I lived to tell another tale of traveling to PA at all hours of the morning. Sat I woke at 3:45 as planned. Spent the next half hour gathering last minute items and generally trying to be more awake. I snapped this gem of a pic when I got into the car. Thought I’d try to get the time clock…but the look on my face is just creepy enough to share regardless. Items of note: compression sleeves…slippers…and of course the Wendy’s key-chain for free baby frostys!
I get on the road by 4:30 (I think it was really 4:22) and I’m trying to think of what McD’s has 24 hours. I need coffee related items. Luckily I manage to remember to grab some of my Marathon Bars so I have a yummy breakfast on the way there. By the time I get to where I want to be I find out the McDs opens at 5…and it’s like 445…and I don’t wanna wait. I keep driving and I pass the McD’s I stopped at last time, but they served me a cold burrito and half a cup of coffee so I didn’t want to go there again. I finally get to another good stopping point in PA and I realize I’ve been to this store too, only on the way home. Unfortunately, they don’t open until 6! Grrrr. I give up my hunt for coffee and realize I’ll have to perk up without it! So I arrive at the park and who am I behind but Ms Gale herself! We chat when we pull in and everyone starts getting ready for the run. Here is a group shot…I’m in the blue, Gale has all the knee pads on! After this I have no other pics, I forgot to carry my camera with me! Gale took one of two, but hasn’t loaded them yet.
We start off on the trail, a group of like 12. After about the first mile, which is all up hill and it’s like WTF am I doing again, we lose more than half of them as they all start running. I realize I’m by myself anyway so I might as well challenge myself and start to run too. A lone guy runs up from behind me and yells “Hey put away those cigarettes” excuse me? He laughed and told me I didn’t need to stop running (because I did when heard him) and said I looked like I was doing great. I’m thinking “OK creeper yes I DO need to stop running, I need to put as much distance between us as I can!” I’m sure he’s a great guy! But it was weird.
This section of the trail is race section #3 and the area I did the last two time I was out. Along the way I have certain landmarks to let me know how I’m doing compared to the other trips. My first landmark is the sign. You’ll recall the pic of us all stand there. Anyway, it took us an hour to reach that sign the first time out, took me like 40-something by myself! After a while I didn’t want to over do it, I had plans of 20 miles ya know! Rajan caught up to me and we ran with Amy for a while…he kept my spirits high and made me push myself, which I really needed. I pulled around 14 minute miles a few times, and considering I was upper 20s for most laps the other times, this was awesome! We arrived at Cowcrossing or whatever and I took a pee break. I think he 1st time out it took 2 hours, this time, just over 1 hour! Amy stayed behind for Thea so Rajan and I took off and kept on pushing it to Miller Farm. I was nervous and excited for how strong I felt. Perhaps it was taking in water, perhaps is was lack of excessive gear, perhaps the new training or even the AMAZING weather where it wasn’t 10000 degrees out! All I know is I was tearing it up (for me). We make it to Miller Farm…now the first time out the group made it in 5ish hours…my second time out we made it in 4 and were tickled. Are you ready for this??? Raj and I made it in…..you wont’ believe it…. TWO HOURS AND 30 MINUTES! No seriously!!! I couldn’t have been more excited, I was finally beginning to feel like I belonged out there.
Gale was at the farm too so we ate some bananas and Smuckers Uncrustables and drank some water. We chatted a moment and then began our journey to the next section. You’ll see how mile 8 to 9 was 35 minutes…that’s from the stop at the farm. One plan was to go to Jersey Bridge and then the Middle school for 7 more miles and then a 5 mile “extra” loop for a total on 20.5. The ladies who took this option were MUCH faster and we doubted they would be waiting for us for rides. The other option was to take section 2 and end up where we were parked. We all agreed to this option, although it only added up to about 15 miles. For me the mileage is important but I really wanted to see other terrain too. I know the first 4 miles are on road and I can make up serious time at the start. I was glad we didn’t do the last part, a portion of me wants to keep it a secret to the end. Like a gift for getting through the race.
