I met up with some new friends at Mohican State Park today for a long trail run through the hills:
These runners are all "ultra runners" which means that they all run races that are more than the standard marathon distance (which is 26.2 miles). Each of them had run 100 mile races before and were planning to run various ultra endurance races this year too. I told them right up front about my running record and they were all very supportive and congratulated me on my new passion. Before today my longest run was 13.1 miles, but my longest trail run was 12.4 miles... and anybody who reads my blog knows that I almost died that day. :) To even consider a 100 mile trail race was beyond me... Even after todays run.
Kim, Mark, and Nick were all doing 20 miles, Rob was doing 40 miles, and I agreed to do 15 miles with them. This was the longest I've ever done at once. We started off at the covered bridge @ 8AM and ran through some of the technical hiking trails along the "orange loop". This run was a blast!! We started off with a walk/run pace taking it easy up the hills and jogging through the flats and down the narrow paths. The crew I was running with had strategically placed water jugs along the course so we could refill our water bottles at mile 5 and mile 10. The stops were perfectly spaced apart, for my water bottle was just about empty by the time we got to them; apparently these guys knew what they were doing. :) We basically ran to the water jugs, filled up our bottles and got moving again. Good thing too because it was really cold and standing still with all that sweat was not fun.
While we were running, I was asking Mark and Rob them what the longest distance they had ran and both Mark and Rob stated that the longest they had run were both 100 mile races. I'm still trying to comprehend how this is humanly possible. They both stated that it was all mental really. Who knows, maybe one day I'll be able to think about these types of distances... For now, I'm just going to focus on 26.2. :)
My total run today was 15 miles and it took me right around 3 hours and 10 minutes (not counting water stops). At mile 10, I ran into a nasty patch of frosted thick gooey mud and my shoe got sucked up into it while I tried to run through it. In order to get my shoe back, I had to slosh back through it in my bare sock and this was pretty unpleasant. I basically wiped my sock off with my hand and slimed it back into my shoe. Luckily, my foot warmed up rather quickly and I ended up forgetting about it after about 5 minutes or so. Needless to say, my new Adidas Quatra Trail Shoes are pretty gross looking right now (both inside and out).
About 1 mile later, my legs pretty much locked up on me; I had some pretty uncomfortable cramping in my quads. It was hard to walk for a few hundred yards at one point. I've had calf cramps before and those hurt, however I'd never had quad cramps before; it just felt weird more than anything (not "painful" though). I think this was my body's way of yelling STOP!! Unfortunately (for my legs anyway) I still had 4 more miles of trails to go. These next 4 miles were the technical ones too. The trail ran right along side the river and there were all kinds of roots, rocks, mud slicks and just nasty terrain.
I would like to thank Rob for staying with me through my cramps because I didn't know where I was, nor how to get past these nasty cramps. It seemed like every time I tried to run again, my legs would start to lock up again. Rob stayed back and gave me some tips on how to get past this so I don't have to go through them again for my next trail run. Our whole conversation could be summed up with two easy words: "slow" and "steady". Thanks again Rob!