Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Eklutna Lake trail run

My training plan called for a 22 mile trail run this past Saturday. 22 takes a long time to run, even on pavement, and my pace is somewhat slower on trails. I estimated that it would take about 4 and a half hours, maybe more. Since when I run on bike paths, that gets pretty boring for the family, they don't usually come along. But since this needed to be a trail run, and I wanted some distracting scent for the long run, I decided on Eklutna Lake. As a bonus, this was a destination I thought I might be able to get the family interested in, and get my long run in while still spending quality time with them. We had been to Eklutna Lake before on our bikes and enjoyed it. Sure enough, my husband and 12 year old son decided to bring their bikes and ride while I ran. My 16 year old daughter thought hanging with her friends was way cooler than spending the day with us, but that's ok. I would have thought the same thing at her age. The only hang up was that we are really busy right now, and it took my husband forever to decide to come with us instead of staying home and working. I'm really glad he decided to come with me, but it was fairly late by the time we got there. Good thing for long Alaska summer days!

Eklutna Lake is a long, skinny man made lake, with a dam at one end and a glacier at the other. The glacier used to come pretty close to where the shallow end of the lake is now, but it's been  retreating for a long time, and now you can't see it from the lake. There is a trail that runs 8 miles along the edge of the lake, then another 4 or 5 miles to the glacier terminus. It is a multi-use trail, used by hikers and runners,  mountain bikers, equestrians,  and ATV's, so it is a pretty wide trail, really much like a gravel road. There are multiple places, however, where the trail splits, and ATV's go one way, and pedestrians and bikers go the other, onto smaller, more scenic trails closer to the edge of the water. I always chose the pedestrian trails.

My husky, Daisy, ran with me, with her little backpack carrying extra food and water. After about mile 5 or so, weren't seeing very many other people, so I let her off her leash so she could explore a little. For the most part, she did a good job of staying with me.

The boys would ride their bikes for a few miles, then stop and wait for me to catch up, when they found convenient waiting spots. 

At about mile 10, they decided they had gone far enough, and I went on ahead another mile, then turned around and started heading back. It was a great run with some amazing views:

By the time we had gotten towards the end of the trip, it was getting late, almost 10 pm, and the sun was getting low in the sky. That really brought out the color of the lake.


My Garmin says it took me 4:49:29. I did pause it at mile 12, when we took a fairly lengthy break, but other than that I didn't stop it at all. That's a little over 13 minutes per mile. It does seem like I stopped a lot. I stopped at mile 3.5, where they were waiting for me at the bench, mile 8.15, mile 10, mile 12, mile 13.85, and mile 18.5, at least. There were also several times I stopped to let the dog drink, to take pictures, to call the dog out of the woods, etc. So I *think* that if I had run this by myself with no distractions, I probably would have averaged at least a minute or so faster per mile. But it was so nice to have my family there, and not feel guilty about going to the lake without them, that it was totally worth any time sacrifice. After all, this was a training run, not a race. And anything that makes training miles fun is totally worth it, I think. By the end of the run, I was really tired. As usual, miles 17-20, maybe 21, were really hard. By mile 22 I was picking it up again. I was tired, but not completely done in, which makes me really happy.

Fuel, hydration, electrolytes:

This run was kind of a mishmash of things, but it kind of worked. First off, water. I had two 1.5 liter bladders for my Camelbak. It was a warm, sunny day, about 70 degrees, which is sort of crazy warm for mid-May in Alaska. In one of my 1.5 liter bladders, I put a stick of Tailwind. I know that 1 stick is too dilute, but that was what I had. In the other, I put a package of Gu high energy electrolyte mix. I had my husband carry the extra water in his backpack, since he was biking, and he had the room in his pack, and I switched out the bladder in my running vest at mile 12, giving him the empty to haul back. It actually wasn't completely empty, but there was less than half a liter in it, and my 12 year old had emptied his Camelbak, and we put the rest, plus some extra water from my husband's 3 liter bladder in my son's. Can't have your kids getting dehydrated. 

I know that Tailwind says that when mixed properly with water, Tailwind is all you need for calories, as well as electrolytes. But I found when I use just Tailwind, I get hungry. I think my stomach likes having a little solid food in it. I seem to do better with mixing Tailwind at about half strength and then supplementing with other fuel, but less frequently than I would without the Tailwind. That seems to not only ensure that I am getting some electrolytes, but it has so far worked to keep my stomach from refusing fuel after mile 18 or so, like what happened with my marathons last summer. (Well, except for the PB&J... read on.)

We bought M&M's that were on sale buy 1, get 1 free, and I ate one of them on the way up the canyon in the Jeep, about 20 minutes before starting to run. I ate a Honey Stinger waffle at mile 4, and a Gu at mile 8. I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich I was going to eat at the turnaround point at mile 11, but with the boys stopping at mile 10, I ran to mile 11 and back before stopping to eat with them. This is the only problem I had. I ate the entire PB&J. It was smooshed, but SO GOOD!! I really should have eaten half then and the other half later. Or eaten half at mile 10, and half at mile 12 maybe. By the time I got to mile 14, my stomach was giving me problems because I had eaten too much at once. At mile 18 or so, I ate a second Honey Stinger waffle. As soon as I got back in the Jeep, I ate the other package of M&M's. I was starving and all I could think was that I wanted a burger, but food had to wait til we got home. By that time, I was all about Kraft macaroni and cheese, LOL, and ate a huge bowl of it with hot dogs cut up in it. Yes, I sometimes have the taste buds of a 12 year old. It totally hit the spot.

So, all in all, this run was a total success. I knew I could run distances on pavement, and now I know I can do it on trails too. All I need now is some elevation, but there's still snow in the mountains. Soon, soon. This run made me feel a bit more confident in my ability to complete the race in July. Plus, family time, plus beautiful scenery. It's all win/win. There was no downside to this trip whatsoever, and I loved it.

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