Race Report: Park Point 5 Miler 2017

Official Results:
Time: 50:01 (harrumph) (11:08 PR!)
Pace: 10:01
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

A: 49:59
B: 55:00

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

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!

Birkie Trail Ultra Training: Week 2

A lot of heat training!

Monday: 6 mi, road
Tuesday: 5.1 mi, road
Wednesday: 7.7 mi, road
Thursday: rest
Friday: 6.2 mi, trail (Western Waterfront Trail)
Saturday: 10.1 mi, road
Sunday: 10.1 mi, paved trail (Munger and Alex Laveau trails)
Total: 45.2 mi

We had a bit of a heat wave last week, and I ended up doing Wednesday’s and Saturday’s runs in the mid to high 80s F. It really stunk, but at the same time, it will probably end up helpful. This weekend’s forecast is also looking hot (although now it is looking like it might storm during the race), so it was good practice to be toughing it out in the heat.

I’ve been struggling with my confidence a lot, as I’m running a lot of slower than normal times. I need to calm down about that, because of course when it is hot and I am increasing mileage, I’m going to see some fatigue. Nothing hurts, I’m just lacking energy, which is compounded by a lot of low quality sleep, thanks to the early sunrises. Blackout curtains might be tempting if I wasn’t worried they would further restrict the already pitiful airflow in the house.

I wanted to keep my mileage up this week, but I didn’t want to do a true long run, with the Eugene Curnow Trail Marathon coming up on the 15th. I did back to back medium-long runs instead, which I liked! I don’t plan on doing any super duper long runs (other than this weekend’s marathon) during this training cycle, due to time constraints, and instead plan to run a lot of back to backs. Is that a good strategy? I guess I’ll find out in 12 weeks. (Now I’m screaming internally in my cubicle because 12 weeks is not enough time.)

I gave West Skyline Drive another try on Saturday, since I’d run it as part of last week’s 16 miler. It was still pretty slow, thanks to the heat. Oh, and I had to ration water again, which was stupid. I wore a full backpack of water on Sunday (I guess I should do this on any medium-long run anyway, just for the extra practice, and because it’s kind of like running with a weighted vest) just to be absolutely certain I didn’t run out of water. It was cooler Sunday, as it rained in the morning and early afternoon (I didn’t start running til like 4:00 PM), but it was still humid. I started at Jay Cooke and took the Munger Trail into Carlton, then zagged over to the Alex Laveau trail instead of crossing the road to continue on the Munger Trail. It was a good choice: the Laveau trail is a lot more scenic than the section of Munger I’d have covered.

Tomorrow I’m running the Park Point 5 Miler. It seems stupid to run 2 races in one week, but eh. It’s not like I’m vying for the win in either and sabotaging my chances at greatness. I sort of regret signing up for the PP5M because I have no leg speed right now, but I think a rest day and a longer pre-race warm-up will take care of that. Or not. Since the PP5M is for fun rather than a goal race, I’m just going to throw my goals out here, rather than make a separate post.

A Standard: 49:59
B Standard: 55:00

I ran a 10 mile race faster than that B standard time, but I’m also accounting for these sluggish legs of mine. It’ll be fun and over with quickly, that’s all that matters.


In the past 12 days, the only running I’ve done was on race day. I planned it this way for the most part (although I was hoping to do some walking last week to stay active, and didn’t), but I also expected a different outcome from the race, so now I’m re-thinking my plans. I will probably give myself this coming weekend off, and then start running some short miles the next couple weeks. This makes sense, based on all the things I’ve had to consider.

