After a very exhausting, trying week culminating in me being a weepy mess in my office yesterday afternoon, I knew I had something wonderful to look forward to today - a trail hike/run with my dearest training partner. Despite very little sleep the last 2 nights and even less food and water in my system over the last 2 days, I picked up breakfast on my way home from work at 6 this morning, got my running gear sorted out, dropped kiddo off at school and drove out to the lake to pick up my friend and hit the trails. The plan was a 12-14k loop that is part of the 20k race I'm doing next fall that we haven't explored yet. But first, we had to remove flags from a different loop that were still up from the race a couple weeks ago. It was supposed to be a quick little jaunt in, up to the hill, pick up the flags and head over to the other trail head. We hit the first hill.... there are still flags there.....keep going.....still see more flags.....keep going (more hills! This was supposed to be our "warm-up"?!?). By 3 k of the 7k loop, we decided to turn around and leave the last 4K for next week if somebody else doesn't get to it first. So our couple k "easy" warm up turned into a 6k hilly trek.
We head over to the trail head....something is missing.....is that 2 pit toilets, I see? Where did the structure go that used to surround them? They were in rough shape, I guess it was time to rebuild them...hope you weren't planning on using them before our trek. My bladder always seems to know when I'm near these pit toilets on any of my past training runs that went by them, but fortunately today my bladder took a pass 😅.
I was the Queen of Faffage this morning on this portion of our run. It was only a couple degrees; since were planning on hiking most and running the easier bits, I knew it would be a longer adventure than usual. So I found an old backpack I had with a hydration bladder, brought water, snacks, and extra socks, just in case. After what seemed like an eternity, I got my stuff together and off we go. About 2 k in, once I got used to the feeling of running with a backpack, I realized I didn't lock the car. Oops. We're not going back, it is "off" season so hopefully nobody will even realize there is a car there.
The foliage was absolutely gorgeous today, a mix of reds, orange, and yellow. This is one of my favourite times of the year, but if you blink... it's gone, replaced by a blanket of snow. We kept things pretty relaxed today, aiming for an exploration expedition with hills, hills, and more hills, but not worrying about how much are we running vs hiking. The plan was to stop lots, take pictures, and make it about the adventure.
What a varied terrain we explored today. There were several bits crossing meadows, some undulating, some steady uphill, some flat. We had numerous water crossings: one with a sketchy rickety bridge, one with rocks to hop over and a third that was a smelly, slippery uphill mudfest adjacent to this beautiful pond up on a ledge. That one was tricky, but we managed to get through all crossings, dry with mud only on the feet. There were crazy steep hills with washout areas you climb up, hills that just seemed to go on and on, deer trails to traverse, junipers and roots underfoot, but with each hill that goes up, we must go down. I brought along my trekking poles today, and am so glad I did. Not only were they a godsend when climbing the hills, they also helped me keep my balance on the descent and more than once, saved me from falling sideways off the trail.
With trying to sidestep down a lot of the steeper descents, my training partner felt a ping in her knee about 10k into this loop (16k overall). We stopped and stretched, and slowed the pace down further. She was struggling a bit with the downhill portions jarring an old injury where her kneecap was shattered from being kicked by a horse 20 years ago so she took over the lead again and we strolled in for the last few km. She's going to rest it, ice it, roll her ITB and hopefully will be right as rain for a shorter trail run next week before our girl's trip in 2 weeks for our 12.5k trail race 🤞. We might've missed/forgotten/ignored the adage about only increasing mileage by 10% each week. Oops, rookie mistake. We're going to lose access to this trail pretty quick once they close the road, so we may have made the decision with our hearts instead of our heads today.
Overall we covered 18.5k, with 558m of elevation change. We weren't quick, taking 3 3/4 hours, but LOVED soaking in the beauty of our surroundings, taking many pictures, and just enjoying spending the morning with some quality friend time. I now know my poles will be a MUST for race day next year, as will full length tights to protect my legs and my lovely new compression socks which felt like a hug on my legs all day. I will also definitely be buying the Salomon s/lab Advance Skin 5l hydration vest I've had my eye on at some point in the next 6 months. My legs are feeling a little stiff already so will be using my recovery roller lots this weekend and boy oh boy, this lady is rungry. Given I burned 1375 calories on our trek today and was likely running a deficit over the last few days, why am I surprised 😆