I thought my last was long run was Monday with Ken and Matt. As I was hustling to my car, Matt casually mentions "you know you have ONE MORE run...." I just stared at him wondering what he was getting to.
A night run.
Not just any night run.
I sent a shout out to 2 different running groups and all my running friends to see if anyone wanted to join us.
NoT even Andy wanted to run at midnight.
Jeesh, Ken even bowed out.
But Claudia, Claudia who loves to experience something new she was all in.
Dark, that is an understatement. It was so dark, there was no moon to light up the sky and the stars were but speckles above us.
But it was lovely. The air was cool, slightly damp. The trees stirred in silence. It was eerie and peaceful all together.
I was so eager to get started that my hands were shaking. There was an adventure just a few yards away. The woods had much to share and I was anxious to take in everything.
I had concerns too. Like that I would trip, flip, or fall. I was taking a significant gamble running this close to game day.
Ken had texted me reminding me to be careful out there. He told Matt he would be "Grounded" if something happened.
I am like their little side kick. I bring nothing to the table. I have no great ultras to add. No experience, until this..This Weekend. Cloudsplitter. And even that is only a 100K next to their 100 and 150 mile races they do every year, multiple times.
But they have adopted me into their greatness. And I have learned so much.
WHY RUN AT MIDNIGHT?
To feel fatigue. I will be running at midnight during Cloudsplitter. It was important to try and duplicate the scenario of both evening running and running tired.
"Anita, You lead..." Matt directed this little field trip.
I tried to argue my way out of it but I lost. I always trail behind on our runs. I like to observe how Matt and Ken run. I always try to follow in their foot steps. Copycat running.
I took the lead heading into the West loop at Holdridge. I had my new head lamp on and Matt loaned me his handheld Maglite.
I was experiencing sensory overload. I was carefully planting my feet all the while focusing on the path. It was so hard to focus on the trail when the woods were whispering to me. I wanted to look through the trees, I wanted to touch the dew on the bark, I wanted to stop and look at the ground covering. But I couldn't, I had to keep moving.
Matt and Claudia chatted it up behind me. I would share a sentence here or there to let them know I was still engaged but I really wasn't. I was in my own world. It was like romance. I thought I was in love with running until I came out to play at night. The whole world could have turned off and I would never had known it. I never wanted the evening to end.
45 minutes later we were done. I was doing another loop. I just had to do one more. We both begged Claudia to do one more loop. It was after 1am. She was having fun, she was in!
We took about 15 minutes to readjust ourselves. It was warmer out than we had dressed for. I was running with my Hydration vest and my back was so sweaty. I had to endure. I put my hair in a ponytail to get it off my neck, Matt had a light weight hat he loaned me and I put my headlamp back on.
I gave him back the Maglite thinking he would get the hint I was not leading anymore.
It took a little persuasion but he led. The trees rustled. It sounded like we were running next to the ocean. I was taking advantage of trailing behind so I could look around more. The problem was I was tripping more. Was I getting tired? Not picking up my feet? My light seemed to be dim. I just continued on.
I have ran this trail numerous times and nothing looked familiar. The trees looked enormous. I felt like I was in the woods with Hansel and Gretel. It was like a fairytale. Something that was illustrated out of a book. So magnificent.
Then the trees crackled louder, a bit more intense.
That's when we felt the rain.
Could this night get ANY BETTER?? Sensory overload. I wanted to stop so bad. I wanted to walk, feel the rain touch my skin, the breeze brush against me. I wanted to close my eyes in the darkness and hear nothing and everything at the same time. I was fearless. For once.
BOOM! And there I go. "I'm UP!" I giggle. Ugh another trip.
The anatomy of tripping.
You toe meets a rock, root or some mysterious object. in 2/10th of a second your arms fly open, your back arches trying to gain control and you feel muscles pull you were not aware you have. Like in your groin, you abs and your shoulders. The impact of your toe and the mystery object them pulses through your entire body at the same time adrenaline pushes through your veins trying to keep you upright.
Emotionally you pride is beaten and your humbled by mere humanism, reminding you that you are not a superhero on the trails.
And just like that the second loop was done.
Claudia headed home and I still wanted to go out but my body was tired. I had ran that afternoon with Andy and Lacey, running 9 miles just 12 hours prior.
"Anita, I want you to do one more loop, we will do the tech loop starting it at the finish."
WHY YOU ASK? ME TOO.
To run confused. This is a phenomenon that is bound to happen running for 16+hours in the woods.
As we headed back out it was after 2am. Matt says something like "Your headlamp is upside down!"
NICE, I thought, no wonder I couldn't see and kept tripping!
I was already confused apparently.
The trail was just going to enhance my disorientation.
And sure enough, I got so lost and bewildered. Matt took it as a teaching moment. Teaching me what to do if I get lost, which path to take and even to be aware that your mind plays tricks on you when your tired.
We came out of the trail about 2:30am. Short and sweet. It was no longer raining. I could have slept under the pavilion.
This last training run I learned a lot. I was glad I did it. I hope to do it more next year.
I am glad that I will have Andy with me the last 20 miles of Cloudsplitter. He is going to LOVE it. I am now excited to run in the dark, I think.
Distance: 10.6 miles
I rested today. I know the life of Riley. It was nice. Laundry, grocery shopping and pie making. Buttermilk. HEAVEN.
Ken checked in on me to make sure I survived. Matt was very gracious with our pace, especially considering he himself had ran Brooksie half marathon at a 7min/m Sunday morning.
I get to see Ken for my final run Wednesday. Ken will supply me with my final nuggets.
Keep me in your prayers! Prayers for safe travels, health, for God to use me. To be courageous, strong and Glorify God.