  • My left foot is mostly back to normal, but while the blister on my right heel (the one that never healed fully from CM50K) doesn’t hurt, it also needs to grow back skin of the proper thickness and texture.
  • The chafing on my legs is mostly healed, although I wore a skirt to work yesterday and noticed a bit of irritation.
  • I’m sleeping like garbage, thanks to early sunlight, constantly hungry cats, a snoring spouse, and Born to Run (the Springsteen memoir, not the running book).
  • Most of the rest of my body healed really quickly after FANS, I suppose since there weren’t any huge climbs and I wasn’t going very fast, but I did develop a knot in my back that turned rather painful. Deep breaths still hurt. (I had scheduled a massage, but there was a mix-up with the scheduling, so I didn’t get one.)
  • I’m taking the Fundamentals of Engineering exam on June 23rd, and I need to study every night. I don’t have time for long runs, I don’t have time to procrastinate starting my runs – I have to allot all my procrastination time to avoiding studying. This is the absolute top priority in my life for the next 2 weeks. And let’s hope it’s over after that! Yikes.
  • I signed up for 2 short races between now and Curnow on July 15th. I signed up for Midnight Sun Midnight Run 5K on June 23rd (a good way to run off all the stress of the test that same day), which was planned. This will be my 3rd year running this race, it’s always fun! I also signed up for the Park Point 5 Miler on July 13th. So yes, 2 days before Curnow. I ran this 2 years ago and had my first disappointing race. A dubious milestone, I know. I didn’t run it last year because I was supposed to run Curnow, which of course I didn’t do. This year, I’m going to run it and see if I can get some of those race week jitters out of my system.

So, that’s a lot of thinking about something fairly insignificant – in other words, the same approach I take to all things running. I’m looking forward to getting back out there, especially now that the weather is better!

Year Two

Here’s to a year of running seriously!

I rang in the new year this year by “summitting” Ely’s Peak. It was unpleasant. I was in knee-deep snow at times. I only “ran” 2.3 miles. I can’t say that there was more than a half a mile of that that I’d consider actual running, sans quotation marks. It took an hour.

2015 was a pretty good year for running (for me): I ran 1193 miles, completed 6 races and volunteered at another, and lost 20 lbs. It was a good start.

In 2016, I want to be a bolder, braver runner. I have goals to that effect. My must-achieve goals are:

  • Become an ultramarathoner (at the Wild Duluth 50k)
  • Get “redemption” at the Park Point 5 Miler (by running much faster)
  • Be more social (by meeting other runners, joining UMTR, participating the NMTC races this summer, and volunteering)

I have some stretch goals, too.

  • Run a 5k under 30 minutes
  • Complete a whole cycle of aerobic/MAF training
  • Eat better

Some are more achievable than others, obviously. I have to eat better, but I am not sure if I can develop overall “better” eating habits in a year. I’m not even sure what that means. I do have to figure some stuff out, food-wise, before the fall. Otherwise completing 50k is going to be rough. Well, it’ll be rough anyway, but I need to be as prepared as possible.

I don’t know if the 5k goal is possible but I also don’t care, I am going to try.

I have three goal races. I’ve had these tentatively planned as goal races for awhile, but I wasn’t sure if I was staying in Duluth or not. The goal races are:

I plan on running other races, of course, but I will be following specific training plans for those three. If I don’t get in to the Superior 25K, I’ll make the Zumbro 17 my spring goal race, as I am already signed up.

These are all big dreams and nothing more at the moment, but I’m already working to lay the foundation for success this coming year. I hope to stay injury-free, motivated, and happy!

PP5M Training: Week 9

A light week to wrap up the training cycle.

Monday: 4 mi, road
Tuesday: 4.5 mi, road, 5×400 intervals (I have no data for this since my power cord for my watch no longer works for downloading information)
Wednesday: 3 mi, road + trails
Thursday: rest
Friday: 5 mi, race
Saturday: rest/recovery
Sunday: 5 mi, trail
Total: 21.5

The race sucked, as I already discussed. I am disappointed still, but I also think it was a learning experience. Sometimes races just suck. New runners tend to make a lot of progress fairly quickly, setting PR after PR after PR. While this was a PR technically, because I haven’t run a 5 mile race before, it was well off the pace I expected. It was even 14 seconds slower than my sandbagging goal. I need to work on endurance, it seems, although I thought I had. I just find it hard to blame the heat entirely.

My training was nice and light this week, which felt weird. I did do yoga several times, which I didn’t log, so I’ll just guess I did it… 5 days? Maybe 4? I did my intervals on Park Point on Tuesday, just to check out the course (not that I haven’t run there before), but of course on Tuesday it was in the high 60s when I ran, so I felt amazing and was flying. Then I stood on the beach barefoot and got soaked by the waves.

If there hadn’t been a rip current, I’d have been in that water swimming, clothes and all.

