The Blue Loop (aka a stupid idea)

This morning I didn't feel like driving to Wausau for the snowshoe race, so I decided to do something really stupid instead. I went to Kettle Moraine to go for a snowshoe run. That's not really the stupid idea though.

The stupid idea was deciding that, of all the loops I could run, I would do the John Muir Blue Loop.

Since I have 5 miles of snowshoe running experience, I figured "most difficult" was the best option.

The run started out great. I was on a well used trail, feeling good and keeping a comfortably fast pace - somewhere around 9:15-9:20. That was the first 3 miles.

This was the start. The trail was wide and really fast. I thought I was in for an easy day.

Then it got narrow, which made it more fun. Still pretty easy to run on.

The sign lists 5 loops, but there are actually 6 loops out there and they overlap a lot so the trail gets beat down which makes it easy to follow and pretty easy to run on. About 3 miles in I came to a split where I was about to follow the Blue Loop only. Had I only known then what I know now...

Looked a little tougher than what I was on, but not so bad.

Quickly getting more difficult.

And eventually, I was on my own...

This was really hard to run through, and it actually got a little worse than this. This went on for about 2 miles.

The 3.5 miles I spent on the Blue Loop only was the toughest 3.5 miles I've ever run. Tougher than the Ironman. I was tired, my legs hurt, my feet were sinking, sliding, slipping. My feet were soaked and cold. I wanted to give up, to go home. But there's no giving up when you're in the middle of nowhere. You have to keep going.

With the absence of tracks, I quickly realized that (apparently) no one snowshoes the Blue Loop. And for good reason. It's tough. I went into the Blue Loop with an average pace of 9:18 and came out with an average of 12:30.

At the 6.5 mile mark I made it back to the main path where I could run easier and hold a quicker pace, but not much quicker. I was spent. Had I skipped the Blue Loop only section, I think my average pace would've been below 10 minute miles. But that section killed me. I was forced to do the Ironman Shuffle for the rest of the run and just try to keep putting one foot in front of the other. It wasn't really a workout anymore. It was survival. Just get to the finish. My average pace for the rest of the run was 11:08.

Distance: 10.25 miles
Time: 2:03:06
Pace: 12:00 min/mile (5 mph)
Average heartrate: 153 bpm
Elevation Gain: 5312 ft (seems high, but that's what my Garmin claims)

I highly recommend snowshoeing the John Muir trails, just not the Blue Loop. Stick to the main trails and do a few laps if you want more miles. The Blue Loop isn't worth it.

My legs hurt.

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