Okay kids, in today's class we are going to learn a new word.
1.Chiefly Western U.S. and Western Canada. a deep ravine or gulch, usually dry, that has been formed by running water.
2.a small valley.
3.a low-lying area.
4.a small intermittent stream.
5.Geology. a stream of lava.
Pleae use it in a sentence.
"Hey Matt, what the heck is a coulee anyway?"
"You fail. You are slow"
Another reason I am the "Slower Matt".
So I met "The Fast One" out at Zumbro Bottoms yesterday for tune up run, and a chance to "size up the competition".
You can follow along by looking at this map.
The morning started with me giving him bad directions, and a delayed start. That was the first of my directional errors.
As you can see, the starting area is HUGE.
This starting area "The West Assembly Area" is designed for people camping with horses, hence the large camping areas and hitching posts.
Met up with the competition, and we got ready to start. I took the pictures, so you won't see any photos of me. You're not missing much anyway.
The course a a little diffent than last year, but really is only a difference without distinction. Last year we were directed out on a war torn river bottom followed by running half way up and down a moderate hill. The hill was single track, as well as most of the river bottom (easy and technical) It was a 5 mile section.
This year it is being replaced by a fire road ascention up a bigger hill, but not by much. But, on the return trip, you run around the hill on a fire road. This might pan out to be a faster course after all is said and done.
The race starts in the West Assembly area, takes a few turns to get up to the "Rock Hill Trail", then the "West Scenic Trail" to the "West Scenic Short Cut" to "Upper Pine"
The ascent and decent to the first aid station is rather quick. We crossed the river (very swollen) to a nice dirt road. In my old age, my eye sight started to go, and for some reason I thought the road we were on was incorrect. I had the bright idea to try to cut through to where I thought the correct road was to be (or not to be). We were supposed to go down the Zumbro River trail, but for some reason, I thought we were incorrectly on the trail next to it.
This was the first of our great quotes "It's just right over there" or "Watch this"
After foraging through water and mud, we (I) finally went back to the road and decided to go a different wrong way, thiking it would be dry and clear.
We waded knee deep through mud and a run off river to get to the "highwater trail", all the while there was a nice dry road leading to it.
At one point, ankle deep in water, Matt says "I sure hope they don't trap muskrats back here, that would not be fun to step in a trap". Not sure how I would explain that one to the wife.
I missed the picture of us knee deep, but these were good.
This is at least 3 inches of "death mud"
"New Balance claims these are 9 ounces. No way that is accurate. I am writing them a letter"
We finally made it to the dry road/trail and made our way from Highwater trail, to the Texas trail. The trail was actually in pretty good condition. The ground has not fully thawed, so there are some patchy mud spots, but they should be dry in a few weeks. The sandy areas are still sandy like last year.
We made it around Texas up to the Pump trail. Last year this was very technical. This year a bulldozer come through and it is now a road/fire trail. Much easier.
At the top is one of "Larry's Specials". The map shows a dotted line between two trails. I call these "Storkamp Trails". Only deer and guys like John Storkamp can actually find the trails. I did my best, but we ended up off course. At this point, we were having fun, but it could have stopped quickly as one of us could have lost an eye.
We ended up on a trail after the second Aid Startion, but since we were close, we just figued it was a good skip. I knew this section pretty well, as I ran it 4 times last year instead of the required 3 for the 100k. I am not missing the turn this time!
We ran through the "Lower Sand Coulee", which is more sand than coulee. Then the "new" trail, up to the "Picnic Rock" trail. Good single track up there, and a bunch of ridge running. The gulley washouts were in good condition, but a lot of leaves covering rocks. This was a problem for some last year. I figure "just commit, and go down".
We hit the bottom to the sand coulee again, needing to find the "motorcycle trail". I missed it, and we started a venture through the woods to find it. "I think it is right over there", I said. Matt's response "Gee.... heard that one before". With some luck we found it. The motorcycle trail was in fine condition, and it leads to what was the final big climb from last year. It still is a big climb to the "Scenic Overlook". And yes, it is scenic.
I kept telling Matt to back up. He didn't take the bait.
The Scenic Overlook and Ant Hill trails were the only ones we found snow. We staged this picture just to freak out the other runners
We were going to post to the list that this is what the entire course looked like... but that would be mean.
Then it was to the famous Ant Hill trail down hill. I buried "the fast one" as he was afraid to turn an ankle. I really wanted to catch an action shot at the bottom, but he wouldn't go airborne for one.
This trail leads back to the Zumbro River Trail Road which is... a road. Dirt. We had a stiff head wind, and it was getting colder. This part is like stretch at Afton along the rive, but with a cold head wind.
We crossed back over the bridge, one small climb to the "Pine Trail", and a run through the "Sand Slide" to the "Rail Road Bed" trail. This whole section is pretty flat, and will be fast once the mud is gone. It will be a long stretch in the middle of the night.
It took us 4 hours, with A LOT of detours. At one point, we thought we might have to pack a life jacket for the race.
It was a great tune up for me. I did not take any sports drink or S Caps. I planned on no food. I wanted to see how my body would react with the bare minimum (water - 2 bottles). I ended up taking 2 Hammer Gels towards the end (I was started to glycogen crash).
Back at the car, I was cramping up, so the S Caps should have come in to play. 1 per hour and I should be fine.
I was sore, but able to function. It is a hard 20 mile loop, but doable if I back off 2-3 minute pace per mile.
We ran most of the hills, and ran the flat stuff at a decent clip.
My hands were frozen at the end, but the hot pockets will solve that during the race. This run was a good reminder on the comforts I need to pay close attention to.
How will the battle of the Matt's pan out?
We shall see