I was worried about the Weather.com forecast. There were foreboding warnings of freezing rain marked in red, starting in the wee hours of the morning, but I didn't see any evidence of that while I was getting ready for today's group training run for the Buckeye Winter 50K. What is the deal with Weather.com? They make a big deal out of nothing, or they totally gloss over the true freak weather phenomenon that makes living in Northeastern Ohio such a joy. I've been sending out e-mails to interested parties in hopes that a good number of people would show up, so we could all split into respective, A, B, or C groups, so no one is running alone. Maybe it's the mother in me, but I hate to think of people out there running alone in case something should happen.
First in the lot, was a new club member and fellow red-head, Bob, who has been nursing a pesky piriformis injury, a typical runner pain the ass, inflicted on him at the hands of the Road Runner half marathon (Oh...that cruel Mistress, the Road Runner...that bad bad bird!) but he's slowly starting to get back in the running groove. He wanted to check out the whole trail running scene, so he was going to run 20 minutes out with us and then head back. I tried to impart on Bob the allure and oxymoronic (is that a word?) mystery of trail running; how it seems really bad ass jumping over roots, sliding through mud, and scaling up hills, but it's so much more gentle on the body than the pounding asphalt. That's assuming you don't careen down cliffs or knock your head on a rock, of course...
Maria was pulling up next; she said her Sports Doc will only authorize 8 miles for her today, so she wouldn't be joining us for the Brandywine Loop. She said she was feeling a little green, still, from a stomach virus whose suspected orgins are with her sweet-faced little niece. It cracks me up how my sister-law protects her one year old from the adults who have ANY evidence of a cold. I tried to set her straight that the true disease vectors of the world are children...as innocent, and sweet as they are--their immature immune systems will catch the latest virus and pass it on to YOU if you haven't developed a natural immunity to it. I'm almost over my own upper respiratory hell, which has mellowed into the occasional rattling cough jag. I was very anxious to run today.
Debi, Denise, George T, and E-speed pulled into the lot too. Brett popped out the Pine Lane exit; he must have started early today. Elizabeth was waiting for a young pup trail wolf friend, Amy, to show up. Elizabeth said she was planning on taking an easy run today and stay with us. Stay with us? I wondered if that would be possible. She runs a 50K in under 5 hours, a 5K in under 20 minutes; how could she possibly slow herself down to run with me? Hmmm....I felt honored that she would consider reigning in the trail running animal to run with our group. She's so sweet. I forgot to get the pre-run photo...AGAIN! Someone needs to remind me. I get so preoccupied checking if I have everything and talking with people as they drive in, that I've been negligent in getting the pre-run photo. One can not assume the group you end up with will be the same one you started with, since some will diverge, and others drop off.
We waited for some more people I expected to be there, but the run must go on! We waited a reasonable ten minutes and were off! The trail conditions were awesome fun today. I wore my special trail running rubber prophylactics; the slip on rubber devises with tacks on the bottom to grip to the snow or ice that might be on the trail. There were a few icy spots, but for the most part it was a divine mud fest. I think I had my rubbers on backwards caused they looked ridiculous. I would have lost one if it weren't for Brett's eagle eye, spotting it flying off my foot. Sheesh--you'd think those things would stay on with my big feet. For women that believe in the "big feet=big nether regions" myth..I would be really hung if I were a man. I was surprised they came off. For anyone considering purchasing a pair of these bad boys...I think the trademark "Yak-Tracks" might be better quality. Mine are an off brand that I picked up at Second Sole. I don't know why running through mud is my favorite trail flavor. I think it's because it makes me feel like a kid again, rebelliously getting my clothes all dirty to piss off my mother--except the mother is my husband who will have a COW over how filthy I made his car. It just makes me smile. I tell him that I'm his very dirty girl.
Just as soon as we were getting warmed up, Bob had to turn around for fear of riling up the ass injury. The temperature today was actually nice for running, but the damp greyness of the air would chill to the bone if we stopped too long. Just as we jogged into Boston Store, Kurt did his characteristic impromptu appearance. This time he was just sitting in the Boston Store lot, rather than popping out of the brush. We had just been talking how Kurt had signed up for this crazy 150 mile ultra. That turned out to be a big topic of conversation for our 13 miles through the cold woods. Denise and Maria turned around here...Maria was taking on deeper hues of green. I don't think she was fully recovered from the toddler plague.
I thought I had Brett signed up as a new club member--I was going to wrangle $20 out of him at the end of the trail, when he pulls a slippery fast one on me...and turns around at the Stanford Hostel. So, for the Brandywine loop it was me, Debi, Elizabeth, Kurt, and Amy. The time went quickly though here because Elizabeth talks...NONSTOP. I don't mean that in a disparaging way...I love it and enjoyed listening to her talk. She makes me look quiet and reserved, can you believe it? I love to chit-chat while running, but I tend to get more quiet as my body starts talking to me. I was starting to feel a tired kind of stiffness settle in, but I was happy I didn't have any focused points of pain...just generalized, all over sore. I get very worried when my hip starts to hurt or one or the I-T Band Man starts whispering his "lies" in my ear like, "you suck...you're not cut out for doing these kinds of distances..." That bad boy has left the neighborhood...hopefully for good. Debi gets quiet too, when she's tired, so we just focused on getting to the end of Pine Lane.
This is when I actually turn on my little green I-Pod shuffle, but I was having a heck of a time adjusting the controls with my boys mittens. My hands were staying nice and warm today. Mittens are the key; I'm still trying to tackle down a pair of wool ones. I saw that little fast proprietor of Vertical Runnner and told him I'd be at his store in a flash if he had wool mittens, but he didn't and did his best to sell me a non-wool sort. I'm a wool girl. I'd have an entire winter wardrobe of wool clothing if I could afford it...down to my undergarments if they were cute enough to do justice to the apples.
We got into a conversation about the 100 mile ultras: I wondered why Elizabeth doesn't want to run one when she she seems so close, having run a few 50 milers. But, true, there is a big difference between 50 miles and 100; she didn't think she'd have fun running 100, going all night with no sleep running in the woods. I don't think I would either, so we decided, for the time being, to volunteer at an aid station and support the poor possessed souls that want to do it.
Finally, we reached the end and Elizabeth generously offered us homemade candy that she spent hours making with her family. I was partial to the turtles. Good run...and we had beat the freezing rain!