I probably could have run Saturday, but it was hot again and I was feeling lazy, so I recovered. Sunday I hit the Superior Hiking Trail, starting at Spirit Mountain. It was rough, very hot, and there was a long, steep uphill in the first half mile, so steep that it required stairs. Lots of them. And then I turned a corner and there were more stairs. Sigh. I “ran” pretty slowly, with lots of power hiking, and tried to prevent myself from getting winded or overheated. I carried both of my handhelds, one with sports drink and one with water, and finished off all the sports drink (drank this first since warm water is much more palatable and I wanted the water available in case I wanted to douse myself) and about half of the water. I also ate a Clif bar when I got back into my car. I probably ate it too fast because I felt sort of weird on the way home. Not nauseated, per se, just… off. The heat didn’t help, I’m sure.

Even though my race result was disappointing, I am still pretty pleased with the training cycle. I KNOW I am a better, stronger runner than I was at the onset, and I set a 5K PR along the way. I stuck to the training for the most part, but I was flexible when I needed to be. This upcoming week is going to be kind of haphazard, kind of running by feel, and then I’m jumping into another training cycle. (I ran a 5 mile race, slowly. I think a week off from training is sufficient.)

Race Report: Park Point 5 Miler

Official Results:
Time: 61:09
Pace: 12:14
Overall: 334/365
Gender: 183/209
Division (F 19-34): 82/98

Watch Results:
Time: 61:15
Pace: 12:08
Distance: 5.04 mi
Heart Rate: N/A

A: 56:00
B: 59:59

What I ate for lunch: Bacon, lettuce, avocado sandwich with fried egg, french fries
What I carried with me: Handheld water bottle

What I wore: Tank top, running capris, ball cap
Gadgets: GPS watch

What a disappointment. That’s all I can say. I was over a minute off my 5K PR pace, and even though I started conservatively (mile 1 @ 11:45, mile 2 @ 11:34), the wheels really fell off.

I clearly did not handle the heat well. I just haven’t trained for it enough. I got to Park Point at about 4:30 or so, after stopping to pick up some mints, driving back home because I forgot sunscreen, and then finally getting underway. It was about 84 F at that point, with very little cloud cover. I walked over and picked up my race packet, t-shirt, and socks (socks! Yay!), then walked back to my car. I sat in my car and read/fooled around on my phone for a little over an hour. This was not a good idea, because I wasn’t in the shade. I was mostly in the shade, but a small part of me (depending on where I was sitting) was in the sun. And overall I was just heating up, although it didn’t feel too bad. There was really no reason to get there so early. I could have arrived at like 5:15 or 5:30 and had no problem parking in the exact same spot I did, and I wouldn’t have been letting my body heat up.

At 5:50, I was antsy enough to walk back over the pavilion and start warming up. I was feeling slower than normal during the warmup, but that’s the point of the warmup, to shed the slowness from the legs. I sat in the shade by myself after that and just waited. I SHOULD have parked somewhere closer to a shady area. Then I could have gotten out of my car, sat in the shade and read, and then stowed my stuff back in the car before starting my warmup. Anyway, I felt ok after the warmup and I felt better about the run. A few minutes before I walked over to the start, I doused my hat in water from my handheld and then doused my hair.

As I said, I held back at the beginning. I started near the back again, but there was no time clock, so I had no idea how far off I was from the start. There were only 365 finishers (maybe more starters, I don’t know if anyone DNF), so my chip time turned out to be only 25 seconds off of gun time. I was feeling ok, but hot, and my mouth was kind of drying out. A few people along the route had sprinklers or hoses going and sprayed consenting runners when they went by. These people were lifesavers.

I reached the turnaround, which was a little over 2.5 miles in, and I saw my uncle standing there waiting for me. He lives on Park Point in the summer and rode his bike over for some moral support, which was nice. He told me I looked great, and looked strong, which I probably did at that point. Later he told me he hadn’t had a chance to get his camera out and I am very grateful for that. I looked at myself after the race, maybe 10 minutes after I’d finished, and I was beet red, as always.

