Back in the Saddle Again

After last weekends fubar’ed back I knew that this weekend I was going to have to take it extremely easy. However, I also knew that I needed to log some miles to keep on track for #ECSUT so I came up with an ingenious idea.  I have a number of friends who love to hike, but aren’t runners.  I’ll just see if one of them wants to come out and hike the miles.  Not only will that let me get the miles in, but even if I get the urge to misbehave I can’t.  Yes, occasionally I have moments of genius.

At 0500 I met C at the work parking lot where we transferred all of her stuff into my car and we were off! We were going to go out to the Roller Coast as it was nickIMG_9593named.  Except, we didn’t wind up doing the Roller Coast.  We wound up going south versus north.  Snicker. Oh well.  0600 and we took a quick “proof of life” selfie for her hubby; you know, in case we were eaten by bears along the trail and we were off.

Heading down the trail it was so beautifully quite.  I love the woods first thing in the morning before everything wakes up.  We saw tons of bunnies looking around for their breakfast. Perry was exceptionally disappointed that he was on leash and wasn’t allowed to chase them.  There were scents in the woods that could only be described as delicious.

This was C’s first long hike in a number of years and I was a bit worried for her.  16 miles is nothing to sneeze at and I kept asking her if she was ok.  I know she’s an incredibly strong woman, but again, it’s 16 MILES!!  Every time I asked she said she was fine.  I told her I was a worry wart and to get over it.

As my watch flipped over to 8 miles I stopped dead in the trail.  She stopped about 15 feet behind me.  I pointed to the spot on the ground.  “What?” “That’s it, right there.”  She laughed, stepped up to the spot and we turned around and started walking back towards the car.  I jokingly told her that none of the previous miles would have counted if she didn’t make it to that spot.

As we headed back our first surprise was the little tiny 8IMG_1393” gartersnake.  I almost stepped on the poor guy.  Of course I still squeaked because I wasn’t expecting him, but ok, no harm no foul.  Then a few miles down the trail we came across this less than lovely fellow.  That, my friends, is a copperhead. I saw him first.  I immediately stopped Perry.  He stopped on a dime.  I think he could tell by my body posture that if he didn’t stop we were going to be in BIG do do. We waited and waited and waited for the guy to cross the trail.  He stayed right there for what seemed like an eternity.  Finally he slithered off into the grass.  I’ve had a dog bit by a rattlesnake before, and not only is it not good, but it’s definitely NOT cheap. I picked Perry up, just to be on the safe side and carried him about 50 meters down the trail before putting him down. Another few miles down the trail we saw a Northernblack racer snake.  He was HUGE, but harmless.  Ok, I thought, I had enough herpetology for one day, thankyouverymuch.  At least it wasn’t bears.

We were within 2.5 miles of getting back to the car and Perry was panting quite a bit.  We were crossing open field, and by this time it was nearly noon.  Even though he’d been IMG_1397sucking back my Tailwind and had some Justin’s peanut butter (because they come in single serve packets) he just hit his point of being too hot.  I picked him up and tossed him on my shoulders and when he didn’t fight it I knew he was done.  I wound up carrying him for nearly a mile before he decided that he was ok with walking again.  Poor guy.

C had run out of water around mile 12.  I ran out at mile 14.  We were both ready to hit the car just so we could get a drink.  As we crossed Route 50 I called to C, “0.4 of a mile.” I don’t think she believed me.  As we headed up the last hill I could see the glint of the car windshields, “I can see the car.” “I don’t believe you,” she retorted.  Snicker.

We got back to the car and all three of us sucked back some water.  Turned oIMG_9634n the AC and drove back to C’s car.  Perry immediately fell asleep. So hard, as a matter of fact, I asked C to make sure he was still breathing.  (He was.) After I dropped her off I ran into the grocery store with the underground parking (so it was shaded for baby boy) to grab a couple of things, one of which was the most important item ever.  Yes, that is gelato and yes that’s HIS container. He earned every single lick of it.

All in all today was a great day to get back on the trail.  I managed to get 3200″ of elevation change in.  Covered 16 miles.  Was on my feet for 6 hours and I didn’t break C.  Ok, let me rephrase I don’t  think I broke C.  It’s great being back in the saddle again.

 

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The Ultra That Wasn’t

I was supposed to run the Eastern Divide Ultra.  Notice the key word?  Yeah….about that.

Last week was a complete sh!t show.

On Tuesday, I took HRH Perry to the vet for some lameness he was having.  Turns out he has a sprained/strained right front paw.  (Insert swear words here.)  Perry isn’t just my dog he’s my guardian angel when I run.  He can pick up on my asthma attacks before I do.  Heavy sigh.  Ok……scramble to get Uncle Greg to come watch him, plan to take it extra easy and bring lots of extra meds just in case.

On Wednesday, I got my pre-race massage. I have always gotten a massage right before every race I’ve run.  It works the kinks out of my legs and puts me in a happy place. Before I even got off the table my back felt strange.  I just thought it was relaxed, which is strange for me.  All is still good. Focus. Focus.  Focus.

