Wild Duluth 50K 2017: Week 14

Wow! Look at that revisionist title!

Monday: 4.3 mi, treadmill
Tuesday: 5.1 mi, treadmill
Wednesday: rest
Thursday: 4 mi, treadmill
Friday: rest
Saturday: 8.4 mi, trail (Superior Hiking Trail – Fox Farm Rd to Sucker River & back)
Sunday: 11.2 mi, trail (Superior Hiking Trail – Reeves Rd to Lake County Rd 301 & back)
Total: 32.9 mi

I’m still training for Wild Duluth! So this still works as a training week.

Since up til Saturday, I was still planning on running a marathon on Saturday, I did short runs in a controlled environment while watching Game of Thrones on HBOGO. My cats watched the whole time, judged me on my form, and then swarmed onto the treadmill the moment I stopped it. They love plopping over on it, I suppose because the belt is warm.

Hm, that reminds me, I need to lube the treadmill deck.

To salvage the weekend, I decided to hit 2 more segments of the SHT. I ran 8.4 kinda sucky miles on Saturday. The segment is nice, with a few lovely views. On a cooler day I might have liked it more, but the sun was hot! It ended up in the high 60s F, maybe even 70, and I forget that those temps can feel fairly warm when running. I was really glad that the thru-hike distance was much shorter than the advertised distance, because I was ready to get that run over with. It’s a bit hillier than I thought it would be, but another day it might be a perfect section.

Sunday’s segment would have been really pleasant and runnable if not for the mud. The first half mile is along a county road, then the next half mile is on a snowmobile trail. A word to the wise: snowmobile trail = mud + standing water + long grass. Yuck. The rest of the trail alternated between pleasant single track and ankle deep mud. My shoes are in rough shape.

I had to hose myself off after getting home, and completely rinse out my shoes. I stuffed them with newspaper, which absorbed a bit of the water, and I’m out of town until Thursday, so they will have a chance to further dry out, but we’ll see. They only have to make it 3 more weeks.

When I wasn’t slopping through the mud, I was running along Silver Creek and LOVING IT. There are a lot of very easy to run portions of this section of trail, and I would love to get back there when it’s drier. It was a bit more of a drive than I’d have liked, but it is the farthest section of the Duluth to Two Harbors segment (and would have been even farther if I’d started at the Co Rd 301 trailhead) and is a bit beyond what I usually like to drive for a medium-length run.

I’m hoping for one more higher mileage week and then I’ll step down a bit, and then do something similar to the beginning of this week for that final race week – it seemed to work.

I’m considering running another race the weekend after WD50K, but I’m not sure. It would require travel, and I’m already doing a TON of traveling this month (I’m writing this post from Kansas, and next week I’ll be in Massachusetts. Right after WD, I’ll be going to Edmonton). On the other hand, it sounds like fun, and could be a chance for redemption on two accounts – one summer goal, and one fall goal. We’ll see.

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Birkie Trail Run Training: Week 13

What’s a taper?

Monday: 5.9 mi, trail (Hartley)
Tuesday: 8.6 mi, road
Wednesday: 5.2 mi, trail (Minnesota Point)
Thursday: rest
Friday: 10 mi, pavement (Lakewalk)
Saturday: 5.3 mi, road + trail (Ran to Bagley, did one short loop, ran home)
Sunday: 11.2 mi, trail (Superior Hiking Trail – Rossini Rd to Lake County Demonstration Forest & back)
Total: 46.3 mi

I know the marathon is this weekend, but since I had 2 weeks “off” and my goal race is Wild Duluth, I figured there’s no harm in running a regular week of mileage. I spent a lot of time on the trails, too, I guess in some kind of attempt to make up for all the road running I’ve done this summer. And also because summer was giving its last dying gasp this past week.

Monday I ran at Hartley, and started a bit late, to the point where I was running in… hemidemisemidarkness, I guess. It is hard to get in a lot of mileage at Hartley since the trails have changed a bit, but I still enjoy running there.

Then I went home and made A Food.

