Friday, January 4, 2013

The Road to Badger Mountain: First 45 Mile Run

Well, I did it. Ran 45 miles on my own. For fun. I guess.

Actually, it went well, and in fact was a wonderful day, bringing in the New Year running.

I ran the ‘normal’ 30ish mile route up in Forest Park, on a cold crisp sunny day. Not that many people out, due to everyone staying in and watching football I guess. I was again in my Merrells, though the trails weren’t quite as muddy, due to the ground being frozen, and no rain the past two days. But still the best tool for the job at this point, mainly to keep the feets warm. A minor problem: blisters on the tops of my feet, from the shoes rubbing against them. Not used to that!

That took about 7:30. I returned to my apartment, and didn’t allow myself to sit down at all. I didn’t want to give myself any excuse to stop there. Instead, I changed out my top torso clothing, the two shirts and the shell, which were all wet, though not soaked, and put on another wicking shirt, my old ratty Ibex wool sport sweat shirt, and my Seattle Marathon long-sleeve glow in the dark.

I quickly downed an orange, and heated some lentil soup, though surprisingly wasn’t ravenous, not wanting to run on a full stomach anyways. Oh, also, the one weird thing was that I drank one water bottle less than I have been doing on the 30 Mile route. And by then, water just did not sound good. This happened to me on Burning River too: After a while, water from a running bottle just doesn’t taste good. So I drank a glass in my kitchen, but did refill my Amphipod carrying bottle and one of my belt pack bottles.

In the other belt pack bottle holder, I put my Xero huaraches (thin enough to fold up that way) and a pair of Injinji socks, in case of need of warmth. But I just needed to do some barefoot running. It’d been a couple weeks at least, which for me is unheard of. I wasn’t sure how long I would last, since the temps were still, seemingly, only in the high 30s, and I would be running on into the darkness.

My plan was to simply attach on this other longish run that I do, which is to head down to the river, go upstream to Sellwood Bridge, then back up the other side. I think it’s about 15 miles, usually takes me about 3 and a half hours.

So yes, after running from 8 to almost 4 o’clock, I then set out once again, and I have to say that I looked like a complete dork, with the glow in the dark shirt in still daylight, and also that by then I was running at a bent over shuffle. But, running nonetheless. This has been my experience in longer races, like the two 50 milers that I did, that the body, my body, is still capable of shuffling along, even though sore and in pain and unable to lift the legs very high.

I still in the back of my mind considered the possibility of cutting this section short, and doing the hour and a half route instead, but I stayed with it. Running barefoot felt, good, and re-vitalized me a little, I guess with the sensation of having sensation down there once again. My experience with running barefoot in cold weather back in Michigan says that I can run down into temps a little below freezing for at least short periods of time, most especially if the sidewalks are dry, which they were. I ran maybe five or six miles before I started losing daylight, and the bike path I was one got a little rougher. At that point though, I only put on the Xeros, not the Injinjis, and in fact, just that small separation between the soles and the pavement was enough to warm the feet for the rest of the run.

The one BIG factor at this point, and again, I remember this from Burning River, was the almost overwhelming loneliness. It’s the combination of being exhausted, running in the dark (especially on the deserted Willamette Greenway, away from any buildings or lights) and knowing that most other people were sitting inside, warm, together, watching tv or talking. Running is solitary, which is what I like about it, but THIS was very solitary. So, this was good, a good opportunity to feel it again, to remember that this is going to happen at Badger Mountain. This is where have a pacer will help, just another human nearby. This loneliness was a BIG factor in my DNFing at Burning River.

It got a little better once the Greenway came back up into civilization, and I could see lights and buildings, and downtown Portland in its glory across the river, with all the buildings lit up. And by then I was well past the half-way point for this second route: Not that many miles to go before I sleep.

And I made it home. That whole second route I didn’t walk at all. Didn’t run too fast, but didn’t walk. It was all mostly flat. That part took me about four hours. So, yes, I’d run a total time of eleven and a half hours! And live to tell the tale. That’s about right. The two 50 Milers I finished both at around twelve hours.

The biggest thing I noticed was just how sore my feet felt, both from the rocky paths in Forest Park, and just the overall all day use of my arches. Of course the rest of my body was tired and weary and slow-moving. But, that said, I didn’t rest right then, as I had walk a few blocks to get to a cafe to get online and book a train ticket for Seattle, for the next day. Which I did. And had to get up at six the next morning to get over and catch the train. So didn’t even get a real good night’s sleep, but had enough energy to enjoy walking around Seattle. Moved a little slow, but not to much. My body recovered surprisingly fast.

So, overall a success!

Now, I will take a couple weeks of a more ‘normal’ running schedule before I do another 30/30/45. Though, that said, the next two weekends I will be running FAT ASS 50Ks. In between, shorter runs, hopefully barefoot.