August 30, 2008
August 23, 2008
After a very busy and sleep deprived week, I slept in this morning :) Stopped by the gym on my way out to Afton for a quick upper body strength training workout, then successfully bypassed REI without stopping in for their Labor Day Sale. It was past 10:30 when I finally pulled into the lot at Afton, just in time to see Matt as he was finishing up for the day. I'm pretty sure I saw Steve's car in the lot too, and it was still there when I finished (with a bottle of vitamin water on the windshield), but I never did meet up with him on the trail.
I did the same hill loop as last week, except only 2 laps. Turned out to be 11.7 miles, which felt pretty good! Today was my last pass through the blackberry patch for the year, though there may still be a few good ones next weekend for anyone heading out. Saw a wild turkey family on the trail (didn't get chased this time), and instead of buzzards circling there were bald eagles soaring. Definately a step in the right direction!
August 17, 2008
My loop included the run up to the Africa Loop, but rather than run the loop I made a right turn at the top and took the usual trail back down to the start of Nigel's Hill. Then ran Nigel's and the Campground loop as usual. This would allow me to refill my water bottle (Nathan vest) as well as hit the blackberry patch on each loop ;) Repeat 2 more times. For my fourth and final loop, I left off the quick trip up to Africa and just did Nigel's and Campround Hills.
Met up with Karen Gall as I was heading down the flat stretch from Nigel's to my last run up to the Campground. It was nice to have some company after almost 5 hours of hill running! We visited the berry patch up in the campground one more time before heading back to the parking lot. Karen was kind enough to slow to my pace rather than run her own workout - thanks Karen!
Total tally for the day:
total elevation = 8823 vertical feet
average pace was just under 15 min miles (although the later miles were much slower than the early miles)
Consumed 4 liters of Heed, 4 Clif Shot gels, 5 S caps during the run, and some Endurox R4 immediately afterwards. My pre and post race weights were the same (I think that may be a first for a run this long)! I still start feeling a little queasy after drinking Heed for a few hours, but have found that eating crystallized ginger helps to settle my stomach.
Only 1 buzzard showed up while I was at the top of Nigel's Hill on my last loop, but he wasn't very persistant. Today's workout felt better than my 17+ miler 2 weeks ago, even though I was up late watching the Olympics and tossing back a few Summit Extra Pale Ales.
I'm tired and my knees ache, but I think I'm going to sleep pretty good tonight ;)
August 16, 2008
Beautiful morning for doing anything outside! Got to Maple Lake High School in plenty of time to check in and socialize with the gang. Lots of folks in the MN Trail Run Series showed up for this one - a few of which I hadn't seen in awhile :) This is a pretty small and laid back race, so it was nice to have a few more folks than usual since the proceeds benefit the high school's cross country and track teams.
We started out on a paved road for a short distance before turning onto a dirt road. We probably ran at least a mile and a half before reaching a park where the actual trails began. Very nice run through the woods - non-technical trails with a few small ups and downs, but fairly flat (at least compared to most of the other trail races I've run). After the trail loop, we doubled back on the dirt and paved roads to finish near the softball field on the high school campus. Given the easy nature of the course and the pace I was running, it felt tougher than it should have. Oh well - I'll recover by watching more Olympic coverage on TV today.
Thanks to all of the volunteers who came out to support the runners!
August 15, 2008
...hill repeats at Afton on Sunday. Lots of hill repeats. Planning on getting 20 miles of hills in preparation for Moose Mountain Marathon (race #9 in the series), then start tapering a bit. Hopefully there will still be a few blackberries on the bushes! If you want to join me, I'll be sticking mainly with Nigel's and Campground hills.
Don't mind the buzzards circling ;)
August 10, 2008
The plan was to park at the Magney Snively trail head, do an out and back to Munger for 8.6 miles, resupply at my aid station (car), then do another out and back to Spirit Mountain to get 15 miles total. Unfortunately, I was late getting out of the Twin Cities and ended up just doing the first half.
The trail here started out to be pretty smooth - several patches of rocks here and there, everything covered in pine needles, gently rolling rather than the steep, rocky, rooty climbs that I associate with SHT. This is actually a really fun little piece of running, and I found myself grinning like a village idiot going through this section. Definately a different flavor compared to the SHT further up the North Shore. There are several overlooks of the canals and city of Duluth. Gradually came out to an exposed section of rock that reminded me of the level loop on top of Oberg Mountain near Lutsen. From here you can see Ely's Peak, which is the photo at the top of the page.
