April 21, 2014

11 Miles to Paradise twice, and more

Last weekend marked a big step in my ultramarathon training - it was the first time I've put in back-to-back runs of 20 miles or more. In all, I covered about 46 miles.

On Saturday, a training partner and I ran partway up Missoula's Rattlesnake Valley on road, then continued on trail along the creek through the main corridor of the recreation area. By the time we turned around, we were crossing short patches of snow left from the hard winter. Once back in town, I made a warm, sunny detour to Reserve Street to pick up the car from Jen at work, ending at about 25 miles.

Sunday was something of a treat: Before Saturday's run, we were invited to join a small group in an Easter Sunday tradition of running out and back on the course for the 11 Miles to Paradise race.

After a brief stop at the Runner's Edge store downtown, we met the rest of the group at the Ferry Landing picnic area along the Clark Fork River 11 miles east of St. Regis on Montana Highway 135. The picnic area serves as the finish line for the race and would be our starting and ending point.

In the race, most of the hills are in the second half, meaning our run would put hills at both the start and the end. Our group of eight set out west through the forest, with glacier lilies and trillium blooming on the mossy ground and creeks flowing to the river below the trail. We stuck together to the race starting area, scrambling over a few downed trees and stopping to fuel a couple of times along the way. After a break at the race starting area, we backtracked to the finish a little short of 22 miles, stopping another couple of times and splitting up as legs tired.

When I woke that morning, I was a little concerned about how my legs would feel after the long weekend, but while tired in general I don't feel worse for wear than normal. That's probably a good thing, considering more of these weekends lie ahead on the way to the Bighorn Mountain Wild and Scenic 50-mile race.