Wild Duluth 50K 2017 Goals

I’ve been sick since Friday evening with a crummy cold, and spent most of the two weeks prior traveling for work, so I have barely given a thought to the race unless I was worrying about it.

The weather doesn’t look great either, but I’ll just power through the rain if it comes. My goals are:

A Standard: 8:45
B Standard: 9:15
C Standard: 9:45

Last year I ran 10:23, and my last (significantly easier) 50K was 8:57. I think I can at the very least make my C Standard, even sick and in the rain. My hope is I’ll be able to sleep the night before the race, and I’ll be able to attend the Bulldog men’s hockey game after the race. I’m really excited, but I wish of course that I was healthy and that I hadn’t spent so much time traveling. There’s not much I can do about that now, except hope that my cough subsides and my sinus pressure subsides. And let the race day excitement take over and power me through to the finish.

Wild Duluth 50K Training: Week 1

Back to the grind.

My heart rate monitor is still malfunctioning, so I won’t be reporting those numbers until it gets fixed. I’m fairly certain I’m not running trails with an average of 72 bpm.
Tuesday: rest (massage!)
Wednesday: 7.3 mi, paved trail (Lakewalk)
Thursday: 6.3 mi, paved trail (Munger)
Friday: 5.5 mi, trail (Lester Park)
Saturday: 10.1 mi, trail (SHT @ 24th Ave W)
Sunday: 4.1 mi, trail (SHT, Brewer’s Park loop)
Total: 33.3 mi

Super boring week of training. I could have run Monday but didn’t, because I wanted to be lazy. I eased my body back into running by choosing a couple of paved, flatter trails to start off.

Friday I ran Lester Park for the first time and I am stupid for not running it sooner! It’s gorgeous! I ran uphill along the river and cruised along enjoying the view, then turned around and headed back the way I came after I got to 2.75 miles. I will do some more exploring soon and take some photos.

Saturday I made a slight error in judgement. I brought one handheld water bottle and two gels. It was not enough. I didn’t bonk/die/collapse or anything, but I was SO HUNGRY the last couple miles. I think it would have been enough if I’d eaten closer to the time I’d started my run, but I lollygagged around for too long after eating my brunch. Oh well, lesson learned. I felt pretty good during most of the run.

Sunday I had no energy or drive to run the sad 4 miles of the new Brewer’s Park loop. Which is just a shorter way to get from Highland/Getchell to Haines Rd, btw. It was just OK. I felt like a diplodocus, with slow, heavy feet. Yuck. The loop was shorter than I thought it would be, but I was glad of it.

I am hoping to have a couple of higher volume weeks for weeks 2-4 of this plan, but we’ll see. This week should be fun, I signed up to run a race this Saturday.

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!

Race Report: Harder ‘N Hell Half Marathon

Official Results:
Time: 3:51:24
Pace: 17:40 (Assuming 13.1 miles)
Overall: 118/142
Gender: 54/72
(Updated to include official results)

App Results:
App: Strava
Time: 3:52:18
Pace: 17:04
Distance: 13.6 mi
Heart Rate: N/A

A: 4:20:00
B: 3:59:59

What I ate the night before: Chicken tenders and fries
What I ate on race day: Large latte and bagel with cream cheese
What I carried with me: 2 handheld water bottles, fun size Snickers bars

What I wore: Long sleeved tech tee, short sleeved tech tee, shorts, buff (as headband), over the calf socks (which fell down immediately), gloves
Gadgets: GPS watch, iPhone with Strava and MapMyRun running

What a great race. I am thrilled!

Race day I woke up before my alarm and tried to go back to sleep, but couldn’t. I got up around 7 and my friend (who was also running the race and who was staying with us) and I drove to get coffee. He was planning on leaving at around 8:10 to leave his car at the finish and take the bus to the start, but he couldn’t find one of his gloves, so he decided to ride with me to the start. I wanted that little extra bit of control, plus if it was cold then we could huddle in there. He drove to the finish line, I picked him up there (after making two wrong turns, one because I was zoning out and started driving to work, and one because I didn’t realize a street was closed), and we made it to the Spirit Mountain trailhead at about 9:05, giving us 10 minutes before the race briefing was scheduled and 25 minutes before the start. It was cold but not overly cold, and I realized I probably could have gotten away with a short sleeved shirt plus arm warmers. Eh. It wasn’t like it was the difference between winning and losing or anything. I didn’t do any warming up, which was dumb, but I don’t feel like it was a big deal.