On Thursday morning, as I bent over to put the ice cube tray back into the freezer it just completely locked up.  The only word that came out of my mouth was a long slow fuuuuccckkkkkk.  Perry went scurrying from the kitchen due to the tone in my voice which is usually only reserved for when he’s done something incredibly naughty.  The only thought in my head was, DO NOT FALL TO THE GROUND.  As I shuffled myself into the car to go to work until I could get an appointment with my D.O. I had the epiphany; what happens if I can’t get out of the car once I get to work.  I still hadn’t given up on the thought of doing the race.  I felt like Homer Simpson instead of saying “it’s still good, it’s still good” I was saying, “I can still run.”  Yeah, about that.


Doc snaps me back into place, but then says, “Your whole lower thoracic is completely locked up.   Heat, ice, heat, ice and take a Flexural.” I came home on Thursday still hopeful I’d be able to run. I followed Docs advice to the letter.  I should have known something was up when I had to get up in the middle of the night because of the pain.

Friday morning dawned with a whole lot of nope.  Sitting hurt.  Standing hurt.  Bending hurt.  CRAP……..I texted one of my guys told him the situation and asked him to tell the boss that I wasn’t coming in.

Saturday I was still in massive pain.  After stretching a bit I decided that a hot yoga class might just be the key.  I made my way to CorePower yoga just in time for their 75 minute Level 2 class.  Sun Salutation B was a little rough.  Sun Salutation A was better.  By the time class was done I had no pain at all!!  (cue angel’s singing)

Sometimes life just doesn’t cooperate.  Am I disappointed?  YES! There was absolutely no way I was going to be able to walk 50k let alone run it.  So, now my first 50k will just have to be #ECSUT.  Fingers crossed that it’s another three years before my back does this again.

 

 

Himalayan Salt Lick

Running, but it’s very nature is a sweat inducing sport.  Running when it’s 90 degrees, with no wind and 80% humidity doesn’t produce just sweat it turns you into a Himalayan salt lick.

Yesterday, Patient 0 and I wanted to log 15(ish) miles in Prince William Forest.  Nothing fast.  Nothing crazy.  Just getting time on our feet.  The goal was to finish, and ultimately, not break me before my 50k shakedown cruise (to use Navy terms) in anticipation of #ECSUT.  Patient 0 had to tend to some farm chores before we could head out, so we didn’t get a super early start.  Not that it would have mattered anyway, it was so hot and miserable.

This was a new place I was running in so it was going to be a bit challenging.  We started down the trail with a general idea of the route we wanted to take.  I had the app on my phone and had studied the map quite extensively.  Unfortunately, we wound up missing our first turn off.  Not a big deal, we just decided to run the loop backwards.  Which, honestly, turned out to be the absolute best thing.

We started off a smidgen quicker than we should have.

“I’m following your pace,” Patient 0 says.

“I’m following your pace,” I laughed back.

OOPS.

We settled into a nice rhythm and slowly started to chip away at the miles and incredibly thankful/grateful to be in the shade. We would occasionally pop out into a meadow and the sun would just cook us.  However, it doesn’t matter how much shade you have when it was at hot and humid as it was.  The air was as thick as pea soup. Every time I licked my lips I felt like I licked the top of a salt shaker.  (Oh come on, you know you did it as a kid…) I was absolutely thankful that I had put 3 scoops of Tailwind into my hydration pouch. I was also thankful that I was nowhere near any animals I would have been licked to death.

We picked our way down the South Valley Trail over the roots, rocks, and up the hills we went. Sometimes we got the bonus of having all three at once!  My heart rate was through the roof sitting around 176. That’s no bueno.  I could feel my insides cooking.  All I wanted to do was crawl into the creek.  I must have made that comment one too many times because as we came around a corner Patient 0 said, “Oh! Look!”

img_9521There was the perfect spot in the creek where the water was moving quick and clear.  Shallow enough to not be dangerous but deep enough when you sat down in it it covered your legs.  We both skipped over the rocks and quickly peeled our socks and shoes off.  Our feet hit the water….OH MY GOD……I was torn between misery and ecstasy.  I sat down unceremoniously like a toddler in a puddle.  The cold water washed over my legs.  As I laid down I could feel the salt being swept off my skin.  My heart rate went from 176 to 77 in less than a minute.  We sat there for a while; cold water rushing over our legs and backs.  Worth every single second of time we sat in that creek. Sheepishly we acknowledge that we probably did need to get back to the cars.  Reluctantly, we put our socks and shoes on and continued down the trail.

We finally reached the car at 3 hours and 57 minutes with a great deal less salt on us than if we hadn’t stopped for the swim.  My lungs hurt.  Not in a good way either.  We both stretched out in the parking lot before getting into our cars and heading our separate ways.  The minute I got home I did a nebulizer treatment.  Hey, I may be the crazy asthmatic that runs 15 miles in heat and humidity, but I’m not a stupid asthmatic.  At least this time.  I’m looking forward to running this loop again.  Next time I know that running it counterclock wise is the way to go, especially in the heat!