Twin Cities Marathon 2019 Training: Week 6

I’ve already forgotten what happened last week.

Monday: 3 mi, trail
Tuesday: 3.9 mi, trail
Wednesday: 5.8 mi, paved trail (Mississippi River Trail, 32 @ tempo)
Thursday: rest
Friday: 5.2 mi, paved trail (Mississippi River Trail, 3 @ marathon pace)
Saturday: 13.2 mi, paved trail (Mississippi River Trail)
Sunday: 6.4 mi, trail (Battle Creek)
Total: 37.5 mi

I started out the week with a drive to North Dakota for a site visit for work. I really dislike flying and when I visit remote sites, it often doesn’t save much travel time to fly. It also gives me the freedom to plan my trip how I want it to go. I was able to combine this trip with some state park visits and check off some more counties from my goal of running a mile in every county in Minnesota.

I stopped first at Lake Carlos State Park in Douglas County, and ran about 1.8 miles around Hidden Lake. I forgot my bug spray so the run wasn’t super pleasant, there were flies and mosquitoes buzzing around me.

I drove for a few more hours and then stopped at Buffalo River State Park, in Clay County, before I crossed over into North Dakota. I was running a bit behind schedule and kind of hungry so I didn’t get a very good run in, only 1.3 miles. I was planning on having dinner at my brother’s in Grand Forks (and to meet my new baby nephew!), so I didn’t want to get set delayed too much by my runs.

It does take a lot of extra time to drive to the parks and run. I’m slow so even a mile is going to take somewhere between 12-15 minutes, depending on the terrain and my energy level. The parks are often several miles off the route, so driving there and then getting back on the freeway can take another half hour or so. So each run probably added at least an hour to the trip, something I need to account for better in the future.

Tuesday, I got up and drove to meet my colleague at our work site, which was about an hour’s drive north of Grand Forks, up near the border. We conducted our (fruitless, but that’s another story) site visit, and then I hopped in the car to drive home. Since I was nearly in Canada, I was able to head east across the border and visit Lake Bronson State Park, knocking off one of the most remote counties, Kittson.

That’s probably the first and last time I’ll ever be in Kittson County, but the state park was really pretty! I got back on the road and drove through a lot of other counties that I’d have loved to have checked off the list, but I didn’t want to spend all freaking day driving, and while I looked for some options for a spontaneous stop in a county park or recreation area, they were all like 20 miles off the road, or just a tiny park on the side in one of the itty bitty towns along the way. I made a second stop in Little Falls (Morrison County) at Charles Lindbergh State Park, which was nearly impossible to get to due to construction.

It was SO BUGGY. I probably got like 15 mosquito bites during a 2 mile run. I was pretty grumpy when I got back in the car, and still had over an hour and a half of driving to go, ugh. Overall it was a fun trip and I liked breaking up the drive (we are encouraged to do this for our own health and safety, so it’s not like I was screwing around on the company dime), but I need to do a little better job of planning, especially when I have time constraints.

Wednesday I did a tempo run. It was supposed to be 40 minutes at tempo, but I could only manage 32 before I hit the lap button. I was having terrible abdominal cramps, in my stomach and my lower GI system, and was even reduced to walking a few times. It was pretty miserable. I took Thursday off to make sure I was recovered.

Friday called for 3 miles at marathon pace. I ended up running a bit faster than marathon pace (11:06/mi vs. 11:29/mi) because I was ignoring my watch and kind of going by feel. My current marathon pace is somewhere between trying somewhat hard and running sort of relaxed — it’s in this weird spot where the pace doesn’t come naturally to me. I try to run “comfortably hard” and it ends up being either too hard or too chill. Probably need to start nailing that down once the weather is more consistently comfortable to run in. I’m not super worried about it because it was only a 3 mile effort, so I guess I can write it off as another tempo.

