Did I ever mention that I love the Superior Hiking Trail?
I am still trying to fight my way through this lame injury that keeps dragging on, and have been desperately yet gradually trying to ramp up my mileage. Heading up to SHT was really a stretch from where I was at with Spring training, but what a blast it was. I drove up Friday night and pitched my tent at Temperance River in a light mist before catching the pre-race briefing for the Spring Superior Trail Races. I had a nice chat with Zach Pierce, meeting him for the first time after trading emails. By the time I got back towards the tent it was pouring, so I opted for a warm dinner at Bluefin, and then arrived at camp to find my tent leaking and water dripping on my sleeping bag! Quick fix to the rain fly and I fell asleep reading More Fire (more on that in a future post).
Saturday – 25k Race
I got to Caribou Highlands in time to mingle a bit before the 50k start at 7:00am. I met Steve Quick and Keith and chatted with each of them a bit. The start of the 50k cracked me up and reminded me why I love the trail running and ultra scene – it’s so informal. They momentarily delayed the start to let a guy finish tying his shoes! The runners took off and I killed time around the lodge, officially checked in for the race, and ate in my car. In the last few minutes before the start while warming up inside I randomly started chatting with a guy who then mentioned that he likes to run in FiveFingers, what are the odds of that. We ended up running the first couple miles together.
Overall it was a great race. The wind was whipping like crazy, but that was only a problem on the road at the start and finish and on the tops of the mountains. Otherwise it was a perfect weather day, and a bit of snow even made it fun. The hills were as difficult as I remembered, but I loved every step. The only small issue I had was a bit of quad cramping after I had a slipped step on a root. I took another S! cap and had no more issues.
A great run, and finished in 2:48, much better than my training run last Fall.
While hanging around the finishing line watching the 50k finishers roll in, I met Julie Berg and got to thank her for the referral to Jenna Boren for ART. And a huge thank you to all of the volunteers, it takes a lot to put on these races. Everyone on race day was great, and thanks especially to the crews who went up for 2 weekends before the race to clear the SHT from Spring ice storm aftermath. Thanks everyone! I was a volunteer last Fall, and I highly recommend it if you are not going to run an event.
Tim had to miss the race, but showed up later in the day and I sort-of crewed him running the reverse route starting and finishing at Oberg, which might just be an easier direction. He had a great run, and was so excited starting out that he accidentally ran the Oberg Mountain loop trail – both the short and long hikes – before getting onto the real trail! Bonus 1.8 miles.
Sunday – Crosby-Manitou to Sugarloaf
I loved the race but I was almost more looking forward to running this segment from the Fall course, which is supposed to be one of (or the?) nastiest. This was a fantastic run, perfect weather the whole time. The first 2-3 miles are frankly not runnable – it’s more of a power hike, where you can run about 10 feet of flat here and there before you are ascending or descending. Here is some evidence:
At times you can barely tell where the trail is. The ascents and descents are amazing quad-burners:
And then after 3-4-ish miles it finally opens up into a variety of runnable terrain – boggy boardwalks, grass, pine needles. This was a beautiful segment to explore and I’m really glad we went with this plan rather than trying to tough out the 50k on low training. It was a great chance to see another section from Fall and fill out my awareness of what this trail brings.
Finished this 10-miler in 2:12, which I feel really good about after being sore from Saturday, low training, and the type of terrain.
Great camping, great training weekend and a lot of fun. Some learnings from training:
- I believe these are 2 of the toughest sections from the 50 mile. If that’s true and I can throttle back the pace to preserve energy in these, I say bring on the 50! I can’t wait.
- My glute/hamstring/whatever so far has survived great from those aggresive runs. Maybe ART is working (again more on that in a future post)?
- I love Clif Shot Blocks and Recoverite – both freebies from the race. I might switch to shot blocks from gels, which are not doing it for me. Tim uses diluted honey, maybe that is worth a try. I have never been much for recovery drinks, but like Recoverite so might experiment with that for a bit.
- Love the new Moeben sleeves, Sunday was the first run in them. They have a curious way of cooling you down while running and keeping you warm when you stop. Will keep testing these.
- Was glad to be in my 790s rather than FiveFingers. I love the VFF for training, but am happy to have some more toe protection and be a little more style sloppy on this kind of terrain.
- I still love a hydration pack. It’s more to carry, but I enjoy packing the kitchen sink when I hit the trail, and it’s still the easiest way for me to drink while running.
- NEED MORE HILL TRAINING. Stairs do not compare at all to ascending and descending technical terrain. I need to find a convenient source for hill training.
I don’t have any more definite race plans until the Fall races. Would be great to get another weekend of training runs in on the SHT, but don’t know if my schedule will allow. But I’m psyched up and committed to the 50 now, as long as my recovery keeps going in a positive direction.
More pictures from the weekend are on flickr (will be adding details later).
UPDATE: here are the GPS tracks from the weekend runs