Bad asthmatic! Bad! 

Final week of classes! Hooray! However final week of classes means I’m stressed out. I’ve been super good this pollen season trying to not over do it. After almost getting my tush admitted last year this year I’m trying to be super well behaved. Ok, well behaved for me. 

Today I needed a run. Badly. The tree pollen has been off the charts for weeks now. I’ve been feeling like a caged animal. As much as I love my other forms of cross training I missed the dirt and woods. I was getting my allergy shot this morning anyway, so I figured if I was going to run I needed to do it before my shot and not after. 

I knew it was going to be bad when a mile in I felt my chest get tight. Crap. I was doing this run. Two miles in and I finally broke down and took my inhaler. By the time I hit the car I knew I was in trouble. Dammit. It was only 3 miles. Come on lungs get your shit together. 

When I showed up at my allergy appointment I’m always required to do a spirometer test.  That’s where you blow into a tube and it measures how much air your moving. My normal read is 550. That’s a great number. Today I blew a 490. For those that are statistically inclined that’s an 11% decrease in function in “just” 3 miles.  Totally worth it. Happy runner. Bad asthmatic. 

Running on empty: School Edition

“Honey you really tempt me, You know the way you look so kind, I’d love to stick around, but I’m running behind. You know I don’t even know what I’m hoping to find. Running into the sun but I’m running behind.”-Jackson Browne

To quote the dear Jackson Browne, I’m running on empty.  School has been kicking my ass this semester.  It’s not just the five, yes five, classes I’m taking, but it’s the group projects and individual homework load.  There are a couple of classes I’m struggling with (one of which is BioStats, surprise surprise), but it’s nice to know I’m not the only one struggling.  My classmates and I are all in the same stress filled boat (as sick as that sounds).  How does this relate to my running?

There is a limit to the amount of stress your body can handle. Once you’ve hit your limit you can’t handle any more.  You’re done.  It doesn’t matter the kind of stress that it is; your body doesn’t recognize that running stress is different than 4 hours of Biostat homework stress.  It just recognizes it as stress and because my system already is duct taped together (thanks asthma) I have to be even more careful as it doesn’t take much to take the whole system offline and no one has time for that kind of bullshit right now.  What this translates to is a change the direction and focus of my workouts.

For now, anyway, I’ve had to temporarily suspend any dreams of increasing my per mile pace or even training for another 50k.  Why?  Again, only so much stress to go around and since work is paying for me to go back to school (and I have to keep a B or better) my focus absolutely has to be on school.  School stress>running stress.

This does’t mean that I’m not running.  It also doesn’t mean that I’m not ‘racing’.  Although, to be fair, with my slow times I’m never racing; the only person I’m trying to beat is myself.  It just means that I need to be mindful in my workouts.  It means I run for the joy and not for the X number of miles or the X pace.   It means that since I’m already running on fumes I need to experience the joy of working out.   It means that if I want to go to yoga instead of running, that’s ok.  It means if I want to go climbing instead of running, that’s ok.  It means that if I need to sit at the dining room table for 6 hours and work on a paper instead of working out at all that’s really ok!

It’s hard because I like to push myself.  I like to improve over my old time.  I like to see and feel those tangible results.  However, I also realize school>running and breathing>not breathing.   I’m working on embracing this shift.  It’s a work in progress.

 

Jingle All the Way 15k: Just keep swimming

“When life gets you down you know what you’ve got to do? Just keep swimming.” -Dory

I went into today’s Jingle All the Way 15k with a bit of trepidation. The temperatures were in the danger zone for my lungs, but I knew as long as I kept my mouth covered I ‘should’ be ok.  Little did I know it wasn’t going to be my lungs giving me the hard time, but rather my glutes and hamstrings.

