Saturday, April 17, 2010

Trail Mix 25k

Yours truly at the Hyland Lake Park Reserve, ready for Trail Mix

Fueled by last night's pre-race pizza consisting of arugula, pine nuts, three cheeses, and prosciutto two ways (cooked on the pizza itself, and a couple of slices draped over the top post-cooking), I headed down to Hyland Lake Park Reserve in Bloomington to join Minnesota's trail running enthusiasts for the 19th running of the Trail Mix Races.

Love those pre-races meals...

The morning was cloudless and beautiful, with a rather cool start. And Hyland Lake Park looked stunning. With our relatively early spring, many leaves have started to sprout, so the green color was everywhere. A great day to be a runner, and everyone seemed positively giddy with the way the day had turned out. I would be partaking in the 25k, but there were a good number of folks tackling the 50k ultra.

Start of the 50k race

My goal today was not to have any goals. :) Didn't even wear my watch. I was really just intending on treating this as a long, steady training run, which is what I did.

The trails were quite nice and scenic, taking you through the woods, fields, and past lakes and ponds. The 25k race consisted of two laps around the park on a mix of grass, dirt, and wood chip trails. The terrain was rolling and hilly; lots of gradual ups and downs, with a couple of longer, steeper hills, but nothing overly difficult. Trails were wide (I believe they serve as ski trails in the winter months) and not at all technical. This would be a great introductory trail race for anyone looking to try some longer distances.

Birds were everywhere. Before the race, I chased a rather loquacious ruby-crowned kinglet around the picnic grounds, and I saw my first chipping sparrow of the season in the same area. During the race, we passed an osprey nesting platform where mama and papa osprey were busy constructing their nest. I also heard numerous robins, cardinals, wood ducks, red-bellied woodpeckers, and also the familiar cackle of the pileated woodpecker. The feathered friends were enjoying this day as much as the runners.

By the second loop, the day had really warmed up. From our start at around 40, the temperature quickly shot up into the upper 50's. I was feeling overdressed with my long-sleeved shirt, but was probably faring better than those who decided to wear jackets and long pants!

I was really enjoying myself during this race. The park was spectacular (it is impressive that people had the foresight to protect areas like this, since the park is truly surrounded by the metro area - heck, the infamous Mall Of America is only a few miles east of here!), runners were having fun, and aid stations were enthusiastic and on the ball.

Overall, I was pleased with my run. I ran how I wanted to and didn't overdo anything, finishing in 2 hours, 17 minutes, and change (official results forthcoming). Actually, this is a new PR (I have only done one 25k before, and that was at the Superior Trail Races - anyone who has run that knows that isn't exactly a PR kind of course!).

I had a great time today at Trail Mix and saw several folks I know. I got to chat with Wildknits before and after the race, which was a lot of fun. I ran into Ed, an old colleague from my previous job, so I got to talk to him. And, I also saw our family friend Jon after the race, so I got to catch up with him and his family as well. Fun stuff!

The rest of my day involved a little bit of shopping, baking a batch of chocolate and butterscotch chip cookies, and the semi-regular post-race tradition of take-out for dinner. I am now sipping on a Boulder Beer Co. "Mojo" I.P.A. as I type this.
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