In my quest to regain fitness, I did the Bridle Trails 10 miler Saturday afternoon. It's a 5 mile loop at Bridle Trails Park, an equestrian single track trail. There is usually mud and horse manure to deal with but the amount varies, depending on conditions. This year with all the snow and then rain, it was especially muddy. For me, I knew it was going to be a slow one. Along with lack of fitness, and my layoff while in Hawaii, my SI joint had been talking the last week or so, and a knot in my calf has taken up semi-permanent residence. Still, I couldn't bear to miss out on the fun! I picked up Danika and we arrived in time to sign up and visit with friends before the fun started.
We ten milers took off at 3:05. I was somewhere in the middle of the pack, with Danika, Ali, and Kathleen, and when I took off, at first I thought I was going too fast, then thought it was just race nerves and I'd settle in. I could have sworn I saw all of them ahead of me. The trail is mostly single track with a few wide spots here and there so it was hard to settle into a pace and not be worried about clogging the line up. About a mile or so in, Ali caught up to me and asked what I was doing there. She said I was going too fast and should slow down! I agreed - I was starting to pay for the speedy start. Danika was close behind and they both soon passed me. I guess I was stuck on a 5K pace from my New Year's Day run - not good for 10 miles! Other folks passed by and said hey, including my old podiatrist. I was surprised to see him out there.
The first loop was a bit of a struggle from the too fast start, and I also realized I hadn't eaten anything since a light lunch of almond butter and honey sandwich. The tortilla chips I had with that were starting to make themselves known. Ugh. Glad I brought some gels along! Soon the 50K folks started coming by and I got to say hi to a lot of friends I hadn't seen in a while. It's always fun to see them out there and catch up a little, though my pace was too slow to have a lasting conversation! The usual mud was there, and I started to slip a couple times but managed to stay upright. My back was talking to me, and I had to work extra hard to protect it and keep my SI joint from going into spasms. I considered dropping, but decided to take the second loop and walk when I needed to. On the hills, when the little knot in my calf flared up, I switched to a lateral stride to take the pressure off and that seemed to help. And last, but not least, I was developing yet another blister under the callous of my right bunion. Lots to think about and feel on the trail. This turned out to be a good opportunity to learn how to deal with extra pain on the run!
I came in through the aid station slower than last year (not surprising) but can't remember if it was 51 or 57 minutes. Anyway, I grabbed some chips for salt and asked where the trail was - I really get disoriented at that one spot! The rain was really coming down now, but the canopy helped keep most of it off. One thing I've been dealing with since I had surgery is my core temp - it runs way higher than it used to. I can be a waterfall of sweat while everyone around me is fresh as a daisy. It's hard to predict how much I'll sweat if the temperature is cold, so I tend to overdress (which is really underdressed by everyone else's standards) and by a few miles, I'm carrying most of my layers. It's frustrating but something to keep working on...
The second loop was much slower and I tended to walk a lot. Jenny, Rob, and Steve caught up to me and I got to hear Rob narrate to Jenny what to expect in later loops. They were all doing the 50K. I managed to keep them in my sights for a while til they finally diappeared around a bend. Meanwhile, I played leap frog with a guy named Jeff. He was doing the ten miler and it was to be his longest run ever! I think I would have picked better conditions (like a dry road?) for that. He was working up to a half marathon in March - no doubt he'll do fine. At some point Uli went flying by and I watched him dance through the mud. It was a pretty sight and inspired me to lift my feet a little higher, if not for a while. The light was fading fast and I was glad I packed along my headlamp, which came in handy the last mile, which I think is the muddiest.
I finally came in a little under two hours and was so glad to be done. My back spasms held off, but I was drained from having to work hard to protect it and I was wet and cold. My fingers went numb pretty fast (thanks to Reynauds) and fortunately Danika was waiting in the car for me so she could let me in. She came in about 20 minutes ahead of me. Untying shoes was not an option, so I pulled my feet out of them, which caused calf cramps. I got into some dry clothes, and after saying goodbye to Danika (her husband had shown up) I got the heater blasting and headed home to a hot shower. A big bowl of Gypsy stew and a beer capped off the day, followed by a good movie!
I am inpressed the 50Kers stayed the course (or some of it) through the pouring rain and cold, and some even PR'd! I am also grateful to the volunteers (Glenn, Linda, Allison, Marty, to name a few) - you guys make the race happen! And I am also thankful to all the running friends out there - it really feels good to hear my name yelled out as I come through, and to see you on the trail! What a great community!