Oh my god @theseasalt this is so good. #foodforrunners #idontknowhowtophotographfood #conservationofmomentum

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It’s been awhile since I made something really good for dinner (I was on a good kick for awhile), but I made this Golden Rice Bowl with Spicy Cauliflower and Black Beans bowl. I had dinner and 3 lunches out of this recipe, and the flavors are delicious – turmeric! Red pepper flakes and cayenne pepper! Also I am mentioned* in the recipe!

*I choose to believe “some of my favorite people in the world” includes me.

Tuesday I ran an unremarkable road run. Eating a lot of cauliflower kind of messed with my GI system so I cut it a little short, I was planning on 10 miles.

Wednesday, I needed a reset, and decided to go for scenery over miles or speed. I haven’t been out on Minnesota Point in a long time – I run the roads out there, but not the trails. Part of this is because it involves running in sand, which I dislike. The trails are also pretty short – I had to run all over the place and get creative to get to 5 miles. Some of the trails end abruptly, or they are overgrown. I just prayed there wasn’t any poison ivy (I didn’t contact any, whew). I finished running at sunset.

#Duluth #parkpoint #conservationofmomentum

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Friday my legs felt terrible when I set out on the Lakewalk. (Well, actually I started in Kitchigammi Park.) I wasn’t interested in slogging it out so I kept forcing my legs forward and ended up running a sub-13 minute pace without overexerting myself (once my legs loosened up, that is). I narrowly missed getting hung up by the scenic railroad where it crosses the trail near Blackwoods, but it passed before I got there. The acoustics were right and I could hear the announcers and the crowd at the East-Denfeld football game even after I was a couple miles away. It was a great way to spend a Friday night. I thought about all the football games I went to in high school, usually sneaking in with the pep band and dancing along to “Green Onions” and the other jazzy tunes they would play.

Saturday was hot. I was headed to a hockey game that afternoon so I needed to get my run in before. That meant running in the heat of the day, and I’m pretty sure it was 85F, with full sun, when I headed out. It was pretty miserable and I walked whenever I felt like it. I was so glad to be out of the sun during my quick loop at Hartley (I did the big hill loop, so at least I didn’t cop out that way), and I was wishing for a water bottle on the way home. On a 5 mile run! Ugh.

Sunday was hot too! I hit another Duluth-to-Two-Harbors section of the SHT. It was only 70F in Duluth, so I thought it wouldn’t be so bad up the shore. Nope, it was almost 80F. My run was painfully slow, due in part to the heat and also due to the more technical terrain, as compared to the segment I ran the weekend before. I had to climb over fallen trees and pick my way through scree, so I naturally slowed down over the mostly runnable section headed the opposite way.

I’m taking it fairly easy this upcoming week (with my usual strategy of denying the race is coming up soon) before spending basically the entire month of October traveling (3 out of 4 weeks, I have a business trip, and the only week I don’t is the week leading up to Wild Duluth, so I’m not thrilled), so who knows what kind of mileage I’ll get after that. I’m excited about the Birkie, even after finding out the race time limit is 7 hours (which was my goal time, oops) and realizing I’ll have to leave the house at 5:30 a.m.

Birkie Trail Run Training Weeks 11 and 12

The woman who kicked the hornet’s nest.

Monday: 10.4 mi, treadmill
Tuesday: rest (trip logistics)
Wednesday: rest (driving)
Thursday: rest (driving – some walking at Niagara Falls)
Friday: 2.5 mi, treadmill
Saturday: rest (some walking at Thorne Head Nature Preserve, also lots of aggressively bad dancing)
Sunday: rest (water-skiing for “cross-training”)
Total: 12.9 mi

Monday: rest (walking around Kennebunkport, water-skiing)
Tuesday: rest (driving)
Wednesday: 3.75 mi, treadmill (plus walking around the ballpark in Cleveland)
Thursday: rest (driving – some walking at ballpark in Detroit)
Friday: 6.6 mi, road
Saturday: 9.1 mi, trail (Superior Hiking Trail – Twin Ponds to Haines Rd & back)
Sunday: 12.6 mi, trail (Superior Hiking Trail – Rossini Rd to Fox River Rd & back)
Total: 32.1 mi

A week and a half of only treadmill running really sucked! Good thing it only consisted of two runs. My Monday (week 11) run got split into 2 runs so that I could get some stuff done. I ran on the treadmill, then did some trip prep, then ran on the treadmill some more. I’m trying to remember why I did this – I assume it must have been raining or cold. Or I just wanted to be around to get more stuff done.

