Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Week Ending 8/25: A trip to Lake Superior

I can't believe that Summer is coming to an end. Though I felt a bit sad about not returning to Boulder, it's been more of a "get your shit together" kind of season. Running has been on the back burner, and I've been borderline obsessive about polishing my turd of a resume into something a Doctorate program admissions person would look at and say, "looks legit." Another semester of classes has started today, this time at Grand Valley State. Eyes on the prize.

No ultra races for the summer, with only a smattering of shorter distance things to keep me moving. When I think about running this year, I wonder if I'm thinking too much. I question my motivation for running long distances. I'm not incredibly good at it, and my attempts at 100s seem to have broken my spirit. I do know, however, that spending time outdoors has always been a therapeutic activity for me. A break from racing may not make me faster, but my soul needs more nurturing than my ego. 

In spite of a fondness for long mountain outings, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan has always been special to me. My family has made numerous trips over the Mackinac Bridge for Winter snowmobile rides. Days of over 200 miles are normal on the wide, sweeping trails, and I've long suspected that my affinity for long treks stems from being brought up this way. From age 6 to age 11, I was clinging to my Dad's back as we rode through the snow to reach destinations. At age 12, the legal age that one can take to the trails on a snowmobile, I began to rack up miles as a rider and not a passenger, exceeding 200 miles per day in some instances. A few of our trips would take us to the Munising area, where beautiful views of Lake Superior and the Pictured Rocks Lakeshore were plentiful. 

Since hearing of the hiking trail on the Lakeshore several years ago, I've had the desire to check it out. It always seemed like too far to go for "just a run." After a summer with several reminders of how finite our time is on this planet, "just a run" can be the difference between a life lived fully and a live squandered. 

Because trips are better with company, Jeremiah agreed to come along. We both needed a little decompression before the start of the academic year, he as a professor and I as a student. 

The trail is one of the most spectacular things I've ever seen, even compared to the Rockies and the Tahoe Area. It has its technical spots and the occasional rocky climb, but for the most part is very smooth and runable. The singletrack often gets dangerously close to cliff edges with huge drops, but an inch is as safe as a mile. We took nearly every opportunity to escape the heat and jumped in either an inland lake, a creek, or Lake Superior, adding some extra distance to the adventure. We also accidentally added adventure to the distance by running out of palatable food and water. Yes, I know. Stupid.

A mishap with our shuttle service put us about an hour and a half behind our projected 9:30am start. Instead of a light breakfast and hitting the trail, we had a light breakfast followed by wishing we had lunch. We were confident that it wouldn't be a huge deal. GU and Clif bars would see us through. The snag, however, is that after 4 GUs, I couldn't stand them any more. Each attempt to eat one would make me puke. Same with the dry, sticky Clif bars. 47 miles on 3.5 GUs and 1.5 Clif Bars? No FKT this time. The hunger of the last half was not pleasant, but it 

This trip was an incredible experience. I'd suggest anyone in search of a good destination run give it a try. Now that I've run it in one day, I'd be more interested in breaking it up into two days and camping. 

My weekly mileage total was about 65 miles, most of it being this day.

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