Saturday I chose to do my long run. I started at Hidden Falls and ran the Mississippi River Trail, crossing the river at Franklin and running back on the other side. Once I crossed the river, things started to fall apart. It was hot out, but on the east side I was shaded. On the west side of the river, I was exposed to full sun for long stretches at a time, and after awhile I started taking short walking breaks to survive. I ran down to Minnehaha Falls (HUGE mistake, it was crowded, duh, and I was internally cranky at the people in my way), then looped around the Wabun Park area, then headed back across the river to finish the run. I was planning to run 14 miles (the plan called for 17), but only managed to get 13.2 because I couldn’t stand it anymore.

Sunday I ended up trying and failing to dodge the weather. I ended up running a few miles in the light rain, but when it wasn’t raining, the humidity was suffocating. I was glad I didn’t have to run in direct sunlight, but I was hoping for a more enjoyable run around Battle Creek. Once it’s cooler, I’m really going to enjoy running those ski trails. I’m not wishing summer away by any means, but it does get frustrating to boil in the sun or feel like a fish out of water in the humid air.

I have completely fallen out of the habit of doing push-ups, and need to get back on track. I was doing so well, and then fatigue and travel got me out of my routine. On the bright side, while I’m not performing very well to my push-up goal for the year, I’ve only got one more county to pick up this summer to meet my goal of 5 for the season!

Twin Cities Marathon Training: Week 5

It cooled off! Relatively speaking.

Monday: 5.3 mi, road
Tuesday: 5.6 mi, pavement (Battle Creek, 5 x 0.5 mi)
Wednesday: 8 mi, pavement (Lake of the Isles/Bde Maka Ska)
Thursday: rest
Friday: 5.6 mi, treadmill (35 min tempo)
Saturday: 14.2 mi, trail (Afton State Park)
Sunday: 9.2 mi, trail/pavement (Cedar Lake/Kenilworth Trail/Cedar Lake Regional Trail)
Total: 47.9 mi

It’s been a long week, but it has felt really good to run without as much heat and humidity. It’s still hot, especially in the afternoon when it feels like the sun is still directly overhead at 3 PM, but it isn’t as oppressive as it was the past two weeks. Running was much more pleasant this week, and the higher mileage is starting to feel good. I mean, it sucks in the moment sometimes, of course.

Monday I ran around my neighborhood, which was okay. It’s not a ton of fun because I can’t zone out, I’m constantly thinking of how to cobble together enough mileage to make a decent workout. A lot of streets don’t go all the way through, and I’m not familiar enough with the area to remember which ones do, so I spend a lot of time recalculating, like my brain’s an analog version of a GPS unit after a missed turn.

Tuesday I drove over to Battle Creek and did loops around the park to complete my interval workout. I’ve given up on trying to find a track, I guess. The repeats were all pretty fast, which was surprising. Now I want to find a real 5K to see if I can legitimize my PR. There was a group of high schools kids doing either a summer cross-country practice or dryland training for nordic skiing, and I felt a little dorky next to all these young people running fast with such ease, but hey. I’m out there running, too. Who cares if I’m running fast? They barely noticed me, anyway.

Midway through the week, I took over cat-sitting duties at my mom’s, which meant I was driving in the opposite direction from home during rush hour. I decided to run somewhere near there instead of trying to buck traffic on 94E. I parked at Lake of the Isles and unintentionally did an entire loop around, since I missed the turnoff for Bde Maka Ska. I continued past my car, did a loop around Bde Maka Ska (soooo crowded), and then headed back to my car the short way around Lake of the Isles. I love that area for the most part, even if it was crowded, and the scenery was amazing.

Friday I wimped out and did my run on the treadmill, since there was a line of thunderstorms rolling through. The radar made it look like one could hit at any time in the evening, so I played it safe. It’s actually a lot easier to do a true tempo on a treadmill, since it’s easy to control the pace and slowly ramp it up. I am kind of a scaredy-cat about running fast (for me) on the treadmill – I’m afraid of tripping and falling or otherwise hurting myself. But it went well, even if I was miserable and hating life during the 35 minutes of actual tempo running, and I was sweating buckets.

