As a family we backpacked into Afton State Park for an overnight trip. We are hoping to do some more backpacking and Afton is a great place to practice! We had loaded up everything we needed into our packs and hiked the mile-ish into our campsite. We actually stayed at a canoe site which was a little more secluded than the 27 site backpack campground! We were hiking back out to check out a mobile art gallery and the nature center’s astronomy talk and some people with suitcases, wagons, huge coolers, etc. Some people have different ideas of backpacking I guess!
But since I’ve never run at Afton, I was excited for the chance to do so! I left right from our sight and knew that pretty much whatever I did was going to be hilly. The topo map at the visitor’s center seemed to show the trail next to our site was in a gully for awhile before climbing out, but pretty much it was a slight uphill before a big uphill! It felt like everything was uphill! There were some downhills and those felt great! Even if some of them were with steps. The park had maps at every major intersection so there was no chance of me getting lost. I had started running around 6:30am and didn’t see any people for quite awhile but towards the end of the run there were a lot of trail runners out and about. While running around the Deer Trout loop I saw 2 runners coming and 1 was wearing a Team World Vision jersey. As I was deciding whether to say anything more than hello, they both greeted me by name and it was Brent and Brad. Fancy running into them out there. We stopped for a minute to chat and then both went on our ways. We ended up running the same route, just in opposite directions! I saw a bunch of deer too, including a few fawns. And one turkey and baby turkey too. At some point I decided I wanted at least a 10k so I kept extending the loop and ended up with about 7 miles and 1,000 ft of elevation gain! When I got back to the campsite, I grabbed a water bottle (should have brought one to run with) and sat in the St. Croix River for a few minutes cooling off! It felt great!! It was cool, but humid.
After rinsing off and relaxing, I headed back to the site and had my recovery food which was a Stroopwafel with Maple Almond RX Butter on it! A tasty little treat!
My first run since the marathon and overall it felt pretty good. I felt the soreness from Jackie and the stiffness from helping build a playground and carrying a bunch of stuff yesterday!
The oldest had a birthday party in the ‘burbs so I dropped her off and ran at Elm Creek Regional Park. I’m not sure if I’ve ever actually ran there and ended up running on a mixture of paved trail, horse trail, abandoned gravel roads, and some wide hiking trails. It is a pretty area, but I ended up going longer than I had anticipated. I had some trouble figuring out a nice loop. Out on the trails they had the winter maps posted which I don’t think showed all the trails.
It was all good though. I had planned on around 3, but got in around 5. It was in the mid-70’s and sunny. It felt weird to run midday. Especially after doing some yard work and stuff in the morning.
After the run I had a PB&B shake from LifeCafe as the party was at a Lifetime Fitness.
The fog in the valley as I started my run at Hyland Regional park was beautiful. I was grateful to get the chance to run somewhere different this morning. I love running at Wirth, but it does get a little repetitive to run the same trails, even in different configurations.
It has been several years since I’ve been at Hyland to run so I made some mistakes on the route. It became more of an out and back and less of a loop, but that’s ok. The route I took actually was perfect for my 10k Time Trial. I didn’t hit the ski hill which I should do for Moose Mountain training, but there were plenty of hills throughout.
I started and ended at almost exactly the same spot. It was a cooler morning with temps in the 60’s bit the dew point and humidity were both up there. I definitely need to start carrying fluids on the long runs now. I stopped at a water fountain and a pit toilet!
My overall pacing wasn’t what I was hoping for. I did the 10K Time Trial in 55:39 which is 8:58 pace.
Race completed! The Superior Trail Series 12.5K is in the bag and it was a fun event! The weather ended up being perfect – about 50’s. It was cloudy and windy which wasn’t super ideal but the temp meant that it didn’t get overly hot while running. It may have sprinkled a little bit, or it could have been water falling off leaves from the overnight rain.
The quick details:
12.5K – 1:23:49 40/228 overall
(7:36 pace) for the last .75 miles
My race plan had essentially been to take it easy until around mile 6 and then start pushing the pace. I executed that fairly well, except that in mile 5 we hit our first (and really only) major climb! That explains the sudden drop in my pacing. One thing I had forgotten was how rooty and rocky the trail is. There were quite a few sections where the group slowed down to make it through a section of roots, especially on the downhills. The Superior Hiking Trail Association has done a great job of putting bridges or planks over the worst marshy areas, but given that it is spring there are still some muddy sections throughout! The section of trail was amazing! If I wasn’t running the race I would have taken a ton of pictures.
Starting at Cathedral of the Pines was beautiful, running along Agnes Lake and the Poplar River were spectacular and of course some of the views from the peaks were amazing! I didn’t stop or really get to look at them – so I will be coming back to hike this section still. There was still snow on the ground – but only where Lusten Mountains had created man-made snow for the ski hills. We never got close to it, but I did see it once and think – yay we are getting close to the finish!
My only complaint – and it was already addressed by the race director – was that it wasn’t super clear that we could bring sweats to the starting line and it was chilly standing around for 30 minutes waiting. This was a point to point race unlike the other two that were out and backs. We got taken by bus to the starting line. Otherwise it was a well produced event! I got some video of the 50k and 25k starts that I might get around to smashing together! Part of me regrets not taking my phone or a camera on the run, but it was also nice to just focus on running and racing again!
Given that the race was almost 4 hours from home, I went up the night before and camped at Lamb’s Resort. They have some nice campsites right on the lake if you want to pay a little extra. I opted for my little backpacking tent and I to stay at nice site where you could still here the waves crashing even in the woods! This is the first time I ever remember camping the night before a race. I will definitely do some things differently next time, but I think that camping added to the overall experience of a trail run. I can’t imagine being one of the many who stayed in the Caribou Highlands – such a pampered experience!
That’s a quick recap. Maybe more thoughts later! All in all it was an excellent race and a great experience!
The workout this morning was 5x800m. The trails were a mixture of icy and mud. I swear my phone updated and said that it was 40 degrees so I opted for shorts. I realized pretty quickly that it was actually colder as the sidewalks had a thin layer of ice from the snow melt. But it didn’t feel too cold. By the time I got home my legs were just starting to get cold. It was hard to know where the icy parts were since the run started before 5am and it was pitch black. The headlamp doesn’t really provide good depth perception or awareness of puddles! Once I got into the woods it was more about a thin layer of ice on the remaining snow pack or areas of mud.
Looking at the splits you can tell when I was on flatter and better surfaces!