Friday, September 12, 2014

Long Run 16 Miles

This week 16 mile long run was done naked.

Excuse me?!!

Hang with me. Let me explain. Running naked is lingo for running without any devices such as music, watch, heart rate monitor and so on that today's technologies afford us.

Phew! Because the bouncing, the itchiness is too much to bare bear.

My first trail race of the year, the Zumbro 17 miler was run near Theilman, Minnesota around the Zumbro Bottoms State Park. The trails are reserved normally for hiking and horseback riding. Besides this and the trail race, twice a year the trails are opened for motorcycles to ride on. You can read about the family's past riding experiences here and here. We were headed up there to ride again this weekend.

Ever since the Zumbro race, I've had an itch to get back there and try the trails again. In planning out my training schedule, I told my coach when we would be going there and that I planned on running the trails. She scheduled sixteen miles. Awesome!

Earlier in the week with maps and race routes in hand, Bill and I discussed where and when I should run. We decided the best choice was to leave Friday morning and then he would go out with me that afternoon. I wouldn't be able to run the exact course as the race since some of the course was marked especially for the race and not always on the main trails but I could run a good majority of the same trails if I wanted to.

On Friday morning it took forever for us to leave. We were prepared but there are always last minute things that eat up time. I became anxious that we would get there later and therefore out on the trails later and might end up fighting for daylight on the trails and I hadn't brought an extra light source. Then I realized I forgot to pack my Garmin watch which would give me time, distance, pace and heart race readings. I had the HR strap but not the watch. It was still plugged in and charging in our closet. This made me more anxious. How would I know how many miles I had gone? We weren't even five miles north of Ames, forty-five minutes late at that, and I was tense, breathing shallowly and a ball of stress.

There was nothing I could do except choose to not worry. I would have to or I wouldn't enjoy this run. It was a crucial moment. I told Bill about my worry and said I had decided to not worry about it. I shut it off and we talked about other stuff as we drove the four hours northeast.

Once at the campground it was a flurry of activity unloading the bikes and gear, settling the boys, and gearing up for the run. The boys had snacks, new movies, games, homework and the campground to explore and play around while we were gone. We had a map, hydration (two in my front vest and a full 2 liter bladder on my back plus Bill's pack), fuel and a sense of adventure. And to be honest, a little bit of anxiousness on my part still.

One thing my coach had strongly advised me on was to not let Bill push the pace on me. I wasn't too concerned about that because you see, I have run farther than Bill ever has. He's still faster than me but I've gone farther and run harder stuff and so I win!! It was good advice though and it was more of a mindset for me to take the lead in doing what I needed to do instead of going with the crowd, never mind the crowd being one other person. We took a gravel road out of the campground at a slow pace. It climbs out of the bottoms and so I slowed us to a walk. We wrapped around and as we turned a corner came upon two on horseback. A little further up the trail we started to hear the roar of bikes thoroughly enjoying the downhill. We pulled off to let them pass and were glad we were on foot and not on a horse with the bikes coming up so fast.

At the top of the trail we stopped to look at the map and two more riders, both a part of the club that puts on the trail ride, came up and talked with us. Bill told me riders did this all the time. They pull over to chat with others or help someone out. The fact that they stopped for us what pretty amazing to me. Call me a sap at this gesture but when they pulled away and we headed up to the overlook, I teared up a bit. I was definitely more anxious than I thought and this loosened me up. 

The overlooks always get me. It was fun to take it all in, take a breather, send a quick text to Audrey back home all without fear of being struck by lightning. Really the entire trail looked and acted differently than a few months prior when there was a stream coursing down the middle of it and mud in all the rest of the places. I would point out to Bill "There was a stream here." or "This was one giant mud pit." He would point out to me which trails they did or didn't ride. He enjoyed himself immensely as we ran along because for the first time he got to see the trails from a slower pace. In fact, he was the most talkative he'd been in a while. 

The part I most wanted to run was Ant Hill. This was the section where I had to walk the downhill because of my knee. I had a score to settle with this little stretch of trail. It was as before: technical. The rocks, large and small, are scattered all about and nothing was a sure footing. I wasn't very fast but I ran it. I won't be encountering anything in October near the degree of difficulty this entire trail system has but it does wonders for keeping the brain fresh and adrenaline pumping.

One section of the trail is wide and has gravel. It was fun to run down and had these little build ups that you could launch off of. I had Bill capture a still of me but the shutter speed on his phone isn't that fast. After I tried that about four or five times, I had him take a video of me. The video doesn't do any justice to exactly how I felt. I felt like I was flying. Instead it looks like I barely got my butt off the ground. Ha! 

Ah, no video because I never had a chance to get it from Bill's phone. Believe me, it is epically underwhelming.

As we approached the campground, we determined that we had done a little over twelve miles out there. If I ran the gravel road out of the campground and back I could get in the rest to get to sixteen. Bill stayed at the camper and I headed out for the last miles. Let me say here that those were the longest miles of the day. I was getting tired and my feet were hurting. I made the mistake of looking back toward the campground and just like a barn-sour horse, I was done being out there and headed back. 

After passing the second overlook, I realized if I had my watch and HR strap with me, I would have been slave to it and not enjoyed the run. Missing the forest for the trees, so to speak. It reminded me of when I taught piano. Eventually we have to give ourselves freedom to turn off the metronome and play by feel and with feeling. It was a good lesson to be reminded of. It had been a great naked run. 

 Next week- 11 miles 

1 comment:

  1. It feels CRAZY not to run with a garmin at first but so liberating once you embrace running without data. Loved the piano analogy! Beautiful place to run!!


Thanks for reading. Kind comments are always welcomed!