I checked out Afton State Park for the first time on Saturday. I liked it, kind of. It’s about 30 minutes from my home, so it’s sorta like driving to Jay Cooke used to be, but that does add an hour round trip to my run time. The trails themselves are a bit confusing – I couldn’t always read the maps very well, especially when the YOU ARE HERE stickers were missing. There are a lot of trails, though! I was able to put together 14 miles without doubling back too much. I did see a dead raccoon (twice) and a dead bunny (depressing). There was a mix of terrain – pavement, grass, gravel, packed dirt. Lots of hills, plenty of shade, and not a whole lot of people (probably because the swimming beach was under water). The miles were slow to begin with, but I rallied at the end (ok, it was flat terrain and also some pavement) and felt a little better about my pace.

Sunday I decided to go do another chain of lakes run since I was in the area feeding los gatos again. I figured I’d start at Cedar Lake instead, which was dumb. Cedar Lake is the weird misfit lake. There isn’t a nice paved path around it – instead I ended up on some single track and kept coming upon people who seemed like they would prefer to be left alone. I turned around and went the other way, and ended up in a grassy area with a sign that said “end of public trail.” Then I decided to say screw it, got on the Kenilworth Trail, and did the remaining 7 miles on that and the Cedar Lake Regional Trail. I was supposed to be running 7 at marathon pace, but that just was not happening. The first 2 miles were like 15 minute miles, so that blew my average pace and sapped my energy, so I just pushed through with a regular old medium length run. Can I just have one marathon pace workout where I even get close to what I expect to be able to run come October? I don’t think my goal of around 5 hours is that unreasonable!

Fans 24 Hour Training: Week 3

Final “tough” week of training.

Monday: 6.4 mi, treadmill
Tuesday: 3.1 mi, paved trail (Centennial Lakes)
Wednesday: 8.9 mi, paved trail + road (2.9 @ Centennial Lakes, 6 road)
Thursday: 3.6 mi, road
Friday: rest
Saturday: 15.5 mi, trail (Superior Hiking Trail – Superior 25K)
Sunday: 4 mi, paved trail (Lakewalk)
Total: 41.5 mi

Monday I had to hit the treadmill due to the weather, which sucked. I powered through as best I could, but I am not used to it anymore!

Tuesday I went to the Twins game (the Bulldogs men’s hockey team was being honored before the game), so I brought my stuff to work and ran at lunch. It was very warm. I walked probably another mile at the Twins game because I lost my cell phone. Brilliant. It turned out it was in one of those doggy dishes they use at the security checkpoint. So I lost it right away. Sigh. The Twins won, though! And I had a delicious ice cream served in a mini-helmet.

Wednesday I knew I wanted to knock out some extra miles. It was hot again, so I didn’t want to do them all at once, and decided to split my run between work and home. I didn’t intend to run as far in the evening, but I chose to run to the State Capitol grounds. It’s a mini-goal I set for myself (I should have saved it for my summer goals post!) – to run from my house to the Capitol grounds. I found all kinds of places I need to explore along the way – like the Tim Horton’s and the Candyland. I need to explore some chocolate-covered potato chips, yes. I also need to go walk the Capitol grounds and see all that there is to see there. I should make a St. Paul exploration checklist for my spouse and me to check off.

Thursday I ran a quick jaunt around my neighborhood. It felt kind of labored, but I got it done. Friday I headed north for the race, and spent several hours on my feet hawking Rocksteady Running gear.

Saturday was the race, already covered in the report linked above. After the race, I felt a lot better than I have in years past, and after a shower, some chili, and a bit of time lounging around tinkering on the internet, we decided to go on an adventure. We started out at the Onion River, just south of Lutsen, right off Highway 61. I questioned why I had agreed to hike uphill for probably almost a mile, but I had the energy, so I did it. We took some pictures along the way, then turned around and hiked back down.

We got back in the car and headed north, planning on going to Grand Marais for dinner, and to kill time with whatever we could find in the meantime. The weather had improved from gray and windy to intermittently sunny, which made the hiking a lot better. We pulled over at Cascade River and hiked around there a little bit, and then decided we might as well go to Devil’s Kettle, so we ended up there. THAT was at least a mile’s hike in, and included 176 stairs at one point. Thank you, Satan.

