Mud, trails and a confession

 

I have  little confession that  just might get me kicked out of every trail running club in America.     

This morning, I watched hundreds of people running a 15K trail race at Eagle Creek Park. They slogged through some of the deepest, shoe-sucking mud I’ve ever seen.  

 When I got tired of watching them, I walked over to the nearest road, and started to run.     

That’s right. I passed up a  trail race to run roads.      

It’s a tough thing for Trail Boy to admit.      

In fact, I’ll bet the folks at the American Trail Running Association would cut up my membership card and cancel my subscription to Trail Runner magazine if they found out.      

But let me explain.      

It’s not that I didn’t want to run that trail race, which is organized by the wonderful people at DINO. I’ve run it a bunch of times. It’s held every March. I normally use it to kick off my spring and summer trail racing season.      

It’s just that I needed to run 14 miles today as part of my training for a spring marathon — a road marathon. And I didn’t want to run nine of these miles through pig slop.      

The trails are in terrible shape around here this spring. We’ve had a long winter, and the snow melt has caused a lot of damage to trails. So has the rain that has hit the area in recent weeks. Some sections of trails are under three or four inches of juicy, gooey mud.      

I needed to run long today. I didn’t need to slog through an endless mudfield.      

Plus, I’ve done two hard workouts in the last few days — a 12-mile run (carrying a bag of laundry) on Tuesday and hill repeats on Thursday. My legs didn’t need the extra punishment by slogging through mud for nine miles.      

So I ran with Kayleah (my road pimp), who is training for the Boston Marathon, which is just a month away. We ran some roads. And we ran some trails, the driest we could find — around the lake, on a few ridgelines, near the beach and in the hills.      

We ran for nearly 2 1/2 hours, and put away the miles, and a bunch of laughs.  But we encounted our share of mud.    

We even found ourselves on the race course for a short bit. We ran with the racers for about a half-mile.      

       

Then we felt we might interfere with the race, so we got off the trail. Plus, the course was heading into the deep, deep mud.      

I spent a few minutes snapping photos of the racers. I saw a lot of tough runners. I also saw some pained expressions.      

Some runners later told me that the mud was so thick and deep in some sections that it covered their shoes.      

 Even more challenging, this course is a three-looper, meaning they would have to run three times through the mud pits.      

      

      

      

 After watching these tough runners for a bit, Kayleah and I trotted away from the mud, and hit the roads, where we stomped our feet against the asphalt to knock all the mud off our shoes. It took a while for the mud to fall off.      

Then, for the last three miles, we jumped back on the trails to wrap things up. I would guess we did about two-thirds of our run on trails, and one-third on roads.      

Kayleah and Trail Boy on trails...

...and on roads. I guess today you could call me Hybrid Boy.

The last few miles were tough. I wasn’t feeling that strong today. My legs were heavy. I ran out of gas after 10 miles or so.  Running through the mucky trails took its toll.

“This is the longest 14 miles I’ve ever run,” I said.    

“It’s 14 miles that feels like 18,” Kayleah said.

Or even 20, if you ask me.    

To make it tougher, the weather was gloomy: low 40s and light rain. What happened to the June-like weather we had just three days ago, when the temps climbed into the high 60s?      

Trail runners, I salute you. Next time, I’ll be there with you. Rain, mud or shine.

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4 Responses to “Mud, trails and a confession”

  1. I thought that might have been you, but I never looked up from the mud. I did see several runners who had stopped to replace a shoe.

    I often run a 4th loop as a cool down after the race, not yesterday. I did run, but on the road.

  2. welcome back to the saner side!~and aren’t you lucky that your running buddy is Boston bound, sweet deal for you!

  3. Excuses, excuses. ;)

  4. Good judgment call on your part — I was so muscle-fatigued 24 hours later from the DINO run (despite a miserly 8:40 pace–and overall time 5 minutes longer than same course last year) that I can’t imagine having gone 5-6 more miles. It was definitely a great workout.

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