A few weeks ago when GardeningGirl decided to register for the Asheville Half Marathon I told her about this race.  I thought it might be a good incentive to keep training for the half marathon.  She agreed it would be.  So she came up on Saturday and we got a couple of hours of bonding time before bed.  I’m always thrilled to spend time with her.  This time she brought her 12 year old sheltie, Buddy.  Charlotte was instantaneously infatuated with him.  “Will you be my friend??? Please, oh please, oh please be my friend.”  She was intrigued by this new dog who didn’t want to be her friend.  The more aloof he was, the more she tried to be submissive to him and bait him into interacting with her.  When he finally gave in, just a little, she was only encouraged that they would be best friends forever.  Oh Charlotte, you’re so stinking cute sometimes.

fullsizeoutput_e74We got up early, ate breakfast and headed into DC.  I knew that mentally this course was going to be a bit of a challenge since it looped back on itself a couple of times.  Ugh, loops. However, I had tunes so all would be well in the land.  I was also trying running in an InkNBurn skirt for the first time.  This summer I tried Eastern Mountain Sports skorts for hiking and really fell in love with them, so I wanted to see how these would do running.  I know most folks won’t try new things on race day, but I wasn’t there to race, I was there as moral support for GardeningGirl. I even lent her my green “Grinch” tutu for the day.

As we stood waiting for the go, everyone was shivering.  Many of us had even cracked into the mylar warming blankets early as they started us 10 minutes behind schedule.  Crossing the start line I knew it was going to take me a couple of miles to warm up.  It always does.  By the time I hit mile 2,  though, my glutes and hamstrings were a little pissy. I thought it was just from being cold.  By the time I hit mile 4 I realized, oh shit, this isn’t getting better it’s getting worse.  Around mile 5 I tried to stretch them out a little to see if I could make them better.  Nope.  Fail.  Actually made them worse.  Well f&%*#$*!!!

It got so bad around mile 7 that I had to resort to run/walking.  I was using the walking as an opportunity to take really big strides (well what felt like it, but in reality they were probably just normal strides) in an effort to stretch out my glutes.  Perhaps doing CrossFit on Friday and Saturday wasn’t the best idea in the world…..Oops.

img_1496I crossed the finish line 10 minutes slower than I was hoping to finish.  Oh well.  Life happens.  On the plus side there was not a single asthma attack, so I call this a win! While yes wearing something over my face makes me look like a dork, when you’re asthmatic you do what you need to to keep from having your lungs completely seize up.  GardeningGirl crossed not too terribly long after me.  She was elated with her performance.  Just goes to show you how different a single race can be,

The only other upside (you know other than walking away breathing)  I can say about this race is that it demonstrated to me that I really do love running in skorts. I’m going to have to get way more of these.  This particular skirt (last year’s Christmas fullsizeoutput_e73design) didn’t ride up, didn’t bunch up….which means I didn’t spend the whole race fighting with it.  Now granted, I just need to remember to start sizing up my long sleeve shirts (since I wear my Techwick under them).  Now to just get my glutes and hamstrings to stop being angry at me….

CrossFit: 1 year later..and I didn’t die

One year ago I walked into Trident CrossFit terrified.  The 6am class was, well, intense. To be blunt they scared the shit out of me.  This morning as my alarm went off at 5am to get my ass TO the 6am class it hit me that today was my one year CrossFit anniversary.  As I waited for the 5am class to finish up I saw a girl standing there who seemed terrified.  Before I could walk up to her and say hello one of the trainers who does the baseline assessment said, “Ready?” and walked off with her.  I smiled.  Ah, yes, baseline.

The past year has given me a whole new vocabulary.  I have gained a respect for myself.  Respect to take the rest days. Respect to take it glacially slow when returning from injury to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.  Respect of the things that ARE within my capabilities even if I have to modify the movement a bit.  I’ve learned what movement combinations trigger my asthma and how to deal with that.  However, this year has also given me a few new friends who I adore tremendously.  I can’t imagine my life without them now.  Regardless of where they are in the world we still keep in touch.

I’ve also been pushed WAY outside of my comfort zone.   Every workout there is still that uncomfortable moment where I still say “can I do this?”  Then I have a moment like I did on Saturday where there was a new girl at the workout and she was struggling.  I was able to give her a couple of small tips.  Wait, me?? Wait.  I know how to do the movement?  When did that happen?

“I wish it were easier.”  She said on the 400m run.  We all laughed.  “Oh it never gets easier because just when it gets easy you add more weight or more reps or something….” we told her.  She smiled.  “So this sucks for you guys too?”  “Um, YEAH!” She was relieved.  “You’re doing amazing.”