The race briefing actually began right before the race was scheduled to start. I started my phone apps in advance because I didn’t want to be messing with my phone while running, especially since the pockets attached to my handheld were jammed full of stuff and my phone had to be wedged in. I didn’t realize once we went to the start, we would just… start. So my watch wasn’t ready, and it took forever to get the GPS to find a satellite, and then I realized at some point I hadn’t started it. I think I was about 0.4 miles into the race at that point but I had no idea. So the start was a bit rocky.

Mile 1: 18:30
This is a little messed up because as I said, I started the app before I walked to the starting line, so it includes that walking time. That means the distance is a little messed up, too, but the data from my watch is all kind of messed up since I didn’t start it on time and it was underestimating the distance. My watch had me running several 20+ minute miles and had an average pace of 18:17, which would have had me finishing in 3:59 (for a true 13.1), so that data is basically garbage. So, Strava it is.

Anyway the first mile was typical of a trail race, I gather, in that we were all bunched up. The stairway to hell was no problem because everyone else was going up it slowly, too. I let people go by me and went along at my own pace, and pretty soon I was basically in last place. Not a problem, someone had to bring up the rear.

Mile 2: 16:41
There’s a big descent here so it went by pretty quickly. I was a little bummed because there’s a couple of gentle descents/flats that I like to let loose on, but I couldn’t because we were bottled up, but I guess I made up for it by scaling the hills more quickly. I ended up in the middle of a running group somehow, which was awkward. Their leader told me they were aiming for a finish time around 4:30, so I told myself I hope I didn’t see them again. (Spoiler alert, I didn’t, but they were a fun group having a blast and I wished their time goal had been closer to mine so I could have joined them.)

Mile 3: 17:25
Uneventful. I was following a woman in blue patterned running tights and trying to keep her in sight the whole time. I think I might have had my first candy bar here, or slightly after. I felt a little gaggy from the bagel and cream cheese, which weren’t very good (from Starbucks. God I wish there was a Bruegger’s up here.) I had taken a couple of Pepto Bismol tablets pre-race as a precautionary measure but they hadn’t kicked in yet, I guess. I took my gloves off during this mile because my hands were getting warm and I’d need my hands free to unwrap my Snickers. I stuffed them down my shirt into my sports bra, so I am sure I looked a little lumpy for most of the race. Oh well.

Mile 4: 16:47
As I was crossing Cody Street I passed a woman who was cheering people on. She said “I’ve seen you out here training, great job!” It made me smile, it was a nice thing to say. I guess I am pretty distinctive looking since most people do not run wearing glasses, I’ve noticed.

Mile 5: 20:26
Yeesh. I tried eating another candy bar and nearly threw up. It was rough and I was slowed to a walk for quite awhile. I was pretty low for this mile, though I faked it for the race photographer. I thought oh man, I’m going to barf all over the trail, I won’t be able to eat anything the whole race, I won’t make it. It was depressing. The first aid station was at the end of this mile and I walked right through it, since I hadn’t consumed much of my water and I couldn’t imagine eating anything else. This ended up being a good idea because I got ahead of a bunch of people that way. I just kept moving and tried to will my stomach to calm down.

Miles 6 and 7: 17:50 and 17:06
I started feeling better at this point and the race turned around for me. I got passed by a few people fresh from the aid station while I was walking, but I ended up passing a couple of them when they stopped to pee. Another one followed me for awhile and didn’t pass me despite the multiple opportunities I gave her to go by. She finally rushed by me on the side, which was kind of annoying. I passed her when she stopped to take a photo, and but she seemed to keep me in her sights.

Mile 8: 16:47
I was still being pursued by the woman who rushed past me, and she got pretty close as I’d slowed down to eat a Snickers and I took the descent to Haines Road carefully. There were a couple of really slippery spots on the trail (like the first mile or so, which was covered in wet leaves) and the rocky descent down to the tunnel under Haines was one of them. I went slow and still nearly biffed it. In the tunnel I tried to really hit the gas and that was the fastest little snippet of the race, according to my Strava results. I was passed by a couple of mountain bikers on the gravel on the other side of the road. My pursuer was absolutely killing herself to catch me, which made no sense. I looked over my shoulder as I was heading back up into the woods and saw her bent over, hands on knees, stopped, at the edge of the gravel road and the woods. That was the last time I saw her. I did hear someone coming up behind me at one point but it turned out to be the winner of the 50k.

