the highest peak in the entire state, 1,500 ft doesn’t sound all that bad. Unlike the real mountains elsewhere, this one (with a handful of its siblings/cousins) is right in our own backyard. And quite importantly, it (and each of one its siblings/cousins) offers the same lessons my favorite wilderness prophet talks/writes about in his 1901 book.
Add all these lessons to all that the race director, Bridget Durocher, does for the community as a part and outside of her work with Western Upper Peninsula Health Department, and top it all with the potential for some spectacular fall colors, and result was seeing myself register for the event in mid/late January as soon as the online registration opened.
Much like the previous trail running event in August, Swedetown Trail Run, this one happened to be about a month before my next road race of marathon distance. Unlike the last time though, not only I was at least two weeks away from the beginning of tapering period but approaching the end of a fantabulous experiment (more about this later). Timing of all these things would make the runs in this Mount Bohemia Trail Running Festival a part of the experiment and not a race — if competing against my own previous self is ignored — in the general sense of the word. The goals for this event would be quite simple: don’t walk except aid stations, improve the times from past year and don’t come home with an injury that would prematurely end the running season.
|Summary of training activities since the last race|
|#||Date and time||Activity details
Device, Distance, Time, Pace, Speed, Heart Rate, kCal, and Weather Notes (when applicable)
|01||2015-09-09 6:02 pm||KRG Weekly Run 2015 #34
4.22 mi, 0:44:49, 10:37 min/mile, 5.65 mph, 153 bpm, 499
68 F, 16 mph W, felt like 68 F, 40% humidity; mostly sunny and pleasant
|02||2015-09-11 5:07 pm||Houghton Quick Run
6.24 mi, 0:49:59, 8:01 min/mile, 7.48 mph, 169 bpm, 670
55 F, 10 mph NW, felt like 55 F, 54% humidity; mostly sunny and pleasant
|03||2015-09-12 6:30 am||Houghton Quick Run
6.06 mi, 1:05:57, 10:53 min/mile, 5.51 mph, 144 bpm, 704
37 F, 4 mph NW, felt like 37 F, 93% humidity; clear skies, chilly but manageable
|04||2015-09-14 6:14 pm||Houghton Quick Run
3.16 mi, 0:25:47, 8:10 min/mile, 7.35 mph, 167 bpm, 339
75 F, 0 mph, felt like 75 F, 66% humidity; clear skies, warm, no breeze but comfortable
|05||2015-09-15 6:34 pm||Houghton Quick Run
6.33 mi, 1:02:20, 9:51 min/mile, 6.09 mph, 149 bpm, 703
86 F, 0 mph, felt like 86 F, 51% humidity; clear skies, warm, no breeze but comfortable
|06||2015-09-16 6:04 pm||KRG Weekly Run 2015 #35
4.06 mi, 0:45:15, 11:09 min/mile, 5.38 mph, 157 bpm, 532
84 F, 10 mph S, felt like 85 F, 48% humidity; mostly clear, warm but comfortable
|07||2015-09-17 6:49 pm||Houghton Quick Run
4.55 mi, 0:49:29, 10:53 min/mile, 5.51 mph, 151 bpm, 554
75 F, 7 mph SSW, felt like 75 F, 65% humidity; mostly cloudy warm and humid with a slight breeze on top
|08||2015-09-19 8:55 am||Houghton Quick Run
4.31 mi, 0:46:32, 10:48 min/mile, 5.56 mph, 149 bpm, 513
55 F, 11 mph NNW, felt like 55 F, 77% humidity; sunny with a gentle breeze
|09||2015-09-20 9:41 am||Houghton Long Ride
100.01 mi, 7:18:33, 4:23 min/mile, 13.69 mph, 5760
63 F, 9 mph W, felt like 63 F, 52% humidity; mostly sunny, blue skies and very windy
|10||2015-09-23 6:02 pm||KRG Weekly Run 2015 #36
4.12 mi, 0:46:22, 11:15 min/mile, 5.33 mph, 151 bpm, 493
57 F, 12 mph ESE, felt like 57 F, 82% humidity; cloudy, slight drizzle but comfortable
|11||2015-09-24 6:00 pm||Houghton Quick Run
6.47 mi, 1:04:58, 10:02 min/mile, 5.98 mph, 153 bpm, 727
