Friday, July 17, 2009

Eagle Mountain Challenge

Last weekend was spent running some of my favourite sections of the SHT as well as exploring new trails. The most fun run I've had in a long time was up and down Eagle Mountain - the highest point in Minnesota. Coming from Ireland it is reassuring to know there are others who call 2301ft peaks mountains!!

So... the Eagle Mountain Challange will be the 10K round trip from this sign to the geological marker at the summit and back down again. Not for the faint-hearted. It might not be much of a climb but the boulders and roots sure do make it exciting. And that was without traffic! Imagine the fun of meeting people going full speed on a 3ft wide technical trail. Cool. Bonus points for stopping to take a dip in the beautiful Whale Lake (no whales).

Prior to this fun expedition on Sunday morning, I'd run the 7.5M loop with the guys at Hyland Friday morning and then headed north to meet up with Holly to kick off the Beta IV weekend. This was so much fun last year so I was really looking forward to a weekend of running the SHT, especially with the weather forecast (warm and sunny - as it should be in JULY). We covered 20 miles that afternoon on the SHT south of Duluth - starting out at Spirit Mtn and running to Jay Cooke State Park - followed by an out and back that took in some of the Voyageur course (really looking forward to that race). The first several miles were so beautiful with lots of rocky terrain and overlooks - very similar to the Silver Bay section.

Got to the cabin in Tofte around 8pm that evening - had fun catching up with everyone and then getting ready for an early start on Saturday. We woke at 5am and were out the door before 6. Dropped cars/water and started out at Beaver Bay. Turning right immediately after the bridge brought back memories... I missed the turn during Sawtooth and took a nice ten minute detour. I love love love the next several miles of the trail as it climbs above Bean and Bear Lake, Silver Bay, Mt. Trudee, whereupon I took a ten minutes sun-bathing break/nap. Continued on at a fairly easy pace enjoying the soltitude of the trail - expected to meet more hikers but it was pretty quiet. Reached Co. Rd. 1 where we'd dropped water so I stopped at ate my tuna sandwich (yes, there was mayo on the tuna and I had no stomach problems so hopefully that means it can handle anything at Voyageur unlike last year!), downed a can of redbull, and chilled out for a bit. Off towards Co. Rd 6 then where I'd left my car earlier. Got some water and then through Section 13 for an out and back to bring me to 28 miles for the day.

So, after Sunday morning's trot up the mountain I ended with a nice round 100K for the 3 days. Happy with that, especially since my knee/IT band didn't hurt too bad. It was better Saturday that Friday and hardly any pain Sunday. I've been on the foam roller at least twice a day and I think it helps a lot. I did mean to get to the PT but work has been completely mental this week and last so it's hard to fit much in. I am hoping to get caught up on sleep the next few days as 4hrs a night is not conducive to a good run next weekend.

Speaking of that I guess I am tapering. Haven't ran much this week and will not probably run less than 10 tomorrow and just 10-15 all of next week so that should be good. Another fun run at Hyland this morning. 1:02 for the 7.5M loop - it is damn hard keeping up with the boys and that's after most of them already doing a lap! Not sure I'll ever make it there for the early bird start but how bad to fit in a 15M run before your day even starts...