04 July 2011

Preparing for The Rapture... or something like that

Life as we know it will someday change. For better or worse, everything changes eventually.

Natural disasters. Man-made catastrophes. Bad personal choices. These things can all bring about hardship and difficulty. How we handle the aftermath is very important. This has been made clear by history and Hollywood. The dinosaurs all died. But fortunately, there are movies like "I Am Legend" and "The Road" to show us what we need to survive global disaster.

I like to think that running ... especially in particularly arduous situations... is a part of good prep work for survival in a post-Apocalyptic world. And I like to be prepared. I am hoping that, much as carrying an umbrella when rain is forecasted usually means it won't rain because you are prepared, my being prepared for the End of the World will ensure that it won't happen in our lifetime :)

Today's run went beyond that. I knew it was going to be very challenging, but seriously... I had


I knew from last week's run that my areas of weakness are running in the heat and up hills, so I decided to take them both on... hottest part of the hottest day of the year. Awesome. And on a brutally hilly course that would total 9 miles. Here is the map:

It was hot... for here. 86ºF. And barely a whisper of a breeze.

Beginning at the bottom edge of the map where it says "Lone Oak", I followed the Wildcat Gorge Trail out along the creek for 0.78 miles.

This water fountain marked the beginning and the end of the run...
and it became my beacon at the end of the hellish tunnel I was unknowingly entering...

I had forgotten how 'rolling' this first leg was... I hadn't run it in 14 years and thought it was pretty flat. I was wrong. 
(and if you click to biggify, you can make out the power line towers at the top of the ridge that I would run past later on in this nightmare)

Lovely trees made for nice shade, but they also meant tree roots and stagnant air. 
I felt like I was in a sauna as I tripped a million times.

The beauty was able to distract me from the fact that I already had cotton mouth...and wasn't even a mile into the run.

This area has a lot of interesting sights... here you can barely make out the Indian Caves across the creek from the running trail.

Shortly after the caves, the Wildcat Gorge Trail meets the Curran Trail with a hairpin left turn (now heading up along the right edge of the map shown above). Shortly after this turn, things get really steep... for a good (or bad) while.

This is where it begins... keep going up.

About halfway up, you can look across the canyon and see the Indian Caves from above.
This gives a little perspective on the climb.

The trail is fairly wide, but recent rains have left it very muddy... like deep, thick, puddly mud with about 10 inches of slanted, dry ground on either side. And the whole way up was pock-marked, so even the dry parts had very uneven footing. This leg was way way way harder than I remembered it being. Way harder. And did I mention that it was hot?

Things leveled off after roughly a half a mile, I emerged from the shade and there were lovely views across the little valley over to the trail I would eventually "get" to run down. I was going to take pictures of that, but I could hardly think about anything but moving forward at this point... I think this is where I started recognizing that I might be in trouble... but was still trying to hang on to my denial about it. Good ol' cotton mouth is always a good indicator, and I was now acutely aware of it.

At the end of that sunny trail pictured above, I branched off to the right following a little connector path of 0.13 miles to the road I ran on for last week's 8-mile run, Nimitz Way. There is a bathroom at this junction :) But no running water :( This is just about 1.5 miles into the run.

Doing an out-and-back on the  Nimitz Way for a total of 3.2 miles was the plan... but I missed the turnaround :(  Here is where I put a face and a voice to my discomfort...

The only upside of this was that it afforded me the opportunity to run a bit longer in the small amount of shade  :P  I do not really like running in the heat of the afternoon... my hat is off to those of you who do this regularly.

On the trip back, I started to get a little loopy. I could feel my form suffering and my belly cramping. And I had to pee. I kept trying to convince myself that peeing would not be good... that I needed whatever fluids my body had... even if waste products. Then I came to that "bathroom junction" again and got to pee. As I sat there looking at this door...

I did not want to leave. It was cool in there. And I was not running. I wanted to stay in the gross bathroom rather than finish my run. That was a bad sign. 

I was able to talk myself out of staying in there. I wanted water. I wanted to finish this bad boy off. "Just get me the *bleep* home" became the refrain... 

I turned right onto that short connector trail and then right again onto the Meadows Canyon Trail. Now for something completely different... a long, steady, gentle downhill! For nearly 1.5 miles, coasting down a dirt road... albeit in the full-on, blazing sunshine with nary a spot of shade.

That is how I imagined it in my mind anyway. It was long and it was down hill. It was 1.5 miles of dirt road. And it was in the full-on, blazing sunshine with NO shade. But it was not gentle. It was not steady. And there was no coasting going on. It sucked.

I saw bunnies, and they were cute. I so badly wanted to be a bunny and just scamper off into the bushes and lay down, but I flailed my way down the rutted and rocky, freakin frying pan of a trail. My form went all to crap. My belly was cramping up something awful. Water was all I could think about. And how stupid stupid stupid I had been to think that I could run in this heat without carrying water. Have I mentioned that it was really hot?

I saw people running up this same long-ass hill... they were all smiling and singing... or maybe I hallucinated that 'happy' part. I saw people walking up, shaking their heads as I flailed by. Finally, I reached the water fountain...but I didn't stop to get water... I made a bee-line for the portapotty... then I got some water... and then I filmed this...

A couple sips later and I was on my way back out the Wildcat Gorge Trail... for about 100 feet. I was stumbling pretty badly. When I got to that meadow pictured at the beginning of this post, I felt dizzy and spacey and stopped what I was trying to pass off as running. I turned around and walked back to my truck. Total miles = 6.7. The reality.

