Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Long(ish) Run Adventure- 12/28/10

Jason and I had made plans to run further than we normally do during the winter. These ideas are usually formulated over beers, then neither of us are willing to admit our foolishness, so the plans continue to develop. We decided it would be cool to run 50 miles on the North Country Trail with no support or stashed supplies. It would be an "out and back" run into the wilderness, so everything we needed would have to be on our backs.
The cold weather would play a role in our decision to go "less than minimal" with our gear and supply selection. Here in Michigan, the weather can change at a moments notice(especially when you don't bother checking the weather forecast before going out the door). I loaded my Camelback with the following:
-waterproof, packable jacket
-extra gloves
-100oz water bladder
-1 lb bag of roasted, salted almonds(not exactly high carb, but delicious)
-4 equate brand meal replacement drinks(350 calories each- JACKPOT!)
-2 cans of Redbull
-1 Clif bar
-1 extra shirt
Only now do I realize how much heavy shit I brought with me. This may explain the bruises on my shoulders and back. I wore my New Balance NBx Windblocker tights, lucky green flannel shirt, new polartec gloves, and my favorite knitted hat(Grandma understands the needs endurance athletes have for quality winter gear).

We took off northbound on the trail from the M-20 staging area. About 1 mile in, we encountered our first photo op and a rather picturesque stream crossing.

The crappy weather was limited only to civilized areas.
The forrest still looked pristene in the bland winter weather

After stopping for some pictures, making some gear adjustments, and crossing the stream, we were off and running again until we reached a fork in the trail and decided to take a detour onto the Birch Grove Trail and headed toward the Schoolhouse. We didn't know what it was, so we decided to check it out.

 After a few minutes of running on the trail, I realized that this section of trail must have seen even less foot traffic than the NCT. The snow was quite difficult to navigate and felt remarkably close to running in sand. We haven't had any measureable amount of snowfall in nearly two weeks, so this particular snow was not powdery, nor was it compact, which gave it a greasy feel underfoot. 4.4 miles later, we came across the wildflower garden, which would be quite an amazing sight to check out in the spring. There was also an old basement that was still intact near the wildflower field.

Continuing on briefly, we made it to a crossroad, at which point we turned around, never making it to the Schoolhouse. I felt quite a low in my energy levels, so I felt bad about turning back. Jason had also lost a contact lens, so he was also accepting of turning back early with one eye. The trip back was particularly difficult as the snow warmed slightly and became more slippery. I havent been so humbled by a 30 mile run since my first forray into ultra distance running. Taking a few eating breaks and hiking some of the slippery uphills, we make it back in a time that was suprisingly long, even though we placed little emphasis on speed. I ran three miles less than my most recent race, but it took over 3 hours longer. I was elated to cross the stream and return to the car in the staging area.
We were the only people parked at the staging area. We found out why ater running the snow.

Jason and I contemplating how far we hadn't gone, but already making plans for spring

1 comment:

  1. Sometimes being beaten by a distance make us stronger at conquering it. I have (like you) learnt that.

    I can't believe you managed 30 miles in all of the snow (carrying a big backpack too). I managed only 14 miles in the summer (with a big backpack) and it almost killed me!. You guys are awesome, but you knew that already!