I had also intended to run Tuesday (week 11), and in fact got dressed in my running gear and, after visiting my grandparents, started driving to the Highland/Getchell trailhead, and about halfway there, looked at the sky and realized the one time I don’t obsessively check the weather before going out running, a giant thunderhead is looming over the hill. During the downpour, I drove to buy pet food and litter, which was a good use of time and was sort of on the way. I considered going home and running on the treadmill, but realized I had a lot of trip prep left to do, plus some additional housecleaning. (I actually cleaned my house somewhat during the time I had off before we started driving. It still looks messy compared to most people’s houses, but a heck of a lot better than it had, and it was nice to come home to clean sheets and no dirty dishes.) I can’t do laundry and run the treadmill at the same time since they are on the same breaker, so I decided not to run. I could have managed my time better and gotten in one more run before I left, but that would require a lobotomy.

My treadmill run on Friday (week 11) was uneventful, as was my treadmill run Wednesday (week 12).

I was SO glad to get back out running on Friday (week 12). I almost didn’t get out there because I thought it was going to storm – then I watched the radar animation and saw the path of the rain. However, it was misty and visibility was low, plus my allergies were acting up badly and I’d taken a pill that was making my head a bit fuzzy, so I shortened my 8 mile run to 6.6. That doesn’t seem like much but 1.4 miles takes me awhile, so I was able to provide my brain enough excuses to turn back for home early.

Saturday (week 12) I wanted to make sure I ran before the predicted thunderstorm hit (spoiler: it didn’t) and get home in time to have a shake from Coney Island Deluxe courtesy of my dad. I decided I’ve been avoiding tough trails long enough, and decided to run the Superior Hiking Trail from Twin Ponds back toward Enger/24th Ave W/Highland-Getchell, turning around when I reached around 5 miles. This didn’t work out. First off, it was 1. sunny and 2. warm, two things I was not anticipating. I didn’t put on sunscreen, because I am stupid, and I only brought one handheld, which I thought would be sufficient for a cooler day. Maybe it would have been enough, we’ll never know.

I really hate that section of the SHT. After passing through the 24th Ave W trailhead, there’s a quick flat section followed by this really long, steep, annoying climb. It’s less than 400 ft in total elevation change, but it has a fairly steep grade and I am also not a mountain runner so I don’t know what I’m talking about. Then there’s a bunch of little climbs I don’t like, some of which are exposed. So I was hot, rationing water a bit (nothing dire), grumpy, hungry somehow (oops), and overall not having a good time. I reached Haines Road and decided to turn around there, even though it was short of 5 miles (I think 4.6?), because I didn’t want to go up that climb (it’s short but steep and also slippery due to lots of exposed boulders) and I also wanted to be done before 5. I tried to make up some time on the way back after having a gel (not enough), and was starting to enjoy myself once I started the descent of the aforementioned annoying climb. Somewhere before Miller Creek, while I was cooking along, I got stung by a bee. I haven’t been stung in a long time (which is surprising, since there are bees all over the place on the SHT), and while it was initially less painful than I remembered, it still sucked, and it hurt the rest of the run (I was stung on my right calf muscle) and the rest of the night it both hurt and itched. I decided to cheat a little to get done sooner, and ran along Skyline Drive past Enger Park Golf Course instead of dipping back onto the SHT after crossing Piedmont. I was able to get done a bit more quickly by running on the road (although I got back on for the last 2 segments at Enger Park), and by that point I was SO DONE with running and didn’t care if I ran 10 miles.

