From the Back of the Pack
I might always be in the back of the running pack, but I'm addicted to it! When I miss more than a day it affects my energy, attitude, and the rest of life in general! I have had a lot of "character" building runs in the deep snow, extreme nose hair freezing cold, ankle high rain, and gale force winds over the past twenty five years and find some of those days to be the most peaceful rewarding outings of all! I'm one of those runners who is slow and steady, but goes forever and ever without ever getting tired.
June 28, 2009: Power Lines Adventure
Today two more unsuspecting Duluthians, Amy and Dave were introduced to the infamous "Power Lines"!
Amy and I planned to go about 4 miles into the hills heading in from Mission Creek, Dave's total planned mileage was 10 and Jonas planned 20 miles total. The men began their journey to the numerous ascents at Zapp's.
Our plan was to meet somewhere in the hills and take a few pictures of the guys power running the steep inclines and then run back. Poor Amy was at my directionally challenged mercy as we began our voyage to the hills. After parking at Mission Creek, we started the short jaunt onto the snowmobile trail towards the Munger trail. The footing was good on that portion of the trail and the ground was bone dry.
Upon reaching the Munger trail we headed right and planned to run until we noticed the arrows pointing into the trail within 1/4 mile or less of our turn. After running for over 10 minutes, and reaching the Buffalo house, we both kinda thought we'd missed the arrows and turned back...thus adding the first extra mileage to our run. Amy had remembered seeing the power lines back aways as I was looking for the arrows so we backtracked until we spied some arrows into the woods. With some hesitancy we began our trek into the forest despite the "No Trespassing" signs because they were the only arrows we saw pointing into the woods. After a few minutes of "bushwhacking" through what appeared to be an extremely overgrown trail we thought maybe we should head back out and see if there were any alternate arrows closer to the actual power lines. Nope, nothing there so back into the densely covered ground foliage of the forest we went trusting Laambeaux to lead the way through. Our adventure included crawling under fallen trees, over branches, and more until we reached....the Power lines!
A right turn onto the power lines and we were on our way to reach the top of some of the hills prior to the arrival of the speedy guys...or so we thought...both of us began to think...how are we going to recognize this small rustic opening into the woods we just came out of to get back to the car??? So....we ran back to the opening, both took out our cameras and took some pictures of it for a sense of security!
On our way yet again, we enjoyed the scenic beauty of the area and the fact that all the trails had been dry thus far. When we got to the first intimidating downhill....I decided that the dog must be free or I may end up as a casualty of the incline. After carefully making our way down the thankfully dry hill, we continued our adventure run until the first gigantic uphill where we ran/walked to the top. Amy did an awesome job for her first really rustic running!!!
With all the timing planned out in advance, we figured we had a few minutes to kill before the men showed up so we dropped a few things at the top of the massive hill and continued on for awhile. Stinky virtually impassible mud appeared in a few places on the trail past the massive hill, luckily all on the flats rather than the hills so we could somewhat preserve our shoes.
As we headed back towards the monster of a hill, we smiled when we saw two sweaty, out of breath males emerge from the crest of the natural challenge. Both appeared to have run the entire incline...!! Because we had missed their initial climb, they were good sports and went part way back down to "reenact" the run for the photo opportunity. We asked them if they liked crawling under the two downed trees on the trail to the power lines and neither remembered doing that and just figured they were concentrating so hard on the trail that they didn't notice them.
After our brief encounter, the guys headed further onto the power lines so Dave was able to be properly introduced to them, and Amy and I headed back towards the car.
As we traversed the crunchy uneven mud, we initially passed our intended opening in the woods to the trail, luckily catching our error prior to venturing further onto the trail.
Cautiously running back through the "bush whacking" trail again, we went under the two trees, got off the "trail" once, then the pooch safely lead us back to the Munger.
Picking up the pace a bit on the Munger, we were almost to the left turn to the car when Amy noticed some arrows on the trail leading into a very nice dirt trail....hmmmmm...we figured out why the men didn't crawl under any trees!! Sorry to whoever's property we trespassed on!!!
Into the car and off to 131st we went to reunite Amy and Dave. We had parted ways at 3:00 on the big hill and expected Dave to appear sometime between 4:00 and 4:15...as we waited, walked, waited, picked over 100 ticks off the pooch, walked...we began to worry...we got our phones out just in case something had happened and there were no bars! Upon walking out towards the road in the hopes of getting some cell service, we came upon a 4 wheeler and asked the man if he was going up the trail very far explaining we were concerned about a possible lost runner. As he was telling us his plan was just a short jaunt, a tall skinny runner in red was sprinting down the trail towards us!
Dave had taken the SHT back and had gotten lost for at least two miles after asking different people how to get back to 131st! His run ended up at 12 miles or so instead of 10, ours was at least a couple of miles long if not more...and Jonas...his was 20...he knows his way around the woods!
