Race Report: Park Point 5 Miler 2017

Official Results:
Time: 50:01 (harrumph) (11:08 PR!)
Pace: 10:01
Placing:
Overall: 370/572
Gender: 185/352
Division (F 19-34): 82/159 (yikes, moving up an AG next year!)

Watch Results:
Time: 50:08
Pace: 9:51
Distance: 5.09 mi
Heart Rate: N/A

Goals:
A: 49:59
B: 55:00

Food:
What I ate for lunch: I had a late breakfast so I didn’t each “lunch” til like 5 – bagel with peanut butter, bagel with cream cheese
What I carried with me: Handheld water bottle, which I didn’t need and made me feel dumb

Gear:
What I wore: T-shirt, shorts, ball cap
Gadgets: GPS watch, fitness tracker

Discussion: This race went really well! Of course, it was like 58 F, so about 30 degrees cooler than the first time I ran it, which sums up my entire race experience. In 2015, I was training for this race specifically. This year, I’m training to run 12 times as long. In 2015, I was absurdly early to the race. This year, I got there moments before they were putting up the blockade (thanks to some ridiculous traffic). I placed 370th this year; in 2015, only 365 people participated. In both years, I finished as the 82nd woman in my division – but instead of finishing ahead of 16 people in my AG, like I did in 2015, I finished ahead of 77 people in my AG.

I don’t really have a whole lot to say about this race. I did about half a mile warm-up, thanks to being late, which wasn’t exactly my plan, but my legs didn’t feel as sluggish as they had before my rest day yesterday. I felt a bit sluggish during the race, but I’ve been taxing myself quite a bit lately with the increase in mileage, and I haven’t been trying to run fast basically at all. Maybe someday I’ll actually focus on trying to get faster at these short distances, instead of just hoping my general fitness has improved enough that I can see some improvement without specific effort.

I pushed myself, kind of, but I wouldn’t say I went all out. Not that I ever really give an all-out effort in middle-distance races. Again, maybe someday. But I am running a trail marathon on Saturday, so I couldn’t empty the tank. That would be stupid. Not that I am above doing stupid things. It was a fun race – I think I like this distance a bit better than a 5K. A 5K is nice because it’s over quickly, but I don’t like the challenge as much. I like the 5-10 mile range because it’s still under 2 hours (for me), but there’s more of a battle – and also more chance to course-correct if there’s a rough patch in the race. With a 5K, one bad half mile tanks the whole race.

After the race, I ran a 1.5 mile cool-down because I had nothing else to do. There’s only one road off the point, and it’s also the race course, so everyone needs to finish before folks can start leaving. My calves were a bit tight and my hip was a little sore, so I ran slowly and enjoyed the cool, misty weather. It was so quiet on the point once I got down by the airport – all I could hear was the lake. No cars, no other people, just waves. It was very pleasant. I sat in my car for a little while until I noticed cars starting to move (many people were lined up and waiting, cars running, for half an hour or more! Think of the environment, people!), then joined the queue.

I’m glad I did the race, but I guess that attitude could change if I have a disastrous marathon on Saturday. I’m taking tomorrow as a rest day, so I hope that’ll be enough. It’s a totally different event, with completely different strategy, pacing, and mechanics, so I don’t think it’ll be too much of a problem. Famous last words!

Trail Review: Minnesota Point (Winter)

I really, really love this trail, but it does have some drawbacks.

This is not one of the drawbacks.

The Minnesota Point trail is a mix of access road, single-track, and wider trails that extend to the very tip of the spit. It’s somewhere between 4 and 4.6 miles, depending on which route you take. I took a longer way out than I did back, hugging the edge of the Superior Bay side, and then cutting back in at Point Zero Lighthouse. The ruin of the lighthouse actually once stood at the tip of the spit, but sand deposits from the lake changed the location of the harbor entry. I saw it on an episode of Lost Duluth on public television last summer, which was what prompted me to head out there in the first place.

The major drawback to the trail is the terrain. Much of it is sand. Running in sand is annoying. I am sure that it was a good strength workout for my legs, or something, but it is still incredibly annoying. I had hoped since it was winter, the sand would be compacted and covered in a bit of snow, but that was not the case.

All the snow had blown off the trail, I think. That’s the other drawback to the trail in winter. The vicious wind. At the beginning of the run, I was questioning if I was appropriately dressed, and if I had made a horrible mistake. One side of my body was being pummeled. The trail heads into the woods early on into the run, so I was somewhat shielded, but it was whistling and howling above me through the treetops, which made me imagine it was colder than it was.

Those are the only two drawbacks to the trail (in winter). The rest is beautiful. There are a few small “mounds” but no great changes in elevation, the sand was a little bit compacted so it was easier to run in than it is during warmer temperatures, and the scenery is amazing. Some of the trail is in the trees, other parts along the shoreline, and the end of it is…

…even better in person. The only downside is having to look at Wisconsin sometimes.

It’s still better in the summer (despite the sand), because the sound of the waves against the shore is heavenly, but it is a great place for a hike or a run. It is not a great place for speedwork or tempo runs. I don’t know what the trail grooming is like if there is snow, I’ll try to get out there when/if it snows a bit more to see. The trail, other than the sand, is not difficult; there aren’t trees or boulders or other obstacles. In a few spots the trail gets a little overgrown, but it’s not too hard to push a few branches out of the way.

A great long run would be an out-and-back of the entire strip of land, from the lift bridge to the tip and back again. I have run from the entrance to the park to the lift bridge and back (which is about 7.5 mi) but I’ve never put the two together. Sounds like a bucket list item for a time with warmer temps and a better training base.