Today was our final long run before the Way Too Cool 50K on March 13th. I can honestly say I have never in my life run 21 miles (4 hours 15 minutes) one Saturday and then 24.3 miles (4 hrs 48 minutes) the very next Saturday. Today's run was supposed to be anywhere between 22 miles and 26 miles. I think the whole group was shooting for a total of 26 but I know the conditions made it hard to keep going.
We did this same run on January 23rd so I didn't really take many photos this time around because the trails were the same except for when we passed Avery's Pond and then I was in new territory.
As usual, Coach Nikon and Pigeon arrived super early to mark the trails for us. Coach N even trekked out there yesterday to hide an aid station for us! Thank you!!!! I'm telling you, this training group rocks.
What doesn't rock however, is Mother Nature. Compared to last Saturday the weather today was pretty awful. Driving to the Auburn Damn Overlook was a challenge alone . . . my wipers were on full blast the entire way and for some reason every truck in the world decided to be driving on highway 80 at the same time.
Most of the group made it to the overlook. It seemed our numbers were down compared to prior Saturday runs. I think the group as a whole might be fighting off bugs, injuries and just all the things that flare up when your training is amped. I was feeling good however, and excited to run despite the rain.
We started our descent down Damn Hill and I quickly remembered how flying down the gravel road last Saturday totally destroyed my quads so I made sure to pull back just a little.
The run out to and past Avery's was wet, muddy but overall nothing exciting to report. It is amazing how much better I can run on these trails when I don't do a plyometric workout a few days prior. Lesson learned big time.
What I did encounter after I passed Avery's Pond, besides a lot of hikers and other ultra runners, was a lot more puddles.
Please do not feed the fish
That puddle covered the entire trail including up and around the corner . . . it was almost like swimming! However, running through something like that seems to cool my feet and ankles and gives my shoes a nice wash.
clean trailmomma shoes!
It didn't rain the entire time we were running. The rain cleared out for a couple of hours or at the very least it would sprinkle here and there. Our group today was very spread out so I never had a chance to check in with anyone else and see how they were doing but overall, I felt fine. I had quite a few pee stops on this run which is something very new to me and it seemed to keep me apart from most of the group which made running a little more mental when I was tired. Still, you could not deny some of the pretty views out there and I just kept counting down the miles until I knew our aid station would appear.
Some signage out on the trail. Always a good.
Finally at mile 11.45 on my 405 I found the aid station. Partner Jim and Miss P were there fueling up.
At that point we had a choice, we could keep going down the trail to make 13 miles which would make it 26 total or turn around. Coach Nikon had run out of pink ribbons at this point and I was all alone. I decided to keep running until one of two things happened, I met up with Garmin and Super Woman OR I hit mile 13. Right at about mile 12.17 I ran into the group and decided to turn around.
The trip back was fairly uneventful. I noticed the downhills were much kinder to me today compared to last Saturday but my IT band and ankle were really starting to bother me on some of the uphills. I took two Tylenol to try and ease the pain but I don't think they worked much.
The sun was shining on the way back and it was definitely warming up so that was nice. All I could focus on though was reaching the bottom of Damn Hill. I knew once I made it there I was close.
Doing the math (which is not my speciality), I hit the bottom of Damn Hill at my 21 mile marker and my time was 4 hours and 5 minutes which is 10 minutes faster than last weekend. Different terrain and no aid stations or conga lines makes for a faster trailmomma I guess. This was my second acquaintance with Damn Hill and I was ready for it. I walked the super steep parts and I shuffled ran on the paved portions.
I saw this sign and started cracking up . . . a good thing I guess because running up that hill is tough physically but even tougher mentally if you're running it alone.
No martinis on Damn Hill I guess
There is no way to describe Damn Hill other than tough. It is 3 miles total and goes up up up. Yes there are some pretty sights along the way but nothing can take away from all the climbing you're doing.
I finally made it back to the ADO parking lot to discover that Coach Nikon and a few others were taking a nice "ice bath" in the canal running next to the overlook. Sweet! I quickly hobbled over and joined in hoping to alleviate some of the aches and pains in my knees and ankles.
Before I jumped in I did call home and checked in with Vans to tell him I had survived. He and the Peanut were having adventures of their own with our friends Mr. and Mrs. REI and their little baby REI.
The adventure also included a trip to Chick-fil-a
Once I got home, I quickly ate and showered and then the Peanut wanted to go on her OWN trail run. I couldn't deny that request now could I?
"I like puddle jumping too!"
An extra bonus today is that I discovered I won Shut Up and Run's blog give-away!! Sweet! I get a cool new pair of Yurbuds coming my way! Those should come in handy when I run AR in April!