Mile 9: 18:07
Uneventful. Passed by the 50k 2nd place runner. I think I had another Snickers here, the last one I ate, and then I had a mint.

Mile 10: 16:24
Passed by the 50k 3rd place runner as I was crossing Skyline. Started to realize I wasn’t as far off my goal as I thought. I still thought I’d be over 4 hours, but I really couldn’t tell. I ran alongside a guy with trekking poles for awhile and we chatted. We talked about how nice the new boardwalks were; they had just been added in a few weeks ago by some fabulous volunteers. I asked him about his trekking poles and he said “They saved my life.” He had a total knee replacement and this race was the longest he’d run since then. I might have to look into them since he said they lessen the impact of downhills and my knees are pretty creaky today. He got ahead of me as we hit 10th street, but I caught up with him at the aid station at 24th Ave W.

Mile 11: 17:55
I stopped at the aid station at 24th Ave W to fill up one of my water bottles, and then I kept on going. There was food there but I decided I wasn’t going to eat anything else. I saw the woman I’d seen earlier (the one who’d seen me training), she appeared to be a friend or family member of the guy I’d run with. He stayed at the aid station a little longer than I did but he was soon coming after me. I thought he would get by me but he didn’t. I saw him finish and he told me he ran out of gas in the last few miles. I got passed by the 4th place 50k runner (who looked really miserable), the last one to pass me for the day. I really started to pick it up out of the aid station, I really wanted to get to Enger Park and start the downhill part of the race. I drank a little too much water and felt sloshy for a few minutes but my stomach calmed down.

Mile 12: 16:55
I realized at this point that 4 hours was within my grasp and I was really motivated. I knew the last bad hill was ahead of me heading into Enger, and I was ready to attack it. I passed a guy on the hill who was absolutely SUFFERING. I felt really bad for him, and told him it was the last bad hill and then it would be all downhill. I wanted to ring the peace bell at Enger but this tween girl seemed to be hogging it so I just kept going. She rang it as I ran by. I passed Twin Ponds and had a moment of sadness for the woman who was struck by a car and killed there earlier in the week. I didn’t know her but many people I know did, and it was a sad, preventable accident that has resulted in criminal charges. I passed a guy here as we crossed Skyline and started to open up a bit.

Mile 13: 14:15
I was flying at this point. It is a fairly steep descent but it was manageable and I was running it perfectly, no tripping or slipping. I passed a few other people here, including the only half marathoner to pass me back. A friend of mine lives just down the road from one of the road crossings, so I’d told him to be out cheering, but he wasn’t. Oh well. I didn’t need encouragement at this point, I was practically grinning. I was checking my watch to see my pace rather frequently, and I knew I was going to make it under 4 hours. I checked the actual time just to be sure, and confirmed it. The only thing I wasn’t sure about was where the actual finish line was. I mean, I knew it was in Bayfront, but where, and what was the path to get there? I was flying over the pedestrian bridge across the highway, but started to lose energy a little bit (and got passed) when I was running along the train tracks.

The rest (0.5 miles according to Strava, who knows what it really was): 11:40 pace
So the finish line wasn’t visible until the very, very end. That was a little bit annoying. I ran along Railroad St, turned at 5th Ave W, turned again and starting running through the Bentleyville tunnel, and then FINALLY saw the finish line. Since I was so far ahead of my expected finish time, no one was expecting me. In fact, my husband said that my friend’s parents had just asked when they expected to see me finish, and he said “Between 1:30 and 2… or right now” as I had just come into view. I saw the clock, saw I was well under 4 hours, and blew through the finish line with a smile on my face.