It was a blast, nice weather, fun trails, great company...I can't wait to do it again!!!
|The entry back into the bush whacking trail|
|Jonas initiating Dave into the power lines|
June 21, 2009: 1/2 and FULL MARATHON VIDEO 2009
Most people know I like to be busy and helping with races in some fashion or another....soooo as my first year in like 14 years of not running the 1/2, I thought maybe others would like a chance to see those first finishers, friends running, and uniquely dressed runners that are only visible to the spectators!
With camera in hand, my first stop was Lake and Superior to catch the first 1/2 marathon runners. From there, we headed down towards the finish area to do more filming. (I apologize if I forgot some names of people who are in the video and for those I missed! My camera skills can use some work and I turned the sound off for portions where comments were being made by outside parties who preferred their voices not be on the tape.)
Back up to Lake and Superior to watch those first marathon finishers and I must say it was quite impressive to watch the clock and all the "escorts" the winner had with him! Having an American win and a Minnesotan was incredibly wonderful!!
Because I had a bike and was mobile, I moved down to the bridge just over the road into Endion Station and caught a former running mate Anne Seward from the Twin cities as she finished up ...what is impressive about Anne is that she is an amputee and also an awesome dedicated runner!
Moving on to the area across from the Aquarium was a great place to shoot video with no one in the way...unfortunately I encountered a very crabby control freakish security guy who made me move despite the fact that I was no where near the runners...There was a problem created by the construction ...spectators were walking right into the path of runners because there was no sidewalk and the runners were hugging the curve as they ran the tangent..so a few of us spoke with the other guy, the "nice" security man...who agreed I was not in the way and we got him to have people cross further up instead of walking into people...that solved the problem of people going one direction but not the other...so when crabby security guard approached us again, we asked him if he could do something about those people crossing in front of runners...all he had been doing was standing and talking to the other security guy not a dang thing besides that...his response was "worry about moving yourself, not the others" ...we tried to get him to do something about the others...he said we were the only problem and threatened to call someone in to have us removed...he never did help the other problem...I guess when you hire 300 pound guys to do security they don't understand how runners work...we were all very offended and forced to let the crowd continue yelling at people to stay off the course because he felt it was more important to just chat with his other guy instead of keeping runners safe ...I heard for TCM the security has to sign something stating they will be polite and respectful to people...wonder if Grandma's does that? The lady at Lake and Superior who had many more people to deal with did an outstanding job of being polite, respectful and getting her job done!
I'm proud yet not one bit envious of everyone who finished yesterday in that horrible heat, humidity, and headwind (humidity and headwind I believe were worse for the 1/2)! I guess training on a treadmill in a hot room or training with a snowmobile suit is just going to have to be the regimine for Grandma's!
The link to the video is below! Please share it with others and let me know if you have any trouble viewing it!
June 19, 2009: Escape the Grandma's hysteria!
This morning's run on the magnificently peacefull hills of the Yellow trail of the Superior, also known as Brown's Point, was the perfect temporary escape from the mass invasion of runners in the Duluth area! Unlike the remainder of my day will be, it was perfect solitude! My pooch and I had the entire trail system to ourselves!
As we ran through the wet, waist high grassy trails, the sun peeked through the treetops, my shoes got wet, and the ticks had a field day! Underneath the grass were no horsetracks, only dry even ground with good footing, nothing technical to worry about hiding under the 3 foot blades!
If you are one of the "retired" Grandma's runners or have chosen to avoid it for a different reason and are seeking some peace and quiet, head out to the Yellow trail...it's guaranteed to relax the soul!
June 7, 2009: Shelly and Eve's Excellent Adventure
Midweek last week Shelly and I decided to road trip to Blue Mounds Wisconsin, which is near Madison, to run a 15k trail race…the limit was 300 with only 25 spots left so we signed up….here’s our adventure!
We left town around 12:45 on Friday and headed to Milwaukee first to visit my wonderful grandmother before going back to Madison, which made for a VERY long day of driving! Luckily we avoided construction and traffic so it was mostly smooth driving.
Our free accommodations were very cushy at the Hilton Garden in Middleton where we arrived basically just in time to sleep! I learned that Shelly enjoys a beer in bed whilst perusing Trail Runner magazine prior to her slumber…is this a ritual or just something that was desperately needed after 8 hours in a car with me!??
After a somewhat good sleep that was just too short, we prepared for our new trail race with body glide, Gatorade and other morning rituals. Because we were using someone’s hotel points, we were able to eat the gourmet breakfast for free! I had a variety of things and Shelly had a gigantic custom-made waffle.
We arrived at the race around 8:00, 1/2 an hour prior to the start and found that the close lot was full so we had to hustle and get down to the race from the far lot which was about 1/2 mile or more away! We used that as our warm up…well kinda.
