Since my little 42.3-mile run at the end of November, I had run a total of nine easy miles, once with my sister at Woodlands in Texas and once around Fayetteville Lake. I wasn't injured or anything; I just wanted to give myself a break and address some other things for a while. Today, though, I couldn't stand it anymore. I had to go back to the Mother Trail at Hobbs for the first time since my 50k last June. My training plan states explicitly that training does not start before February 17th, but it does not forbid pre-training, so that's what I did.
New toy, I mean tool:
I'm glad I began running two years before GPS existed so I could learn to manage my runs the old-fashioned way: with a watch. Fortunately, though, this year they introduced a new technology called a Global Positioning System which is going to be a boon for trail runners everywhere. I bought one. As I went to bed last night, my plan was to run ten or so laps of the Don Tyson, wearing my new GPS watch, and then publish the run information to this humble blog. I didn't particularly want to run the Don on what I knew was going to be a beautiful day, but I love absurdity and nothing could be more absurd than running laps on a half-mile stretch of sidewalk wearing a GPS watch. In the morning, though, my Hobbs homing instinct was just too strong.
The Bunny Ears:
Non-Hobbsers might benefit from a quick explanation of some stylistic considerations regarding the Bashore Ridge Loop and the Dutton Hollow Loop which make up what everyone calls the Bunny Ears. The first thing is that in the trail running universe, there exists no such thing as running only one or the other of the bunny ears. If you break your ankle on the first one, you tape it up, find a good stick to use as a cane, and you finish the other loop. There are no clear rules beyond that, but the consensus opinion is that the most aesthetic route is to run the Bashore Ridge Loop first and to run both loops clockwise. That's all I've ever done. I like to park at the Piney Road access so I can finish my long runs on the Bunny Ears. The climb out of Dutton Hollow on tired legs is just glorious!
My pain place:
I've gone to my pain place on the Dutton Hollow Loop several times, the most special being the first time I got past 20 miles--I actually ran 22--which was my last run before my marathon last year. It was then that I had the first real-deal muscle cramp of my life, where I could see a knot the size of a baseball forming and releasing on top of my leg. I wasn't in that bad a shape today but I was definitely in pain, so I commemorated the event by sitting on the same log I sat on last year when I lost the use of my left leg for about ten minutes because of that awful cramp. This time I just watched my calves and quads dance around like they always do four hours into a run. It was nice
I'd like to think I would have pushed just as hard today without the fancy GPS watch, but I just don't know. I was extremely surprised and pleased at how well I ran and how well I felt after running the Clifty and War Eagle loops, especially after my two-month hiatus. It would have been pretty easy to call the run a great success at that point and go on home. But I knew whatever run I did today was going to be published on this blog for God and everyone else to see. I made sure my run was worthy, and in my mind, it is. You can see everything--splits, pace, an aerial photo, even replay the run--right here:
Please do take a look and let me know if you can see it. I may need to change privacy setting or something.
On second thought . . .
This was a really hard run, so much so that calling it pre-training is probably what Winston Churchill would call a "terminological inexactitude." No. I think I can say that my training for the Inaugural FlatRock 101k Ultra Trail Race has officially begun!