It seemed like the crud would never leave, but as I woke up yesterday morning, I discovered that all symptoms related to the last 8 weeks of crud had disappeared! This was a wonderful blessing, especially at 4:30 am!
H-Trex hosted a great run on the Ho Chi Minh Trail yesterday. I planned to arrive in plenty of time to find the group and start with everyone. I did get to Memorial park in plenty of time, unfortunately, at 5:30 am, it is still very dark, and having never been there before, I really had no idea where I was or where I was to go.
I parked near the softball fields and found an entrance to the trails. They were marked with flour so I knew I was on the right trail. I carried my gear and cooler about a half mile one direction with no luck of finding the start line. Turning around, I headed back in the other direction for about another half mile with still no luck.
Knowing I was on the right trail, I threw my gear into the back of my truck and figured I would just run the trail and find the start or some other runners eventually. It was dark and humid. My new Peztl head lamp worked wonderfully and stayed in place without a hat. I was glad that I had it with me.
The trail was quiet and dense with understory. As the sun began to emerge, I heard some men coming up behind me. As they passed me, they confirmed that they were with H-Trex and I fell in line behind them. It wasn't long before I realized, these were the front of the pack runners, of which I have no business trying to keep up with. No bother for them though, they didn't even think twice about me as I dropped off to my own pace.
I came upon the start line at about 2.5 miles from where I started. I checked in and started on my first loop, 45 minutes late because of the makeshift start line I created for myself. My first official loop was 7.5 miles instead of 5 as a result of this as well. If this had been a real race situation, I don't know if I would have continued because of the time factor, but to me, this was just a great way to get my mileage in for the weekend. This trail is a heavily used trail by runners, bikers, and walkers. I stepped off the trail to let the cyclists pass at least 20 times during the day. It was nice to know that I was not alone, but I also was glad I wasn't trying to pr a race.
My second loop I decided to run in reverse. Seemed like a nice idea. Funny thing about running in reverse, you go against the grain and the arrows seem to point in the wrong direction most of the time. I was feeling the run in my legs as this was the longest I had run since OK. I ended up catching a good sized root and took a hard fall, flying thru the air and landing on my shoulder and hip, even catching my hand trying to break the fall. I have only fallen one other time that hard, at the Ouachita 50 miler, which was a great blessing, because I met Brad! There was no one behind me on this fall, and I sat on the ground for a while assessing my condition. I knew something had to be broken as hard as I had hit that ground. My finger was really hurting and swelled immediately. My first thought...I can run with a broken hand. I stood up and discerned that though I was a bit torn up, I could absolutely run, but I needed to get moving because if I thought about it much longer, I might realize how bad I hurt. I didn't even brush myself off. Just got back to running. A few miles later, I did try to wipe myself down and noticed a good size knot and bruise on my thigh. The hand was still aching, but everything else felt fine. At some point I got myself turned around and ended up going around the same loop three times. Finally, I gave in and just ran the trail in the way it was marked and finished my 2nd 5 mile loop, only I clocked 8 miles.
The 3rd loop, really my 4th because of the mileage, I decided to run as prescribed and finish up strong. I had planned to run between 20-22 miles, and finishing the entire loop would put me at 20 miles with an extra 2.5 to the car again. I was definitely feeling tired so as I left the aid station I had the idea in my mind that if I was too wiped out, I would drop at my car and drive back to sign myself out. I was starving. Really, really hungry which has never, ever, ever happened to me during a run. Ever. But I wanted some french fries in a bad way! I ate some nuts and they seemed to take off the edge. I had been doubling up on S caps because of the level of humidity and this seemed to keep any cramps I might have had at bay.
As I came within a half mile or so of my car, I was blown away when I saw a HUGE coyote on the trail just a few feet ahead of me. I have never seen one before and at first glance, I thought it was a wolf. After researching when I arrived back at home, I decided it had to be a coyote, albeit a very large one. I was quite freaked out by this as he was not running in the woods off the trail but rather, directly ON the same trail that I was on. I was considering ending my run and this sealed the deal for me. Not knowing what would provoke a coyote to come out in the open during the daytime on a heavily used trail told me that I needed to get off the trail.
I exited the trail and logged a 20 mile run. I figure it was a 22 mile day with the extra walking I did trying to find the start line, but I logged 20. I was just over 4 hours, so it was a nice easy pace. I was happy with my efforts for the day.
Today I awoke for a run that I figured I would only last an hour or so. We met at Creekside and had a great run. Everything felt great, aside from some overall soreness left over from my fall. I think my shoulder and thigh are the worst of all, but thankfully, my hand is not broken and I can run without any pain.
Thanks to H-Trex for a wonderful new experience! One I hope to partake in again very soon!