59 F, 7 mph E, felt like 57 F, 88% humidity; cloudy, slight drizzle but comfortable
|12||2015-09-25 5:32 pm||Houghton Quick Run
5.31 mi, 0:44:45, 8:26 min/mile, 7.11 mph, 159 bpm, 535
66 F, 5 mph NNW, felt like 66 F, 73% humidity; sunny, warm and a gentle breeze
|13||2015-09-26 7:05 am||Houghton Short Run (1/10)
13.20 mi, 2:02:08, 9:15 min/mile, 6.49 mph, 154 bpm, 1356
57 F, 3 mph S, felt like 57 F, 100% humidity; cloudy, foggy and very humid with a hint of breeze
|14||2015-09-27 8:15 am||Houghton Short Run (2/10)
10.27 mi, 1:37:19, 9:29 min/mile, 6.33 mph, 151 bpm, 1061
57 F, 8 mph SSW, felt like 57 F, 88% humidity; sunny, warm, humid and not much for a breeze
|15||2015-09-27 10:30 am||Houghton Quick Run
3.01 mi, 0:28:46, 9:33 min/mile, 6.28 mph, 153 bpm, 345
59 F, 10 mph SSW, felt like 59 F, 88% humidity; sunny, warm and not much for a breeze
|16||2015-09-28 5:06 pm||Houghton Short Run (3/10)
10.08 mi, 1:30:00, 8:56 min/mile, 6.72 mph, 156 bpm, 1089
68 F, 7 mph W, felt like 68 F, 37% humidity; sunny, warm and some breeze
|17||2015-09-29 5:35 pm||Houghton Short Run (4/10)
13.35 mi, 1:58:05, 8:51 min/mile, 6.78 mph, 154 bpm, 1375
54 F, 5 mph NW, felt like 54 F, 35% humidity; sunny, chilly but pleasant
|18||2015-09-30 4:35 pm||KRG Weekly Run 2015 #37 (5/10)
13.18 mi, 2:10:12, 9:53 min/mile, 6.07 mph, 150 bpm, 1396
55 F, 8 mph E, felt like 58 F, 51% humidity; sunny, chilly but pleasant
|19||2015-10-01 4:04 pm||Houghton Short Run (6/10)
10.12 mi, 1:31:45, 9:04 min/mile, 6.62 mph, 157 bpm, 1129
54 F, 10 mph E, felt like 54 F, 47% humidity; sunny, windy at times, chilly but pleasant
|20||2015-10-02 4:00 pm||Houghton Short Run (7/10)
10.17 mi, 1:38:50, 9:43 min/mile, 6.17 mph, 150 bpm, 1105
54 F, 11 mph E, felt like 54 F, 50% humidity; sunny, windy and chilly but pleasant
Alice talked about and recommended one of the books she happened to be reading: Long Distance — Testing the Limits of Body and Spirit in a Year of Living Strenuously by Bill McKibben. I
A couple days into
reading listening to this book, the author talked about the importance of long runs at a slower pace keeping more than an eye on the heart rate. He also talked about punctuating such runs with a speed burst every 20 minutes or so … so as to not forget how to pick up the pace after running at a lower pace for a considerably longer periods of time. So, I decided to spend the the next 8-10 weeks with one long run per week dedicated to integrating this particular lesson from the book — run long, run slow, watch the heart rate, add a burst every 20 minutes during such long slow run, make detailed notes about what worked and what didn’t, what I remembered to do and what I shouldn’t forget for the next long run, and so on.
First such run didn’t take too long to come about (#13 in the above table). Though the prevailing high humidity ensured that it didn’t go nearly as long as I had originally intended, I did what I thought I should be doing: went slow enough to keep the heart rate in check, included a burst every once in a while, and heeded to the body and weather conditions to end the run. I also made notes about these things for the following run. As per the plan made earlier that week, I went over to the Vendlinski residence to watch a college football game. While Andi‘s beloved Wolverines dressed in maize and blue were taking the descendants/disciples of Brigham Young to school in The Big House, she brought up the concept/practice of and the potential for doing a 10 in 10. I admitted that I hadn’t heard of such a thing and didn’t really know what it meant.