I decided I will not be running the Wild Duluth course sections of the Superior Hiking Trail from now until the race. I don’t need to be annoyed by/sick of the race course come race day. It’s just very irritating that the SHT section nearest my home is the one I hate the most. Yes, I could go the other way from Twin Ponds, but it’s all downhill from there until the Lakewalk, and then it’s a lot of city running back up the hill to Hartley. I barely consider that the SHT.

Sunday I tried out a new segment of the SHT, as per my fall running goals. I drove up Highway 61 to check out the Rossini Road to Fox River Road section. I actually intended to go the other way, but when I pulled up to the Rossini Road trailhead and was getting my gear on, a woman I know came out of the woods. We started chatting and she offered to run the Rossini Road to Lake County Demonstration Forest section with me at another time, since it would be new to her. So I headed back toward town instead of up the shore. I think I’m going to make a separate trail review post, so I won’t get too far into the details of the trail. I started about as late as I could start while still getting done before dark. This was great until I took a wrong turn on the way back and ended up going north until I was past Larsmont, so I got home after dark anyway. Oh man, I cannot even think about what it’s going to be like when daylight saving time ends. The run itself felt good and I was moving along pretty well. I didn’t get hungry til the last few miles, at which time I reminded myself during a race, I’d be eating stuff at aid stations instead of eating a single gel over 12.8 miles. Oh, I ate a tiny granola bar right before I started running. So a tiny granola bar and a gel over 12.8 miles (and 3.5 hours). Not the best. I did have plenty of water as I decided to wear my hydration pack (which I’d initially vowed not to wear until the race – but I didn’t want 2 handhelds and it’s basically the same as a weighted vest, right?) and didn’t close the valve on the mouthpiece so it leaked all over my passenger seat and my gear. Sigh.

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.

Birkie Trail Run Training: Week 7

Boring running week since I was traveling for work for most of it.

Monday: 8.1 mi, road
Tuesday: 5.2 mi, treadmill
Wednesday: 5 mi, treadmill
Thursday: 5.1 mi, treadmill
Friday: rest
Saturday: 10.3 mi, road & trail (home to Bagley to Hartley & back)
Sunday: 16.4 mi, trail (SHT – Normanna Road to Sucker River & back)
Total: 50.2 mi

Monday I was planning for 10 miles and didn’t get there. I had a lot to do to get ready for my trip – and even then I ended up packing Tuesday morning.

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday I managed to hit the workout room at the hotel and torture myself for 65 minutes (the max workout time on the treadmill + 5 min cool down) after dinner. Yes, after dinner each night, since Tuesday we went to dinner on our way from the airport, and Wednesday and Thursday we went shortly after returning from our site visit. Since I was the one who rented the car, and I’m also not a total antisocial jerk, I had dinner at 6 with the rest of the group, rested in my hotel room for an hour, and then ran. Trail running has helped me become more adaptable to running on a full stomach. Thursday was rough as I had eaten a delicious smorgasbord of Indian food, but I wanted to give myself the opportunity to have Friday as a rest day.

It turned out I needed Friday as a rest day since I had a 4:30 a.m. wake-up call, had to drive in the dark through a thunderstorm, and then found the airport coffee shop wasn’t open yet. Upon landing in Minneapolis, I hoofed it down to Starbucks but saw there was a huge line and had to head back to my gate. So I didn’t get coffee til I landed in Duluth. Thus, there was no way I would be running – I was already a zombie. I suppose I could have napped, but eh.

Saturday I ran from home to Bagley Nature Area, ran half the loop (the half without the hill), split off on the Superior Hiking Trail, and crossed to Hartley. I did the Root Canal loop at Hartley and was coming around the Old Hartley Road trail (which is now a gravel trail) and came upon a man who informed me there was a bear up ahead. A runner who had passed me earlier was yelling at the bear and making noise to try to get it to leave the trail, so I joined him. I wasn’t especially worried since it was a single bear in August – not a cub, not starving – but I wasn’t about to just scoot by it while it munched on the side of the trail. The bear moved after a few minutes and we cautiously approached the spot where it had been. Seeing no sign of the bear, we both took off. This was fortunate as it would have added a couple miles to my run to go another route, and it was already late. I’d actually almost decided not to run that day, since I’d hurt my neck rolling over in bed, but by 6 PM I was feeling guilty enough to get off my butt and get the run in.

