As a favor to one of the Wellness Directors at the local YMCA, I went out to scout some trails for a future race. Once I cleared all the hurdles with property owners, land leasers, hunting parties, etc., I made my way into uncharted territories today. The trails are primarily used by dirt bikes for races, scrambles, or whatever it is they call it. Which means most of the trails are single track. There is a main fire road down the middle of the property but the majority of what I ran on was single track dirt. Although after three days of rain, it was mostly wet dirt with plenty of puddles and mud mixed in. The trail itself was a combination of flat, hilly, and insanely steep. Obstacles included rocks, roots, puddles, deep trenches, spider webs, and one turtle. Somehow I didn't fall but I did have three major slips. One was running downhill too fast at the start and I had to catch myself with my hand. The second was while I was walking and not paying attention to what I was doing. The third was coming out of a deep puddle (to my knees) and trying to power up a short hill. Turns out the hill was so slick I ended up running in place for a few paces. Literally running in place. Like a cartoon.
Outside of that, the worst was the spiderwebs. And the steep hills, which thankfully there were only a few of. After that, it was just challenging in many different ways. From terrain to navigation to fluids and fuel. But I made it through. Getting lost for nearly an hour (about 3 or 4 miles) didn't bother me too much. I knew the trail would eventually spit me out somewhere on or near the fire road. And if it came to a worse-case scenario, I had enough supplies to blaze to the nearest river/road/house. And in an emergency, I had my phone/rape whistle/space blanket.
Overall, it was tough going. I lost motivation and at one point finally told myself that I was lost and just wanted out. I had a few false moments of hope when I saw a clearing that I thought was the road only to have it turn out to be a swamp. No moments of panic except for a few seconds when a deer made a much louder than normal dash for cover. I literally put my fists up like I was going to fight off a bear. Dumb ass.
There were a few moments when I thought of Lauren (http://laurenontherun.blogspot.com/) and how she always takes photos during her runs. In an effort to mimic some of her style, I took photos here and there. I just don't look as happy as she does when I run.
Temps were 65F to 67F. There was a breeze off the river but I only felt it at the very start and finish of the run. Under the canopy it was a bit warmer and more humid due to the rain from the last three days and the lack of evaporation. Sun was out with a few clouds. Overall humidity was low but, like the wind, only noticed it at the start/finish.
Fluids and Fuel:
Had my hydration pack with 1.5L of plain water, of which I drank about half a liter. Had one bottle of Hammer Fizz, drank all of it. Had one bottle of Hammer Perpeteum, drank about 3/4s of it. I rotated drinking between the three types of drinks. If I felt extra thirsty, I'd drink more Fizz. If I felt sluggish, I'd drink more Perpeteum. If I felt just plain thirsty, I'd drink water. Took one Hammer Gel around mile 5 since I had no idea where I was or how much further I'd be going. Recovery was Hammer Recoverite mixed with chocolate ZICO.
Aches and Pains:
Nothing really to speak of. Just felt slow at certain points, likely due to low fuel levels.
Took my Salomon hydration pack loaded to the gills with gear for a long run. Never knew what I'd need but figured it would be safer to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. Took my phone for the GPS, camera, and emergencies. Turns out I also checked my work schedule to make sure I would arrive on time (I did). Started to run but turned back after a few paces to spray my legs with bug spray. Thankfully I found only one tick and I found him before he got any closer to the no-no zone.
Codename - Lewis & Clark
While at times I felt like Lewis and Clark off exploring the wilderness, most of the time I thought about other things. Like the Barkley Marathons and blazing trails. Like how much skinnier the trails were than the ones at HAT. Like how similar but easier these hills were than those at HAT. Like how much I wanted to get out of the woods but also how much I needed to not panic because I was lost.
Splits are from RunKeeper and may not be correct.
Mile 1 - 18:10
Mile 2 - 15:30
Mile 3 - 19:19 (includes bathroom break)
Mile 4 - 19:44
Mile 5 - 16:04
Mile 6 - 16:03
Finish - 1:46:19