While I may still be a runner who does CrossFit there is a realization that I had recently. I truly am a CrossFitter now.  Why?  Despite having those two months off when I finally got cleared to go back that is exactly what I did: I went back and I didn’t die.

#ECSUT: Mother Nature is a bitch

Nearly a year I’ve trained for the North Face Endurance Challenge Series 50k.  Injuries couldn’t stop me.  My asthma couldn’t stop me.  I was GOING to run this race.  Right up until Mother Nature decided to into full bitch mode.  Every time we checked the weather on Friday it changed.  When we attended the pre-race discussion Friday night there was a discussion of the weather.  The race was going to happen.  Period.  All we knew was the there was going to be something falling out of the sky on Saturday morning we weren’t just sure WHAT.

Saturday morning dawned and it was raining with temperatures hovering around freezing.img_0774 If this were any other day I would have done anything else other than run outside.  This was the perfect cocktail for my lungs to be miserable.  Luckily I had packed all of my gear so I could cover my mouth and try to warm the air.  I suited up for battle and we all piled into the car to the start line.  As soon as we got dropped off we found out that there was an hour delay of the start.  Apparently there were blizzard conditions up the mountain.  Oh boy….so we waited.  Then came the second new bomb.

We were NOT running the 50k course. We would be running two loops of the half marathon course.  I was crushed.  Not only because the distance was not actually going to be an ultra, but it was loops.  I hate loops.  Loops crush me mentally.  The pull of the start line is always exceptionally strong for me.  My inner sloth just wants to stop.  “But it’s right there why can’t we stop?” I had to come up with a new game plan on the fly as my previous plan based on elevation profile and training just got toss out of the window.

Now, I completely understand safety first.  We heard of snow drifts up to the thighs of the scout runners.  We also heard news of aid crews being stranded at the top. Throwing runners out on a course where they could die would be bad for business.   However, I had a serious beef with Mother Nature.  Seriously, I mean WHY??? Last weekend it was sunny and 70.  Next week, sunny and 70. GAH!!!!

When we finally left at 8 it was STILL pouring and cold.  I kept my face covered in an attempt to warm the air.  The first 6 miles of the half marathon course were straight up hill.  Nothing like a good air and soul sucking climb right off the bat.  Even better we were sharing the course with the 50 milers so around 3 miles in the elite runners came blasting past us.

img_0800Grind, grind, grind up the hill.  The trail was definitely wet, sloppy, and slippery, but still  gorgeous.  The leaves on the trees were amazing colors.  Every once in a while we’d get an amazing view. I’d use the “on your left” from on of the fast 50 milers or 50k folks passing me as an excuse to look around.  I spent most of the race looking at the ground trying not to slip and fall on my face.

My first lap I did really well following the nutrition plan that Sainted Mary and I had laid out.  I used the aid stations to fill my water bladder.  As I finished my first lap and headed back around for another 6 miles of grind I zoned out.  Like REALLY zoned out.  I had to.  The pull of the finish line and being done was strong.  I had to block it out.

As Windchime blew past me all of a sudden there were flashing warning signs on my 8925342-standardproverbial dashboard.  We had been keeping pace with each other why was she blowing past me? I dug under the 3 layers of clothes that I had on to get to Coconut.  Holy f*%& stick I hadn’t eaten in over 2 hours.  It was at that moment I realized the wheels had not only come off the bus it was skidding down the road on its undercarriage on fire.  Sigh.  I knew that trying to recover from a deficit was going to be exceptionally hard.  Crap.  My feet were still moving forward this was good.  I reached in for a snack of banana chips and Justin’s honey peanut butter (on of my favorite go to snacks) and made the goal of hitting the next aid station.

At the aid station I sucked back some broth to help warm me up and scanned the table for something that I could eat.  In my calorie deficit those pb&j sandwiches looked amazing.  I was with it enough to know that was a bad idea.  Unless of course I wanted to be on the side of the trail puking my guts out.  I grabbed a handful of frozen skittles and kept marching setting up my new goal; next aid station.

