The Catoctin 50K trail race is fast approaching and several members of my local running club are gearing up to toe the line... though like true trail runners, they're more likely to be relaxed and chatting somewhere behind the line when the race director says Go.
The course is brutal, grueling, rocky and slow. It's also shady, beautiful and teeming with wildlife.
As locals they have the home trail advantage and have wisely taken advantage of that. Each weekend there are several groups running portions of the course for a variety of distances. Just a few weeks ago I joined one of the groups and ran the first half of the course, a challenging 12 miles in oppressive heat.
This week one of the guys invited me to join his group for a Saturday morning run on the back half of the course. We worked it out so that I could run a manageable 10 miles point to point. He met me at Point B where I left my car with water, bananas, etc, and we drove to Point A to meet the others to start our adventure.
I have to mention that we enjoyed an early morning rain shower and the temps were in the low to mid 70's for almost our whole run. Such relief over the mid to upper 90's we had been enduring all week.
I had never run with this particular group other than my friend, Eddy so I wasn't sure of what I was in for. Well, what I was in for was hours of laughing, jokes, pranks and fun...in addition to running, walking and sweating. It was great!
One of the stream crossings. Don't bother trying to stay dry cause it ain't gonna happen
I love trail running. And trail runners are my kind of people... laid back, funny and happy to be running no matter the pace.
The last mile or so before the turnaround Eddy started trying to convince me I should make a go at the whole 20 miles. He and the others assured me it wouldn't be any trouble to bring me back to my car. And more importantly they promised not to leave me to the bears or snakes.
We got to the turnaround and I felt really good. We had enoyed a nice easy pace and the lower temps made a huge difference so I decided to go for it.
I thought to myself that I would re-evaluate how I felt at 12.5 miles, and if I felt like crap I would turn back to my car and head home with 15 miles under my belt.
Well darn if I didn't feel pretty good still. Onward and upward!
This half of the course is pretty deceptive, and I didn't realize how extreme the elevation changes were. During the 12 mile run two weeks ago my quads were crying, and I had no doubt I wouldn't walk normally for days. Yesterday I was tired and figured I'd be sore but otherwise felt good.
I think the lower temps are a huge contributing factor to how good I felt.
Um, hello there Mr. 3 Thousand Feet of Gain!
We got back to the parking lot and tossed back some Mike's Hard Lemonade (yummy yumsters!) and telling funny war stories about past races. (Ultra runners are insane...in a crazy, funny way)
They also tried to convince me to show up on race day to try to score a rare race day entry.
Instead I offered to cheer them on with stupid things like "You're almost there!" and "I saw a bear just behind that tree!" and my very favorite "It's flat with no rocks from here to the finish!"
I think they'll appreciate that.
20 miles and still smiling. Life is good
How do I feel today? Sore and tired. We had a busy evening yesterday so I didn't get a nap, and I helped with the 3 y/o's in Sunday School this morning so I'm pretty beat. I'm going to stick with flat, slow runs this week and just take it easy.
And I'm pretty darn proud of myself. I ran TWENTY miles. Hot dog!