Race Day: Friday, June 18, 2014 – 6:30pm

The Park Point 5-Miler is a cool race that I had done once before. It is a pancake flat out-and-back course where you can really let ‘er rip and race like a 5k. It’s always really competitive, too, so it is fun to see how you stack up. I think I jumped in this race last minute (should have done a timely race report… don’t quite remember!), but it was worth it because it is so fun and I got free socks. I wish every race gave away socks instead of tshirts.

I aided with the timing on this race, too, which just consisted of setting up the start mats. This was a very simple task at 75 degrees and sunny, but felt weird in short shorts and a running singlet!

Once the race started, I went out really fast and wanted to see if I could hold my first mile split the whole way. The field spread out pretty quick and it seemed like the leaders were pretty much set by the time the first mile came up. I had a fast split somewhere in the 5:40s. I got passed after the first mile but before the turnaround and thought that the finish order was pretty much set for me. Nobody else was gaining on me from behind and I would have to majorly implode to let another racer get in front of me.

My blistering pace was catching up to me on the way back, and my right foot was starting to hurt quite a bit. The plantar faciitis was definitely flaring up for this one. I started reeling in the kid who passed me earlier and that was motivation to keep pushing. I could feel my form starting to deteriorate, but I think I was keeping my pace up. I saw Tony, General Manager at DRC, on the sideline and he told me to catch him. I tried to kick it into high gear and got the kid in front of me. It really feels good to reel someone in like that!

I jammed it in to the finish line and had a really good time. I know I dropped back a little bit on the way back, but it was at least enough to bump up one place. I mowed down on some race rolls and drank half my weight in chocolate milk as I waited for my friends to finish. My foot was in pain, though, and I was limping.

A lot of familiar faces were there, and that makes it really fun! Instead of doing a cool down run, I biked back to the Running Co. where my car was parked.

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Results

Race Stats:

Shoes: Brooks Pureflow 3
Time: 28:32
Pace: 5:43
Place: 9/385

For those who are not familiar with Duluth, or for those who are familiar with Duluth but have been deprived, I will enlighten you about Park Point. This long and beautiful beach is said to be the world’s largest natural sandbar. In the summer, it is the perfect place to lounge and relax and catch some rays. That is a different post for a different time, or season, though.

Park Point looks drastically different in the winter. I had never visited the beach in the winter, as I figured it was just cold, sandy and desolate–much unlike the summer where it is a cold, sandy and popular place to hang out. I suppose not as different as it sounds! Well, if the wind is blowing in the right direction, it is a warm, sandy and popular place to hang out.

Thanks to Destination Duluth, I stumbled across some pictures from local photographers who were capturing some amazing winter scenery at Park Point, and I became intrigued. The next Sunday, I wrangled Diamond up and we headed to the beach.

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The first excursion was a nice sunny Sunday. Nice is kind of a misnomer, because it was really cold. The wind was very brisk right off of the lake and there wasn’t much we could do to seek shelter from the biting breeze. As we walked up to the beach, I was instantly amazed with the features. There were huge hills of ice all along the shoreline as far as the eye could see on either side. I noticed a hole in the ice.

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I realized that the hole led to an ice cave. I crawled through the hole and it was so cool! How does something like this form??

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Once inside, the icicles hanging from the ceiling were incredible. It looked like a real cave…the icicles resembled stalactites and there was a chamber. I’ve seen Park Point in the summer and I knew that this feature was made out of entirely ice. That really blew my mind.

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I went a bit further down the beach and found another cave. It wasn’t as low and deep as the first cave, but was really tall, which made for a cool picture.

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After my hands became numb, Diamond and I decided to pack up and go home. Of course, we stopped at the Smokehaus on the way home. When in Rome, as they say. We both had so much fun that I decided that going to Park Point would be the perfect Sunday routine. So next Sunday we went again!

The next Sunday, we had another really incredible time. It was sunny and a bit warmer this week, and the wind was coming out of the south, so being on the lake side in the caves was sheltered. This time, we found two really, really cool caves. The first one was massive–the ice formation was the biggest one I have seen.

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There was a little dropoff, then the ice opened up into a chamber with all sorts of smaller pockets. Also, the ice must have been a little thinner than in some of the other caves, because the light shining through made some really cool colors. It was like a stained glass window. Below is a snowy picture from inside of the biggest chamber looking outside. Diamond is near the entrance.

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I snapped a quick video on one of our later trips. Where the ceiling melted through was were the ice was thinnest on our previous trips. You can get an idea of the contours of the icy cave floor and how many little chambers were there.

The second cave we found that day was almost by accident. The entrance was a really small hole, likely created by the drifting snow. I had to crawl on my stomach down a chute, and I could see that after 10 feet or so, there was a larger chamber. Once I slid all the way down, the ice opened up into a huge chamber. Unlike the first cave, this one was a big room… there weren’t any offshoots or anything. The icicles were really amazing in this cave. This one was dark on the inside and it took a minute for my eyes to adjust.

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Below is a picture of Diamond trying to maneuver through the cave. She was just smashing the icicles off of the ceiling without a second thought, and I am over here trying to be as careful as possible to preserve nature.

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The cave looked something like a lollipop–a narrow passageway that opens up into a big circular chamber. So cool!

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Every week except twice removed, Park Point has been a fun Sunday ritual. I’m hoping to keep it up into the summer!

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