Shaggy Mane

Shaggy Mane

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Tag!

I have been running the roads a lot lately. Why? Well, I agreed to be team member #12 for the Great River Ragnar Relay.

I really couldn't say no:
- It required taking Friday, August 21st off - well I already had it off (took a week of vacation from Job A so I could attend a School Nurse Conference in the Twin Cities for Job B).
- Relay takes place on the roads from Winona to Minneapolis - I will already be down there for the conference, so no extra travel required.

Obviously I was destined to run my first Ragnar Relay that weekend.

Only now am I getting just a little nervous about the whole thing. I am still a bit tired out from the Half Voyageur and then donating blood the following week. My runs have not been going spectacularly. I usually only run on roads once or twice a week on my commute to work, which is pretty short. And, oh, yeah the next oldest person on the team is 28. Yup, I am the "oldster".

I am in the process of choosing which 'Runner' I want to be (which will determine which three legs I will run). Overall mileage is similar for my three choices, what varies is how hilly the route is. Hills shouldn't scare me, right - I live in Duluth after all and hills are part of my regular running routine (as a matter of fact had to run on Park Point this week to avoid them, but then had almost a half mile of soft sand to contend with in the 4 mile run).

So, I have been running roads a lot. Sunday I had Mr. Wildknits drop me off outside of town(we were on the way back from delivering a wing). I had mapped out an 8 mile route home, starting on the top of the hill and ending at home (with a 400 foot drop within a mile or so of my house). Sunday was a warm day, one of the few above average temp days we have had this summer. I started out well, but within the first mile was hitting some decent uphills and having a hard time keeping my heart rate in check. What the heck?! Ended up walking a few of the steeper grades as my goal was NOT to have my heart rate in the 170's for the whole run. I had run 7 miles out at Jay Cooke the day before while on break at the first/last aid station for the Voyageur Ultra and was trying out the idea of back-to-back "long" runs, meaning they should be relatively easy.

Eventually I stopped looking at my heart rate monitor because I just couldn't move slow enough to keep the heart rate in the low - mid 160's even. There was absolutely no shade on the route I had chosen and it was amazingly hilly. I was also trying out carrying a handheld water bottle for the first time after deciding my hip belt may be part of the issue with my sore TFL. Lots of experimenting that day. Oh yeah, and I dispensed with the cell phone as I figured it was only an 8 miler on suburban/rural roads so no need. This kept me from calling for rescue at one point when I was fed up with the heat ;-> A good thing in hindsight.

By the time I was within 2 miles of home I was already altering the route in my head. I had planned on cutting out some of the steep descent to my house by turning onto Skyline Blvd, incorporating another uphill and then finishing on the SHT. Yeah... I was sick of ascents by now and went for the "easy" finish, running down the last few blocks (losing a couple hundred feet of elevation) before turning into my neighborhood. Total distance: 7.7 miles. Avg. HR: 170 Temperature at finish: 80 F. No idea what the humidity level was but I was soaked!

Monday was my usual day off. On Tuesdays I do not need to be in to work until 11:30 am so thought I would "run" an errand. Headed out with my debit card in my pocket and the intent to pay my cell phone bill (storefront is about 2.5 miles away). Route would be a mix of climbing and flat sections, nothing too steep so I could rest my legs. I figured if I took it easy it would take me about an hour. Well, I never made it to the storefront. My legs were tired, I had forgotten about the climb up from my house, it was windy, and... well I needed to get home, clean up and still get on my bike to get to work. I simply ran out of time. Turned back at 22 minutes and headed home. It is a good thing my ride to work involves a big downhill section ;->

Wednesday I hit the beach with friends to run the nature trail at the end of Park Point, passing the remains of the first high-powered lighthouse on Lake Superior, a historic boathouse and turning around when we reached the Superior Entry. Along the way we had to dodge a fair amount of poison ivy and slogged through some soft sand, but on the upside did find a nice patch of blueberries with no poison ivy mixed in!

Thursday (today) was another run to work day. As I packed my clothes for the day the rain moved in. Unpacked, bagged everything in plastic and repacked. Then it was out the door to do battle on the streets. Most drivers are quite courteous and give me at least three feet of room. But there are those who just don't budge an inch over. I try to make eye contact with drivers - acknowledging those who give me space with a little wave and glaring at the others. Often I dream of hitting the cars of those who are too close to give them a little scare/remind them to share the road. I figure if a car is close enough that I can touch it easily, it is too close!

