It's been no secret that my big, lofty running goal is to qualify and run the Boston Marathon. Last season, I put that thought on the back-burner while I trained to do The Rut since those two goals required such different training.
This year, I still have a trail 50K on my summer race calendar but it is a much less intimidating race and has plenty of time allowance that I know I can complete the course as long as I keep some trail work in my weekly schedule. So this year, I'm putting the hammer down and working towards my Boston goal.
This season, my first step is to cut some mega time off my marathon best. Last year I finished Missoula under 5 hours, but to qualify for Boston I have to get well under 4 hours (3:45 is the required qualifying time, and most likely I need to be closer to 3:40). My Missoula goal for 2017 is 4:40. Then I'll be downhill training with the idea of qualifying for Boston at the Revel Rockies Marathon in June of 2018, which is an all downhill marathon with an elevation loss of about 5,000 ft. I like down hills and I'm good at them. I can run a BQ pace comfortably, so it will be a matter of learning to keep good form over 26.2 miles so I don't trash my legs in the process.
Mitch and I drove to Lewistown to run Limekiln Trail yesterday. Normally Saturday is long run day, but the weather had rain the forecast for Sunday in Lewistown. We know from experience that the mountains/hillsides/trails in that area get down right nasty in the rain.
Limekiln Trail goes up to a lookout spot or you can stay on the main trail that loops back around to the start. I did both and got just over 7 miles for the day. The route gains 1200 feet in elevation, almost all in the first 4.5 miles. I had to walk most of the climb. It was mid-70's and it felt so much warmer. Mitch rode his mountain bike. At one point I looked down on the switchback below where he was (he let me get a head start) and asked him if was having fun. He replied, "That ended when I took the bike out of the car." Haha! That climb was tough.
The extra side trail that goes to the lookout seemed like the steepest part. The view was really nice, but there was barely any room up there and I met up with a big family. I didn't stay long.
Don't laugh! I've been looking for new fuel sources for extra long running days. Gu, Hammer Gels and Honey Stingers are okay and they serve a purpose, but after about 2 of them I hate trying to choke them down. CLIF makes a pretty good organic pouch but there is only one flavor I like and I tend to have some minor stomach issues with them. I happened to be walking by the baby food at the store the other day and saw these. They are organic, about 80 calories (depending on the flavor), 17 g of carbs and even a little protein. This one tasted much better than I expected!
At this point of the day, Mitch stayed with me for the rest of my run. It was nice of him not to run over me going down the hills.
My Papparazi was at it again. I like this picture even though it is on the most barren part of the trail. The best part about climbing 1200 feet is that you get to come back down. I had so much fun running once I wasn't struggling up the mountain side.
At the end of my run, I meandered down to the creek and washed some of the salt from my face and drenched my hat.
Mitch and I are both trying to make healthier choices, so he suggested sandwiches for lunch. We made a stop at the grocery store in town and bought sandwiches, 3 containers of cut fruit and something to drink and enjoyed a little picnic at a park. The gazebo is so cute! I should have one in my back yard.
Did anyone else see that Montana had a page in Runner's World Magazine? The article featured Glacier Park (a trail that I have been on there), Missoula Marathon and Billings. The run they suggested in Billings is a stretch of trail along the Rims that starts by the airport and follows the rims to Zimmerman Park. That last part of the statement is actually not entirely correct. The out and back run is about 8 miles. I'm very disappointed that they chose this section of the trail along the rims for a number of reasons:
1. A long stretch of the trail is close to the highway and has parking all along the rims. Disrespectful people love to party there and throw their beer bottles off the parking area on to the trail so there is TONS of glass up there. Years and years worth of it that is so scattered and ground in to the dirt that nobody bothers to try cleaning it up. Today is one of the rare times I didn't have to pick up beer cans or garbage (or the occasional discarded porn magazines) off the trail and take it to the garbage (10 feet away in the parking area).
2. I already said this, but the trail runs very close to the highway. This close, in fact. Not all of it, but plenty.
3. Graffiti is a problem on the rims, especially in this area of the trail that has easy access from the parking area/highway.
4. The article says the trail goes to Zimmerman Park (which, by the way is the trail I would have suggested for this article). To get to the Park, you have to cross Zimmerman Trail, which is a winding road with blind corners both directions and no safe crossing area.
Yes, the view is pretty awesome but there are so many nicer areas of the trail along the rims that you can see this from. Runner's World suggested our trashiest trail and that makes me mad. It makes me wonder if I should ever give much consideration to a place they recommend in their magazine because clearly they didn't research it very well.
Just a few miles down the road you can get to the Back Nine trail system. Now there is a place worth mentioning!
My 14 mile run today ran along most of the rim trails and out through the Back Nine to the other side where Mitch picked me up.
I met this little critter on my run (in Zimmerman Park, actually). He wasn't as happy to see me as I was to see him so he didn't stick around long. I tried to tell him I was going to make him famous on my blog, but he just didn't care.
Do you subscribe to Runner's World or any other running magazines? Which ones?
How do you pick running routes when you are traveling?