Saturday, February 16, 2008

Ice crunching

Matt left a message on Thursday, "I don't know where we're running, but we are running this weekend. What a great attitude! I needed to hear it because I was having a rough week at work and only managed to get on the treadmill for one hour work-outs on Monday and Wednesday. OK, I thought, let's do it!

I left Matt a message suggesting we meet at my house and head for the trail. Perhaps a rematch with the trail from my solo attempt last week was in order. Yeah, we'll do great! So, I checked trail conditions on Friday with Rich Fargo - not good. Hmm...When the guy that has run the trail everyday for 20 years says the trail may not be runnable, you KNOW it is BAD! So, do I listen? Of course not!

Matt and I started out a little before 9AM or so Saturday morning. It was cold and windy, but the sun was shining. I was better prepared for the cold this time and had some hammergel to go with 2 bottles of water/HEED. We headed up the road toward the top of Rattlesnake Mountain. It's probably 500+ feet of climbing. It's a tough one at the beginning of a long run. We started the short bushwack uphill to get to the trail after 2 miles on the road. A thick layer of ice covered the snow, and we knew we were in trouble. I thought the trail might be in better shape if it had gotten some traffic, so we pressed on to access the trail. Matt took the first fall of the day just before we reached the trail. He was not happy. When we reached the trail, it was obvious that it was not runnable.

OK, time for plan B. We cut over to a dirt access road, and scooted our way down. It was icy, but someone had broken some trail by walking it, so we followed their tracks. I think we each took a spill on the way down, but reached Rt. 6 without too much ado. At Rt. 6, I gave Matt the option of circling back on the road or checking out more trail. He opted for trail. After another spill by Matt, I wondered what we were doing, but it did get better. We popped out onto the road by 50 cents house and decided to try to stay to the road as much as possible. I asked Matt where he wanted to go and he said, "The reservoir". Huh? I had never run there via the roads, so had to think for a minute. I selected a route through Farminton via Old Mountain Road and then Mountain Spring Road. It was actually very pleasant running, and then we maneuvered a couple short trail sections to drop into the reservoir.

In avoiding the ice, I caught some thorns on my jacket and in my chin. Arghhhh!

We celebrated arriving at the paved loop of the reservoir and decided to do a few laps before heading back. Our goal was to run 3-4 hours total. We were cruising along well, and I started feeling good. I suggested that we might be able to do a 30 mile day if we did one more lap (3.4 miles). Matt was not up for a third lap. I should mention that he had just finished second at the Tucson marathon last weekend and had logged some decent mileage during the week. I could not have been running this kind of mileage after that effort.

After last week, I knew the run back would be tough anyway, so off we went. No sooner had we stepped off the pavement, and Matt went down again. I went to help him up, and he said, "Dude, your chin is bleeding". Huh, I didn't even remember cutting it. I thought it must be the rasberry hammergel.

We pulled ourselves together and struggled through the trail sections to reach Mountain Spring Road. From there, I decided we would stick to roads all the way. There were some tough uphill sections, but we pulled through it. Matt sprinted near the top of the biggest one and I just watched in awe. I think both of us were hurting, and wanted to get back to the house. The towers on Rattlesnake kept getting closer, and then we were only 2 miles from home. We cruised the downhill and then hung on for the last climb.

Matt clocked us in at 25.5 miles in 3:40. Considering the epic trail sections, that was a mighty respectable time. As much as I was in pain for the run, it quickly vanished when we stopped. We downed some gatorade, and I scoped out my bloody face. Yikes! It looked terrible. After washing it off, it was a tiny cut from the thorns, but it looked much worse. Matt seemed no worse for the wear and said he was planning to run the Hyannis Marathon next weekend. Holy cow, he is a mutant runner! Matt headed off to pick up his parents and I ingested some carbs and took a shower.

Overall, I felt pretty good considering it was my longest run since the Jacksonville Marathon in December. It's funny how this running game goes...some days it's so hard to get motivated just to get out the door. Some days, the running hurts bad. Some days, I wonder if it's a worthy endeavor. Then, you have a day where you survive a tough run and feel pretty good later on. You just ran the equivalent of a really hard marathon in a very respectable time. You feel good later...peaceful, content. You think life is good, and start planning that next run :-)