After that hike, we were ready to head into Grand Marais. Last year, we walked out along the breakwater to the lighthouse, but were too cold to hike out on the other side of the tombolo, so we decided to finish that journey this year. It wasn’t a long hike, and it was gorgeous at the end. The water looked so clean and clear, and the lake stretched on endlessly into the horizon, without Wisconsin in the distance to ruin things. I’d say conservatively we hiked 4 or 5 miles, which was tiring but also helped me avoid a lot of stiffness and soreness. We also made the most of our trip, unlike last year when I didn’t have the energy or inclination to do much additional exploring.

Sunday we headed back down to Duluth, since I am working here until Wednesday. We decided to make another adventure of the trip back, and stopped at Tettegouche State Park, where we hiked another mile or so to see Two Step Falls and High Falls, then hiked back out (obviously) and drove to the rest area at the entrance to the park, since my husband tripped and cut his hand while we were hiking and wanted to wash it out before we continued the drive. He powered through the hike though! We stopped just down the road at Palisade Head, which isn’t really a hike, since the road goes to the top. Palisade Head is impressive to look at, and it’s exhilarating to stand so high above the lake and look out in the distance. I was a little too nervous to get close to the edge to look over, but I still reveled in the experience from a safer distance.

After we got to Duluth, visited my grandparents, and went to see Deadpool 2, I went for a short run on the Lakewalk to complete my weekly mileage goal (running only – obviously I exceeded that with hiking). It was so nice to be back there. I’m feeling so torn between my new home in St. Paul and my old home in Duluth. I really thought I was adjusting to the transition – until I came back here.

It’s time to start winding down the mileage to rest my legs for FANS. I am hoping to run at least 36 more miles in May, in order to beat last month’s mileage, but I’ve got plenty of time to get that done.

Zumbro 17 Training: Week 2

Back on track!

Monday: 5.6 mi, paved trail (lower Lakewalk), 135 bpm
Tuesday: 4.4 mi, 4x Bagley hill, 139 bpm
Wednesday: kind of a rest day
Thursday: 5.3 mi, paved trail (upper Lakewalk), unknown bpm
Friday: rest
Saturday: 6.6 mi, trail (Jay Cooke), 140 bpm
Sunday: 8.4 mi, trail (Munger Trail from Jay Cooke), 138 bpm
Total: 30.3 mi

This week was a heck of a lot better than last week. I mean, obviously. I ran almost twice as much. It still had its ups and downs.

Tuesday I did my first night trail run. It hardly counts because it was at Bagley, but it was a start. I did a warmup of the non-hilly loop of Bagley, then went up the hill, back down the way I came, up again, and then down the other side. I looped around and repeated the same up-down-up-and-over exercise, and then cooled down with the non-hilly loop. My heart rate sucked on the hills. Whoops.

Wednesday I did actually run a little bit. However, my heart rate was way out of whack. It was spiking at what is normally a warm-up speed, and wouldn’t settle down. I gave up after like a mile and a half.

Thursday I was stupid and didn’t quite get how cold it was. My hands were unbelievably cold throughout most of the run, to the point where they were swollen and clumsy when I got back to the car. The rest of me felt fairly warm, so I’m not sure why my hands were so cold, but it was awful and I was glad I didn’t push to go farther. I need some better gloves.

Saturday and Sunday were above freezing! It was glorious. I know it’s going to get cold again, but I don’t mind quite as much when there are a few days of respite here and there. Sunday it was even sunny. On most winter days, if I see that it’s sunny, that means it’s bitterly cold. Sunny and warm is typically too much to ask.

I went to Jay Cooke State Park both days. I wanted to get out somewhere I don’t normally get to, rather than the same old trails around town. The first day, I headed across the swinging bridge and along the Silver Creek trail. The trail was only semi-packed, so it was slow going. Even the downhills were slow, since the snow was kind of soft and would give way without warning, so I never knew if my foot was going to sink in or not.