A little schooling of my own followed, and I learned that it meant a run of 10 miles (or longer) for 10 consecutive days. Schooling also came with a favorable yes to both my concerns [(a) can I count today’s run as the first one in this 10 for 10? (b) can I break up the 10 mile run per day into multiple runs of shorter lengths?] and a fair reminder that I should end my pursuit should I experience a pain or an injury. With the history of such things having always done more good to me than expected, it was a no brainer to put my body through this newest and by far the toughest, at least on paper, experiment. Since the experiment hasn’t yet been completed (one more day to go), I will save detailing the results as part of a subsequent post-race report. However, I was quite happy to see the body as well as the mind adapt well to the experiment so far and the experiment had no negative impact — in terms of fatigue or injury, mind or body or a combination thereof — on weekend’s festivities.
The eve of the event weekend ended on a much calmer note and included a quick trip to see dear friends Katy and Henry. And the race day morning, for day #1, came at an expected pace. The seemingly never ending repair of the Houghton-Hancock Lift Bridge and its often unannounced closures for lengthy periods of time (as well as potential road closures as a result of an ill-conceived event in Houghton) called for leaving town much earlier than usual. The drive up north was smooth and uneventful — with checkin, packet pickup and exchange of pleasantries with fellow participants and friends completed upon arrival, there was about an hour left for the pre-race meeting. And for the first time that I can remember, I made a conscious effort to nap in the back of my car and give my body a little more rest.
Pre-race meeting as well as the 5k started on time. Starting slow and pacing myself better (thanks to repeated lessons from many a friends over the past year) with many a friendly faces — Bev, Cheryl, Cindy, John, Kate and Paul, and Anne and Melissa from Marquette — played a vital role in the negative splits. A year’s worth of training on varied terrain, one recent training run up and down Mont Ripley, and institutional knowledge about the course from yesteryear made me look and feel a lot smarter. This, in turn, gave my feet quite a bit of confidence and ensured the miles went by much quicker than yesteryear as well. And before I could realize, the course that hugs the Little Red Riding Hood had brought me face to face with the lovely (I do mean it) Big Bad Wolf. This Big Bad Wolf isn’t something one would/could easily get through without realizing and my first encounter with it was no different (neither would the remaining three over the weekend). When I did get through and crossed the finish line, leg #1 of the festival was behind me but with plenty left in the tank.
A timely advice from dear friend, Chris Schwartz, a day or two earlier about paying better attention to nutrition and resting well (read: not doing any monkey business) between events came in quite handy. I consumed some protein bars and fluids, and retired to the backseat of my car for yet another ~40 minute nap. I missed the pre-race meeting (I was still napping) but the 10 started on time. Starting slow and pacing myself better would remain a theme and the number of familiar faces grew quite a bit for leg #2: Amanda, Anika, Christine, Cindy, Jessie, Kate, Paul and Shannon.
Rest of the course remained the same — leaving the Little Red Riding Hood on occasion to snake through Tortoise/Hare and Mad Hatter before bringing up the Big Bad Wolf prior to crossing the finish line. For the second consecutive leg, the miles seemed to go by much quicker and required much less effort to do so (a little extra motivation that shall remain unmentioned didn’t hurt either) leaving still plenty in the tank for day #2.
The uneventful drive home after legs #1 and #2 was punctuated with a pit stop in The Fitz for lunch with Bev and Paul Mann. A quick nap made way to a mile long jog to keep the 10 in 10 experiment alive. Heeding to the intuition, seeded and nurtured by the collective wisdom of my friends, I called it a night quite early into the night. Knowing that there wouldn’t be any unannounced bridge closures, I slept in a little more, and the race day morning, for day #2, came at an expected pace as well. The drive up north, for the second consecutive day, was smooth and uneventful as well.
