This morning my friend Mark, his golden retriever, Cali and my longtime friend Marci joined me in the Owyhee mountains for a trial run. It was a brisk 40 degrees but sunny when we started, but soon warmed up to a very comfortable 55 or so with just a slight breeze. It was perfect weather for getting in a few, slow miles on the trails.
When running on the Wilson’s Creek Trails, you’re likely to encounter certain things: cows – lots and lots of cows (who incidentally had beat parts of the trail pretty good and made it a bit more challenging to navigate), horses and their riders, jack rabbits, wild horses, unique rock formations and sagebrush.. lots and lots of sagebrush as far as the eye can see. Today, we encountered plenty of cattle (and their blessed ploppy gifts), horses and riders (a friendly group of whom we ended up chatting with and photographing for a calender this group of riders creates each year of the best photos), one very quick jack rabbit, no wild horses unfortunately, and a plethora of cool giant rock formations, mountains, hills and a never-ending supply of sagebrush.
This wasn’t one of my best runs and not for lack of great company. Ever since I sprained my ankle and had to take a few weeks off, I’ve felt weaker on the trails – especially the climbs. I don’t think I even jogged a single uphill today. I hiked them all. And, despite “taking it easy” my heart rate stayed consistently around 170 during the run or hike sections. I’m still in poor condition in comparison to where I was just a few months ago. It’s amazing how fast you lose it. I usually make up for my slow uphills by bombing down the downhills, but that just hasn’t been the case for me so much lately either. Since hurting my ankle, I have more fear of reinjury and the particular trails we ran today were covered in ankle-breaker loose, medium to large rocks – especially on the downhills. I took a photo of some of them just to give you a better idea of what I’m talking about. It was a rather technical trail run today.
Mark was a great leader, encouraging us to run straight up some of the steepest mountains. The views were really amazing at the top – the jagged rocks of granite and basalt, the canyon, the sagebrush and dust going on for miles and miles. You can almost imagine cowboys and Indians riding through these parts if you look long enough.
The funniest member of our group today was Cali, the Golden Retriever. Cali’s bouncy and happy and full of doggie energy. She also really, really loves mud puddles! She was in luck! We encountered several and each time, she’d zip right over to it, plunge it and wallow all around in dirty delight. Then, she’d rush out, dripping mud coming off her coat and want to get close to you or play. It must have been a funny site the way Marci and I screeched and ran to hide behind one another when she’d want to nuzzle or jump. It wasn’t nearly as interesting as when we all had to climb into the car to head home, though. Cali was covered in mud and water. She looked satisfied, happy and content – and really dirty! Luckily, Mark adores his dog a whole lot more than the seats in his car, so he let her hop right in. Right next to Marci (sorry Marci! I promise to take that seat next time.) hee hee. We drove along until coming to a great little boat launching spot along the Snake River, where Mark let Cali get out and jump in for a spontaneous bath. If Golden Retrievers can grin, this one totally did as soon as she hit that water! Mark threw sticks for her and she’d dive in and doggie paddle over to catch them, then come back out. She had the most pitiful look when it was time to head back to the car and leave her “playground.” The day was a fun time for all – including the pup. 🙂
I did something – something brave (or crazy!) You decide! I signed up for Big Horn 50 miler yesterday. The race is in Wyoming on June 18th. My adrenaline has been surging ever since anticipating running 50 (well 52 according to the web site – but what’s another couple of miles after that long, right?) miles in only 8 weeks! Looks like I’ve got some serious miles to put on these legs and most importantly – climbing, trail miles. I’m also hoping to get in a little elevation on some of these runs, since the race starts at 8,800 feet above sea level. I live at about 2,500 feet. My weekend mountain runs sometimes reach up to 4,700 or so. Today’s run maxed out at 3,960. Looks like I’ve got my work cut out for me. And…. the race has cut offs at the aid stations along the way. If you don’t make the aid stations before the cut off, you’re out of the race, simple as that. Yikes! The total time cut off is 15 hours. I mean – 15 hours!! That sounds like an eternity, doens’t it? But, it works out to roughly 18 min miles for 50 miles with something between 6,000-8,000 overall gain (depending on who you ask.) My 50K at Orcas Island had 8,000 of gain and it measured 32.67 total times. My average pace for that was 18:41. Too slow for Big Horn and about 20 miles shorter. Eeek!!!! I’ll need to really buckle down and work on my turnover on the uphills, without draining my energy so I can still go for hours more. Orcas took me 9 hours and 40 minutes. It was the longest run I’d ever done. 15 hours. Wow. 15 hours. I’ll be happy to accept any and all wishes of “good luck” over the next 8 weeks. I’ll need them!
Stats: 12 miles. 18:45 pace. 3:45:10 total time (I never shut the Garmin off after start) Ave HR 158 Total Elevation Gain: 1,918 ft.