I don’t really know what happened, but I started to feel really badly after the turnaround. I took a sip of water and a little went down my windpipe a bit, so I had to cough. The water was pretty warm already (another consequence of leaving too early for the race) so it wasn’t refreshing and didn’t make my stomach feel great. I must have swallowed a bunch of air because I was burping a bit, which worried me that my stomach was going to be even more upset if I wasn’t careful. I doused myself with some water from the water bottle, completely wetting my tank top, and poured some more on my hat, but it didn’t feel that refreshing. I also dumped the cup of water from the aid station on myself, rather than trying to sip from it. I would never survive the Western States Endurance Run. I ran mile 3 at 12:28, which ate up all the cushion I’d given myself in the two previous miles, and then I lost focus, energy, everything in mile 4, 12:55 pace.

I think something was funky with the clock, because I thought the clock said 1:02:XX when I crossed, and at the 4 mile mark, I thought an hour was out of my reach. It really wasn’t, and if I’d known that, maybe I’d have been able to dig a little deeper. Maybe not. I wanted to pass a couple people I’d been following at the end, and I wasn’t able to get enough of a kick together. I did get passed at the end by someone, but I think she had been sandbagging a little, picking up a runner behind me and trying to help me out, so she had a little more in the tank. There were a couple people who I think were trying to keep up with me, or at least were using me as a benchmark (would walk, run until they caught up with me, then walk again), and I was able to turn on a little more speed to leave them behind, but I didn’t have as much of a kick as I would have liked. My final mile was at a 12:09 pace.

I didn’t walk at all during the race, and I pushed myself to keep moving, keep speeding up, whenever I saw my pace slowing. I didn’t let fear of an upset stomach slow me to a walk (I did slow down a few times when I felt really iffy, but I didn’t walk.) I could have done more to manage the heat, but I made the right choice to carry the water bottle with me, and it didn’t annoy me too much. I learned how to suffer in a race, I guess. I FELT strong, physically, and I wasn’t gasping for air at any time, so my training worked, but the heat just sapped my energy and my competitive edge.

After the race I sat in the grass for a little while, just to shake away the post-run wooziness (it was still 82 degrees at 7:30 PM, when I finished), and then I got in line for the goodies. They had little mini containers of Ben and Jerry’s! Amazing. And also very helpful because I was stuck on Park Point. There’s only one way off, and that’s the same road the race is on. I had to wait til the race ended and the road was cleared, and then it took forever to get off the point. The traffic in Canal Park, four miles away, was backing us up. I will need a better strategy next year.

I trained hard and ran somewhat hard (not as hard as I could have) and I learned some hard but valuable lessons. I don’t know how common 5 mile races are (it seems 10Ks are more popular), so I might have to wait until next year to try to get under an hour. I’m mad at myself because, looking back, less time pre-race in the heat and the sun would have made a difference, maybe over a minute’s difference, I don’t know. But hey, it was a PR! And I had a good time, even when I was suffering. Since I wasn’t winded, I could talk to spectators or other runners a bit, and I smiled most of the way. I had a disappointing result, but a good overall experience.

Park Point 5 Miler Goals

I am probably heading down to the race in about an hour and a half in order to try to find a convenient parking spot, so I suppose I’d better talk about the race.

I’m nervous. It’s hot and I don’t think it’s going to cool off anytime soon. I have trained in hot weather, but not consistently, and the last few days it has been cooler. This is also the longest race I have run. I know I’ve set my sights on even longer runs, but this is a longer race at a fast pace, which is a lot different than, say, running a marathon at a more sustainable pace.

Unlike the other races I’ve done lately, this won’t have many walkers, if there are any at all. This is a small race, and I am going to be one of the last people to finish, based on the results of previous years.

I think this to myself before every race, but this race especially: I can not go out hard. I need to be smart about my pacing and hold back a bit. A lot. And probably not speed up until the turnaround.

Timewise, I don’t know what to expect, so I’m giving myself a broad range between my A and B standards.

A Standard: 56:00
B Standard: 59:59

I was going to write an hour, but I realized no matter what, I want to come in under an hour and I will be extremely disappointed if I don’t. I realize that is almost a minute slower in pace than my 5K PR, and I have been training like a fiend for this race, but I’m lacking confidence at the moment.

This is the first race I’ve ever trained for in such a focused manner, and I hope I see the benefits of my efforts over the past 9 weeks while I’m out there on the road. If it wasn’t so hot and humid, I would feel a lot better about my chances of a successful race. Come on, Lake Superior, give me a nice breeze!