Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Surf the Murph!


I don't know just what the name is all about but the race...it's a lot of fun. It's 25K at Murphy-Hanrehan park in Dakota County. (A half-marathon is 21K for comparison.) Here's the link http://surfthemurph.org/

There are 25K, 50K and 50mile options on the day. The 25K starts at 8AM...the sun will rise after the race starts, making the first few miles gorgeous. Picture a stream of runners wearing headlamps and the light reflecting off trim on shoes and jackets. It gets warmer. There might be bits of snow. It's delightful.

The trail...the first and last few miles are hilly. Not insanely so but you will notice the hills. There are some stretches of single track in the hilly sections. The flat section is wide open. The aid stations are first-rate. All in all, it's a fun fun day!

Think about it!


Friday, September 17, 2010

Moose Mountain Marathon race report

I ran Moose Mountain Marathon last weekend. It's the "fun run" of a big weekend on the Superior Hiking Trail, along with 50- and 100-mile races.

The 100-mile race course starts at Gooseberry Falls. The 50 starts at Finland and the marathon starts at Cramer Road, near Schroeder. All the events finish at Caribou Highlands Lodge in Lutsen. If you run any of the races, or the spring 25K/50K, it's a great place to stay because you're right there for the packet pickup, pre-race briefing, watching finishers and generally hanging out.   

I felt fresh and healthy at the start. Last year I made two big mistakes: going out too fast and not drinking enough. Those mistakes cost me a lot of cramping. In fact in 2009 I had to take a "timeout" on the pine duff about 3 miles from the finish. A runner from Iowa stayed with me those last three miles and possibly saved me from having to be evac'ed. We ran into each other at the pre-race briefing. Hugs and tears! Turns out he was in difficulties also, and we really were helping each other.  Enough background. 

On to the race. As forecast, there was rain from midnight to 4AM on Saturday. Every marathoner gave a thought for the hundred-milers who were on the trail in the dark and rain, but concern turned to "Wow!" when the first finisher arrived at 6:38 for a time of 22:38 for 100 miles. It put the marathon distance into perspective.  

The bus ride from the lodge to the start is always fun--there's lots of talk and laughing. Then the bus stops out on a gravel road where there's an awning and a few people milling around, checking in. Everyone needs to confirm they are starting so that the race director knows how many people are out on the trail. If, at 10PM, the count of finishers doesn't match the count of starters and drops, it's search-party time, which no one wants!  
The start: everyone is talking and then you notice people ahead of you are moving. Touch the start button on the GPS and off you go. 

Pacing. Last year I ran the first leg in 1:45 and thought "yay" when it should have been "oh no! too fast!". This year I took 2:00. 

The first thing to notice was: mud and puddles. Although it wasn't raining and the temps were nice (low 50's) there was mud everywhere and puddles. Down the trail the water formed streams down the middle of the trail. All told there was probably about a mile where the water was over your shoes. When we hit the first big mud puddle, someone called out "yay! now we're having fun!" No irony there...it is really fun just to commit to whatever the trail throws at you. My socks were gray at the start. At then end, they were solid black. Speaking of sox, wool is a must. My feet were cold when in the water but within a minute of getting on "dry" ground they were warm again. Also, two friends recently and happily changed from their preferred road shoes to trail shoes, which are lower and firmer.  

The aid stations are my downfall. The volunteers, some of whom are on site 18-20 hours, are so nice you have to talk to them. The food is so good you have to eat some. So instead of 1-2 minutes I was spending 5-6 minutes at each of the three aid stations.   

The thought looming in my mind in the early stages was Britton Peak. As a runner said after the race, "I didn't know we'd have to BOULDER!" Britton Peak is a big lump of granite. The SHT runs up and around and down it. Getting up absolutely requires you to stop and look for handholds. It's just climbing up rocks. I was laughing all the way up. Laughing and grunting! 

Past Britton I took my first tumble. The trail has boardwalks, or very narrow bridges made of planks. Fine in dry weather, but Saturday they were quite muddy. A runner was close behind me, the trail was descending, and I thought about the other runner instead of what I should have been thinking of: staying upright. So I didn't stay upright. It was a bit of a shock to find myself on the ground. The other guy stopped, helped me up and retrieved my water bottle. There was no apparaent damage, so I set off. I resolved to start walking those boardwalks, but slipped on one later on anyway.  

I don't usually wear a watch in races but Saturday I used it to keep on track with my hydration program, which was to drink a 24-oz bottle every hour and take a salt capsule once an hour. So I was checking time frequently (thinking "it's half past, so this bottle should be half empty").  This worked out well. I had no cramping at all. As for pace, I held down in the first third, relaxed and concentrated on form in the middle and had some energy left for a "fast" last third.   

