07 October 2011

Cougar Mountain trail run

No sleep…! Argh, I hate waking up and not being able to fall back asleep. This morning I woke up at 2:30, tossed and turned for an hour and then finally got out of bed at 3:30. What a drag.

I vividly recall back in college being able to sleep until noon! It's enough to make you feel like you are a man of a certain age. Next thing you know I'll be waking up in the middle of the night to take a piss. Wait, I'm already doing that.

But that's another story for another time. Today was BIG TRAIL RUN DAY with BIG DADDY TRAIL RUN. I was totally pumped up.

One advantage of waking up at the crack of [insert old, tired cliché here] is you get to enjoy a hearty breakfast and still have time to assimilate your food before you exercise. I like that.

Driving over to Cougar the rain slowly got harder and harder… by the time I pulled into the parking lot I don't mind admitting I was a little discouraged. But surprisingly just a little. Running with Justin A is a milestone for me. If I can hang on one of his easy days I feel like I have arrived so this was the test. My running had not been progressing per my desired schedule and my 'long' runs prior to this had been just 6 and then 8.5 miles so this was perhaps a bit of a leap but I really wanted to give it a go. As I sat in the van sucking on a gel packet the rain let up some and I was totally happy.

Justin pulls up so I do a little inventory. Car key? Check. Working headlamp? Check. Bottle? Check. Shoes tied in a double knot? Check. Running is SO simple compared to cycling…

We get out of our vehicles and hit the head (read: bushes 3' from the cars) while we make quips about how the sun was going to come up any minute and how nice the weather is. You know, the usual pre-event banter. I think today we could have been 3' apart pissing on each other's shoes and we wouldn't have seen each other or felt it. Then we headed out.

This loop starts with some climbing right from the gun. You head up about one mile, take a short break and then climb up perhaps another mile. It's a good warm up. In the car I had been formulation short questions that would require long-winded answers so I could keep Justin talking and keep the pace reasonable. Stuff like, "Tell me about your life, spare no detail!" Turns out I did not need them. Truth be told, one of the things I like about Justin is he is able to go your (read: my) speed and that is a rare quality in an elite athlete. And it very much appreciated by non-elite athletes like me.

It was really dark out! Here is what the trail looked like.

dark

Seriously, our headlamps were just two tiny spots of light and the rain kind of obscured my vision some. And then we climbed up into the fog. Instantly I felt like I was wearing glasses and instinctively tried to wipe them. I just about gouged my eye before I remembered I was not wearing any… Imagine taking a shower in a blacked-out bathroom with a little LED lamp and then someone turns on the smoke machine.

We chatted and cautiously made our way through the foggy darkness and splashed through puddles some of which looked more like streams running down the trail than standing bodies of water and all the while I was loving it! First of all running on trails is tons of fun and second of all this particular trail is especially cool in that you get a variety of surfaces and conditions. Oh yeah, and I WAS THRILLED JUST TO BE HERE.

Funny how your perspective changes everything. I have been on wet rides that sucked worse than anything and on some where I was having the best time of my life. This run was ranking right up there. My legs felt good, my injuries were not bothering me, I was not cold, the company was stimulating, you name it.

Not only was it dark and foggy but the footing was treacherous. This trail is covered in roots. Once I chastised Justin for not calling out a log and he replied that last time we ran here I chastised him FOR calling stuff out. I guess there is no pleasing me. I was doing fine until we came sailing across this log bridge. I was going too fast (or at least it felt like I was going too fast for the conditions) and suddenly I get that scared feeling like I'm going to skid off the side land in the creek. I grab the railing and the sudden change in momentum and direction practically does send me into the drink… I bet if I had just cruised across everything would have been fine. That was good for a spike in the old heart rate.

Later, on a relatively flat section of trail I 'spun out' on another root and hit the deck. I landed right on my left hand but luckily it was not bad and I just got a little more muddy than I already was. I thought, "No problem…" and then half a mile later I took a drink and got a mouthful of dirt. I guess my bottle (it had been in my left hand) was covered in mud and I could not tell because it was so dark out.

Finally the darkness started to abate and the rain eased up. To be fair, the dense trees sort of sheltered you from the rain so it had not been that bad. I think the fact that it was not freezing cold also helped a LOT. As it got lighter and lighter and I realized I was not going to bonk or collapse I got happier and happier.

Near the end of the 10 mile loop there are options to extend it and Justin asked me if I wanted to add anything (Yes!) and did I care if we took the 'easy' or the 'hard' hill (I don't care!). I was pumped!

We took the easy hill. And I ran up the whole thing.

ASIDE - I recall taking the hard hill last year and NOT being able to run… as I slowed to a power hike Bill H giving me a load of shit. Maybe it was a good thing we went the easy way today, it certainly was a nice confidence boost.

As we crested the hill and rolled on in to the finish Justin was even nice enough to pull over and let me by. Another sign of the well adjusted elite athlete is when they can throw you a bone. Thanks Justin.

As we slowed to walk crossing the last bridge and hit the stop button on our watches I felt fantastic. There was no soreness in my knees (I had expected just a little) and I could have gone a little further. Nice. My bottle was also close to empty so I had managed to drink in spite of the visibility and rain - all signs I am doing the right things and my body is progressing with this running thing.

The minute I was cleaned up I proclaimed my fondness for the run as I was still on a major high - which lasted most of the day. I sure love that feeling.

I find it interesting that while running I feel self-conscious wearing short (read: normal) length shorts yet cycling on a hot day I have no compunction about hiking my Lycra up way higher than most people. At the end of this run my 'long' shorts were a soggy, heavy mess and Justin was not similarly encumbered. I need to get over that. It isn't like he's wearing those old school running shorts with the slit up the side or anything and today was NOT cold so why am I insisting on wearing these gym short son a run? No idea.

Sleep 4
Waking HR  
Body Weight  
Body Fat  
Breakfast 3:30 AM - 2 bananas, 2 granola bars, water
Lunch  
Dinner  
Workout Food right before run - gel
run - small bottle w/1 scoop HEED and 1 tablet Nuun, gel
Injuries  
Therapy  
Time of Day 6:00 AM
Workout Type  
Weather low to mid 50s, rainy, cloudy, calm
Course standard Cougar 10 plus the 'easy' hill variation at the end for 1.5 miles or additional distance
Results  
Time 1:46:39
Distance 11.5 miles
Pace 9:16 min/mile
Equipment Brooks Cascadia, headlamp, hand-held bottle
Clothing shorts, sleeveless active T, long sleeve active T

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