New version of Tag: as I came to an intersection I saw a car approaching on the empty road ahead. The driver was looking to the side rather than straight ahead (at least that is what it looked like in the steady rain). He never once moved over on his empty road, but instead stayed within a couple of feet of the curb and seemed oblivious to my presence (I was in light colored clothes, but with a blaze orange shirt under my coat, which was open, and wearing a red backpack). Today I couldn't resist, as we passed each other I tapped the passenger side of his car - not too hard, but not too softly either.

Anyone else want to play?

Saturday is the Fisherman's Picnic Trail Run in Grand Marais. Then it will be back to training for Ragnar and ultimately Wild Duluth 50K.

Garden is going crazy with the (slightly) warmer temperatures and abundant rain. Garlic is starting to fall over which means it is time to harvest it and hang it to dry. Tomatoes are setting fruit (and the deer are ensuring they don't get too tall), broccoli is creating little florets, peppers are growing as are the zucchinis. Deer have been harvesting our swiss chard, but do not seem to care for the kale (though now that I have said that I am sure I will walk outside tomorrow to discover a decimated kale crop). Hops have taken over the front porch and are working their way down the railing. The tiny flowers are developing and it looks like a bumper crop. Strawberry plants are sending out all kinds of babies - giving me hope I can replenish the bed since I lost over 30 plants this spring.

Knitting has been sparse. Worked on the hat during slow moments at the aid station at Voyageur - picking my knitting up seemed to be a sure way to bring a runner into the aid station ;-> Shouldn't be too long before I can display a picture of the finished product.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

List of plants seen on the July 18th hike and miscellania

Thought this might be of interest to a few. Sorry that I did not get pictures of everything but that is what field guides are for (and another reason to get out and explore the woods).

Plants seen along the trail:
Key: l=leaves; f=flowers; s= seeds/fruit

Spreading dogbane - f
Shinleaf (pyrola sp) – f
Buttercup – f
Orange hawkweed – f
Yellow hawkweed – f
Birdsfoot trefoil – f
Meadow rue – f
Mertensia (virginia bluebells) – f & s
Pussy toes – f
Elderberry – s
Dewberry – s
Sarsasparilla – s
Thimbleberry – f & s (though not ripe)
Raspberry – s (though not ripe)
Coltsfoot – l
Bindweed sp – f
One-flowered pyrola – f
Bush honeysuckle – s
Wild lily of the valley/Canada mayflower – s
Hairy honeysuckle – f
One-sided pyrola – f
Dogwood – f & s
Three-toothed cinquefoil – f
Fireweed – f
Hazel – s
Daisy – f
Clover sp – f
Red baneberry – s
Rose-twisted stalk – s
Bunchberry – f(rare) & s
Clintonia/bluebead lily – s
Twinflower – f
Large coralroot (orchid) – f & s
Early coralroot – f & s
Common speedwell – f


Birds that gave us a good show:

Baby sapsuckers

Believe it or not a little knitting has been happening around here - slow progress is being made on the celtic braid hat - finished off the second pattern last night while watching the Tour. Now on to some plain knitting while I think about how to finish off the top - patterned or not? How many decrease points? Stuff like that. Have finished a few washcloths in the meantime (housewarming gift for a college student and her new apartment).

Since the Half Voyageur I have been taking it pretty easy on the running front, trying not to make the same mistake as last year. The recovery time has given me an opportunity to get back to donating blood and work in some more mountain bike rides. Some would argue I should stay off the bike as I usually have a good story to tell about a crash ;-> Nothing too terrible, but makes for good stories and some pretty bruises.

Got in a nice run to work this morning (Thursdays are for running to work after all). It was foggy in Duluth with a hint of sun trying to break through. Beautiful morning for a run along Skyline Blvd and down Haines Rd. Foggy days are good for spotting "tweety birds" (Wildknits family term for little birds). Startled a goldfinch into flying, the bright yellow and black markings were a nice contrast to the gray day. I realized during the run that I am extremely fortunate to live and work in a community where I can run to work - and do so with woods surrounding me for most of the commute!

My intent was to run a medium effort at most - after all I had donated blood just 48 hours ago. Midway through the run I glanced down at the heart rate monitor - 180! Well, I had been climbing for a bit and was feeling like the effort was a bit harder than medium. Decided to go with it and see how long I could hang on, knowing that I would be hitting a long downhill within a half mile. By the time I got into the neighborhoods at the bottom of the hill, and close to work, I was having to work hard to maintain the pace. The newly paved streets (overlay of tar) made it easier as I did not have to dodge potholes in addition to trying to run fast. To top it all off, I ran to work with a pack loaded with clothing for the day. I store my scrubs at work, but today I wasn't seeing patients and wanted to wear regular clothes (the better to stay warm in my climate controlled office).

