So maybe you've noticed it was hot last week. Here in Minnesota, on the East Coast, in fact most of the country... if you don't count the Olympic Peninsula, with all those barefoot/minimalist running bloggers clogging it up (see what I did there?). So, yeah, hot. As I drove down the highway toward Murphy, the temperature was 95 degrees. With a dew point in the high 60s, the heat index was 100 or so. (You live here, you get good with the weather jargon. It's a survival skill). But no worries! Once I turned onto the park access road the temperature, per my car, plummeted to 92 degrees. Refreshing! I carried a handheld with Nuun and wore my hottest hot-weather gear: INKnBURN camisole and shorts, and my super-secret, sun-defeating ZombieRunner hat.
Parked close to the start line, doused myself with bug spray (hoping to fend off all the horseflies and mosquitoes I couldn't outrun), peed in the woods by the parking lot. There were porta potties but there was a line, and hey, if you can't pee in public at a trail race, where can you pee in public?
After the usual pre-race briefing (with a side of "Yes, it's only a 10K. You should still carry water. Don't be stupid.") and a little group cheering
|(Credit: Endless Summer Trail Run Facebook page)|
A glance at the map before the race revealed that the course was two 5K loops. I decided, after a memorable bonk at the last Endless Summer race, to run with one goal only (aside from all those "don't" goals, like "don't get heatstroke"): I wanted to run a negative split.
We took off onto rolling, double-wide dirt trails through the woods. Aside from a short stretch of singletrack just before the halfway point, and a few short wooden boardwalks, the whole trail was rolling hills, up and down, not much flat. Fun! Though I think a few of them got higher the second time around.
With my negative-split goal in mind, I took the first loop easy. Really easy. Walked the uphills, jogged the downhills (there weren't many flats), any time I got the urge to go faster I reminded myself: Negative split. Got to the self-serve water station at the halfway point and everything felt pretty good. By this time, the crowd had thinned out to a surprising degree, I think a combination of my leisurely pace and the smaller crowd at this race (200-ish runners, instead of 300+ at the others). Whatever the reason, I had a lot of time on the trail to myself, unusual for a short race. I found myself enjoying my thoughts, the scenery, the trail. Occasionally I would pass another runner back and forth, but it felt a lot like an evening's run in the woods, rather than a race.
After a final climb, I heard cheering and rounded a corner to the finish line/aid station area. At the completion of my first 5K loop, the clock read 37:45. Yup, looked auspicious for a negative split, all right!
Just as I came into the aid station (drinking water and ice-water sponges!), the first finishers charged up the finish chute. I stopped and cheered with everyone else for these speedy guys who ran the course TWICE as fast as I did. What an amazing achievement on a hot night.
Then, doused myself with an ice cold sponge, and headed back down the trail at about 38:15.
Second loop was even quieter than the first. But I had my mind on that negative split. No need to run much faster than the first time (I did want to meet those "don't get heatstroke" goals), but bring it in a little faster. I still walked the big hills, but ran everything else. Picked up some speed in the second half of the loop and passed a few people, though I still had most of the trail to myself. As I neared the finish line, I could tell I still had a little gas in the tank. Picked it up some more and came through the finish line in 1:16:18.
I staggered around and attacked the bucket of ice-water sponges. After I caught my breath and cooled off a bit, I did some running-addled math: Second split was 76:18 minus 38:15 or so... uhhh.... just over 38 minutes! Negative split accomplished! I was delighted. By no means a fast 10K, but I paced it correctly, got my negative split, and no heatstroke. An epic win!
|Sweaty but happy at the finish!|
|John, King of the Merch Table and volunteer extraordinaire. This man knows 28 different ways to wear a Buff, and can demonstrate them all in under 60 seconds.|
|Bob, selflessly volunteering a week after a grueling DNF at the Leadville 50. Thanks!|
|Jim, just a few weeks out from a huge PR at the Black Hills 100k. Another great volunteer!|
|Bill, loyal volunteer and S-cap dealer|
|I volunteered at Afton with Mary Beth, but she was running tonight.|
|Amy had just run the Curnow Trail Marathon, survived the powerlines (twice!) and still ran a great race at Murphy!|
|The Arnold Palmer strikes again!|
This was another great summer race. I can't believe there's only one left -- Lebanon Hills in August. I'm really enjoying these weeknight runs and look forward to more. What a great way to enjoy warm (and occasionally HOT) summer nights.