October 28, 2008

Change of Plans

As much as I'd hoped to pull off my first ultra this fall, I've decided to cut back to the 25K distance at Surf the Murph this weekend. Mainly because of lackluster training since Moose Mountain and a jam packed schedule this Saturday - and I want to be able to attend and enjoy ALL of my Saturday events!

And, frankly, I'm a little mentally burned out.

See you on the trail....

October 25, 2008

2008 MN Trail Run Series Revisited

I did it. I shot the moon and ran all 12 of the 2008 MN Trail Run Series races along with Wayne, Jim, and John. What a whirlwind it was! It seems like just a few weeks ago we were all lined up at the early spring races, wondering how to dress for the weather while tromping through snow and mud. Then heat and humidity. Now tripping over rocks and roots covered by leaf litter. I thought it would be fun to think back about some of the highlights from each race:

Trail Mix - I was so excited to see my running buddies after a long winter of slogging on the hamster wheel! We were gathering for the start, all wondering how to dress for the 40ish degree temps on a cloudy, windy day. Most of us decided on shorts, and we all had pasty white legs ;)

Runnin' In the Ruff - Two things really stand out about this one: the ankle deep shoe stealing mud with knee deep water on top of it, and running directly under a bald eagle nest with both parents present. A very windy day - all of us were huddled together on one side of the picnic shelter waiting for the awards and door prizes. Keith scored some home made chocolate pecan bark, Wayne got a martini mix, and Kate got the coveted pink garden hose. Oh, and Steve suffered the first of what would turn out to be a long string of injuries by rolling his ankle.

Superior 25K - Beautiful double rainbow over Lake Superior the evening before the race. Race day was very windy, and there were A LOT of blown down trees on the course - one of which I became stuck on. A few days later, one of the Lutsen condos that some runners stayed in burned to the ground.

Chester Woods - Man, I have never run in a down pour like the one that occurred during this race! It was so dark in the woods I felt like I needed a flashlight, and I had to keep tugging my water logged shorts back up before they fell off. The Burma Shave signs and post race dill pickles were fun, and legendary running coach Segred Levert stuck around to chat 'til the very end.

Sour Grapes - I ended up being in a sour mood for Sour Grapes since my neighbors had an all night party the night before and I didn't sleep. At. All. This was the race where I learned who the 4 runners who were trying to "shoot the moon" were - Wayne, Jim, and John in addition to myself.

Afton - Last year's run was my first trail race, so I had a time to beat. And I didn't, even though I felt like I ran much stronger. Bummer.

SMU Trail Scamper - What a fun little low key race! Just the 4 of us "moon shooters" and the first time I saw Adam all season - Jim and Adam both won age group awards. Put on by the SMU student athletes, they had a last minute land dispute which forced them to change the course from a 4 mile to a 5K just a few days prior to the race. I'm glad I didn't know about the timber rattlers that were on the course until after the race.

Days of Old Track and Trail - really fun trail when we finally got to the trail - unfortunately that was only about half of the race while the other half was running on dirt roads or along the shoulder of a highway to get to the trail. Lots of UMTR folks showed up for this one, so it was a fun social event.

Moose Mountain Marathon - This was the one I was looking forward to all season. It didn't disappoint, even though the trail seemed to be overrun by bees. An awesome race held on one of the most beautiful trails on Earth. Did I mention the bees?

Mpls Trail Loppet - With all of the trails in Wirth Park, I was hoping to run on more dirt rather than busted up concrete, old asphalt, or a sidewalk parallel to a freeway.

In Yan Teopa - I'd done this one last year too, so I had another time to beat. This time I did it. Very pretty run! Jim gave us a little scare by taking a scenic detour to get to the race and almost lost his bid for shooting the moon.

Big Woods - The final race of the series! Wish I had a picture of the sunrise in the dense fog - it was surreal. Another very pretty run through rolling, open woods with nice fall colors.

Thanks to those who shared the trail with me during this epic journey. What a ride!

October 18, 2008

Big Woods Half Marathon

The final race of the 2008 MN Trail Run Series is in the books! Today was the Big Woods Half Marathon that was run (mostly) in Nerstrand State Park, on a picture perfect fall day.

Got up early and headed down for the race in thick fog - the sunrise was surreal. Race headquarters were located at a church about a mile from the park, and the place was buzzing with runners and lots of cheerful volunteers. Got the table set up to recruit more members to the awesome Upper Midwest Trail Runners club and then got ready to line up for the start next to the cemetary. It was a cool morning - mid 30's at start time - and the fog was starting to burn off and give way to abundant sunshine.