This continued on until I hit the final aid station.  When I rolled in my fingers were so swollen I couldn’t slide my hydration bladder open. The volunteers were so sweet and did it for me.  I sucked back more broth, some potato chips and grabbed another handful of frozen skittles.  This was the last of it and it was all down hill.  I picked up from my march to a “run”, ok it was more of a quick shuffle, but it was faster than my march.  My lungs were on fire.  I was barely breathing.  The cold air and being out in it was starting to take its toll on me.  I just had to finish.  I WOULD finish.

The last .2 miles of the course is all switchbacks, but I could see the finish.  There was even a trail that went straight down the hill.  My inner monologue slapped my inner sloths face.  NO! Do the course as marked.  NO cheating.  My inner sloth was not pleased.

img_0804I honestly don’t remember the finish. My lungs were on fire so bad I was barely breathing. All I remember was crossing, being in tears and repeating to my friends, “my lungs hurt”.  That’s it.  That’s what I remember. Next thing I know I’m at the condo, stripped, and in the shower.   As you can see from the picture (that I don’t remember taking) I’m not exactly what you would call in good shape. The lack of oxygen I’m sure had nothing to do with that (sarcasm).

Results came out and the total distance run was 26.5 miles.  Technically an ultra.  I’ll take it. Granted it wasn’t the 50k I trained for, but perhaps the Universe threw me a bone.  Wet sub-40F temperatures at elevation.  Perhaps the Universe knew that if we had done the 50k course and pushed the extra 6 miles something bad would have happened.  Who knows.  All I know is that Mother Nature threw just about everything but the kitchen sink at me and I survived.  Take that Mother Nature.  Suck it.  (Ha, an asthma joke!)

 

Absolutely not

I am a good asthmatic.  Most of the time anyway.  I take my meds.  My bed is allergen covered.  I have only 1 room of carpet in my  house (and that’s only because it would echo SO bad if I didn’t.)  I do what I can.  I also try really hard not to let my limitations stop me.  Summer in the mid-Atlantic is awful for me.  Training for #ECSUT has been nearly impossible.

Friday I went and saw Doc and we got to talking about weekend plans.  I happened to casually mention I was going to do two 10k races this weekend.  The response I got was immediate and visceral.

“Absolutely not.  If you want to be healthy for Utah, absolutely positively not.  The air quality is going to be shit and the humidity is going to be worse.  If you want to push your luck and wind up sick less than two weeks before the race you’ve been training over a year for you go right ahead.”

Wow.  OK.  Doc normally gives me a very very long leash.  Apparently my piss poor judgement this spring is coming back to bite me in the butt.  This morning at 6AM when I checked the weather (you know just in case a miracle happened) the humidity was 86%.  Ugh…..Then I checked the American Lung Associations Air Quality app.

 

Yeah it was ugly.  There are times when I am really thankful I’m stubborn.  Then there are times I am thankful that I do listen to ration and reason.  This is one of the latter.

So, instead of running 20k this weekend you can find me at Biker Barre.  Hey, a girl  still has to burn off all of the already allocated calories AND get cardio training in for Utah.  Can it be fall and winter already?  Please?

 

DC Spartan Sprint: Well that wasn’t fun

Almost a year to the day I did my first Spartan race with Shadow.  Before WHAM! there had been a discussion about which races we were going to do together in 2016 to get our trifecta.  I had already registered for them (to save some money) so I (wo)manned up and did them anyway.  Whether it be to spite him or in spite of him.  The DC Spartan Sprint was to be my last race to get my trifecta.  I had already done the Super in Texas (and subsequently made myself SUPER sick) and the Beast in Ohio.

Whomever in Spartan Corp who decided that doing a Sprint in southern Maryland in the end of August was a good idea needs to be f-ing fired.  At 90+ degrees with 90+% humidity it isn’t a sufferfest it is downright dangerous.  I was incredibly lucky that I managed to get an 830 start time because I registered so early.  If I hadn’t, I definitely wouldn’t have run it especially after what happened in Austin and with #ESCUT coming up so quickly.  I knew I was going to have a hard time breathing to start with just because the air quality was shit.  I was NOT about to get sick right before the 50K.