Sunday I had another late start, due to 1. waiting until Austin Jarrow opened so I could get some more gels 2. rain and 3. procrastination. Oh and 4. missing a turn. It ended up raining for a significant portion of my run, so waiting was basically pointless. I drove out to the Normanna Rd. trailhead, which is kind of annoying to access. I think I could have taken an easier route from where I live if I’d just looked at a Duluth map, but I followed the directions on the SHT site, and then misread them and turned left on 61 too early, realized I would be heading into a dead end, and had to go back to the next left turn spot to get turned around the right way on 61 again. So I didn’t start running til 3:25 or so. And I forgot my GPS watch, which I have NEVER done (but have almost done several times, so I guess that was bound to happen), so I had to use my iPhone, at 49% battery, to track my run. (I put it in a plastic bag to protect it.)

The trail was ok, it had a lot of grassy sections which kept my feet soaked the whole time. It’s not particularly challenging, there are some ups and downs but nothing too hard. The worst part was the deerflies buzzing around me constantly, even with the rainfall. I wasn’t swarmed, but I couldn’t ever really be rid of them. They kept getting stuck in my hair, which was disgusting. I even had a whole (dead) one come out while washing my hair after getting home.

I was actually intending to run 18 miles, but when I got to the spur trail to the parking lot, I realized that I was only at 8.2 miles (or so… since Strava truncates after the first decimal place – they don’t even round!) and decided screw it, I’m over this. The bugs, the rain, and the grass had frustrated me. Plus I was going to be done after 8 pm if I kept going. This ended up being a good choice, as the gray skies and denser forest in the last few miles meant I was running in low light. I was pretty cranky for the second half of the run, and ready to get it over with. A few times during the run I heard what sounded like dogs barking/baying in the distance, but eventually convinced myself they were coyotes and started to get a bit scared with a few miles to go. They didn’t seem to be getting closer to me, but that didn’t mean things couldn’t change. I am a lot more afraid of encountering a coyote (or wolf) than a bear. For all I know, it could have been some hillbilly’s hound dogs howling for their dinner.

The rain and the general dampness of the trail made all the little footbridges slippery, so I walked over them to be careful. Apparently that wasn’t enough, because a mile or so from the end, I stepped on one slightly tilted plank and my foot slipped off into ankle-deep mud. I couldn’t get my footing back and ended up having to crawl to the next section of planks before I could get back on my feet. It was a bit of a desperate moment but not the end of the world. I am glad that’s the worst thing that happened because I had run my iPhone battery down to almost zero using Strava, and when I got back to my car, I found my other phone had also been drained to almost zero by… I’m not sure what. Trying to find a signal or something stupid. I really need to remember to put it in airplane mode before going off the grid for a run. I didn’t have chargers for either phone in the car, either, so if I had car trouble or an injury, I’d have been screwed.

I’m glad to be home the next couple of weeks and I’m looking to ramp up the mileage slightly before stepping back again once I go on my road trip. Halfway to the Birkie!

Birkie Trail Run Training: Week 6

Yep, it doesn’t say ultra in the title.

Monday: 7.1 mi, road
Tuesday: 10.5 mi, road
Wednesday: 6 mi, trail (Bagley and Hartley)
Thursday: rest (it was cold! perfect rest day!)
Friday: 7.6 mi, road
Saturday: 3.1 mi, pavement & trail (Run Like An Animal 5K)
Sunday: 15.7 mi, trail (SHT – Jay Cooke to the southern terminus & back)
Total: 50.1 mi

I’ve officially thrown in the towel on running the Birkie Trail Ultra. I’m just not ready, nor have I put in the work that I knew I would need to. Part of that of course is because I was sick and I was studying for the FE exam, but part of it is also my own lack of commitment to the non-running side of training (diet and strength training, specifically). Rather than spend like $400 on lodging, transportation, and supplies, I can spend a small amount of money on an administrative fee to switch to the Birkie Marathon, which I can drive to and from on race day.

