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


Chris said...

Congrats on your ribbon!

And ouch - I hate falling on my bike. :(

SteveQ said...

Congrats on the PR! Not an easy course to do it on, either.

BTW, the Captcha on this reads "nakedups"

wildknits said...

Thanks Chris and Steve!

Interesting what they come up for on the word verification!

My success of late in running has me pretty hopeful for the Half Voyageur this weekend!

Wayne said...

Congrats on another good race! Now as far as the biking... you almost seem to be taking after a certain trail runner with the initials SQ (yeah, I went there). :)

With no more bike crashes and a bit of a taper you'll be ready to smoke the half voyageur course and set a PR there too!!

wildknits said...

You are a brave man Wayne, but honestly if I could run as well as Steve - well, that would be a heck of a day!

The bike is in timeout for now - at least until after this Saturday.

And I am only following your lead in setting PR's this year ;->

Jean said...

Great performance at the Tofte Trek! I am glad you had a good time, and it is really cool that you placed got a ribbon. Well done! :)