Lake Minnetonka Half Marathon Scouting Report

April 27, 2011 § 1 Comment

As I mentioned on Tuesday, I am running the Lake Minnetonka Half Marathon this weekend. During my long run a few days ago, I happened to run with someone else for a few miles.  When I mentioned to him that I was running Minnetonka, he mentioned that while there is some traffic control on the course, traffic is not completely closed.

“Oh, I didn’t know that, maybe I should do some research about the race,” I thought to myself.

Later, I fired up the Google Machine and did some pre-race scouting.

The race starts in Wayzata and loops to Excelsior–we rented an apartment in Excelsior for a year and a half so I have a general idea of the area.

Pulling up some past race reports, there was a general consensus–Julie (who included several photos), Beth, Kaeti,  Jen, Lindsay, SueBob and Todd all agreed that it was a scenic course with rolling hills.  In 2010, the organizers changed the course so that, as Todd wrote, it finished with “several quick turns and 2 short but steep hills in the last 1/4 mile.”

Kaeti wrote that the “finish line was located just past a fairly steep hill, which did not make me happy”.

A couple of posters also mentioned the wind (uncontrollable) and traffic as other hassles but no major complaints.

I thought of the area as basically flat so the rolling hills surprise me a bit but it cannot be as hilly as the Ron Daws 25k was. It is good to know about the hills at the finish.

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Running uphill, both ways.

May 30, 2010 § Leave a comment

Like the yarn old-timers will tell you–my run today, an out-and-back, was uphill both ways.

At least it seemed that way from a visual point-of-view. I was running along the SW Bike Trail and on the way out, while looking ahead it looked like a slow, gradual incline so I figured I was putting some money in the altitude bank for a fast return trip.

But on the way home, a funny thing happened. After turning around, I noticed it still looked like a slow, gradual climb.

Obviously, my eyes were playing tricks on me but for some reason I’ve never noticed this before or at least this pronounced. Not sure what the deal was. I think I actually was climbing on the way out but I’ve got such a slow Internet connection I may not get a chance to verify for a while. Either way, it wasn’t a huge elevation change.

Finding my bearings

May 13, 2010 § Leave a comment

In a move that has been in the works for about two years and not yet complete, I have relocated 100+ miles from the area I have called home for the last 22 years.  While I have lived here part-time for the last two of those years, it was very transient in nature–a couple of days a week, living out of a duffel bag, working where-ever I could find Wi-Fi, and late-night/early-morning commutes back home.

My wife (a teacher) and children–girls, 5 and 9–are wrapping up their second school year in Chaska, Minnesota.

Within the last month, we sold our home in the Eau Claire, Wisconsin area, I quit my job of almost 9 years with a great employer who has allowed me to tele-commute,  accepted a job with the University of Minnesota, and been trying to buy a home about 30 minutes west of the western-most suburb (Minnetonka) of the Twin Cities.

So while I have spent the last two years knowing a change was coming and dealing with living two lives–the one I knew and the one required by the transition–I have lost my sense of place.  Somewhat ironic since I make maps for a living.

I am often finding coming out of A Target not just wondering where I parked the car but which city, and at time which state, I am in.  Grocery shopping has become a nightmare since I frequent about a half-dozen grocery stores depending on where I am that day.

Some people may thrive on that constant variety but with only a couple of 2-month exceptions–once when my girlfriend (now wife) and I went back-packing through Europe and the other a training session in Redlands, California–I have lived in basically the same small-town area since leaving home after high school.

Not to say it is all bad–I do look forward to exploring new areas, finding new things but now, so much is new I do not yet have many landmarks that I can count on as I try to fit into my new life.

Running is both exposing my lack of familiarity but also helping overcome it.

Having lived and ran in one place for so long, I knew the ins & outs of where to run.  Want a long, hilly route?  Run II south of town.  A fast tempo run that I don’t want to worry about cars?  Take the Chippewa River Bike Trail for an out & back.  A mud run? A track workout? Some trails? Just some miles?  I knew where to go depending on my needs.

Now, I don’t know what is available.  I’ve got a couple routes that I’ve run repeatedly and know them and what they have to offer but my repository of known routes is rather small.  I can jump into any number of indistinguishable suburban routes through rows of houses and past the Walgreens and SuperAmericas that fail to satisfy any specific need other than the basic requirement of providing miles.

But actually running is helping.  I am more adventurous while running.  I search for out-of-the-way places to see what it has to offer.   I’m hoping to race in two days and that may lead to a sense of community and of belonging here.  I intend, once actually settled into a new home (mid-June is our expected closing date) and my new job (I start in four days) to find a group to run with.

Today, I found some mini-trails, including some MUD in the Lake Ann Park in Chanhassen–even saw a turkey.  So I now have a convenient, mid-town short trail run that I know of.  Adding that to the Minnesota River Bike Trail  and the Luce Line Trail by the apartment, I’ve now increased my bag of runs by a good 50%.  Not much but it is a start.

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