I’m sitting on the floor. My feet are asleep. But there is a mug of hot apple cider (or sea-dar if you’re fancy) nearby, a pumpkin candle is burning, Ruthie is snuggled up behind me snoring cutely, and there’s snow in the forecast. HELL YA. I have been telling people how excited I am for the snow and they look at me like I have spiders crawling out of my eyes. I love fall, I love winter. I love snow and want feet of it this year. I’m hoping to get some cross country skis and try skijoring. Any tips are greatly appreciated.
So, enough about snow, lets talk about something that won’t freak people out…the weekend! Oh it was a stellar one. Like I said last post, my gal pal Katie and I were set to run a trail half marathon Saturday morning. That meant Friday night was spent watching Hocous Pocus, drinking water, and going to bed at 8 PM. Yeah, I like snow and I go to bed before most grandmas. I think it’s cool. You can judge me, IDC.
I woke to my alarm at 5AM Saturday morning, jumped out of bed, pulled back the curtains and shouted “It’s gonna be a great day!” But in all honesty, it was gonna be a really tough day. The sky was cloudy and rain was set to start falling right around race start. Oh well, no one ever died from being wet…at least that I’m aware of.
So we set off for Duluth at 5:45 am after a tiny detour due to my poor navigation and made it to our destination around 8 am. The bus picked us up at 8:30 on the nose and took us to the start of the race…Spirit Mountain.
Now let me tell you something about this race…it was called the Harder N Hell Half Marathon. I kept asking myself, why the heck did they call it this? It started at the top of a ski hill which meant it would be all downhill right? hahahahaha NOPE. I couldn’t have been more incorrect.
The race followed the Superior Hiking trail from Spirit Mountain up and down and all around to Bayfront Park. AND IT was hilly AF. LIKE holy hills. Of course, right as we started it began to rain. Rain+dirt trails=MUD. The trail was full of leaves and mud puddles. In the beginning it was pretty easy to get around the mud and stuff but as the race went on and the rain continued to fall, the mud got slicker. The rocks got slippery. There was one point on a downhill I couldn’t stop. Thankfully there was a tree I was able to snag which stopped me from tumbling down the hillside. I did get a sliver but better that than a broken limb. At some points it felt like we were ice skating along the mud rather than running. But you know what? This might have been one of my most favorite runs ever. The conditions made me focus on my every step which kept my mind off the burning sensation in my lungs, the tightness in my hammies/hips, and how tired I felt.
Yes, it was one of the hardest runs ever but it felt like an adventure. I think at one point I said to Katie, “I feel like I’m Pocahontas or a pioneer, just out here discovering the land.” The race was capped at 150 runners for obvious reasons and we were pretty much on our own the entire time. The views were insane. There were wooded areas, open areas, waterfalls, streams, pretty leaves…ugh, what’s not to love!?
Oh and did I mention the snacks? There were 2 aid stations for the half (oh yeah, there was also a 50 and 100K…those crazies!) and they were stocked full of the best foods. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, gummy bears, licorice, pickles, ginger-ale, granola bars, chips…I’m getting hungry thinking about it.
Something I’ll remember for next year…bring a hydration pack. I got so freaking thirsty and with only 2 aid stations, there were not a lot of opportunities for grabbing hydration. And yes, I did say next year…already looking forward to running this race again, training better/harder, and finishing faster than 2:59. Shoutout to Katie for putting up with me when I got tired, sore, thirsty, and sassy. Couldn’t have done it without you.
And one last thing…instead of a finisher’s medal, we got soup mugs. How cute is that!? I always just toss my medal in a drawer so it’s nice to have something I’ll actually use.
After the race, we headed to the bathroom to try and wipe off some of the mud on our legs, then headed to the Duluth Coffee Company for a hot beverage, changed our clothes and probably left trails of mud behind us, then hit up the Duluth Grill for a late lunch. GET THE ONION RINGS, that’s all I’ll say.
After we refueled, we were on the road and home by 5PM. I took a salt bath, read some Harry Potter, and fell asleep at 7:30. Goodnight.
It was a very busy, cold, tiring, exciting, fun, amazing, adventure-filled day and I wouldn’t trade it for anything else. I’m still on an endorphin high from the race and my hunger level is still that of a 12 year old boy. GIVE ME ALL THE FOOD. I love trail running.
Ok, that’s all. Peace, love, and snowflakes (hehe). BYE!
-Haley the Snowflake