Here is the alternate ending:

Arriving back at the Lone Oak picnic area and bathroom and WATER (!!!!), I turned left after a quick stop-off and headed back out the Wildcat Gorge Trail to the Curran Trail and then back down the Meadows Canyon Trail again. Total miles = 9.12.  In my dreams.


It has been recommended that I get a fuel belt. Okay. Stuffing my snacks into one of my running bras hasn't been much of a problem, but I don't think that a water bottle will fit in there, too. So those people are right. I will be looking for one this week. Please pass along your recommendations :)

So freaking happy to be going home. 
Or maybe I am scared that you all will ridicule me for not finishing... call me a 'wuss' or other mean names...

Elmo bandaid this week.

Way more sweat than last week... this is the front of the shirt
(last week, the front was dry)

and this is the back.

And here are my mud-spattered legs in the freezing bath...
very distorted... my feet are not that small compared to my legs!

I ran. Not 9 miles, but the hardest 6.7 that I have ever endured. And if that isn't helping me get ready for after The Rapture... well, then I don't know what will.

P.S. there is an awesome epilogue to this mess... my wonky hip is not one bit wonkier than usual. And that is truly nothing short of miraculous.


Winner of the Williams-Sonoma giveaway was announced here. Thanks to all of you who played :)


  1. I have a Nathan Intensity race vest (backpack) that I love. I can't handle anything around my waist so it's perfect. It carries 2L of water and has pockets for all my crap - iPod and Gus mainly. I've found that I'm never going to be fast enough to have the carrying-too-much weight thing become an issue... It's pricey, but definitely worth it. The only thing I changed was the bite valve (switched to MSR) because I found their's awkward and annoying.

  2. Well done...even if it wasn't 9...you rock. :) And I love my water belt. I actually wore one one of ours today in the marathon. no more putting my Gels in my bra..and it was so nice to have water. I'd recommend the Nathan Trail Hydration belt...we love that one! Two 10oz bottles. It is perfect! And holds plenty of things...including your phone.

  3. If we're doomed for a zombie apocalypse then I think your running will help you survive!

    I think it's awesome you went 6.7 miles!

  4. You did it though! And you should feel accomplished for that. :) Plus you were coherent enough to drive home which is always a good thing!
    I have a handheld but haven't tried it-just the thought of running holding something bugs me still.
    I have a 2 bottle Fuel Belt and a 3 bottle Ultimate Direction belt. I love the UD one but it's a bit big now-which is frustrating b/c the Fuel Belt one is still too small. Ugh. The UD actually works ok unless I have all 3 bottles full b/c then it sags too much-with one bottle it was fabulous last weekend. I have stuck the smaller (8-10oz) bottles in the back of my sports bra before and that actually works pretty well! Bras are so great-enough space to shove gels and a cell phone (in a ziploc bag b/c I too get sweaty and killed it once) in the front, water bottle in the racer back part! Good stuff.

  5. I have a 2 bottle Fuel Belt which I hate but mostly because I hate wearing something around my waist (the spibelt is an exception). I'm now using a hand held and I actually like that -- it disappears and I don't notice I've got it but it is super easy to drink mid run (pulling a water bottle out of a Fuel Belt is difficult mid run -- or maybe I'm just uncoordinated!). I'm not sure the hand held is enough water for longer trail runs but it works for the 6 to 10 milers where you need water in this fun fun heat.

    Glad you made it okay. That can be a bit scary.

  6. Had you been running with Will Smith this would have gone a lot easier. You know that, right? The way he punched out the alien in Independence Day? Priceless, and a source of more than enough inspiration to get through even the toughest of sections.

    Next time. Now you know.

  7. Since "austerity" is the new status symbol in the 235th year of America, I say continuous hydration all day is more important for effective training (and happy runners).

    So, take one for Team America and do without!

    But then again, if austerity is the new trend, I never like doing the trendy thing.

  8. WOW ~ I'm so glad you survived! I would certainly have died, although... I think I'm going for a run tomorrow. What with all this Rapture and Nostradamus talk, I'm getting worried.

    I hope you had a nice holiday! :)

    PS - The photo feature you asked about a couple weeks back is called "cross process."

    Gillian from Baby Talk without the Babble

  9. REally a great looking place to run. Next time ake a break in the cool of the Indian caves and, since you're the editor and writer, go with the alternate ending.

  10. Isn't it funny how our perception of an acceptable bathroom changes in any given situation? Some of the scariest bathrooms have been my best friend.

  11. Makes me want to go find a trail to explore. I have yet to carry fuel on long runs. But I've haven't run more than 14 yet, and that was in the winter. Maybe a lesson in irresponsibility is around the corner.

  12. Hills and heat on the same day, you are a brave one. I love your trails though, nice scenry. I would have been exploring the caves, yeah, I am a little kid like that.

  13. Ok you may be slightly crazy...I don't even think I went outside some days this weekend cuz it was soo hot! I did see a man running yesterday and noticed it was 104 degrees, I couldn't imagine what he was doing that for..but then I figured he probably has a blog and needed to post about his run in the sun! Do you ever get crazy tan lines?

  14. water belt: I have Nathan Trail Hydration belt
    I like it.
    I tried the Amphipod with one bigger bottle and I hated that one.

    I got to fight the heat as well this weekend...I think the heat won the war.

  15. Looks like a gorgeous run!


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