I wrapped up in a blanket right away to keep warm, even though I hadn’t felt cold at all during the race. I sat down for a little while and heard about how the race went for my buddy. He said he finished in about 3:02, which was a little over his goal, but he had a blast just as I did. He reminded me to go get my swag, which I hadn’t noticed. Instead of medals, we got a mug with a little spoon, which I used to get DELICIOUS chicken wild rice soup. I should have eaten like three more helpings. I felt pretty amazing right after the race and was surprised to see how easily my stomach accepted the soup and bread. My husband drove me back to Spirit Mountain to pick up my car, and then I went home to shower and get the snot and salt off my face.

I was pretty tired the rest of the day, probably because I needed more food. I had another latte (pumpkin spice, because I’m unashamed to be basic) while I was picking a friend up from the bus station (he was covering the Bulldogs-Gophers hockey game Saturday night) but I was really dragging. I tried to nap, but I couldn’t. I barely made it to the hockey game (UMD shut out the stinkin’ Gophers, so that was great!), but once I ate some glorious fries, I perked up again.

I am pretty pain free. Only a minor blister or two, no chafing, no muscular soreness, but some joint soreness and stiffness. My hips and knees aren’t pleased. I thought my back would hurt more since I didn’t do a good job working my core during this training cycle.

I am really glad I put in all that grueling training. I felt really prepared for the race, took all the hills in stride (huffing and puffing, but considering I barely made it up some of them during the first few weeks of training, it was an improvement), had plenty in the tank at the end, overcame nausea, and didn’t bonk. I’ll recap the training cycle in a later post, but suffice it to say, while it wasn’t perfect every week, it did the job.

I will definitely run this race again. It’s very low key, the volunteers were great, the trail is gorgeous, and it’s a perfect way to wrap up a distance racing season. (Of course I only ran one longish race, but that won’t always be the case.) Maybe next year I’ll run the 50k! Or try to beat this year’s time in the half, I don’t know. Thank you, Wild Duluth Races, for a great race!

Harder ‘N Hell Half Marathon Goals

Tomorrow is the race. I’m not sure what to think. On the one hand, whatever, I know I’ll finish the race, and I know I won’t be blowing anyone away with my speed. On the other hand, I want to do well. I don’t want to bonk, I don’t want to slow down too much on the hills, I don’t want to slip and fall on wet leaves, I don’t want to freeze during the race.

My plan is to be in last place, or very close to last place, at the beginning. Since I’ll be one of the last finishers, why not start there? Then I can take the stairway to hell at my own pace. I bought a bag of Halloween candy so that I have bite-sized Snickers to bring along with me. Then I don’t have to fumble with wrappers, I can just unwrap the whole candy and stuff the wrapper back in the pocket of my hand-held. I also hope to not stop at any aid stations for longer than I need to fill my water bottles. And I really, really, really hope I don’t get passed by too many of the 50k runners (they start earlier).

Time goals? Eek. I am going to be mostly running on feel, but I’ll have my watch on me to check my average pace. The problem is, I don’t know exactly how long the race course is. I don’t think it’s 13.1 miles exactly, I think it’s longer, or at least my various GPS devices have measured it longer. So if it’s 13.3 miles or 13.6 miles, then I’ll have slightly different average paces I need to hit. Whatever. So, here we go.

A Standard: 3:59:59
B Standard: 4:20:00

I ran the course in 4:23 back in September, so I rounded down to 4:20 for my B goal. On fresh legs, I can surely shave 3 minutes off my time.

Under 4 hours might be a pipe dream, but hey, I like to challenge myself. Assuming the race is 13.5 miles long (that’s what my Strava measured), that’s a pace of 17:46. I ran a pace of 19:28 back in September. So that’s a big chunk of time to shave off. Oh well.

As long as I finish strong, don’t accidentally trip the 50k front runners as they blow by me, don’t barf or have an upset GI system, and don’t hurt myself, I will be happy. Ok if it takes me 6 hours I won’t be happy. But it won’t.

Harder ‘N Hell Half Training: Week 1

Yay! Back to training again.

Monday: 3.8 mi, trails (Bagley)
Tuesday: rest
Wednesday: 4.4 mi, road + trails, 4 x Chester Bowl Ski Hill
Thursday: rest
Friday: 4.8 mi, trails (Hartley)
Saturday: 6 mi, trails (SHT)
Sunday: 4.8 mi, trails/hiking (SHT)
Total: 23.8 mi

This was a little low for mileage for the week, but I chose to take Tuesday off to spend time with family and it was a great decision. For week 2, I’ll be back to 6 runs a week and the mileage will be back up.

