Saturday, March 6, 2010

20 Miles in The Mud

You have to read yesterday's Buckeyeoutdoors entry entry to fully appreciate what it was like to turn my alarm off at 5:45 AM, roll over to the side of the bed and stand up. I was so out of it, my alarm had actually reached the second stage of urgent beeping. I'd have rolled over and gone back to sleep, but I promised to meet Travis, so somehow, I found the direction of up--which was notably against the pull of gravity and my beckoning pillow.

I stood testily. Everything hurt. Things I didn't even know I'd hurt yesterday complained. I had scratches and deep bruises on my arm I'd never noticed yesterday. My back, neck and shoulders groaned in rhythm. I felt like I'd been in a car wreck. And oh yes, my poor right glute (point of most severe impact) was very, very unhappy. I even had a bruise on my left side. No matter. I would run today. Tempted to take some Ibuprofen or Tylenol to ease my aches, I instead decided it was best to take the run undiluted. Those things could wait.

We planned this in four-mile legs, leaving my car in one spot and driving Travis' car to another location four miles away. He would run four of the segments, finishing at his car, and I would run five. Lucky for me, Travis had a 50K in his legs from six days ago, so that slowed him down.

Temps at the start were 39F, and we took off. The first mile was slow, 9-ish and my glute complained rather loudly. I wondered how I would do nineteen more of these. I did not feel great for the first leg, and was happy to take a Gatorade break and went ahead and took a gel. Sixteen more miles to go. Thank goodness our pace naturally quickened, although not where I wanted it to be. The trail was notably muddy, and was at times difficult to run due to deep bike tire grooves and extremely sloppy segments. (The picture isn't of LBTT, but a reasonable facsimile of the muddiness and the trail.)

The second leg was my best leg, and the only time I can claim that I felt really good on this run. My glute had quieted down a bit; and my other glute was aching a little in harmony... so it was a nice balance. We noticed some wind coming up this way, nothing terrible, but enough to recall a particular run some months back on the same trail when it was very windy. Right before we finished the eighth mile, a man was walking his smallish dog on the trail without a leash, and it ran after me and jumped on me, putting muddy pawprints all the way up to my chest. Glad it wasn't barking or biting, but seriously. Ever heard of a leash?

The third leg was the worst for me. I was in the middle of my run, and knew I still had two more legs to go. Oddly, the wind shifted, and we both noted outloud, "Weren't we running into the wind going the opposite direction last time?"

At last the final leg for Travis, and the penultimate one for me as we turned around. At least the wind stayed shifted, and this was an easier leg. I felt the mileage, knew this wasn't going to be my best 20-miler ever, but still it was going to be solid enough. There were no real issues, and I would finish just fine. Interestingly, the trail seemed to get sloppier and muddier with each pass. Maybe because of the additional melting that was going on, or maybe because of the heavy foot and bike traffic. Travis kicked it in with a 7:20 for the sixteenth mile, and I ran an 8:11. Thanks, Travis--my run sucked less because I had company for most of it.

My final leg, now solo, was about running back into the wind, which seemed to be picking up, slogging through more mud and feeling excessively warm as the sun came out from behind a curtain of clouds for the first time all morning. I imagined myself as a plant initiating photosynthesis, deriving energy from mere sunlight. I plugged in my iPod, and really didn't care about pace, I just wanted to finish. Nothing hurt, but everything hurt in the way only a runner on a long run can understand. I'd planned well, I had no rubs or concerns. My energy wasn't a problem, other than feeling somewhat blah for the whole run--but it was adequate. The effort seemed a bit harder than it should have, and the mud piled up on my shoes and the back of my legs. There were a few people ahead of me from other groups on this last section, and I spent my time in this leg planning to pass each of them and enjoying picking them off one by one. It was the only amusement I had. My legs felt strong. Eventually, it was over. As I got in my car, the temperature read 61 F, which is a very quick warm up for three hours--no wonder I was feeling hot! The best news of all, is Spring is nearly here.


  1. Nice run! Way to push through after a nasty spill yesterday. Let me know if you ever want to run together again.

  2. Thanks, Rick! Not a bad run all-in-all. Of course! --Alex

  3. You were thrown off your treadmill by . . . your treadmill? Ouch. Reminded me of this.

    But today's run sounds like one of those about which you look back fondly and say, "you know, that was a pretty solid effort."

  4. Joe, Yes. My treadmill bucked me right off. Funny segment, this captures the moment for me: "I felt like an ass, y'know, and it took me up and down fast between floors, and it threw me off in the basement." I missed what it yelled at me in the cacophony of the event. I'll listen a little closer next time ;) --Alex

  5. Alex,

    Sorry to hear that your treadmill tried to kill you, and glad that you are doing o.k.!!

    I read your Buckeyeoutdoors entry from your training log above, and could not believe it.

    Getting off the t'mill and getting back outside will solve that problem for a while.

    Take care.

  6. Hey, Phil, Thanks for the visit! Yes, my treadmill apparently is done with me for the winter. I suppose I should now come out of hibernation. I am relieved it was only bruising... and won't impact Boston (whew!). -Alex