It is a weight off my shoulders. I am so thankful the race offers this option. Now I can run a new race in a new setting, and I can run Wild Duluth again for sure. I win! I will save my mileage personal best for another season. I signed up for the Birkie Ultra on an impulse, when I was feeling sorry for myself about FANS. I didn’t think it through. Maybe if the cutoff was easier, I’d still go for it. I just don’t want to miss an early time cut and end up spending a ton of money on a hotel for a disappointing race with an early end for the second time this year.

Speaking of FANS, I am in Tulsa, OK this week, and during the flight leg from Duluth to Minneapolis, our approach took us right over the FANS course. How nice.

I did have a great training week last week! I bounced right back from my cold (which I gave to my husband) and reached that coveted 50 mile mark for the week again. I intend to continue to increase my mileage over the next few weeks, before cutting back during my road trip to Maine, and then of course racing at the end of September.

I was pretty proud of myself for running over 10 miles on a weekday. When I started running, the idea of a double digit weekday run was unfathomable for me. I wouldn’t have the time! Especially if it was fall or winter. This route was a hilly 10 miles, too – I ran the steep hill on Glenwood, the long hill on Arrowhead, and the big hill on Rice Lake Road. It was a little darker than expected when I finished, but not headlamp-dark. My legs were heavy for the trail run the following day, but I just took it easy.

Friday’s run kind of wore me out for the 5K on Saturday, but I don’t mind. The 5K was a whim, and it was kind of interesting to try to run fast on less-than-fresh legs. I was once again racing a storm on Friday, and several times considered cutting my run short due to threatening skies, but I managed to beat out the rain by a fair amount of time.

Saturday’s run was of course covered in my race report. Sunday’s run was pretty awesome. I got a late start due to my strange anxiety over long runs. I knew I wanted to run 16 miles, and I knew it was going to take a long time. Instead of starting and getting it over with, I worried and procrastinated and stressed myself out about it. I don’t know why I care how long a training run takes – I had the day to myself and no obligations to fulfill.

I really love this section of the SHT. It’s got lots of spots to run, and then a couple tough hills. I like that mix. There was one stretch of overgrown trail that I hated – I imagined myself crawling with ticks from the long grass. I checked myself later and didn’t appear to have any on me. Ew ew ew. The new section of trail from Wild Valley Road to the southern terminus is nice! It’s a lot of ups and downs, but very shady and pleasant. Some really great work has been put into this trail!

Once I got through to the last 3 miles or so of the return trip, things just clicked. I realized that I was zipping along around 14-15 min pace, sometimes faster, even after 13+ miles. I even ran a few uphills. Granted, this section is more gentle as it’s ski trails, but I still was pretty amazed that even after laboring through some of the tough sections in the middle, barely slogging along uphill, I had plenty of energy in my legs for the last few miles, and I cruised. Things are starting to click. 16 miles (well, 15.7) might take me awhile still, but it feels a lot more natural than it used to. Maybe it’s the higher mileage weeks kicking in, or maybe it’s just overall experience. Either way, it felt great to finish a long trail run without being destroyed.

Birkie Trail Ultra Training: Week 1

Last week was tough! High volume training week + unconventional “cross training.”

Monday: 6.5 mi, road
Tuesday: 5.1 mi, trail (Bagley/Hartley)
Wednesday: rest
Thursday: 8.1 mi, road
Friday: 5.3 mi, road
Saturday: 8.1 mi, trail (SHT at Twin Ponds)
Sunday: 16.1 mi, road/trail (West Skyline Drive + Magney to Spirit Mtn SHT)
Total: 49.2 mi

This week of training started off strong, but ended with my confidence in the gutter. I’m trying to separate last week from the first few days of this week, as I keep thinking it’s Monday, but my training reached a fairly low point yesterday. I’ll have to save that for next week’s recap!

I like the format I’ve cooked up (I realize it’s pretty standard), with a mid-week mid-length run, and then a long run on Sunday. I used to do my long runs on Saturdays to ensure I got them in (with Sunday as a back-up day), but now that my spouse works Sundays, it works better for me to use that day to myself to get in my long run. I intended to have a longer run on Saturday (maybe 10 miles), but didn’t get up early enough in the day, didn’t run fast enough (I was really dragging), and had a hard stop due to an appointment to get my cat his summer haircut.

