Trail Monday: Minnesota River Bluffs Trail

Today, I had the odd combination of needing to do both my trail run and my long run.  I considered various options.  It seemed highly unlikely that I'd run around the Pike Island loop three times.  It'd rained last night so both Baker and Elm Creek seemed unlikely candidates.  I had strongly considered the Lake Minnetonka LRT Trail but there is way too much construction between me and the trail head to make that viable. I settled on an old favorite, The Minnesota River Bluffs Trail

Trail: It's a dirt trail, but long enough to get in a full 10 miles.  It's paved right at the beginning and then again near the bridge up/over 62.  The rest is beautiful packed crushed limestone.  I've been on the trail several times, and am getting more and more familiar with it.  My favorite parts are around the lakes which are always quite scenic.

Hills: The only real hill of note is the one leading up to the overpass over 62.  I walked up on the out and the back, mostly in honor of keeping my heart rate low but also as an excuse to eat and take a drink.  Yes, miracle of miracles, I packed food and water today.

Ease of Running: I almost feel bad calling this a "trail run" because it's not nearly as dramatic nor technical as where I typically go.  It's a crushed limestone trail on what I assume to be an old railroad bed.  This trail has the distinction of being my first foray into running on a non-paved surface.

Animals: There were some birds, no deer.  There was a dead frog.  When I see frog road kill on the bike bath, I tend to blame the frog and not the biker.  This path is actually unusual for the number of people I see when I'm on it.  There were a few runners and loads of bikers.

Will I come back? I've missed this trail and it was nice to be on it again.  This is actually a great trail for winter running because it's so nicely cleared.  The horse trails turn into snow mobile trails and I assume they are off limits to hikers.  Logistically it's a bit different now for me to come here.  I used to come some days after work but my territory has changed slightly so I don't get down to Hopkins anymore.  In addition, all of the roads between me and this trail head seem to be closed, bridges out, under construction, etc.  It took me a while but I was able to work out a back roads way of coming and going, so the fall and winter running here is looking positive.


Trail Monday: Elm Creek Park x3

Last week I did not trail run.  I did lots of other running and just didn't make it to a trail.  This week, I thought I was going to bail on running, but headed outside on an errand and found it to be the nicest day ever.  I headed out to the trail after all.

 Trail: The horse trail continues to be brutal.  About 1/4 mile of it was mowed today.  That was the best thing ever.

Hills: I figured out today that one of my favorite down hills comes at almost the exact middle of the course.  I walked up most of the uphills and ran all of the downs.  The Larisa Danis plan is going strong.

Ease of Running: It's getting harder.  I can't even imagine what Baker is like.  The grass is getting way taller.  The woods are still generally a pleasure.

Animals: The number of frogs and toads I saw today was biblical.  I also saw deer, a hawk, wild turkeys and tons of butterflies.  The butterflies are my favorite though impossible to photograph.

Will I come back? My own personal challenge for the day was to go faster than the last time I did this course.  I managed it well, though mostly by utterly ignoring my heart rate.  My heart rate average was still 146 bpm for the entire time.  I needed a confidence booster in anticipation of the trail running coming up next month, so I went a bit harder than usual.