The half marathon and 10K runners started together, and there were A LOT of us! The first mile was run on a paved road to get to the park, then we were off into the woods! I had no idea how many aid stations there would be (or where), so I opted to bring the Nathan vest instead of a hand held. As it turns out, there were several aid stations serving water and Gatoraid, the first at about mile 1, so a hand held would have been fine.

Soon after entering the woods, the 10K and half marathon runners parted ways. The half marathon course was billed as a hilly run, but other than a couple of noticable hills I found it to be rather flat. My garmin measured only 2136 feet of total elevation gain/loss for the entire 13.1 miles.

Very pretty course through open woods, the trail twisted and turned over gently rolling terrain. I had my camera tucked into my Nathan vest and was hoping to get some pictures of peak fall colors, but we were about a week too late. Lots of leaves on the ground which covered the roots - I saw more people take diggers during this race than any other all season! Someone must have gotten dinged up because a 4 wheeler pulling a rescue cart passed us on the trail.

I felt like I was making good progress for about the first 6 miles, then was starting to feel a little crampy. My hands were also swelling, so I took some Endurolytes. I had decided that since it was cool (and I'd had all summer to get acclimated to heat, which also results in more efficient sodium retention), Endurolytes would be sufficient rather than S caps. Big mistake! I was also noticing a blister forming on the ball of my right foot even though I've been wearing the same shoe/sock combo for more than a year. WTF? Wayne passed me around this time, and I had to start slowing to a walk for most of the uphills - even the gentle ones - to avoid cramping. More meandering through the twisting trail, then up one of the noteworthy hills with the "cheer leader of the year" shouting encouragement to all of the runners.

Popped out onto a gravel road where we had to do a little loop up and around a cone before trotting back for another short section in the woods. Finally we returned to the paved road for the last mile back to the church. There was a pretty stiff headwind by now - I hadn't noticed the wind at all in the woods. The ol' feet and legs were feeling a little crampy, so my progress was way slower than it should have been and I was getting passed by several people. I kept thinking that I am in big trouble with a 50K on the schedule in just 2 weeks and I'm limping in for a half marathon!

Finally got to the finish and met up with the usual cast of characters for the post race chat. We had a sit down lunch with soup, bread, cookies, bananas and oranges at the church - tomato vegetable soup never tasted so good!

Special thanks and congrats to RD Mark Bongers and ALL of the many, many, cheerful volunteers that helped to put on a great race!

October 11, 2008

Murphy Hanrehan


Those of you who run at Murphy Hanrehan on a regular basis.... where exactly do you manage to run without being turned back by closed trails? Last weekend I decided to give the Surf the Murph course a try, only to find a locked gate and "trail closed for your safety" sign at marker #8. This was only 3.7 miles into a loop that is supposed to be 7.75 miles long. I ended up having to cut back to the start for 5.5 miles (which brought up a question with another trail runner as to the actual length of the official course loop). All of the other trails to the south end of the park were also closed, which meant that I was stuck with a very short loop at the north end.

Today, I decided I would try to get 3-4 laps of the 5.5 loop in for 15-20ish miles on a beautiful fall day. Nope! Today, the gates were locked so that I couldn't even get to marker #4, resulting in an extremely short loop of less than 3 miles. Then I realized that the water to the drinking fountain had been turned off for the season, so my single hand held was all I had. Dayam! Decided to drive to the horse trail parking lot and try to get the south end of the course loop in, but the parking area was already overflowing. Seriously thought about driving to Afton to do my own little hill workout at Nigel's and Campground, but eastbound I-494 was closed for road construction.

Bottom line: I ended up with a 3 mile run instead of 15-20 in preparation for a 50K in 3 weeks, and haven't run more than 10 since Moose. Crap.

On a happy note, today's short run was gorgeous, and I really would like to know where the open trails at Murphy are ;)

October 2, 2008

Surf the Murph and Other Stuff

As if running all 12 races in the 2008 Minnesota Trail Run Series wasn't enough, I decided to tug on the Big Girl Panties and ante up for my first ultra - Surf the Murph 50K at Murphy Hanrehan park on Nov 1. It will be 4 loops of the following:

Surf the Murph Course Map

I'll need to do a somewhat respectable time in order to finish the race, go home, shower, grab whatever potluck thingy I need to bring to the first annual Upper Midwest Trail Runners awards fest, and drive to Hastings for the party. November 1 will be a busy day!

Also in November - the release of the Cities 97 Sampler! This year will be a double disc and I got the set list yesterday.

Good luck to all who are running in the Twin Cities Marathon this weekend! After you've pounded yourselves into oblivion on the pavement, come and join us in the dirt for some real fun ;)