11 September 2012

Weekend in Duluth

I visited my hometown of Duluth, MN this past weekend to celebrate my grandmother's (we call her Nana) 80th birthday. Despite some issues with my flight leaving St. Louis, I finally arrived in Duluth on a chilly Friday night and got to spend some quality time with the woods and my family. First up, after a leisurely Saturday morning drinking coffee and having breakfast with my parents and brother, I put on my trail shoes for what I intended to be my last long on-foot effort before the Berryman 24hr AR in two weeks. My friends at MNOC had emailed me a map-in-progress of Hartley Park, which has a back entrance literally minutes from my house, so I jogged over there and did some map checking of the permanent orienteering course.

I didn't bring any normal nutrition so my Dad gave me these from his stash...worked great!
Waiting for satellites to load on the Garmin means time for self portraits!

Secret entrance to Hartley.

View of the lake from one of the high points. Seriously, only minutes from my house and yes I live in the city!

Some of the controls still had flagging, some had the permanent posts already installed.

Pine grove in the middle of the park. Love it.

A view from a different high point.
Stoked to be out.
I ran from control to control for about 2 hours, and then got bored, so I decided to check out the new mountain bike trails that COGGS is building in the northwest section of the park. Holy moly, this is some sweet singletrack. It had rained earlier in my run so now the trails were full of hero dirt, and my soul soared. My legs were ready to play and I had to exercise some serious restraint to avoid blowing them out for the race in 2 weeks. It was just SO FUN to rip through the trails, COGGS has done a great job threading them through some beautiful woods. I was whooping out loud to myself on multiple occasions. The only thing that could have made them better was a few more hours and a mountain bike. I did pass a train of about 20 mountain bikers (including one on a fat bike!) who were out on a Gitchee Gumee Gallivant, seems like the Duluth equivalent to the St. Charles or West County trifecta. I think I said hi to every single one of them. I just could not contain my happiness at being on the trail and seeing other people out on bikes. Wheeeee!
Me, Nana, and Steven.
After the run I cleaned up super fast and we drove over to meet my grandparents and a few other relatives for the big party. We had some family pictures first (my Mom is always thinking about the Christmas card...) and then it was time for dinner. My brother Steven and I gave a toast to Nana; we are so thankful to have her support over the years, even when we do things (like Ironman (me)and autocross (Steven)) that make her very nervous. Love you, Nana!
Oh? You have treats you say?
Sunday morning I wanted to go visit my horse, well she isn't technically "mine" any more, but we spent so much gosh-darn time together between 1995 and 2000 that we're basically joined for life. And even though she's 22 now, she doesn't hardly look any different than when I was riding every day. Well, maybe a little fatter, but that's completely acceptable.

Me and Flyer, aka The Fly Baby, aka Radio Flyer, aka Mule
Flyer stuffing her face. Notice in the shadows another member of her herd is trying to distract me.
Love ya!
Horses are always good for my soul, but Flyer just fills me up. She reminds me what it's like to be a good teammate, to be encouraging, to be dedicated, to be brave, to be authoritative, to trust in someone (in this case a horse) that the two of you can work things out. We had our fights, but we both learned lots too and spending all that time at "the barn" helped me survive those awful adolescent years. Teenage insurance, that's for sure.

And then, just like that, it was time to fly home. Two airplanes later, I'm landing in St. Louis and back to work. On the the approach into STL, we flew over the Mississippi River and my jobsite, of course I had to take a few secret photos. And now, it's only 10 more days until AR crunch time, taking on TWO 24hr races in TWO weekends, bring it on! Pin It


  1. Brent and I happened upon some freshly cut mountain biking trails when we were scouting for the Cradle last year, and I had the exact same reaction. They were so fun to run on - soft and gentle and twisty turny - and it was even more fun to cheer for the mountain bikers flying down.