Wednesday, September 30, 2009

In Yan Teopa 10 Mile Trail Run (and other stuff)

First off - THANKS to Larry and his crew for a great race!

The In Yan Teopa 10 mile Trail Run
takes place at Frontenac State Park which is located between Red Wing and Lake City on the Mississippi River. It is a beautiful park - at least what I got to see of it - filled with exotic species like oaks and walnuts and many other plants that this northerner could not accurately identify ;->

I decided to head south for this race as it was part of the Upper Midwest Trail Runners Minnesota Trail Running Series. Plus, this August when I was in the area for the Ragnar Relay, I was reminded of how beautiful it really is and thought it would be fun to explore further.

I made reservations to camp at the state park and plans to leave immediately after work on Friday. This meant that Thursday I would be frantically packing all of my gear, plus extra - just in case. In addition to camping and the race on Saturday I was planning a long run on Sunday (there is an ultra coming up soon).

Since Labor Day I have been having on again/off again issues with the medial side of my left calf. Ran 26 miles that weekend and everything was fine. Then woke up one morning with a sore leg. Figured it maybe cramped up during the night but as it didn't really bother me too much, mostly the day after a run, I would just let it heal on it's own. No pain or stiffness while backpacking, so I figured the 'rest' had taken care of the problem. Last Wednesday I ran a NMTC race and the next day it hurt! Leg felt all stiff and sore and I decided to bail on my run to work that morning and called my chiropractor for an appointment. Saw him Friday between Job A and Job B, he worked on the leg for awhile, told me to ice it, and wished me luck on the race. Strapped ice to the leg while at Job B and for part of my drive south. In between I was applying arnica gel as it was pretty sore to the touch from all the work. Overall though it was feeling better.

The drive south was pretty, with some interesting storm clouds and then some interesting storms. They cleared up before I hit the metro area and I managed to navigate my way around St. Paul and south onto 61 and was on my way to Hastings. This is when I realized I had not packed any food for breakfast! Okay... needed to stop for gas so maybe I could find something appropriate at a gas station. No luck. Next stop - grocery store. Couldn't find one on the main drag in Hastings so hoped Red Wing would be more fruitful. Was able to locate a store there - went inside, found some cereal and juice (my preferred cereal topper - hold over from the dairy-free days when milk alternatives were too expensive) and picked up more ice for my cooler (and leg) and headed to Frontenac. By then it was getting dark and I was tired and seeing road signs was getting problematic. I managed to find the turn onto Hwy 2 but just about missed the turn into the park.

Deb greeted me and asked if I REALLY wanted site 21. "No, it was just what was available for two nights" "Well, we are going to move you to a nicer site" "Great! By the way, I have a friend joining me tomorrow night" "Oh, then you really do need a different site..." In the process I moved to site 31, conveniently located near the bathrooms and water and not quite as crowded as 21. I also asked for directions to the picnic area (race start) and learned that it was a mile from the campground. Decided it could be a good warm-up in the morning - or I would drive if running late.

Setting up camp by headlamp is interesting, but after 9 days of backpacking I am pretty familiar with my gear so it went pretty quickly. I set my alarm for 6:15am figuring it would take me some time to eat, make coffee, wash up and get to the race start.

6:15 arrived and it was pretty dark outside. Got the stove set-up and water boiling for coffee by headlamp, poured out the cereal and juice and sat down to eat. And then I saw it... my car had a flat tire. Not just low, flat. Pancake flat. Raccoons with a mean streak?!

Texted Wayne (who lives in the area - kindof - and would be at the race) to see if he had an air compressor. Sorry about the wake up call Wayne! He did and I figured after the race I would ask around about repair shops and get the tire fixed. Can't drive 4+ hours home on a donut after all. My decision about whether to walk or drive to the start of the race made I settled down to getting ready. Benefit of walking - previewed the last bit of the course.

The day had dawned clear but fog moved in pretty rapidly and it was hard to assess my surroundings. I really didn't see the area the night before and couldn't really get a feel for it in all the fog. But I did feel right at home as Duluth is often foggy. Walking over gave me an opportunity to stretch my legs and see how the calf felt. Pretty good overall so I was not too worried about the race. I had figured 1:30 was a reasonable finish time based on what I knew about the course (hilly) and my current fitness level. My heart rate monitor has not been working properly so I decided to just go with what felt good and not look at my watch for the duration of the race.