The Bagley/Hartley combo run is a really great way to break up the monotony of Bagley (repeated loops of a 1.7 mile trail get old) while avoiding the construction at Hartley. Since the two trails are linked by the Superior Hiking Trail, it only takes a short jog across Arrowhead road to run both trails in the same run.

I didn’t know this til recently, but Bagley used to be a downhill ski area! My dad and I were out on the pontoon boat listening to music, and he was trying to remember the year “American Pie” came out, based on a memory of skiing on Rock Hill with his friends in the early ’70s. I had no idea. UMD has a brief history of the area on their website, including a photo of the rope tow. It wasn’t Mont Blanc, but it was the only local option until Spirit Mountain opened.

Both Saturday and Sunday, I was hoping to complete my trail runs under the 17:17 minimum pace for the Birkie. Not because I was trying to race my training, but because I was hoping that wouldn’t be a tough pace to hit for shorter runs. It was disheartening to be slower than that for both runs.

Saturday I ran the SHT starting at Twin Ponds and going southwest (roughly). I run this section because Twin Ponds is the closest spot for me to jump on the trail, but I also hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate parts of this section. There’s a climb that seems endless on the way out, and it just wears me down. I think that alone will keep me from ever doing the Wild Duluth 100K, since it comes fairly early on in the race.

SHT altitude

Part of me is like, stop running this section if it’s so frustrating. But that’s the quitter in me. Really what I have to do is conquer this beast. Also I have to stop running it in full sun.

I saw lots of local runners I know out there – I guess that’s what happens when I do my trail runs in the morning instead of in the late afternoon. It was a nice treat to see friends!

Later that afternoon I did a couple rounds of knee-boarding, which I will call my strength training for the day.

Sunday I was absolutely determined to do 16 miles. This is my sole “long run” before Curnow – FANS doesn’t count. Once again, I got up early, but not as early as planned. I was stressed out/feeling guilty because running was going to cut into time spent with my nephews, but I knew I needed to get it done. I kept trying to come up with excuses to shorten it, but I managed to shut up all those voices. I did make a concession and chose to run the majority of it on the road/snowmobile trails instead of entirely on the SHT, in order to save time. It still took nearly 5 hours.

I started at the SHT trailhead near Ely’s Peak (the alternate trail head), but ran down Beck’s Rd to Skyline Drive. That was almost exactly a mile, and mostly uphill (actually the first 2 miles were mostly uphill, but it didn’t feel like mostly downhill on the way back! Very annoying.) It was a bit scary to be running along the side of a road that, while not very busy, has a fairly high speed limit.

I was making great time on the roads, but it was hot, and that started to take its toll on me, especially once I got onto the trails. This section of the SHT contains some fairly technical trail, although there are a few sections near Spirit Mountain that flatten out and are runnable. I ended up choosing to follow the access road at Spirit Mountain rather than getting back on the SHT, and then took a snowmobile trail down to where it meets up again with the SHT at Knowlton Creek. That took a big chunk of climbing off my run.

The short sections on the SHT really dragged. I hated every downhill, because it meant another uphill I’d have to maneuver. I was so sick of the steep, rocky climbs. It was hotter than I had anticipated – 80F or possibly warmer, with little cloud cover. The trail is mostly shaded, but the pockets of sun were tough. Once I got back onto the road, I had about 5 miles left, but I was pretty low on water. I hadn’t filled my pack up entirely, as I’ve never gone through a whole pack of water. That was stupid. I had to ration it the rest of the way, and that slowed me down. I walked long stretches of the road that I had expected to run. Another blow to my confidence. I know the Birkie course will not be that punishing – a cross-country ski race isn’t going to be held on a course full of rocks – but the distance itself is going to be punishing. The important part is I stuck it out, didn’t turn around early, and didn’t stop moving.

I still managed to water-ski and knee-board that afternoon, so again, I got my strength workout in!