Since this is an exposed section without many trees, the familiar blue blazes are painted on the rocks. Steep rocky climbs (use of hands is highly recommended in places) - this was more what I was looking for!
Unfortunately, this bit was rather short, and about a half mile later the trail popped out on the paved Munger trail for the last 0.4 miles to the Munger parking area. Headed back the way I came and enjoyed the open views once again.
Back into the open woods for my fun running section. I have named this section of the trail "Joyride" because it's just so flippin' fun!
Preceived effort for this run was: easy. All in all, I was hoping for more steep climbs as I think that's my weakest link right now. Ely's Peak definately fills the bill, but it's very short. And the shorter drive to Duluth vs Lutsen/Tofte is still 5 hours round trip (and $30 gas money). I'll probably spend the rest of my training time doing hill repeats out at Afton, Hyland ski hill, or RTA in prep for Moose Mountain.
Even though I didn't accomplish my training goals, I'm not sorry I went up to run this section. It was nice to try a new trail, and to catch yourself smiling while running through the North Woods is a good thing.
August 9, 2008
4 small baggies with pre-measured amounts of white powder (Heed).
1 small baggie labeled "S" containing 4-5 capsules filled with an off white powder (S caps).
1 small baggie labeled "E" containing even more capsules, slightly larger than those in the "S" bag, also containing an off white powder (Endurolytes).
1 small baggie containing several yellowish small rock-like chunks dusted with a white powder (crystallized ginger).
Honest, Officer. I'm just going out for a long run through the woods. Really.
August 2, 2008
Be careful what you wish for.
I decided that the Africa Loop and the Back 40 would be a nice 10K warm up before attempting multiple repeats of Nigel's & Campground Hills. Part of the logic for this was to delay having to do too many repeats of Nigel's & Campground, there is a solar powered water pump at the top of the Campground so I could carry a hand held rather than the Camelback, and I really wanted to check the blackberry patch on the top of Africa. Alrighty then!
Temps were in the mid-70's, approaching 80, and I calculated that I should probably consume at least 2 bottles of Heed during the Africa/Back 40 loop. Not happening with a single hand held, but I figured I'd be able to make up for it as soon as I got up to the Campground. Was sweating like a pig! Felt reasonably good, and was taking 1 S cap/hour as well as 1 Clif Shot.
Africa started out pretty uneventful. So was the Back 40. Got back up to the Africa Loop right near the big blackberry patch. There were a couple of people deep into the patch, but all of the bushes I could see had nothing more than green berries. A few just starting to turn pink - nothing even remotely ripe. (The smaller patch in the campground had a few ripe ones - next weekend should be prime)!
It was at this point that I think I had my highest heart rate reading of the day - at a time that I was barely moving. Focusing all of my attention on the berry patch, I wasn't paying attention to the ground. Just as I was in mid-stride to start running further down the trail, I heard an odd vibrating sound. Looked down just in time to see that I was about to step on a large brown snake that was coiled and rattling it's tail. Crikey! I was able to jump over the snake and run several feet down the trail. After swallowing to get my heart out of my throat and back into my chest, I just had to come back and take a closer look. Turned out to be a fox snake pretending to be a big kahuna. Cheeky little bugger - he was still coiled and rattling even when I went back. With his tail in the dry grass, it sounded like it could have been a rattle snake.
By the time I got down to the river, my water bottle was bone dry. Decided to head up Campground Hill in the reverse direction to get to the water pump and tank up. Down the other side, then back up Campground Hill in the forward direction. Did 2 more loops of Nigel's Hill & Campground Hill, then headed for the barn. I hardly ran at all my last loop, and was really dragging up that last repeat to the campground.
Totals for the day:
17+ miles with Africa Loop x 1, Back 40 x 1, Campground Hill x 4, Nigel's Hill x 2, and a pathetic climb back up to the visitor's center. Total elevation according to Garmin was 14,400 vertical feet total, but I don't buy it. I'm guessing it was closer to half that.
Afton handed me my ass today. After only 17-18 miles. Since the Superior Hiking Trail is more difficult, Moose Mountain Marathon is shaping up to be a death march. Apparently, I'm not the only one who thinks so: as I got back to my car in the parking lot I looked up to see about a half dozen buzzards circling. Again.