Numbers from the run:
Distance: 3.75 miles
Time: 30.56
Avg HR: 172
Peak HR: 183

Wish I had a good handle on the elevation changes, but that is a hard one to get off of gmaps pedometer (as high tech as I get other than the heart rate monitor). They give you a rough idea of elevation but nothing too specific. Skyline is a couple of hundred feet above the level of my house and work is about 300 feet below that.

Tomorrow the plan is to bike to work, then downtown for some errands and eventually pick up my car. Saturday I will be at the Voyageur Ultra, working the Jay Cooke aid station and getting a run in between shifts (we have the longest day, but it comes with a good size break in the middle).

Wildflowers along the SHT - Pincushion Mtn to Co. 58

Photos from the hike this past Saturday (7/18/09) where I resurrected my past role as hike naturalist.


Shinleaf (Pyrola elliptica)


Mertensia/Virginia bluebells/Virginia Cowslip (Mertensia virginica) - late blooming plants, but was able to see what their seedpods look like due to spying the flowers.


One-flowered pyrola (Moneses uniflora) - love the latin name of this one.


Early Coralroot (Corallorhiza trifida) - The coralroots are saprophytic plants(get their food from dead organic matter), hence no need for chlorophyll.


Twinflower (Linnaea borealis) - found along cliffs/hillsides near rivers in our area - or at least that is where I always find them. I think of them as blooming in late June/early July so was thrilled to find them. Favorite flower of Linneas - the man who came up with binomial nomenclature. Guess when you invent a system of naming you get to choose what will bear your name!


Large coralroot(Corallorhiza maculata) - telling this apart from Late coralroot can be tough and requires a handlens, unless your eyes are good. Or - you can read the field guide and note that late coralroot blooms in late summer and fall ;-> Though, plants do not read....


A closer look at the flower of the Large coralroot


Early coralroot - an attempt to get a shot of the flowers. The field guide says:"Stem yellowish". It sure is!


Devil Track River - looking down the valley towards Lake Superior

More photos of coralroots (it was a spectacular hike for orchids):






Common speedwell (Veronica officinalis) - spotted less than 50 feet from the end of the hike at the Co. Rd. 58 parking lot.

Sent in my registration for Wild Duluth 50K earlier this week... time to start training for my first ultra. The biggest hurdle may be running past my house to the finish line in Bayfront. Living just off the trail may become an issue on race day ;->

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Half Voyageur Trail Marathon - 2009 edition

What a beautiful day to run 26+ miles through the woods of Duluth, Midway Township and Carlton!

The temperature was cool at the start - enough so that I was searching out other runners to stand (okay - huddle) next to when not standing in line for the bathroom. The sun was shining, the wind was blowing, and temperatures were predicted to stay in the low 70's.

Gene called the runners together in the parking lot at the Lake Superior Zoo, provided some brief instructions (did he say to give right of way to the horses???, walk the uphills??? - it is so hard to hear from the middle-back of the pack), and set us on our way.

It is a gradual climb for the first few miles of this race, but the trail is pretty wide after the initial bit around the edge of the zoo, allowing runners to spread out and easily find the pace they are comfortable running. There is a view out over the St. Louis River estuary and on towards Lake Superior at one point while crossing the Spirit Mountain ski hill, but it is hard to take in while running, so probably goes under-appreciated (though I think it would be easier to view when coming from the other direction). It was about this point when I realized that my left shoe was not tied tight enough and from that point on I kept debating when to stop and take care of it. Opted to wait until the first aid station at Magney-Snively, and then second guessed the tightness for a mile or so afterwards.

This year was a "non-Jarrow's Beach" year. Meaning rather than turning off from the Magney-Snively (M-S) ski trail onto a moss-covered-boulder-strewn 'path' ending with a run through a wetlands, we stayed on the M-S trails. It has been a dry summer in Duluth - so dry that the perpetually wet M-S trails had no mud to speak of. I have never run out there without worrying about losing a shoe in a knee-deep puddle. It still offered treacherous footing though due to the holes left behind by horses' hooves, which are even worse when immortalized in dried-up mud. The City of Duluth did a great job mowing, allowing a guess at what lay beneath the grass.