It was also my first opportunity to wear my new racing duds. I joined a team - Northwoods Minnesota - recently. They are sponsored by Austin-Jarrow, a local running store. I still do not feel worthy of the honor, but there you have it.

After registering, pinning on my number and standing around visiting with running friends (and meeting new ones) it was time to shed the layers and head for the starting line. Being a middle-of-the-packer it is always hard to hear the course instructions, but, being a middle-of-the-packer I always have someone to follow; and Bonnie Riley and Don Clark had done the course markings so I was not too worried about losing my way.

And then Larry said go and we were off! The start is flat then heads down hill. I am not much of one for running in a crowd (being short often equals other peoples elbows near my face) so I tried to find a clear spot to run, eventually passing folks by running in the tall grass. I felt great and was pretty sure this was going to be a good day to race. I have never run this particular distance before, nor did I have a really clear idea of the course, so figured I would just run what felt like a reasonable pace for 10 miles. Legs felt good, lungs felt good, temperature was great and I was outdoors in the woods!

There is some sweet trail in this park and a nice downhill (never mind that running down means running back up again). By the time we reached the flatter portions along the river the fog had burned off and it was warming up. Ugh! Sunny and humid. But it was not too bad as there were portions of trail with lots of shade. Somewhere in the flatter loop I realized I was trading places with Bryan and introduced myself. We continued to run near each other for a bit until he left me behind at the second aid station. From there it was a right turn and time to start climbing.

From ski trails we transitioned onto some sweet, technical single track! I love this stuff, it is what I am used to. I was walking some steep bits by now, but running everything else and having a blast. The only problem - it is hard to admire your surroundings when you need to look at your feet. There are some neat limestone cliffs in here that I would love to explore.

It was somewhere in this section, while running up a hill that my calf knotted up. Very suddenly and very painfully. No more running up hills! The tiniest incline induced some pretty severe pain (had me moaning a couple of times). The best I could do was walk, so walking is what I did. I could run the flats, I could run the down hills, but no more up hills! The second half of the race has a lot of up. It is frustrating to feel good overall and not be able to run. But I kept reminding myself that this was not my goal race - Wild Duluth 50k was and the object was to arrive at October 17th ready to run my first ultra.

I plugged away, running when I could, walking when I had to and reached the third aid station. Now, I had figured three aid stations, evenly spaced, so this one should be pretty close to the finish. Depends on how you define close ~ 3.5 miles according to the volunteer. Okay... wonder where we go from here as it looked kind of like a picnic area?

Kept running, telling myself that I could do this for another 5k. Eventually we passed near the campground and I knew it was another mile to the finish. We were back on single-track, some of it with a wicked slope and some nice tree roots and slippery bridges to manage. I was able to run most of it as it was relatively flat, but didn't push too much as I was afraid of doing more damage. I also knew there was a pretty good hill near the finish (what would a trail race be without an up hill at the finish?). I tend to talk to myself when running, not always silently. As we approached a sharp right turn I was chanting "turn, turn" and then started saying it louder as I realized the guy in front of me missed the turn. Eventually got his attention and he corrected his course. From here it was a short incline and then a flatter stretch into the finish. 1:34:25. I was (and am) very pleased with that time. Very close to what I thought I could do, and pretty good considering the last half of the race I had to walk every little hill.

I went in search of ice right away (no luck) and sat down to massage my calf, then was back up to walk around, eat (great post-race spread) and get my camera to try and catch pictures of folks as they came in. I totally messed up the timing and didn't get any pictures. Sorry Wayne, Chris, and Kel!

In Yan Teopa is a great course and definitely worth going to again.

After much visiting with other runners Wayne gave me a ride back to my car/campsite. I jacked up the car(every driver should know how to do at least two things: change a tire and check the fluids in their car), we looked at the tire, inflated the tire, lowered the car, headed off to clean-up, came back, looked at the tire some more, noted it seemed to be holding air and decided to take my car into Lake City for lunch and a repair job. We stopped by park headquarters where the staff (who already knew about my flat, not sure how that happened) helped us locate a repair shop and even called up to make sure they were open. First stop - Don's Auto Repair in Lake City. Took him just a few minutes to find the piece of metal that was the culprit, then a couple more minutes to make the repair.