Running almost entirely on trails is a different challenge for me. I like it, but it’s more tiring and time-consuming. This isn’t a surprise, of course, but I was dragging on my hike yesterday, and even dragging on my run the day before. Of course, it’s hot and sunny, which is sapping my energy, but it’s also sapping my confidence a little, only one week in.

Yesterday I took a hike with my friend, who is also running the race with me. We started at the Spirit Mountain trailhead and power-hiked through to Skyline Drive/Getchell road. I thought it would be a slightly longer, run, but ended up just under 5 miles. It was fine with me, because my energy was sapped. I really needed a snack or something. I thought I’d eaten enough, but since we didn’t start til after 3, I think I needed something more substantial than a bagel slathered in cream cheese and a couple of granola bars. That works ok for a noon run, but not for a 3:30 pm run. I was glad to do a run that wasn’t an out and back! And I got to introduce David to the steps from hell, so that was fun. He made it up well before me but it wasn’t a picnic for him either. I still think my strategy of being dead last at the beginning of the race is genius. Then I can take as much time as I want on the stupid stairs.

Saturday I started at the Skyline Drive/Getchell road trailhead and did three miles toward the city and then looped back. I took a couple of terrible pictures. I didn’t know they were terrible at the time, but the lens was sweaty or something. The beginning of this part of the trail is pretty technical, and I was a little concerned about slipping and falling. There’s a lot of loose gravel/dirt in some very tricky spots. I sometimes wonder if I am too much of a wimp to be a trail runner.

The Bagley and Hartley runs were nothing to write home about. Standard runs I’ve done a zillion times. I covered the hill workout here.

Lessons learned this week: I need to get stronger in order to have a decent race in October. I did a crappy job of strength training this week, only doing a couple yoga workouts. I slept all right, but could sleep better. My nutrition still sucks. So the only one of my training goals I met was running hills. Whoops. It’s week 1 of 12, I think I’ve got plenty of room for improvement.

Harder’n Hell Half Marathon

The Harder’n Hell Half Marathon is the next race on my calendar. It’s October 17th, and I have properly calculated the start of the 12-week training cycle this time around. Training starts Monday.

This race is TECHNICAL. Here’s the course profile for the 50K, from the course website:

The final 13.1 miles of the 50k are the same as the half marathon, I believe. I don’t know why they wouldn’t be. I actually think the course profile might be a little different now, but I am not sure. Anyway, it is technical.

I need to get serious about training for this race. A friend of mine who is a non-runner but in excellent shape (he is a caddy) is going to run this with me. I mean, probably not alongside me, he’ll probably beat me even though I have been training longer. That’s fine. This race is capped at 150 entrants and it is very possible I’ll be in 150th place. I am comfortable with that. I have some non-mileage-related training plans I need to implement this time around in order to be prepared.

1. Run hills A LOT.
I will be doing hills for speed work every other week. And not wimpy hills either, but real hills like I might encounter on the course. I will also run hilly routes (not hard to find) for almost all my other training runs.

2. Eat a little better and lose a couple pounds.
I am not planning to make MAJOR dietary changes, but I do need to make better choices for breakfasts and lunches. My husband makes dinner, so I eat what he makes without complaint or judgement. The breakfast and lunch changes are especially important once school begins again. I need to plan ahead. And save money, too. I don’t believe in a “racing weight” for a back of the pack runner like me, but I do think a 5-10 lb weight loss between now and the starting gun would be beneficial.

3. Get serious about strength training.
There were a lot of weeks during my Park Point 5 Miler training where I did, maybe, one strength workout a week. That’s got to stop. I am going to need serious core strength to get me through this race. I’ll be doing lots of yoga and other body weight exercises.

4. Sleep
I am terrible at getting enough sleep during the week. I go to bed too late, and then I’ll read or do a crossword. That has to stop. Even an extra hour of sleep during the week will go a long way. This is going to be extremely important once I’m back in school, as I’ll be balancing schoolwork, work, and training.

I think these four points will be as beneficial, if not more, than the mileage I’m putting in for this race. I am really excited to try my first trail race and my first half marathon, even if it ends up being a 6 hour sufferfest. But… I hope it isn’t 6 hours.