Pre-race meeting as well as the half marathon started on time. Much like the previous two legs, I started slow and paced myself at least through first few miles with many dear friends: AJ, Bryant, Cindy, Ian, John, JR, Kate, Kelsae, Paul and Simon. The course, with the aforementioned modifications for 10k, remained about the same as last year and did in fact go all the way to the top. With miles passing yet again much faster, I found myself at about the 9 mile mark shortly after 90 minutes. Institutional knowledge about the course, acquired during last year’s festival and studying it as meticulously as I could to remember it well, came in quite handy yet again. Knowing that it was mostly downhill or flat from that point, I thought of picking up the pace my implementing one of the lessons learned from the still ongoing 10 in 10 experiment. It did pay off quite well: the pace did see a spike, helped me relax quite a bit and regroup myself just in time for the final encounter with the Big Bad Wolf. And when I did cross the finish line, I was quite satisfied with the overall effort for the weekend and felt like the tank wasn’t completely empty. I, for one, would believe that I could have run harder but my ever so thoughtful friends, once again, convinced me that it was more an indication of conditioning and signs of things to come.
|Splits and Δ splits analysis|
|Mile mark||Metrics (0 -- mile mark)||Δ split||Metrics (between successive mile marks)|
|03.11||00:31:41, 10:11 min/mile, 5.89 mph||00.00 -- 03.11||00:31:41, 10:11 min/mile, 5.89 mph|
|06.21||01:06:58, 10:47 min/mile, 5.56 mph||03.11 -- 06.21||00:35:17, 11:23 min/mile, 5.27 mph|
|10.00||01:45:58, 10:36 min/mile, 5.66 mph||06.21 -- 10.00||00:39:00, 10:17 min/mile, 5.83 mph|
|12.13||02:07:29, 10:31 min/mile, 5.71 mph||10.00 -- 12.13||00:21:31, 10:06 min/mile, 5.94 mph|
Along with the aforementioned lessons detailed by John Muir, running in the wilderness and especially through the mountains brought in a few additional ones: (a) Unless one goes into such an event with a planned running buddy to stick with, it is quite common to find oneself running by grand lonesome for extended periods of time. With no one to watch and police either the thought process or the actions resulting therefrom, it isn’t too difficult to let the mind wander off to the dark side, yield to temptations, and attempt taking a shortcut or two. Running in general and trail running in particular is a really good test of self-discipline and honor system; (b) The trails in this neck of the woods around this time of the year were extremely pretty, and a treat to the mind, body and soul. It’s quite the privilege to have the opportunity to run them. Often much of the sunshine doesn’t penetrate the dense canopy on either side of much of the course. There’s only so much one can look outside before starting to look inside in search of answers to some long-standing questions. Connectile dysfunction suffered by our electronic devices, coupled with the associated loneliness, during such runs will ensure that answers, if any, will come from inside rather than Wikipedia or StackOverflow; (c) As much as one would like to train as if it’s a real race, it is quite difficult to simulate the race day environment for testing purposes. Timing of the 10 in 10 experiment and being at the tail end of it for this weekend certainly provided a real platform to put the lessons into practice, and gain some confidence for remainder of the running season.
|Personal goals for the event (in order of importance)|
|01||Run the entire course, except for aid stations||Yes|
|02||Finish the 5k under 0:32:30 (10:29 min/mile, 5.72 mph)||Yes; 0:32:19 (10:00 min/mile, 6.00 mph)|
|Improve the 5k time from 2014 (0:38:20)||Yes; 0:32:19|
|03||Finish 10k under 1:05:00 (10:29 min/mile, 5.72 mph)||Yes; 1:00:29 (9:59 min/mile, 6.01 mph)|
|Improve the 10k time from 2014 (1:13:20)||Yes; 1:00:29|
|04||Finish the half marathon under 2:15:00 (10:18 min/mile, 5.83 mph)||Yes; 2:07:27 (10:27 min/mile, 5.74 mph)|
|Improve the half marathon time (and current PR for trail half marathon) from 2014:
2:40:42 (4.89 mph mph, 12:16 min/mile)
|05||Improve the overall time from 2014 (4:32:31)||Yes (3:40:15)|
I am happy to have come out achieving every one of the intended goals I had for this event. An even better and more satisfying result, in spite of improving the overall time from last year by 50+ minutes, was that I didn’t make it back to the podium. It’s a good indication of the improved quality of the participants hailing from Kansas, Oregon, Utah, Wisconsin, and all throughout Michigan. While the previously mentioned ill-conceived event in Houghton certainly took away some potential participants in 5k and 10k on Saturday, number of participants for triple threat was nearly quadrupled (four completed in 2014 and 15 in 2015).
