Shooting Range Trails Before Dawn

What an unbelievably lovely and challenging run early this morning before the sun rose with Ryan A.. It was so windy and cold when we first arrived, I had a hard time keeping my teeth from chattering. To pass the time while we waited to see if more of our friends would show up to run with us, I asked Ryan to let me prove to him that I could have helped him up from his fall yesterday. He’d said, I wouldn’t have been able to help since I weigh less than him. I didn’t agree. So, being the good sport that he is, he laid back on the ground in the dirt and we re-enacted him needing help up. Guess what? I did it! I knew I could! I’m not as wimpy as I look! 😀

When the others didn’t show, we headed off into the pitch black darkness, the only light coming from each of our headlamps as we jogged along. Ryan has a thing for hills, so he chose a route today that would embrace them. I do NOT have a thing for hills, unless it’s a smoldering hatred. Just kidding! My calves cramp up and just burn when the climbing is steep from the start and today’s path had them on fire almost from the first few steps (Thanks, Ryan….) Luckily, he didn’t chide me too bad about it today. I’ll get better at this! Having lived a half an hour from the trails up until a month ago, I was lucky to get to run in the mountains 4 times a month, so my abilities are still somewhat weak – but – are being given a great chance to improve now that the Boise Foothills are practically out my front door! It’ll be fun to see how much stronger I get over the coming months from all the trail time I’m getting – Yay!

The hills are practically deserted at 5:30 am on a weekday morning in the dark. I followed the glow of Ryan’s headlamp ahead of me as we made our way up the first few miles of climbing. When we neared the top and came around a bend, I could see the billions of lights spread out like a fan below us, just twinkling and glowing. The coolest thing was that Ryan was this black, running silhouette against that city light backdrop! It would have made a pretty cool photo, if I’d had my camera. Instead, I just took a mental photograph and thought, “Wow, this is pretty amazing!”

The stars above were dotting the early morning, black sky as we continued to run – finally on paths that were much flatter. That’s when I hit autopilot and just felt my legs and lungs finally say, “Ahhhhhhh.” It was very pleasant and easy through this section. A mountain biker passed us as he was heading up the mountain and we wished him a good morning. There were some knarly rocky sections through here that required very focused attention on the little orb of light that my headlamp gives off. I nearly wiped out twice, both times catching myself by the hands and thanking my lucky stars that I didn’t splat onto the trail. I could tell I was a little out of steam today. I ran out of English Muffins (my breakfast of choice) so I had no breakfast or cappuccino before coming today and I could feel the effects of an empty tank. I took a Mint Chocolate Gu, drank some water and that helped a bit.

I could hear the bubbling brook below as we ran along in the dark and found the brisk chill in the air invigorating and the sounds of the trickling water very soothing as I raced along, just letting the miles fly by, seemingly effortlessly. I was having a lot of fun! I did get lost a couple of times, but not for long. I’d pop out onto the trail and twice realized there was a fork but Ryan was so far ahead I didn’t know which direction he’d gone, so I yelled out, hopefully, ‘Uh…Ryan????” No Ryan. So, I made a guess each time and carefully ran along, stopping to look back over my shoulder, doubting myself, but thinking I was probably on the right path. Turns out, I was fine and I found Ryan shortly after both times. Whew!

About 9 miles in, the dawn of the new day was awakening. The sky went from black, to gray, pink, orange, gray and blue and we were able to turn our headlamps off and run by the soft light of the new morning. It made me smile to watch the sky changing before our eyes and bringing about the new day.

We finally hit a nice decline and Ryan asked if I’d like to “blow it out” until the end. I said, “Oh yeah!” and he let me lead. I was having a ball, running free, leaping over the little dirt mounds and bounding along on the trail feeling like a gazelle. That is, until I came to a dirt road and didn’t know which way to go again. I guessed right and kept up the momentum I’d built and took off, only to hear Ryan yelling, “LEFT!!!!” Uuuurchhhhh!!!! My breaks kicked in and I spun around. It was super cold and windy at that point and I’d taken my gloves off, so my fingers started to go numb. I settled back down into a slow jog, following Ryan and his red shoes, up what turned out to be more HILLS. Ugh!

Once we’d wound our way up the washboard, dirt road and I could finally see the shooting range up ahead, I finally picked up the pace and gave it a nice final kick (hitting a pace of 5:08) before touching my car and calling it a day! It was a great workout, with some incredible scenery and good company.

Elevation Gain today: 1,590 feet. I’m VERY proud of my pace, today! On these same trails in the past, when running with a group, I often came home with numbers like 15 – 18 min miles. Seeing a sub 12 really made my day! And, I kept myself reined in today, focusing more on endurance than bursts of speed most of the time. I think I’m getting better at this already! YES!!!!

Stats: 10.1 miles. 1:54 total time. Average pace: 11:19 Felt: Great!

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