustrating. At one point I was on my butt going down a section of rock.  (I inadvertently hit the lap button on my watch about 4 times during this part – why don’t watch designers factor in that we trail runners find ourselves crawling, scooting, or otherwise bending our wrists during our adventures, and put the buttons somewhere the backs of our hands can’t squish them?) There was a lot of mud as well, which stuck to my shoes and made me worry about slipping. Oh, and there were plenty of little climbs in there, too. I ran when I could, but for the first 2 miles, those options were few and far between.

With a mile to go, the trail evened out and I was able to run, and then with half a mile to go, we spilled onto the Munger Trail and headed for Carlton. A guy fell in behind me during the beginning of this section after I passed him, and ran most of if with me, silently. I wasn’t sure what his deal was – was he annoyed that I had passed him? was he using me to stay motivated? was he hard of hearing and that’s why he was quiet? – but when the trail smoothed out and we finally stopped dodging mud, he encouraged me to pass a group of 3 guys, and I somehow found the legs to do so. We ran together until the Munger Trail when he pulled ahead (he had anticipated me pulling ahead, but I didn’t have the guts). It was hot on the pavement, as it was in full sun and the trail was radiating heat, but I wasn’t on it for too long. I’ve run this short section of the Munger Trail a few times recently (it is only a few miles from the trailhead near Jay Cooke, where Dalles Rd meets Hwy 210), so I was familiar with where we were, and knew the DNR park was just ahead, which was most likely the finish. I was grinning as the finish line came into sight, and SO HAPPY to see the clock was in the 7:20s. Some friends were at the finish line cheering, and I was handed my ceramic medal and race shirt after I crossed. Even though I was hot, tired, and a little out of it, I was so happy.

I drank some more pop and ate half a cookie while I waited for my husband to come to pick me up, and also for my friends to finish. It was probably stupid to sit in the sun for another 45 minutes, but I didn’t really mind that much. We stuck around until Rita finished, and then left to go pick up my car from the start. I turned on the air in the car so I could start recovering and bring my heart rate down.

I picked up my car at the start, then drove myself home. I took a shower and then a nap when I got home. I don’t normally nap at all because I usually feel terrible afterward, but I was really zoning out and I knew the alternative was to sit on the couch miserable, tired, and half-dead. I was worried about getting dehydrated further during my nap, but I didn’t wake up feeling terrible or with a monster headache. I don’t think I got super dehydrated during the race either, thanks to my hydration strategy (pop at almost all aid stations, and then sipping water from my pack whenever I needed it) and my cooling strategy (which was basically sunscreen reapplication – I didn’t take any ice or douse my clothes/head with water).

This race is awesome, but I am not 100% sure it’s going to become a staple for me. I don’t love the super hard sections like the powerlines or the end, but at the same time, now that I know what to expect, maybe I won’t mind as much. I also don’t love the heat, but the race offers same day registration, so there’s always the possibility of waiting til race day to see the forecast, and then signing up. The course marking, volunteers, and race organization are excellent. There was never a chance to go off trail unless someone really tried to. I do anticipate doing this race again in the future, but I am not sure if that means annually, or intermittently.

I do feel a sense of redemption completing the race after my DNS last year. I do think that it was a good choice, considering my lack of experience and the difficulty of the course, but I know it’s not a decision most runners would feel justified making. There is something special in going back to a race that went poorly and dominating it – I look forward to doing the same at FANS next year!

Summer Running Goals: 2017

Gotta get these done before the weekend. “Summer” running goals are things I want to accomplish between June and August.

  1. Reach a personal best in distance.
    Bring it on, FANS. I’m hoping to see huge increase over 50km this weekend.
  2. PR at the marathon distance.
    My current marathon PR is 8:23:29, set last year at the Moose Mountain Marathon. While I expect to set an unofficial PR this coming weekend at FANS (and set an unofficial PR at CM50K of some unknown time under 8 hours), I’m looking to set an official PR at the Eugene Curnow Trail Marathon in July. Since I DNSd that race last year, just getting to the finish line is a small victory.
  3. Run from home to my dad’s place on Pike Lake.
    It’ll be a fun adventure. I just have to plan a route that keeps me off the highway.
  4. Run from Gooseberry Falls to Split Rock Lighthouse.
    This one is a holdover from last year. It seems like a good idea for a long run (an out and back is the most likely way I’ll achieve this, due to my lone wolf nature).

As for my spring running goals, let’s evaluate.

  1. Race a distance I have not raced before.
    I raced the Hot Dash 10 Mile in March and loved it!
  2. Run a race where I’m not sure I can make the cutoff.
    I raced the Chippewa Moraine 50K in April and finished 2:31 before the cutoff, after missing the intermediate cutoff but being allowed to continue.
  3. PR at the 50K distance.
    I dropped my PR from 10:25:37 to 8:57:29! Granted, CM50K was an easier course than Wild Duluth, but I’m taking some of that credit for myself.
  4. Help my team for Be The Match 5K raise $2000.
    I really flopped on this front. My mom and I raised over $1100 (probably more like $1200 as we had a couple make general donations), which is neither a fundraising PR nor anywhere near my stretch goal. Yuck.
  5. Improve my time at Superior 25K.
    I ran 45 minutes better than last year. Check check.