I didn’t carry my phone or other photo capturing device with me on the run but friends (Amanda, Anika, Bridget, Christine, John, John and Shannon) kindly shared their photographs. My writing might make this event seem like attending a series of long sermons delivered in monotone but the images shared by my friends (and some more from yours truly) will certifiably prove that it is indeed a fun event — in the real and every sense of the word. It took a while to arrange all the photographs with different naming conventions in chronological sequence, and the script I wrote to accomplish it is on GitHub for reference.
Drive home after leg #3, as on day #1 after legs #1 and #2, was smooth and uneventful, and included a pit stop in The Fitz for lunch with Christine and Stephen Handler. I haven’t done nearly as many trail half marathons as I have of the road kind so far but to measure the improvement in performance (or lack thereof), the plot below includes all trail runs of half marathon distance or longer. I should be happy with the progress but should seek help and find ways to get better before the 2016 trail running season rolls along. The two remaining running races for the season, one about a month away and another about two weeks after that, are both of the road kind. With this event in the rear view mirror (and more importantly, without any injury or much fatigue), the focus needs to shift back to the road: improving the speed, endurance, and core strength along the way.
This event doesn’t feature the easiest of courses but their color, charm, serenity and tranquility make every single step and surrounding views quite a rewarding experience. It is organized by someone that genuinely cares for the wellbeing of the community and the event participants (as demonstrated by the fact that race director makes one demonstrate a physical activity to even earn a free raffle prize). It is indeed held in, in the words my dear friend Mark, the ultra pure part of Pure Michigan. Whether one believes in transcendental/transformative experiences or just getting a hard physical workout in the wilderness or looking for yet another valid excuse to visit the Yoop, this could be the event for this time of the year.
And as if that weren’t sufficient, the race director has
hinted a very high probability of confirmed the addition of ultra marathon to the festivities in 2016!
Praise be to the Good Lord and life's blessings, and thanks be tothe opportunities, organizers, sponsors, volunteers, law enforcement/border patrol/immigration officials, timing folks, photographers, community members, fellow racers, electronic gadgets, software, internet, and my good friends -- the Abbotts (Kathy and Mike), the Blakes (Amy and Scott), the Bogans (Ronda and Jim), the Boissevains (Margi and Paul), the Bradfishs (Anna, Eva and Eric), the Brauns (Teri, Louis, Louis, Tom), the Brewsters (Katie and Brian), the Bunkers (Kris and Kate), the Carlsons (Abby, Cassondra, Josh, and Justin), the Carmeans (Jess and Tim), the Chards (Amy and David), the Donnelys (Darcy and Brian), the Durochers (Bridget and John), the Eles (Sarah and Stephen), the Engstroms (Christine and Jaime), the Ericksons (Maija and Nat), the Farquhars (Cheryl and John), the Fredricksons (Linda and Dave), the Friedrichs (Dr. Mary and Dr. Craig), the Gracis (Kara, Mary, Sam Jr. and Sam), the Grays (Stasi and Richard), the Greens (Kim and Greg), the Handlers (Christine, Rob, Shannon and Stephen), the Janowiaks (Rexx and Maria), the Johnsons (Rich and Erik; Robyn and Adam), the Kramers (Mandy and Jim), the Kostinskis (Dr. Lilliana and Dr. Alex), the Lehtos (Tammi and Chris), the MacDonalds (Cynthia and Bruce), the MacInnes' (Elizabeth and Scott), the Makelas (Lynn