From the Magney-Snively trails we turned onto Skyline Boulevard and headed down towards the Beck's Rd (side note - apparently I am showing my age by inserting a 'the" in front of the name of a road, this was pointed out to me last week by some younger friends) and another aid station. This one was hosted by Mike and Shirley and was the first one where I would see Mr. Wildknits. Last year I came out of the Jarrow's Beach section heading to this aid station and was greeted by Porter "wooing" - his vocalization which was something akin to a howl and only done when very happy. He would continue to do that throughout the race last year. I still miss his greetings.

After stopping to get a drink, it was off to what I think of as "Zap's Loop". This section of the Voyageur trail is also one of the runs in the NMTC Fall Series. Parts of the trail have seen a lot of motorized use, so are pretty rutted, but quite runnable for the most part. It also includes the first of the stream crossings for the race. Last year there was no point in trying to stay dry (it had rained the night before and the streams were up), but this year it was very easy to pick your way across on the rocks - or should have been, I slipped on them more than once and needed to slow down or risk a bad fall. It was along about here that I started thinking about picking a nice location for a bathroom break. It was also along here where I successfully jumped over a log and then promptly tripped over a tiny stump and fell, landing on my hands and knees. Ouch! Popped back up and kept going, not bothering to look as I didn't want to know if there was any blood (none was found later).

At the bottom of this section, in the Fond du Lac neighborhood, is Mission Creek. Last year the creek was knee deep (on me), this year... well I didn't need to get my feet wet. The aid station also serves as a drop bag location and it was here where I met up with an old friend/teacher who I had not seen in years. Her husband was running the race. We spent a brief moment saying hi and then it was off and up the hill (she and Mr. Wildknits would meet up later at the Grand Portage aid station and do some catching up). There is a fair amount of climbing in this section, but it is one I am familiar with, not only from Zap's Loop, but also as a starting point for my long runs on the SHT (spur trail).


Coming in to Seven Bridges aid station


Getting my water bottle refilled

Leaving this aid station you run a short section on the Munger Trail (paved multi-use trail), take a sharp left turn into the woods and are eventually spit out onto the Powerlines section. On a sunny day the best you can hope for is a breeze, it can be a bit like a solar oven otherwise. Saturday was perfect, the wind was blowing and keeping the temps down, the trail was bone dry - so dry dust was kicked up by other runners' feet. Quite the contrast to wet clay clinging to shoes (my first introduction to this section of trail years ago in another NMTC race: Roughrider).

These are steep hills, and climbing them is an exercise in perseverance. I am sure that it was somewhere in here that my heart rate hit the peak of 186 recorded on my monitor ;-> I always mean to count the hills, and always start off with good intentions and then lose count somewhere along the way. I think there are 7 hills - 4 in the first part, then the nice, relatively flat wooded section in the middle and then 3 more. But maybe it is less... It was in this section that I caught up to, was left behind and then caught up to, Steve Hagedorn. We would continue like this for much of the race. He is a great hill climber... I am not. He is also a great encourager of newbie long distance runners like myself.

Made it through the powerlines feeling pretty good overall. Stopped at the Grand Portage aid station and grabbed some pretzels and had Dan pour water over my hands. They were sticky from holding shot bloks earlier in the race and quite swollen (the swelling started early in the run and subsided a bit by the finish). At this point I had been eating a little at aid stations and had backed off taking in Gu's or shot bloks. I think this proved to be a problem in the next section.

Heading up to Peterson's I was feeling pretty good (other than the fact that my butt - as in all of my gluteus muscles - hurt, and had been since early in the race. What the heck!?). I knew this was a longish uphill section and thought I was prepared for it. Eventually though I kept slowing to a walk - even on the not so steep bits. At one point I thought - well, so much for a 5 hour finish, guess walking it in won't be so bad. I got the ibuprofen out of my pack, took that with LOTS of water (I like my kidneys) and then, after a while thought about my mood and what that usually indicates: I needed to eat!! Duh! When my mood goes downhill/thoughts turn negative = low blood sugar. Got out a Gu, drank a bunch more water and was able to work up to a trot eventually.

Linda and a friend were working the Peterson's aid station (it is fun knowing the volunteers, Ed was off to crew at Badwater) and they stocked me back up with liquids and listened to me complain about my aching muscles (as did two runners who I am sure found it mildly amusing). Then it was down the trail. I still wasn't feeling great, but the single track of the Gill Creek trail eventually perked me up and I was able to run more. The course gets onto the Munger Trail again for a bit here and I tried to keep the two runners in sight, while also reminding myself to 'run my own race'. I tried to remember how far it was from this section to the next aid station and seemed to remember it wasn't much after we turned back onto the ski trails.