Silver Creek (I think)


The Saint Louis River, as seen from the swinging bridge

Sunday I followed the Superior Hiking Trail the other way, along the Munger trail. It’s a snowmobile trail, so it was much flatter than the Silver Creek trail, and it was… kind of groomed, I guess. The snow was really soft, so I was expending a lot more energy than I normally would have on such flat terrain. That was kind of frustrating, since it was my “long run” day. I felt pretty good for most of the run, and didn’t see too many snowmobiles, so it wasn’t all bad. I do need to get some prescription sunglasses. I wasn’t doing Future Donna’s vision any favors.

Sunday’s run was my longest run since the Harder ‘n Hell Half, which surprised me when I just now looked it up in my training log. It also took me 2 1/2 hours. That was kind of depressing, but at the same time, it’s what I’ve gotta do in these kind of conditions, with this kind of training. Once it’s milder and the trails are clear of snow and the mud’s dried up, I’ll be moving along at a much better clip. I hope.

Summer Wish Lists

Months ago I planned a gear wish list and a State Park run wish list. Summer’s over, both meteorologically and astronomically, so I’m evaluating what I thought I wanted/needed and where I thought I’d go against what I actually acquired and achieved.

My gear wish list:
High priority
2 new sports bras I got one, which I like ok.
Head lamp I didn’t get a head lamp and just borrowed one for the solstice hike, but I didn’t need one anyway.
Handheld water bottle I got two during a sale and I use them all the time.

Medium priority:
New hose for my hydration backpack I haven’t touched my hydration pack all summer so there was no need to get this yet.
Second pair of running shoes Not in the budget.
Running shorts that actually work for me I have three pairs, and like two of them.
Body Glide Purchased and repurchased.

Low priority:
New hydration backpack Nope.

I am actually surprised at how I did. I thought I had more gear on the list than it turned out. I still think I need a better hydration pack for longer runs, but it can wait. The handhelds are nice and I got a great deal on them. Shorts are great, I like them a lot better than capris. Body Glide works, though it’s not as slippery as I thought. This is the only way capris are superior to shorts – less friction. My shoes are going to be cooked by the time I’m done with my goal race, so I’m thinking rotating through two pairs will be my SOP going forward.

My State Park trails list
Banning No
Jay Cooke Yes
Gooseberry Falls Yes, just in the nick of time
Split Rock Lighthouse Yes
Tettegouche Yes, kind of
George Crosby Manitou No
Temperance River No
Cascade River No
Grand Portage No
Soudan Underground Mine No
Itasca (maybe) No
Lake Bemidji (maybe) No

So I didn’t do very well there. Once I signed up for the Harder ‘N Hell Half, I felt like I needed to spend my time on those trails, learning the course. I might go to Lake Itasca in a couple weeks, but not to run, so it doesn’t count.

I’ll have a similar gear wish list for fall, and maybe some more generic running goals. At some point, listing off state parks is going to get old.

Misadventures in Trail Running

Last week’s long run looked a little funky, with 10.7 miles split up into one short run and one longer run. It has a story and some lessons to go along with it.

I didn’t do any running on the Harder ‘n Hell race course last week, but I did do a fair bit of trail running. I had all these grand plans earlier this year to run all these different places, and I hadn’t really done any of them. So I planned to do my Sunday long run at Tettegouche State Park, a bit over an hour away from Duluth up the North Shore.

I didn’t plan ahead, and it cost me. First, I trusted my GPS, rather than looking at a map. DO NOT TRUST THE GPS TO TAKE YOU TO TETTEGOUCHE STATE PARK. It took me to a service entrance, and then once I was at the service entrance, I had no data, so I couldn’t figure out how to get back. The park is aware of it and has a nice sign up with directions on how to get to the actual beginning of the park.

Once I got there, I drove to the trailhead near the falls. It linked up with the Superior Hiking Trail, so I jumped on the trail, which had more people than I would have liked, but it kept me going slow and steady. Unfortunately, I had to pee. I was an idiot and didn’t stop at the rest area at the park entrance. I figured I’d wait til I got away from the touristy area of the park and then hop off the trail. Instead, I was running through the campsites. I thought hey, there’s a bathroom up ahead, I’ll use that, but it was closed. Ugh. Then I realized I was running in a circle and would soon end up at my car. That was enough. I got back in my car, drove back to the rest area, used the bathroom, and then headed back southwest on 61. I decided I’d go to Split Rock instead.

