August 2, 2008

Buzzard Magnet

After much deliberation, I decided to stick around town and do some hill work out at Afton today. Got out there a little late (10:00 am) and started out with the usual - the 25K race loop in the forward direction. The plan was to get 16-18 miles total with some added emphasis on hills.

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.

Perceived effort:
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.


keith said...

yeah, those buzzards mock people every chance they get.

nice run!

Wayne said...

That's good mileage, Kel. Way to go. Afton is not easy, so I think this will help a lot in your preparations for Moose.

SteveQ said...

I think the workout will look pretty good in retrospect a few weeks from now. I found a blackberry patch at Battle Creek - and no bears there!

johnmaas said...

Thanks for checking into my blog and the well wishes.
Your workout at Afton sounds like a tough one. Brings back memories from July 5.
Blackberries, snakes, and buzzards....Oh My!!!!
Good luck at Moose Mountain.

Jennythenipper said...

I think berries are all late this year. Normally my currants are all done by July 4th but I just harvested them this week.

Any advice to a newb on the Days of Old?


Kel said...

Thanks for the words of encouragement - I've got the same decision to make for this weekend: Afton (hopefully full of ripe berries and sans snakes), day trip to Duluth for some rocky, rooty stuff, or spend way too much time driving up the Shore to run part of the actual route. Decisions, decisions.

Jenny, I've never run Days of Old - it seems to be a new one for everyone else I've talked to as well. I've posted a link to the race so you can contact the RD if you have any questions.