What a great weekend I had. The weather was great, and I was fortunate enough to spend time with some great people.
On Sunday, I headed to Marine on St. Croix, MN for a 10 mile trail race at William O'Brien State Park. Schuney and Erik came with, so Duluth had a nice contingent in the roughly 150 person race field.
I was pretty anxious to race after watching the Grandma's races over the weekend, and not having raced since February at Snowshoe Nationals. I had been looking for a race with a bit of distance, preferably a half marathon, just to test my fitness a bit. I found this race off the Northland Runner site and decided it'd be a good enough test as sometimes 10 miles on the trail is worth 13 on the road in terms of effort. I'd say this one was pretty close.
The race was deceptive in its toughness. The trails themselves were easy. Virtually no single track to speak of, and very little dirt in general. Some of the trails were crushed rock, but the vast majority of the race was held on grassy ski trails, about 20 feet wide. The relatively long grass was difficult to run through and did tire my legs a bit, but overall that wasn't the main difficulty. The biggest reason for the tough race was the hills. The constant hills. There was a steady climb at the start, followed by a series of constant ups and downs, not unlike Lester Park here in Duluth.
I traditionally like to start out slow for races, but this time I went out a bit quicker than I would've liked. However, that "quicker" would soon be reduced to a "less quicker" as we began to climb for 3 miles or so. At that point in the race I knew that it would be a grinder for the next 7. I ran about 15 seconds back of Schuney for a good majority of the race, but mostly it was a solo run, almost more like a workout. That was a bit frustrating to not see anybody to try to chase down.
I ended up finishing 8th overall, Schuney was 7th and Erik was 5th. The crazy thing is that though I finished 8th overall, I finished 3rd in my age group! There are some truly impressive old guys out there!
So I'm pleased with the race. I ran as well as I could have and it was nice to get on some new trails and see some new sites.
It was a very good weekend, indeed.