Coming into Forebay


Heading towards the aid station

I figured at this point I was pretty far off of my goal pace. I hadn't included elapsed time on my chart and can't do math when I am running, so couldn't tell by looking at my chronometer if I was on time or not. I would have to switch to the clock function to see if I was hitting aid stations near my projected times. I was quite a bit off on the way up to Peterson's and by the time I reached Forebay I didn't trust myself to read the chart correctly and asked Mr. Wildknits how I was doing. On time!! I also took the opportunity, since I was only 5 miles from the finish to empty nearly everything out of my waist pack. No extra weight. By now it was bugging me, but I had enough brains left to realize that I was going to be out there a while yet and still had the rocky, rooty Carlton Trail section to get through, so hung onto the pack and a Gu and my water bottle. I had been trying Endurolytes every hour or so, but decided I didn't need them any longer, so also left those behind. In hindsight, this was a mistake as I could have offered them to another runner who was having cramping issues just a bit later. Grabbed a handful of pretzels and was on my way - walking across the dam (hard to chew and run) and then running again when I reached the trail on the other side of the canal.

This is a short section and relatively flat. I remember last year getting a second wind here and feeling great as I came into Jay Cooke State Park for the final leg. This year, while not feeling great I was feeling pretty good. I kept thinking - "only 5 miles left - you can run that, it's almost nothing - you just raced that distance last week.." Then it was into park headquarters, remembering to look both ways before running out onto highway 210, and onto the swinging bridge after a brief stop for a drink.

The Carlton trail is rooty, it is rocky - both sharp slate and rounded rocks ranging from the size of softballs to bowling balls and it is a great place to find blueberries! Last year I stopped to pick a few, this year I didn't (though I did point them out to a runner near by and he did stop). It was in this section that I started to catch up to people that had passed me long ago (and was caught by a friend who had told me earlier he was taking it easy as this was a training run for the Full Voyageur in two weeks). I was encouraged by one running friend that if I just "picked it up a bit" I could break five hours. Hmm... I decided maybe after I got through the technical section I might give it a try. ;-> I just forgot how long the roots and rocks go on! As soon as the trail leveled I did try to push a bit harder, trying to find the balance point of running hard, but not so hard I couldn't sustain it for another mile or two (I am terrible with distances and had no real clue how far it was to the finish). My calves were starting to tighten up at this point (but my butt felt fine ;->) so it truly was a balancing act!

Then it was down the big steps, over the bridge and a left turn onto the Munger Trail. The winds had been building throughout the day, but as I had been running into them when I thought I was going in a different direction I figured this year there would be no headwind on the Munger. Umm, well, kind of... As I came near to the finish the wind gusted - right into my face! Really?!? It was pretty comical.


Crossing the finish line

Someone did a great job of writing all kinds of encouragement on the blacktop and it was fun reading it all while finishing the race. The race directors and volunteers do an excellent job with this race. It may be low-key but it is fun and they take good care of the runners.

Stuck around at the finish line waiting for friends to come in and swapping stories about the run. Many people had a great race that day - setting PR's for the distance and/or the course. There were even some sprints to the finish:
Rick K., Karen G. and Rick B.



Final numbers:
5:01:00
47th/125
5th woman
Average HR: 162
Peak HR: 186




Later that day Mr. Wildknits and I headed out for a nice, mellow stroll on the Lakewalk and stopped by the Bridgeman's at Fitgers for a chocolate malt. Perfect way to start the recovery process! Sunday it was a 14 mile bike ride on the Munger Trail - passing the Seven Bridges aid station site and the turn into the woods for the powerlines. By Monday I was feeling pretty good and on Tuesday I headed out for a 4 mile run on the SHT. Today was another 4 miler and then it is time for a break again.

This weekend I will be heading north, resurrecting my old skills as a naturalist and joining the SHTA group hike outside of Grand Marias. Last year I did the same thing, but tacked on a 13 mile run (from Silver Bay to Mt. Trudee and back), and ended up injured for much of the summer. Will ease back in to things this year as I am determined not to get hurt. After all, it would mess up my plans to run my first Ultra this fall ;->

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

strawberries




Three flats = 15 quarts

Majority are now in the freezer, small amount (depending on your definition of small) were ingested on the way home from the field. Berries are from Finkes' Berry Farm, Wrenshall, MN.

Half Voyageur results are up at Northland Runner. My clock time was 5:01. Time on previous post was from my watch.