I was supposed to be running with a couple of friends, but due to life circumstances I wound up running it alone (again).  I wasn’t thrilled with my situation, but it is what it is.  I lined up at 830 and off we went.  The minute we stepped foot into the woods I knew that this was going to be a miserable slog.  Humid does not even begin to touch how damp and awful it was in the woods.

The only good thing I can say about the course is that 85% of it is set into the woods meaning one thing; shade.  The downside is that because we were in the woods and they were cutting their own trails there were lots of 3″ landmines everywhere.  These are the little saplings or other weeds that they cut to “make” the trail but they didn’t cut all the way to the ground.  This meant for some really tricky going.

What was really interesting about this course was the warning signs that were everywhere saying that if you didn’t have the strength to do the obstacle or don’t feel comfortable don’t do it.  I’m fairly confident that it had something to do with the woman who sued after being paralyzed.  Anyway…..

As I was picking my way through the course I started to feel worse and worse.  Like I want to throw up and was super dizzy kind of worse.  I was wearing my hydration pack with 57c26ac9a0898a921101a971-oTailwind in it with 70oz of water and I was STILL feeling like crap.  You can even see it in the pictures.  As MSB put it, “You’ve got crazy eyes.”  I’ve seen that look before; the “lights are on but no one is home” at my first half marathon.

After I finished because there was 0 food for me to eat (because everything had gluten in it) I wound up getting this Italian ice type thing.  It’s not my normal food, but I needed to get something in me.  I was hot and running on fumes.  As I later told Sainted Mary I have never EVER felt that bad after a race, well, EVER.  As I sat in the car the air conditioner on high waiting for the sugar to hit my brain it finally hit me; I finished.

For the next few days I increased my asthma meds trying to get my lungs to heal and be happy again.  Thank God I didn’t stick my face in the grass or push myself too hard pace wise.

Honestly,  I can say I have no plans to do another OCR again.  If I’m going to suffer in the woods I want it to be running in the mountains not carrying a bucket of rocks in the middle of Ohio (or Maryland, or Texas, you get my point).  Spartans don’t give me that same feeling the way that running does.  Maybe it’s the fact that I did all of my suffering as a child stacking wood and other manual labor.  Who knows.  All I know is that I finished.  I have my trifecta.  All of my medals then promptly got boxed up and send to the kids that I run for. They can have them and play with them.  I’m ready to move onto my next challenge and next chapter.  Bring on #ECSUT!

Elk Double: Not bad for a chick with asthma from sea level

IMG_0116The Elk Double is Vacation Races Rocky Mountain Challenge race.  It consists of a 5k on Friday night followed by a half marathon on Saturday.  For a total of 16.3 miles.  Now, I routinely run these distances.  However, one tiny tiny detail, I don’t run at 7600′.  The entire game plan? Survival.  Not speed.  Not time.  Survival.  Quite the change for this competitive (against myself) girl.  I like pushing myself against myself.  However, this time, I had to just sit back and enjoy the experience.  Besides, this is all just training for #ECSUT.

Friday night was strangely humid.  Overall if I had to use two word to describe the 5k: complete cluster.  Lack of communication followed by miscommunication made even starting the race a disaster.   The 5k follows the path around Estes Lake which is paved with concrete.  My poor knees were not happy at all.  Ultimately, finished in around 40 minutes.  Not great, not horrible.  Two highlights? First, there was a wedding that was taking their pictures up against the shore line…yeah I photo bombed them.  Second, an ENTIRE TABLE of piles and piles of Picky Bars.  OH MY!

Saturday morning came super early (0330). I had already packed my hydration the night before with Tailwind and stuck it in the fridge. I also packed a couple of Picky Bars and Stingers just in case.  (My motto; Better to have them and not need them than need them and not have them.)  I made my standard pre-race shake (Vega, fruit, squash, and chia) to keep my stomach happy. Even though I wasn’t hungry at 0330 I knew I had to eat.

FullSizeRender 2The start of the half was much more organized than the 5k.  Vacation Races started right at 0600 as they said they would.  While 0600 is super early I’m incredibly grateful for it.  The temperatures were cooler and the sun wasn’t quite high enough in the sky to be baking on my skin.  The course itself  was a beautiful, albeit challenging one.  The elevation profile doesn’t lie that’s for sure.  It was extremely easy to discern the locals from those that had traveled in from sea level.  The locals were galloping down the course with ease.  The rest of us were just happy to be breathing!

