Lost Valley long run

Well, I never made it back out yesterday to do my long run, but that was ok bc I was stuck in St. Louis all morning while my son was helping coach at a volleyball tournament. If he's not playing, I feel no obligation to stick around and watch, so seeing on Facebook that some friends were planning a long run out at Lost Valley, I invited myself along.

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
I kept my eye out for a likely tree as I ran, but none showed up.  Note Patrick way ahead of me in the picture.  I think Chuck was actually behind me at this point.  When we came to the turn for the short loop, we waited for Robin, who was not having a good run day.  Even feeling terrible, though, she knocked out something like 19 miles.  When I'm feeling terrible, I stay in bed.  That's why she's an ironman and I'm not.  Anyway, I took full advantage of the break and felt much better afterwards.

All it needed was some chairs and a roaring fire
All we need is a fire and some marshmallows
A lot of the trail was singletrack, and that was the best part to run on.  There was some up and down, but most of the climbs weren't too long, and the downhill parts were fun.  Also, since the trail was narrower, the bikes had less choice in where they were going to go and the flat part was better.  There were still some mushy parts.  Every once in a while your foot would break through the crust under the snow, and we did some occasional "slideways" running (Patrick's term), but overall the footing was pretty good.

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
The last 2 or so miles of the run were hard for me.  My left knee was bothering me again, though not badly enough to make me walk, and the toes on my right foot were rubbing together and getting sore.  I was just hanging on to get finished at this point.  I met back up with the boys where the singletrack met up with the doubletrack, and we walked there for a bit.  I'd finished my water, so I stuffed the bottle with snow.  Nobody was jumping to start running again, but all I could think was the sooner we start running, the sooner we'll be done, so I started to jog (losing the "who'll start first?" contest). 

Are we done yet?
In the back again
The doubletrack was a little bit harder to run in than the singletrack.  There wasn't always a good packed line to run.  We pushed on (well, they pushed; I dragged) to where we'd started the loop, and then I saw this big, long hill in front of us.

Long hill at the end
Fu-u-u-u-u-dge...only I didn't say "fudge"
I know, I know...it doesn't look all that impressive.  Trust me, it's a long hill, especially after 10.5 miles (or, I assume, even more so after 21.5 miles).  I ran the whole way up the hill, if "run" can be understood as "maintained a running position and a slow-motion pace".  Once I (finally) made it to the top, it was just a short death march jog to reach the parking lot 2:24:17 after we left it.  That's a 13:07/mi pace, which includes the time stopped, so I'm ok with that.

Photo credit: Robin Rongey
(L-R): Robin, Patrick, Chuck, Kate

I was supposed to have lunch with N after the tournament, but I needed food right now.  I was going to grab a taquito at QT, but then ahead of me I saw Dairy Queen (cue heavenly choir).  By the time I got there, maybe a mile from the parking lot, I felt sick.  A hamburger and a small Blizzard (mark this as People's Exhibit 1 for why Kate can't lose weight) helped, but I still didn't feel great and could barely keep my eyes open as I drove to pick up N.

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.


  1. Look at you! This sounds awesome Kate! And Ha, peeing in the woods...yes yes, so much harder for us ladies. :) Hey, how tall are you?

  2. Looks like it was a great day on the snowy trails!! Yeah, being a girl definitely has it's disadvantages in the peeing dept, but oh so much better in other departments :).

  3. I love to read your run stories. As a 3-5 daily miler, I'd love to get back to this type of mileage, but I doubt I will until summer. I hate to run in the snow... but I hate treadmills even more.

  4. Runners talk about Dorito's and chips while they run, walkers talk about Lean Cuisines and salads.... Who talks about Donuts and Cake??

  5. My goodness! I got so much out of this post. Like - good lord you all are nuts to run in that snow. I guess it comes with the territory. I"m in FL so I would'nt last a mile in that. I also like the DQ stop after. Why haven't I thought of that after a long run? LOL Oh, and I'll also never sleep in again.

  6. Great run Kate! You are right, you were probably starting to bonk at the end. A couple Gu's or something during your long runs should help.

  7. What a great run and recap! You make me miss the trails even more, but at least I know I'll be back on the trails soon enough. You definitely just didn't have enough fuel for the morning. I carry more than I need on all my long runs. It's also good to "practice" what works best for me.

  8. Thanks for the input, guys. It's good to know that my quick fade wasn't just due to lack of fitness.

  9. Love the pics, and looks like you had a great run. I do miss the snow and my years running in VT. LOL over skinny trees!

  10. Sounds like a good run. I also hate peeing in the bushes - can't imagine having to do it in the snow. In fact I can't imagine running in the snow either - I'm very impressed by your skills.
    You're the only person who I've heard say that they'll miss the snow ;-)

  11. Nice run and amazing pictures. Wow! I agree with you, guys are so lucky. And, I would've stopped for a burger and Blizzard, but probably a large one.

  12. Oops, I'm a week behind... but great picture of the four of you, you all look so tough!


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