Bob and I met Melissa and Ben down by the covered bridge at Mohican State Park. Bob, like a good boy scout had printed out a bunch of trail maps of the area and I had Kim's e-mail printed out on various running options. Bob grew up near here in Loudonville; he's done some hunting and hiking, but never run these parts. Now Melissa would be into anything since she's one of those 100 miler types, but Ben--her ex-hubby, was more of a sensible runner, so we tried to figure out some small palatable loops.
I haven't done a long run in ages, but figured I could handle around 15. The relentless rain from yesterday had finally stopped, was still overcast, but didn't detract from the fall splendor. I think this has been a beautiful fall all around--this weekend was definitely the peak, yellows and reds twirled to the ground on a gentle breeze--cool, but comfortable. I opted for long running tights today with long sleeves. Bob was showing off his nice legs. We did a short jaunt up the hiking trail to Lyons Falls and then continued to the lake and massive scary spillway. We heard about another trail that continued up to the lodge, but couldn't find it, so we ran back along the river to the covered bridge. Bob had all kinds of fuel, so we scarfed before heading out for more, running this time along the Hemlock Trail along the river and past the primitive camping sites. A number of campers seemed surprised to see runners. They were jovial sorts, hooting and hollering, while their bacon sizzled and asked us how far we were going. I thought tons of people ran out here, but honestly, we didn't see a single other runner the entire time we were out there. I was soon to find out why.
So, far the trail running was nice and easy. Once we got to the second main camping area with the cabins and full hookups, we parted ways with Melissa and Ben. Kim suggested the mountain biking trail for a good trail run. It was 12 miles long, and judging from the contour map that showed tight rugged switch-backs and high elevations, this was going to be a bitch of a run, but I was feeling high from our sensible 6 mile warm up with good company, so when Bob suggested this, I thought, "What the heck...let's do it!" We did have Bill's Bad Ass right around the corner, so better ramp up the miles. Stupid mistake number one--we didn't refill our water bottles before embarking on 12 miles of switchbacks on the freaking side of a mountain. Since I'm a hybrid runner that does trails and roads equally, sometimes my slow, dim-witted middle aged brain has a hard time converting back to "trail time." Well...it only takes a few hours to run 12 miles (of roads), so this won't be any big deal. I forgot that 12 miles of trail running up the side of a mountain might take a little more time, oh, but I was lured by that handsome Bob and all the pretty leaves...
Bob and I are considering running the 50 mile option at Mohican, but we might go back to the bargaining table on that one. I wasn't sure what a mountain biking trail would be like--Bob and I imagined something wider, for one, and not so mountainous, but that's silly, of course, since mountain biking denotes mountains. This was so different from the Buckeye Trail, which consists of crazy steep, but short hills that you walk mostly, coast the flats, and gently run the downs. This trail was just continually up--there were very few times where it was so steep you had to walk, but it seemed like we were forever going up, which was confirmed when I saw clouds at the same level as us far off in the distance. This trail was so stunningly beautiful, I couldn't begin to describe it. Already, just a few miles into the 12 mile section, I had an odd mix of feelings brewing. I was so loving being out here on such an exquisite day, but I felt my body and my fuel were deficient for such an undertaking, so I mentally fretted. We passed a small group of mountain bikers. They looked at us like we were crazy and we looked at them the same. No freaking way would I ride a bike along these single track track trails, the mountain on one side and then a bottomless precipice on the other, ready to plummet you to certain death with one wrong move.
After this little group of bikers, we didn't see a single solitary soul for the next hour and a half. We didn't see deer, we didn't see anything but all these amazing leaves and indescribable vistas. I had to pee like crazy. I'm not very adept at peeing outdoors; I would much rather wait for a bathroom, but my bladder was screaming. I made Bob head up the trails a ways to wait for me. I found a big tree. I dropped my drawers and affected a wide squat to not pee on my pants. Then--I heard something. I looked behind me and saw a large swath of brilliant red color, too big to be leaves, when I noticed a helmet, and a wheel of bike and his cyclist hovered above, stopped on the trail watching my luminous white ass. The red was the fleece of cyclist. I screamed and jumped up like I was shot.
"I was going to wait for you to finish," said my mountain biking voyeur.
"You were just going to stand there and watch me pee?" I said totally mortified. He was mortified. As he passed me I told him not to look at me, I was so embarrassed. As he biked by he told me his mom and sister pee outside too. OMG!! Does he watch them too? I couldn't believe my bad timing out here in the middle of Mohican State Forest and the minute I drop my drawers, I've got company. These cyclists just appear out of nowhere!! Bob told me to look on the bright side since I probably gave him a little boost to get through the rest of his ride, but it didn't do a thing for me.
By mile 15 of this arduously awful but beautiful run, we ran out of water. I didn't eat a big breakfast, was way past lunch now, and was getting fast sick of the Swedish Fish (poor man's Shot Blox). I hadn't done a long run in so long and now I was really paying for it. By mile 16, I had to start adding in a lot of walking. Bob was holding up great and pretty much lead the way the whole time. He's been running very strong lately. By mile 18, I had an obnoxious headache, lead legs, and visions of double cheese burgers. The run had turned into a hike by this point, but that was O.K, and then finally, back to the Covered Bridge. What a wonderful, wonderful run!! It was hard as heck--I was totally unprepared for it and a strange man saw my entire bare ass, but it was so amazingly beautiful (the run, not my ass). Thanks Bob for such a great day, and for Melissa and Ben coming out to share part of it too!! My sensible running vacation has ended and it's time to go to work!!