After Oberg Mountain AS, with 7+ miles to go, I passed at least 8 people and was not passed at all. My last mile was my fastest. As I left Oberg I realized I had an outside chance to finish in less than 7 hours (vs 8:06 last year). The thought just popped into my head: it hadn't even been on my dream list up to that time. There's one good climb up Oberg and then a lot of technical descent, which is probably my strongest area. I put that thought aside and focused on the trail. I think it was cloudy all day but I can't say for sure. Maybe the trees were changing colors but I don't know. I was eyes-on-the-ground.   

The GPS beeps after every mile and that 6+ hour time came back to me. At about mile 22 I started working the numbers in my head. The trail is far easier in the last few miles and I felt strong and finally let myself go as fast as I possibly could. This was so much fun: focusing on a disciplined race had put me in a position I never thought I'd be in and I crossed the line at 6:54 with a big grin on my face.   

It felt great to take 1:12 out of my time, but even better to redeem myself by staying hydrated (no cramps!) and pacing well (start out easy and finish strong).  

As I mentioned earlier, most people were anxious about the slick conditions and most people fell. Here's a friend of mine. Note the big ol' smile!  


Don't worry, she finished with no problems! There are quite a few pix in that gallery to give you an idea of the conditions. Note lots and lots of smiles! 

Here are a few pix of me, having a good day:


Moose Mountain Marathon is a great race!


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Run Club Hats/Saturday's workouts

The COLL foundation is providing technical hats for club members this year (instead of a Tshirt). Mike from the foundation has distributed some at practices already, and will be at this Saturday's and this upcoming Monday's run with them.

If you don't make either practice and still need a hat, please send me an email. We'll likely distribute them at the Trail Loppet and then at Finn Sisu after the race.

Just two practices left! This Saturday's run should be fairly easy -- up to 50% of the length of your longest run. We'll do some striders after the run for quickness, and a little strength work if it isn't too buggy. Enjoy the taper!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Food for thought...

"Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out if they've got a second. Give your dreams all you've got and you'll be amazed at the energy that comes out of you."

William James

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Monday's workout & look ahead to labor day weekend

We'll have our last up-tempo run this Monday evening. 2 mile warm up, then 3x5 minutes at a threshold effort. 1-4 mile cool down depending on what you'd like for mileage for the day.

A reminder that we won't have practice during labor day weekend or Monday the 6th. Enjoy the holiday! I'd recommend a long run on Saturday/Sunday of 80% of your previous mileage high for the summer and a 6 mile run on Monday, with a progressivly fast last mile. Pick it up to threshold from mile 5-5.5, then to a hard interval pace, and then a finishing "kick" the last quarter of a mile.

Hopefully you're able to find good trails wherever you'll be enjoying the holiday weekend!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Great MN Race - August 28th

Even though this isn't necessarily "trail" related, I had to post info on this race. It looks like it'd be a really fun race/adventure!! Here is info from their website:

The Great Minnesota Race is a one of kind urban adventure which will take teams of two across the metro area of Minneapolis & St. Paul. Teams will perform challenging tasks that are both mental and physical in nature. Think of you and a teammate racing across the cities (by foot, by bus, or by train) solving clues at various checkpoints along the way. From the starting line teams will be given their race passport and they will be off on the 2nd Annual Great MN Race!

The Great MN Race is unlike any race in the area, combining the fun elements of racing, solving clues, and completing tasks all while exploring the urban areas of the Twin Cities.

The Star Tribune has called it "An Amazing Race." Unlike other races that have tried to mirror the 'amazing' hit reality TV show, the Great MN Race contains a number of unique elements associated with the race and its format. Even more elements will be added for our 2010 event. For more information see the Race Details page.


Course Preview on Saturday

John Swain, from the COLL, will be leading the group through the 1/2 marathon course at Wirth on Saturday. The team will meet at the Beach house and amble over to the race start area. Mary will also be there coaching.

This'll be our last "longer" run of the training season. Feel free to do the 13.1 miles with John and then add on at the end if you'd like to go longer. Next Saturday there isn't scheduled practice (Labor Day weekend), but I'd recommend going about 80% of the time/mileage of your longest run this season. So, if you've go 13 this Saturday and that's your longest run, go for 10 next Saturday. Starting the "taper" process!!

To keep the group together, we'll have to re-group throughout (i.e. top group circling back to catch the others). Hopefully it works out well. I asked if it'd be possible to try to navigate a little with a map, and John laughed :). Guess a map isn't very helpful on this course.

5kers: Let John know how long you'd like to run for. I'd recommend up to 7 if you're up for it. He'll be able to lead you through as much of the course as he can, and then designate a cut back to get you to the right distance.

Saturday the 11th we'll run the 5k course as part of practice.

That should be it. Get out an enjoy the BEAUTIFUL weather! Wow!!!