I got lost last week on a trail run with my friends. It wasn’t the first time I’ve been lost on a run, just the first time I got lost when I didn’t have anyone with me. The fact that I didn’t know how to navigate myself back to my pals bothered me all week. I told my husband that I needed to get out there on the exact same route and run the whole thing alone just to prove to myself that I could handle trail running and myself out there. 🙂 I’ve never done a single trail run solo. Today was my first plunge into that experience and being me, I jumped in with both feet and made it a 50k!
It was foggy and cool when I started running at 6:11 this morning. I ran through the Boise foothills and enjoyed the wildflowers in all their glory. It was like a rainbow of yellow, purple, white and an occasional splash of pink! The birds were out in full chorus and they greeted me as I went along, finding my way on the trail. I did not bring my camera this time. I was on a mission to improve my overall pace in preparation for Big Horn 50 miler in four weeks. Leaving the camera at home did help with that, although I did take a million mental snapshots!
Turns out, it wasn’t a fluke that I got left last week. I really do just suck at uphill!!! The Boise foothills are loaded with steep grades climbs and right from the get go, it’s up, up, up! I decided to focus on my heart rate and do what I could – as well as I could for the duration. The strategy worked! Even though I walked/hiked nearly every single uphill I encountered, my strengths at the flat and downhill evened things out fine. I ate well, used nature’s bathroom regularly (too regularly darn it. I wish sometimes that I had a bladder of steel instead of such a wimpy one that demands to be emptied nearly 3 times an hour! Ugh!)
I did have some odd encounters on my solo run. Turns out the trail I was repeating is open to vehicles. It was a creepy feeling when a truck with two young guys leering at me drove by slowly. We were miles from anyone. It kind of frightened me. I also found two different tents set up out in the middle of nowhere. One had 8 horses tied up outside. The other had a big Labrador dog. In all cases, the people were likely not going to do me any harm, but it did make me rethink my original plan of running this loop of 15 miles twice. I decided, instead to drive the 5 miles to the usual trial heads I like to visit with my friends and get 16+ miles done there. So, that’s what I did!
I had such a nice second run, too! I’d have to say it was my favorite of the two. I ran up every mountain I could find. I didn’t get lost and I loved the single track trail. I also encountered a zillion cyclists, runners and dog walkers, so didn’t worry one tiny bit about being afraid. The higher I climbed, though, the less I saw anyone. It was pretty cool being wayyyyyy up above the city, sitting on a huge rock munching a salted potato at lunchtime, while looking out over the city spread out way far below.
I saw lots of wildlife today! I saw so many different birds – tiny blue ones, yellow ones, hawks, sparrows, quails – just all sorts of them! I had a blue-gray snake surprise me on the path today. He was flicking his tongue and I leaped over him. I saw the tiniest chipmunk baby! It couldn’t have been more than 3 inches tall, but it was a fast climber!
Though the first part of my run was really chilly, foggy and overcast, as the hours went by in my second run, it got bright and sunny and HOT! I ran out of water about 4 miles from the end. I had to slow my pace to a walk to make sure I’d be fine with waiting to get water and not overheat. I felt bubbly and strong right to the end. I made small talk with the people I passed on the path (always of course mentioning that I was on the tail end of a 31 mile run! haha!)
I listened to music for part of this run. That was a rare treat! It was SO MUCH FUN! When I reached the tops of the mountains, I spun in a circle like Maria in the Sound of Music! It looks a lot like that scene when you’re up high in the foothills — just green, green, mountains as far as the eye can see. I also stopped to dance for Y-M-C-A and Whole Lotta Shaking Going On. I felt happy. I was having a ball. I felt like ME!
Just about 30 miles in, I passed some of the only shade I saw all day and a little bubbling stream. It was so lovely and inviting. I couldn’t help but sit right down, take off my shoes and socks and cool my feet. Ahhhhhhh. I also sneaked out the camera and took a few photos of my happy moment.
I really had a great time. I worked hard out there, accomplished what I set to do and finished with the feeling I could have gone on another 20 miles (which is good since Big Horn will require that!) I will definitely have to schedule more “solo” runs in the future. Turns out, it’s pretty wonderful to just be alone, to be the boss of where to turn and what speed to go and how long to stare at the pretty flowers. 🙂
Stats: 31.3 miles. 8 hours 10 min 32 seconds. Ave pace: 15:40. Elevation Gain: 6,388 feet (GO ME!) Average HR: 153 (This is my goal range for Big Horn. It was just the right amount of push without overdoing it so I could go on and on and on….). Ave moving pace: 14:15. Moving time: 7:26:07.