After a brief walk on Saturday (Lakewalk ~2.5 miles, including a hike up the stairs for a chocolate malt at Bridgeman's) and a 14 mile bike ride on Sunday (Munger Trail - Duluth out towards Esko and back) and a day off (other than walking up and down the hallways at work) I think I am ready for a nice short run on the SHT. Right now I am thinking of heading out from home and doing an out and back. Will include hills, roots and rocks - it is the SHT after all.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

5:00:59

Half Voyageur Trail Marathon 2009 (more details to come at a later date).

Good enough for 5th woman overall.

Last year I finished in 5:40 (first ever marathon) and 9th woman overall.

Stellar performances by many folks this year - weather conditions were perfect, course was dry (so dry the dust was flying in the powerlines) and the volunteers were great! I had wonderful support from Mr. Wildknits who met me at various aid stations.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Five days of running - and other stuff

Last time I posted was right before heading out the door to run to work on a rainy, cool morning. At that point I did not know how far I would choose to run - would it be the 6 mile route, the 2.8 mile route (usual commute) or... would I take up Mr. Wildknits offer to come home and give me a ride???

I ran, and not only that, I ran 6.3 miles at a pretty decent pace (aided by a almost 2 mile downhill section). The rain held off, the wind was blocked - mostly - by the hills and it was just the thing I needed before working for almost 9 hours.

Wednesday was supposed to be a nice mellow run on the trails - being only 1.5 weeks before the Half Voyageur Trail Marathon. Ended up meeting some friends at my house and heading west on the SHT for almost 2 miles before turning around and coming back.

Thursday was a rest day. Friday I met a friend (Leslie) at the Piedmont Mountain Bike Trail for a bike ride. It has been quite a few years since I have ridden any technical single track (specifically - before kids). I had been out on these trails once last fall and had run on some of them a couple of times. Being the day before a race that we were both running in one of our main goals was to not get hurt! I had a blast and was glad Leslie had suggested the ride. I did end up banging my knee cap on something near the end of the ride, hard enough to leave a bruise. It made for a stiff knee the rest of the night but was pretty much fine by morning.

Saturday was the Tofte Trek 10k Wilderness Run. I had never been to this race and had no real idea of what to expect. The web page is a bit sparse on description. Jean directed me to his blog post about the race from a couple of years ago - very helpful! I had looked at the finishing times from last year, and based on the times of folks I knew, I expected to finish anywhere in the 1 hour to 1.5 hour range. I also was not planning to 'race'(remember I am supposed to be tapering).

In order to keep myself in check I wore my heart rate monitor and planned on checking it occasionally. My goal was to keep my pulse in the 160's, no higher than the low 170's on hills. The first half of the race is uphill - a relentless gradual incline. Rarely steep enough to really warrant walking, but that type of climbing can take a toll. It is pretty dry this year, so the infamous mud in the swampy areas wasn't all that bad, though it stopped me dead at one point and provided for a forced change of pace in the last kilometer. There were numerous "moose holes" along the trail and the obligatory tree roots and rocks, encouraging me to stay focused on the trail in order to avoid an injury.

Most of the second half of the race is downhill and this is where I was able to pick up the pace. The course is very well marked, with an aid station at an intersection of the trail and wonderful volunteers. Shortly after telling a runner that I had no idea how far to the finish, we passed a sign indicating the last kilometer. Ah hah!

I kept rolling down the hill, through the mud (which necessitated walking as I cannot seem to run through thick mud), across the Forest Service's parking lot, into the little patch of woods(and up a small hill), out onto Birch Grove Community School's parking lot and on to the finish line.

I had not been checking my time during the run, just my heart rate, so had no idea what time I had run the race in. 56:36. A personal best for the distance! And good enough for second place in my age division:


It was a beautiful day and I had a great time running and visiting with friends. Again, gotta love those small town races!

Arrived home in mid afternoon, with enough time to run some errands, bake a strawberry-rhubarb crisp and read for a while before it was time to head up the hill to watch the fireworks. Duluth puts on one of the best shows in the midwest, and from where we watch we can also see Superior, Wisconsin's display.

Today I puttered around the house, weeding the strawberry bed, watering gardens and eventually heading out to the Piedmont Trails for a bike ride. Today's ride was not as uneventful as Friday's. I 'crashed' once which scared me enough that I tensed up, which caused a few more falls before I relaxed enough to finish the ride with no more incidents. No runners were hurt in today's bike ride! Needless to say the bike will stay on the porch for the rest of this week