Packet pick up was very smooth, the shirts were blue, technical shirts with green and white writing and said national trails day on the front with a logo and on the back I loved the saying of ‘Eat, Run, Repeat’. They had some honey swag for each of us and some Hammer Gel. Our numbers were 978 and 987…being a math geek; I thought this was really cool!
After we hit the flush toilets and were waiting around for the race start, we noticed that all of the “trail runners” who were waiting for the 6k and 15k to start had very clean shoes. Shelly finally found one person with dirty shoes…that was it! The weather was our kinda weather…50’s and cloudy…it did start to sprinkle, however, the tree cover was thick enough that it kept us dry.
The race director,Willi, did an awesome job! He was great at communicating via email with me prior to the event, and the day of he continued communicating to the runners prior to the race which ended up starting a bit late due to parking being far away.
Once we started we were treated to a rather “posh” trail race course! The terrain was varied throughout the course with limestone, wide smooth single track with a few small roots and rocks thrown in from time to time, and grass that resembled a perfectly groomed smooth fairway on a golf course…! Nothing like what we are used to up here with constant rocks, roots, uneven grass, long grass, horse tracks, shoe sucking mud, sticks, downed trees to climb over, streams to go through, etc. When we started they told us to “go find the mud”…all Shelly and I could find was one very small patch that was easy to get around! We did find the stream crossings…they had very nice bridges to run across that were wide enough for a four-wheeler! I think one or two of them had a wide nice log to go over and the one that said bridge out actually had more of a bridge than we normally have when we do have one!
The other thing that made this a “posh” trail race were the markings…there was none of the survey tape hanging from the occasional branch that we are used to, nope, Willi marked this thing so it was completely idiot proof even if you were looking down! He put signs with arrows in the ground, many cones at corners, and he even had bright orange “wrong way” signs!!! I wanted to take some pictures of those!! There were people at many of the turns too! We felt spoiled on this cushy course!! Most of the hills were gradual uphill and then gradual downhill which made for some really fun downhill running! There was one kinda steeper uphill towards the end but it had stairs so it was pretty tame…nothing like the powerlines or bull run hills!
Willi had 4 aide stations with Gatorade and water…I was happy to have just plain old Gatorade that’s for sure!! They were at 4k, 8k (which was really 9k and killed me because I needed it), 10k and 13k. I was told at the 13k that “the rest is downhill”…NOT! Most of the next 1k was downhill but most of the final one was uphill! Oh well…
Shelly had some breathing difficulties and still pulled off a 1:42 despite her 3 hour run a few days before and her other ridiculously long run like a couple days before that! I had that dang heel injury from the Salomon shoes and had only gone 4 miles at the most in the last 2 months and my furthest trail race ever was 10k, so I took it easy and walked most of the uphill and flew on the downs and flat single track…I also stopped at the second aide station for awhile and drank 5 or glasses of Gatorade…it didn’t’ even “splash” around in me when I started running again because I was so in need of it! My time was 2:02…I had planned on 2:00 so I was just fine with that! I wore my new shoes for the first time and they did not get a speck of dirt on them!
Willi did a great job on the post race food with organic fruit, a great variety of breads; many home baked goodies, hot herbal tea, and more! We saw a few injuries from falls or ankle turns during the race…some ice on knees, ankles, a band aid on a cheek, and someone with a bloody mouth and a couple of teeth injured! I figured since this was such a user-friendly course for sure Shelly would take a digger…she only does that in easy places…not the treacherous tough ones! We both stayed upright with minimal ankle turns!
The first place finisher was 1:00 or so and the last was 2:15 or so. Both before and after the awards, Willi had a TON of outstanding door prizes!! Montrail was there and they had a bunch of shoes to give away, there were gift certificates, race entries, socks, candles, bread, shirts, and a TON more stuff! Everyone basically got a door prize! Shelly won a Birke race entry and I got a pair of nice running socks from Moving Shoes.
Willi was nice enough to let me promote the Voyager and many people seemed interested in the challenge of the northern tough trail run! He even put the links to the Voyager on his website! We are hoping that some of those who want to “go the extra mile” will come up here for the challenge of getting their shoes muddy and wet while jumping over many obstacles and following survey tape through the woods!
We highly recommend this event to all Duluthians next year!
Pictures should be posted soon!! http://wisconsintrailruns.com/
June 4, 2009: Magney Post race
Ok...I apologize for anyone I led astray!!! It rained AFTER my post and the horses came out afterwards too! I hope everyone's ankles survived...I had a few good turns!
The grass was shorter making for viewable holes though! There was less water and shoe sucking muck than in previous years!
Where did the ticks come from? I pulled almost 50 of them off of Laambeaux last night and after our Sunday run she had none!
Huge thank you to Gene Curnow for removing most of the sticks so we stayed safer! He described them as the kind that when you step on one side, the other comes up and gets ya!
Big thank you to Kris for all his hard work on points and the website!
Thank you to Amy for helping with the timing and for Clint running the clock!