From there it was off to DQ for lunch and dessert (mint-chocolate dilly bar - mmm) and then back to the state park for the rest of the day. In between all the running around I was icing my leg or applying arnica gel and limping more than I wanted to. The plan had been to run at Murphy-Hanrehan the next day - one loop of the Surf the Murph course. I was still game, but a little unsure how things would go.

Sunday it was time to pack up and hit the road. We arrived at Murphy-Hanrehan with overcast skies and winds that were picking up. It was hard to decide whether or not to wear long sleeves as the temperature seemed to be changing rapidly. Wayne and I started out with a plan to run easy, walking all the hills and seeing how the day would go. At first I was unable to fully straighten my left leg and figured this was going to be a long day. As the run progressed, somewhere near the south loop things loosened up and started feeling better and better. By the time we headed back towards the horse trail parking lot and onto the single-track I was feeling pretty good. Good enough to think a second loop wouldn't be so bad (encouraging as I approach my first ultra).

We made it back to the main parking lot having missed a couple of the unmapped loops but having a better feel for the course (wicked hills on the north side). From there it was off to my sisters to change and partake in treats she and her kids had baked in my honor (belated birthday celebration). All sugared up, Wayne headed south and I, after a bit more visiting, headed north. It was a long, blustery, rainy drive home and I was glad to finally roll into Duluth.

So far this week I have 0 miles of running in. I scheduled another appointment with the chiropractor, had some more work done on the calf and decided another day off wouldn't be a bad idea. Hills still hurt a bit. Will be traveling the next few days (family event) so may pack the running clothes and try to fit a short jaunt in. Otherwise am planning a long run on the Wild Duluth course for this weekend.

OKC: not much really. Finished a pair of socks, almost done with a scarf and have a hat project in the wings. As fall approaches so do opportunities for charity knitting. My employer has a "Mitten Tree" in the lobby and I usually donate items to that. Then there are the trail series prize drawings (NMTC folks usually get a hat or two or three). Hmmm - I had better get moving on the knitting!

Garden update: the zucchini plants are taking over the front steps. If the hops weren't dying off I would think they were in cahoots to keep us from using the front porch! Sungolds are still producing a lot of tomatoes - though that could change any night now. We had our first meal of brussel sprouts the other night. Eggplants are abundant, as is the kale and the garlic is all divided up and ready to go back in to the ground. What I do not plant will supply us with a portion of our garlic needs for the winter. Need to weed the strawberry bed and redistribute the "babies" to fill in the gaps. Now is the time to start putting the gardens to bed. It was a successful growing season overall!


Chris said...

Wayne to the rescue!!! :)

Hope your calf continues to improve.

wildknits said...

Indeed! Beat having to change the tire, mount the spare, etc. Have had to do it but there is always one lug nut that I can't loosen on my own.

So far, so good on the calf. Being a bit cautious (so unlike me)and actually taking time off still.

Kel said...

Nice to see you out there last weekend! Take care of the calf - you'll definately need it for Wild Duluth and Surf the Murph ;)

SteveQ said...

That's ann odd injury - doesn't sound like anything I know. Take care and maybe I'll see you at the Murph.

wildknits said...

It is a weird injury. Possibly due to the volume of running?? Not sure what happened. Especially as it first occured a day or two after a long run on the Wild Duluth course. The deep muscle work seems to be helping - though so painful at the time.

Taking the week off and will run long saturday - i think, depending on when we return from the cities (funeral).

kel, it was fun to visit. Steve - you running or support?

Wayne said...

Nice job on the run Sat (and Sun). Get that calf healed and you're definitely ready for Wild Duluth and Surf the Murph! (That Wayne guy seems pretty cool, I bet I'd like him.)

SteveQ said...

I don't think I'll be running the Murph - too tempting to go too far and I'm not ready.

wildknits said...

I think you would like him Wayne!

Understand Steve - I am wondering how I got talked into two 50K's in two weeks. gotta reconsider who I am hanging out with!! ;->