Czarnecki and Jason), the Manderfields (Leslie and Peter), the Manns (Beverly and Paul), the Meyers (Lisa and Mike), the Meyers' (Jeanne, Ted and John; Julie and Keith), the Milligans (Sheila and Dr. Walter) the Obermanns (Alicia, Catherine, Doug and Tim), the Ontls (Kelly and Todd), the Oppligers (Shawn, Emily, Ruth and Doug), the Pandeys (Aparna and Dr. Ravi), the Pergers (Liz and Dr. Warren), the Ransoms (Cindy and Chip), the Rasners (Amanda and Donald), the Resslers (Dee and Tom), the Richards' (Carrie and Dr. Bob), the Rukkilas, the Salos (Chris, Karen, Dan and Don), the Seelys (Nancy and Dr. Bruce), the Smigowskis (Christina and Tim), the Stenvigs (Alexa, Annie, Chelsea, Erik, Helen, John, Nils, Mike, Nancy Verscheure, Tom), the Stickelmyers (Kari and Steve), the Tervos (Chris, Jim and Ryan), the Tomasis (Susan and Mike), the Vendlinskis (Andi, Jim and Rick), the Vertins (Melissa and Joel), the Vizankos (Kelly and Steve), the Watrous' (Liisa and Matt), the Weathers' (Stacy and Bryant), the Wendels (Heather and Caleb), the Wilmers' (Kelly and Stephen), the Youngs (Amber, Christine and Michael), the Zerbsts (Kristen and Ron), Adam Griffis, Dr. Alex Mayer, Alice Flanders, Alison Umbarger, Amanda O'Toole, Amy Madsen, Angela Luskin, Angela Yu, Anika Kuczynski, Ann Anderton, Ann Hoover, Arni Ronis, Ashley Ames, Ashley Miller, Audrey Manderfield and Kyle Kelley, Aurelia Leigler, Dr. Bryan Suits, Ben Wittbrodt, Carolyn Stevens, Cassandra Wagner, Chelsea Fagan, Chris Swanston, Christopher Buckley, Christopher Schwartz, Cindy Harwood, Crystal Haataja-Holzberger, Dan Kauppi, Dana Bianco, Dr. Daniel Fuhrmann, Dean Woodbeck, Deedra Irwin, Elizabeth Stempihar, Ellen Manderfield and Ryan Jones, Eric Byykkonen, Erin Kauppila, Greg Reed, Heidi DePuydt, Huanxin-Jessie Zhang, Jamie LaBeske Peryam, Jeff Brookins, Jeffrey Burl, Jeffrey Toorongian, Jenelle Potvin, Dr. Jennifer Slack, Jim and Randy in Cardinal Hotel, Joan Becker, Joe Caron, John Burton, John Vertin, Jonathan Kilpela, Julie Koskinen Ruotsala, Julie Springsteen, Justin TerAvest, Karen Koethe and Adam Manty, Kate Waring, Katie Temple, Kay Tislar, Kelly Wooten, Kelsae Eliszewski, Kenny Gilkerson, Krista Kasuboski, Kristen Schmitt, Kristin Thompson, Laura Mlynski, Lauren Schaefer, Lauri Keteri-Smith, Leah Tollefson, Lianna Miller and Benjamin Ciavola, Lena Widman, Louisa Raisbeck and Jesse Cleaver, Lynette Potvin and Matt Manders, Lindsey Goss-Maurisak, Lynn Geisler, Mahesh Shastry, Marc Rea, Mariana Grohowski, Marine Foucher, Mark Schnabel, Marilyn Swift, Mary Webster, Matt Mlinar, Dr. Maximilian Seel, Melissa Elmer and Justin Hoffmeyer, Michael Babcock, Michael Karinen, Michael Sereda, Mike LaMotte, Patrick Rozich, Peter Negro, Polly Bolduc, Shreya Kumar and Randal Harrison, Ray Sharp, Rebecca Anderson, Ryan Towles, Riccardo Tortini, Robert Larson, Dr. Robert Weidman, Sam Roache, Sam Robinson, Sandy Houle, Sarah Bird and William Atkinson, Sarah Ceballos, Sarah Conner, Sarah Menassian, Sarah Stanek, Scott Bolon and Alison Skwarski, Scott Gibbs, Shannon Vairo, Stacy Bussiere, Sue Peterson, Tom Edinborough, Tony Schwenn, Wayne Mills, 5th & Elm Coffee House, Copper Country Track Club, The Fitz, Houghton Pizza Works, Houghton Police Department, Keweenaw Running Group, Madison crew (Christine and Scot Van Asten, Claire Luby, Gus Lang, Kelly Higgins, Maggie Turnbull, Mark Mehler, Phat Huynh, and Susan Speth), Michigan Tech Athletic Department, Michigan Tech Public Safety,
team /var/run(Nancy Banfield, Joshua Myles and Amy Blake), and more (in and outside of my community) -- for the often unexpected, undeserved, unrewarded acts of constant encouragement, and offerings of constructive criticism, tested tips and tricks to improve myself as an athlete.