After a few turns along the way and one mad dash across Highway 61 (no cars were coming but I still felt a little freaked out running across a highway), I ended up on the Superior Hiking Trail, and I cruised along. Relatively speaking. I felt fantastic on the run, despite the heat and the poor air quality. If I’d thought ahead, I’d have brought my sunscreen along to reapply, since it was basically useless after probably 2 hours in the car plus half an hour on the trails at Tettegouche. I was amazed at how nice my legs felt through most of the run, until I was on my way back and took a slightly different route and ended up running up several flights of stairs along Lake Superior. This was over 8 miles in, and I thought the steps would be the death of me, but I ended up surviving them and only dragged a little over the final mile. Hooray for me.

I need to plan a little better for these long runs. I drove a lot of unnecessary distance, and I got frustrated running down the “wrong” paths. If I am driving a couple hours round trip, I need to bring some supplies along and plan my routes (driving and running) with a little research. I will give Tettegouche another shot after some additional research, and find some gorgeous views along the way, I am sure. Split Rock was fun, and in the end I turned in a darn good long run.

PP5M Training: Week 3

Apparently last week was so boring I didn’t want to write about it.

Monday: 4 mi (road)
Tuesday: 4.9 mi (trail)
Wednesday: 3.5 mi (road, tempo)
Thursday: OFF
Friday: 4.2 mi (road)
Saturday: 7.1 mi (trail)
Sunday: 3.4 mi (trail)
Total: 27.1 mi

I wanted to get up to 30 miles last week, but I didn’t, thanks to Wednesday and Sunday. Wednesday was really misty so I had to cobble together a safer route, as I already discussed.

Both Saturday and Sunday were terrible. Saturday I drove out to Jay Cooke State Park to check out that section of the Superior Hiking Trail. I got a year’s state park pass for $25, which is a bargain! I am sure I’ll get my money’s worth this year. It’s good until July 1st of next year.

People were swarming the swinging bridge, but I was heading out the opposite way, ready for some nice technical trail action. It turned out to be paved the entire 3.5 miles I ran out. It turned back into trail just as I was turning around, which was annoying, but there was no point in going any further. I wasn’t dressed for running (I had shorts on, which are fine for intermittent running, but kept bunching and riding up when I was running, and I hadn’t put on anything to prevent chafing, so I had to run kind of bow-legged at times while trying to adjust them.) and I was wearing my hydration pack (bladder empty, but a full sports drink tucked in). I also just didn’t feel like running. I could not get my feet and legs moving for the first three miles or so. I ended up with a respectable 16:49 average time, I guess… but considering I was running on paved, mostly flat terrain, I should have been about a minute faster. I can probably attribute some of that to the shorts. The pack didn’t bother me much.

Since Saturday was supposed to be my “cross-training” day and ended up being my long run day, I set off on Sunday in search of some real hiking action. My plan was to park at the SHT lot near Ely’s Peak and head south. I drove all the way there and the lot was closed and the temporary lot was overflowing with cars. My car really sucks and isn’t exactly secure, so I didn’t feel comfortable leaving it on the road. I ended up driving back to the Magney-Snively parking lot near Spirit Mountain and decided to try out the Spirit Mountain section of the trail.

It started off nicely.

Then I came across a trail detour. It turned out to be straight uphill, followed by a mile along the road to the Spirit Mountain Chalet. I made it about half a mile up the road, in the direct sun, with the pavement radiating heat, looking like a bedraggled hitchhiker, before I decided to forget about trying to hit any specific mileage goal, turned around, and hoofed it back down the road to the cover of the spur trail.

It was kind of a disappointing week of training. I felt ok, but my motivation was lacking for some reason. I’m chalking it up to a bad week and putting it behind me.