They were going to run at 8, and since I had to drop N off 40 minutes away at 7:30, I knew I wouldn't make it for their first 11 mile loop. Actually, that worked out better because they're all stronger runners than I am; having them 11 miles tired-er would mean I wouldn't be quite as far behind. The advanced Frostbike ride was today at Castlewood, which is only 30 min from N's tournament site, so I actually toyed with the idea of taking my bike and trying to get out there, ride for an hour, and then make it to Lost Valley by 10ish. I ended up deciding that it was probably smarter to just run.
So, oatmeal breakfast (in the car), coffee stop, and we were off at 6:30 (I really miss sleeping in on the weekends). I dropped off N and headed towards Weldon Spring to make sure I knew where I was meeting them, then grabbed a soda and settled in to wait with some magazines. The temperature was in the high 30's, which was just about perfect for a trail run. After a while, their group started to show up and I got out to say hi.
Most of the group headed back after running the initial 11 miles, so it was just Robin, Patrick, Chuck, and me for the next loop. My Dirty Girls ride last month was at Lost Valley, but I've never run there before. After last week's tough snowy run in Chicago, I was pleasantly surprised by the surface at Lost Valley. There was still a lot of snow, but thanks to the bikes that had been out, there was often a nice, flat path in the snow. I took my normal spot at the back of the line... :)
|Chuck and Patrick in the lead|
I felt pretty good at the beginning of the run. I don't know if it was the packed surface, the fact that I'm getting used to running in snow, the company, or a combination of factors, but I felt strong. I was definitely breathing hard, but I was having fun. Except for one problem.
Reason #1 it sucks to be a girl: peeing in the woods. Guys have it so much easier! Especially in the winter when there are no leaves and the trees are mostly narrow jobs that might block one of my legs, but not an entire rear view!
|Dumb narrow trees|
|All we need is a fire and some marshmallows|
I mostly followed behind the boys trying to keep up, with disastrous consequences for one little animal. Apparently last week there'd been some discussion when Patrick ran through a strand of spider web and someone else on the run said there weren't any spiders out now. I don't know, not having been there, I can only relate what I was told...anyway, I was following along watching Chuck's shoes when all of the sudden the guys stopped at the sight of a spider in the snow. I pulled up behind them and stepped on the spider, which I hadn't seen. (Cue Taps...sorry, Mr. Spider). Apparently the corpse wouldn't suffice as evidence of winter spiders, but knowing Patrick, he'll manage to hold up his end of the argument just fine.
We ran into their friend Mike (?) around the halfway point. I made some remark about being the lead ball holding them back. Patrick liked "anchor" better, and Chuck said something to the effect that I was keeping their pace at a sustainable level so they didn't burn out (which of course means "Yeah, you're slow, but we'll keep you around in case these mountain lion rumors are true because they'll go for the slowest one and we can get away"). Can't argue with the truth. :)
After leaving Mike, we ran/trudged through some serious slush. Back on the runnable section, we were moving along and chatting about the merits of various chips (Cool Ranch vs. Nacho Cheese Doritos, Lays vs. Ruffles, BBQ vs. Plain, the special something that peanut oil added to Crunchers potato chips, etc) when somehow I ended up in the lead.
|You'll have to take my word for it, but there was no one in front of me on this stretch of trail.|
They guys must've stopped to have a beer, do some whittling, and run in circles, because I was in the front for a while. I was at a pretty good pace for me and still feeling strong. That was fun. Patrick made some noise about me blowing up, but I thought to myself that I'm usually stronger at the end of a run than at the beginning. Eventually, I got worn out and pulled to the side so they could pass me, and then it was over. It was like, once they were in front of me, I had nothing left. They ended up getting pretty far ahead of me as I did my best to keep moving and played a game of "I think I remember that from the bike ride".
|Picture of a dip in the trail inserted to fill space between all these words|
|In the back again|
|Fu-u-u-u-u-dge...only I didn't say "fudge"|
|Photo credit: Robin Rongey|
(L-R): Robin, Patrick, Chuck, Kate
Here's what I think the problem was. I ate breakfast at 6:30 and didn't run until close to 10:30. Right before we started off at at about 45 min into the run I had a GU. I'm used to eating lunch at 11:20, though, and we didn't finish until after 1. So maybe part of my problem for those last couple miles was that I was starting to bonk. The other part, of course, is that every one of these long runs is going to be a stretch for me right now.
I had a great time today. Almost all of my runs are done alone, so it was really nice to have company. I know it made me push myself more than I would if I was by myself. I loved running on the snowy trails, too. I'm definitely going to miss the snow this spring when the trails turn to mud and I'm back to running on the streets. Hopefully, all this trail running will have me good and ready for the Castlewood Cup and Quivering Quads.