After all, you can run in just about any weather, right? Though, I have to admit, some of my running friends weren't thrilled with my deal-making. Sorry Dawn! :)
Whether by luck or mercy, Saturday's ride was on. I had everything packed up Friday night so that I could be out the door by 6 in the morning to meet my ride at Sunset Cyclery. I grabbed my usual coffee and muffin on my way out of town, and I actually managed to get there in plenty of time. I rode with Jim, who I'd met at January's Team Virtus-organized Berryman ride, and his wife Sarah down to Middlefork.
There were about 17 people in our group, so it took a little waiting around before everyone was all set. The weather, which I'd worried about, ended up starting in the mid 30's. It was windy, but that wouldn't be much of an issue on the trails, and the day was beautiful and sunny. Great day to be on a bike!
Sarah is used to riding with Jim, so I'd warned her about how slow I am. Since I had never been to Middlefork and hadn't been on my bike since the end of January (stupid 50k), I was very happy starting at the very back. Of course, I'm typically happy at the back, so that's not really anything new.
The trail has some dirt surface, but a lot of it is rock. The terrain is typical of most Southern Missouri trails I've ridden--lots of hills and lots of creeks. I walked the first couple of creek crossings before I started feeling comfortable, but then it was all good. The nice thing about the climbs was that they were kind of broken up: you'd climb, it would briefly level out, then climb again. I was definitely winded at the top, but those little breaks made the uphills a lot easier than a straight climb.
It's always makes me a little nervous to ride with somebody I don't know, but I had a good time riding with Sarah and getting to know her. We have quite a bit in common: we both came to mountain biking the same way--through adventure racing, and she's a runner, too.
|Stopped for a snack|
|Pretty waterfall along the trail. My husband would've gotten a much better picture, but I was too lazy to climb any.|
I really had a great time on the way out. The trail was awesome, the company was great, and the day was beautiful. Sarah asked how far I was wanting to go, and I was fine with riding the 15 out we'd originally planned. The more we rode, the more comfortable I felt. Comfortable enough to follow Sarah through a tricky creek crossing.
|Bet this would be really refreshing on a hot day|
We stopped for a snack break a the top of a climb about 11 miles in. I'd just started thinking, Hmmm, 4 more miles before we turn around...when Sarah suggested that it would probably be a good spot to turn around so we'd be back before the guys. While earlier I'd been all about the full 15 out, I was glad to turn around. And thinking it over, my longest ride on singletrack has been 24 miles at Lost Valley, so expecting to be just fine riding 30 fairly hill miles after being off the bike for a month was probably not too realistic.
The first descent on the way back was pretty awesome, but I really struggled for the rest of the ride. At first, I just felt really sluggish on the uphills...where I'd been comfortably in my middle ring on the way out, I was having a hard time in the smallest one. Then, my quads started cramping. Not sure what was going on with that. I think I did pretty well staying hydrated, and I was alternating water with an electrolyte drink (Camelback Elixar, which I'm not a big fan of and won't buy again), but I felt terrible.
Again, looking back, I probably didn't eat enough. I had a muffin at 6 a.m., then during the ride I ate a pack of Sport Beans, a Honey Stinger waffle, a Kind bar, some pretzels, and a GU. Since we started on the ride around 10 and were out for 4-4.5 hours with stops and such, I think that's low on food for me. It doesn't explain the cramps, but maybe it's part of why I morphed into the biggest bike wimp ever. Sarah was great about stopping when I needed to, but it was honestly embarrassing to be SO weak.
|Could we have had a more gorgeous day??|
When Sarah encouraged me that we only had one climb left, I began to feel some hope, but I had no real perception of what a "climb" was anymore because any incline had me struggling (and believe me, I walked a few of them). At last, she said, "The good news is that we're almost there," and then there were the cars. I was thrilled to be off the bike and had decided that there was no way I was running the next day, but once the ibuprofen kicked in and my legs stopped hurting, I once again loved the ride and the trail and my bike and was open to the possibility of a morning run. Amazing the perspective you get with a little pain relief. :)
I had a great time hanging out and talking with some of the group after everyone was back and was home by 6:00, just in time for movie night with my SIL and some of her kids. I wasn't a very good companion, though, because I was asleep on the couch by 8 and in bed by 10. After all, I was pain-free, well-fed, and needing rest before the next day's group run.
I met Chuck, Lori, Pat, and Robin , and we all headed out to Cuivre River State Park for a trail run. While I was certain this was going to be another awful run like my previous two long run attempts, I didn't want to miss out on a morning in the woods with my friends, even if I had to walk the majority of the run. Instead of dragging, though, I felt surprisingly good. Granted, our pace wasn't setting the world on fire, but any time you can be enjoy running out in the woods is a good run as far as I'm concerned.
We came to an intersection in the trail and weren't sure which way to go.
|How many adventure racers does it take to read a map?|
|Go this way--notice her name in bark and rocks at the bottom of the picture. :)|
|Checked out an overlook|
We found maybe the most random trail artifact of all:
|Why wouldn't you wear an afro wig you found on the trail?|
We passed the spot that broke my heart in last year's Quivering Quads race, where I looked at my stopwatch and realized that, rather than running a blistering pace like I thought, I was actually running slower than 12 minute miles...and then played around on the rocks above the creek...
|It doesn't look like we're all that high, but there's actually a good drop behind us...leading to the death grip on the tree|
Finished the run
|Chuck and Robin are way ahead as I decided that this hill was made for walking|
I ended up running around 8 miles, which felt really good but wasn't the 18 miles I had scheduled. That makes three weekends in a row that I haven't come even close to my planned mileage. Decisions have to be made about this 50K...but this post is already long enough.