Went up to Duluth this weekend to run the Voyager Trail Marathon. This event was set up to raise money for the Voyager Ultra 50mile race which is two weeks later. Was able to run this for $10 committing to volunteer at the Ultra. What a deal! That's how much these events should be costing. Only thing that has held me away from Tris so far(although might be doing Chisago Lakes half-ironman this weekend).
Drove up with Kayla and got iPod hookup so we could jam the whole way up. Stayed at Kyle's house and got little Ceasar's pizza, icecream and beer the night before. Watched Harry Potter Deathly Hallows pt 1 and ended up going to sleep around 1am. Woke up just before alarm went off and got ready. Weather wasn't too bad, although a little humid.
Felt like was running this race on a whim, without having a watch, gels, or any idea of where the course went and what it was like. Seen Brian P. at the start, watching a buddy of his and had come up to do some training runs.
Was fun starting out not worrying about pace and mile splits. Just kind of guess what kind of pace I could hold based on what the runners around me looked like.(kinda shallow?) Trails started out not too bad and was taking it super slow on the hills knowing how much they can burn you out early. Tried to keep pace down because Chris Lundstrom who wrote my 50mile training plan specifically wrote "TRAINING run" on the notes for this race. Was nice to keep HR down more than usual and just take deep breaths and relax. Was cool to run right through the Spirit Mountain ski resort that I had gone to earlier on in the year for snowboarding for the first time. Nothing too excited until was gunning it down a pretty steap hill with legs spinning quick until my left shoe got caught in the muddy pit and the bottom of the hill and ended up sticking in place while my momentum keep me rolling and was not able to stop left foot from squishing into the muddy mess. Had to put shoe on over mud-filled sock which felt pretty nasty but couldn't help but laugh over it. The more I do these runs, the more I realize that the unexpected things are the things I actually look forward to and make these events what they are.
The course had 6 aid-stations with little goodies at them. Had a few pretzels at each one. Hardest part of the race was running through the powerline sections of these giant hills. Was pretty hilarious to see a monsterous hill ahead of us and being pretty worried, only to find out that there was a huge dip in the land right ahead of us which made the hill almost double in size. Hiked alot of the hills and calfs would be on fire at the top. Heartrate would spike quite a bit during these climbs but felt like the legs would get a semi-break from the quicker cadence of the flatter sections. Was an aid-station handing out popsicles, frozen grapes and ice right after the powerline section which was rejuvenating. Was about a 3/4 mile stretch of bike trail path that we ran after that hilly mess which gave me a chance to stretch the legs out again and gain some ground on the others. (makes me wonder if I'm more of a road-runner than trail-runner) Caught a guy who was doing a funky climbing style on hills. He would almost shuffle sideways and I asked what kind of climbing style that was. He said that it was a style he adopted a few years back after reading about how it takes stress of the same muscles and activates the lateral gastrocs and other muscles that aren't used as much while doing the same running style. Tried keeping up with him in some other climbs only to get burnt out and falling back. Ended up catching him in another straightaway though. Ran with a few other guys here and there but also had some stretches of trails where I was running solo for over a half hour. Got to final aid station and was told there was just a 5k left. Was super excited to hear that and decided to start trying to catch some people. The surroundings were just insane and I remember running across a rope bridge in those last few miles and just screaming like an animal. There was rapids rushing down on either side and ahh man, gotta make it back to the spot sometime. Heard the last 5k was super technical and I got a little big headed running the first 10 minutes of it thinking this wasn't bad at all. Felt like running the the BW's trails with the rapids on our left. Trail seemed to get more technical as it went on and found myself crawling down rock ledges and wondering if this was the actual path. Wish I could have been a volunteer and sat out and watched some people maneuver through some of those last few sections.(kinda sadistic, I know) Finished on a bike path and was sure nice to be done with those last few miles. Met up with Kayla and Kyle right after and drove back to D-town. Of course had to eat at Burrito Union after. Almost no cramping though which is a good sign!