Section 2 was not as glorious as section 3. I started to feel warm, there wasn’t as much tree coverage. Amy found a newt on this INTENSE switchback. It reminded me that I had seen one earlier. Here is a google image of the type of newt I think I saw. I also saw GORGEOUS red and orange mushrooms everywhere.
After the intense switchback we all found ourselves drifting apart. Gale and Amy took the inclines like pros, and I tried with all my might to get up there with them, but I was just not enough of a little engine that could. I lost them during a second gradual incline. Rajan was lost the first one. I didn’t mind being alone, because Raj’s music was bothering me and I was starting to get very snippy. A trait that unfortunately carried over into most of my weekend. I started thinking to myself a lot and day dreaming as I climbed over rocks and trees and grass and rivers. It was too bad of a route after the two ridiculous hills. Near the end you go through fields and past old wooden oil thingy. (Yes that is the real term). I went past this old crumbled house or like farming quarters. OMFG creeeeeper-ific! It scared me so bad to go past it, reminded me of the crap serial killers hide out in/under and wait for young innocent runner to come trotting past. Despite how much I didn’t want to be raped and murdered, but only thought was that they wouldn’t like me very much because it’s usually about power and control, not sex. And I was too tired to put up a fight so they wouldn’t enjoy the process.
Right around or after mile 15 I had to cross a main road. I knew I was almost done but didn’t know how to finish. I asked two passing joggers both ignored me 100%. I asked two passing biking boys and they didn’t even know where they were! Going down the road didn’t help, it looked even more confusing and it was HOT out on the road at like 1 in the afternoon! So I went back to the trail, sat down and thought about crying because I was lost. Cars went past and no one offered to help. I knew Rajan wasn’t too far behind, so I waited. I waited over 15 minute before thinking I didn’t want to wait anymore!!! SO it came to me (like a Windows 7 commercial) my Garmin is a GPS, it has a map function! SO I start beeping buttons until I find something that shows the route I was taking (loop) and how far to the start and started tracking the signal. I was so freaking proud of myself! It pointed me to keep going on the trail behind me. I got up and started moving again. Along the way I passed two hikers who confirmed I was headed the right way and a really pretty grave. I was admiring the tombstone when I thought I heard a ghost (don’t ask) so I looked over to see what was in the grass/bushes and saw a HUGE snake. I have not seen a snake this big outside of a zoo. This is what it sorta looked like, but I think it had another good foot or two in length. Honestly, very pretty snake, but I didn’t want to stick around to see how nice it was.
Back to the trail I went and along my merry way. I finally popped out at the gravel road and ran the last half mile down into the park and across the grated bridge. Gale, Amy and race director Tom were all there cheering for me.
I didn’t like how horrible my feet felt, but that’s probably a matter of wearing VERY old shoes. I also spoke to Linda’s husband Dan and he says wearing my compression socks for the whole race might be a good idea. Truth be told I’m beyond words pleased with my time for what I’ve been doing, but I can’t imagine doing another 15 miles on top fo that! Not without some serious getting in better shape. Grrr.
So now the plan is, drop more weight (yes I said more, congrats to me I’ve dropped nearly 4 pounds) I think if I get in better shape over all, work my lungs for cardio and find some sort of hill training, I will be MUCH more comfortable in 2 months for this race.
BTW finally listened to my whole CASCADA album and fell in LOVE with this song. It’s the best on there I think…and the beat is amazing for running (for me).
OH! And please let me know what you think of the new graphs..found a new site and not sure how I like them yet. I pretty much have to screen cap crap for the time being. Please click on them for enlargement if needed. LOOK at that change in elevation though! Yikes! Mr B asked me this weekend what the big deal was about running on trails….oh the comments made by those not in the know…I once asked such questions.