The course itself was hard to access by spectators.  Occasionally IMG_0140we would hit a pocket or two of random supporters.  They were most welcomed.  While out on the trails I enjoy my peace and quite,  on road races I truly do enjoy the encouragement.  I think it helps.  Hands down the best sign I’ve seen in a long time was this one.  I am thankful for the folks who did manage to find their way onto various spots of the course.  Thanks for your support!

The aid stations were well stocked with water, electrolytes and Honey Stingers.  Around mile 7 there was an aid station stocked IMG_0143with bananas and oranges too!  Oh and the “Village People”.    When I asked them if they were the Village People they laughed and started doing the YMCA.  I love people with a sense of humor.  Thanks guys!  I took the opportunity to fill up my hydration pack again.  Mile 7 and I’d almost polished off 70 oz of water.  Yikes.

The next couple of miles had the best views of the entire course. After a nearly 3 mile climb those views were worth it.  Talk about take your breath away gorgeous.  That right there is hands down reason enough to run this race.   Did I happen to mention that this was also the downhill portion of the course?  Even better.

The aid station at ~11 was probably the best aid station of the whole race.  It was staffed by a bunch of teenage girls who had turned up the tunes from their car and were dancing while cheering us on.  At mile 11 it was most welcomed!  Thanks girls! You guys rocked.  Finish time 2:58.  Not too shabby for a girl with asthma from sea level.

While I still hate the pavement, this race was a great one.  It was really awesome to get some training time in at a similar altitude to what I will be running at in Utah.  Thank you to the town of Estes for supporting this race.

ISO: An asthmatic mentor

“You are quite literally doing everything you can do INDUCE an attack.”–Doc

Ah, summer in the mid-Atlantic.  Nothing says glorious days like 81 degree temperatures at 0430 with a humidity percentage hovering some where between wet sponge and steam room.  It is days like these that make training for #ECSUT, hell, walking to the mailbox next to impossible.  I’ve had to switch to a 0500 CrossFit class just to hope that I can maybe breathe at that hour.  Running?  Unless I drive two hours out to the mountains and start at 0600, or worse run on the dreadmill, running is off the table.  

Bear with me for a moment to describe to you what it’s like to be me (without the science speak).  I want you to stick a straw in your mouth.  Now breathe through it.  Now I want you to go running with the straw in your mouth and attempt to breathe.  Welcome to being an asthmatic on any given day. Oh wait, but there’s more.  Now, find some peas and stick them in the straw and try to run.  That is what an asthma attack feels like.  Now for the science-y stuff.  (See diagram on the left) airway

This is the reason why many asthmatics just say they can’t.  I, however, do not have the word ‘can’t’ in my vocabulary.  Yes, on occasion this has gotten me into a bit of trouble.  I am not about to let this control my life.  I want to live my life. 

After nearly two years of this journey I am now at a place where I am starting to run into (no pun intended) issues that are beyond the scope and capacity of my asthma doc.  Why?  Well, my asthma doc doesn’t have any patients like me. If you aren’t new to this blog you are probably nodding your head right now in agreement.  If you are new to this blog I highly encourage you to go back and read some of my stupid learning moments.  

I recently had a discussion with my pulmonary doc and my osteopath asking this basic question; “How long is my fast acting inhaler good for?”  What prompted this question was that as my runs have started to surpass the four hour mark (because yes, I’m slow) I’m finding that my chest and lungs are NOT happy.  My pulmonary doc answered very wryly with, “Why are you doing that to yourself?”  Where as my osteopath answered frankly, “You are quite literally doing everything you can to INDUCE an attack.” Both then proceeded to answer my question.

IMG_9125What I really need is to find a long distance, ultra runner who is asthmatic.  Not a little asthmatic, but someone who is a HUGE asthmatic like myself.  Someone who has already been down this road and learned the lessons so that I don’t have to learn them on my own.    In this great big world of ours there has to be another crazy pants like myself.  Right???

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.