For several days, the forecast predicted rain and thunderstorms all day Saturday. I was nervous getting up this morning, thinking of the 30 miles I wanted to run today. Last Saturday was challenging due to the mud, but I managed a very slow 20 miles. I was thrilled when I woke to find the forecast had changed completely, leaving the chance of rain at 10%. I was still worried the trails might be muddy, but we were pleasantly surprised to find them dry and totally runnable.
I tripped several times at the beginning of the run, which is usually an indicator that I'm going too fast. So I paid heed and fell to the back of the group. Well it turned out I was just at the back of THIS group and soon another group of folks caught up, including Debbie Webster, Julie Toft and Mr. Gary "Too Many First Names" Henry. Before I knew it I went from being at the back of the group to leading the group. My attempts to slack were being thwarted!
I preferred to not lead, because Nick and I planned to run 30, while the rest of the group was running 20 or less. I needed to reserve my energy for the extra 10 miles and didn't want to hold anyone back in the process. My attempts to relinquish my leading throne were not successful. The rest of the group claimed to like my pace so I continued on until we reached Land's End (a big open area where the blue and white trails intersect). Coleen commented a few times that I was really haulin' ass, but I reminded her she had run 30 miles the day before, which skewed her speed opinion.
Once we reached Land's End, Coleen turned back to do 10 and the rest of us continued on. Did I MENTION Coleen gave me some totally kick butt leopard print running sleeves?! Because she did. Now that I've gotten you all sidetracked I'll get back to running. We were doing it. Running, you perverts!
We kept on at a good pace until we reached about 11 miles or so. The rest of the group broke off to finish their 20 mile run, leaving Nick and I to our own devices. I decided to slow down a bit at this point to avoid burning out. Plus, it was a gorgeous day...no need to speed through, ignoring the wonderful scenery. It was 60ish degrees and overcast. The air felt amazing on my skin. The grass was growing. The frogs were croaking. I just wanted to go, regardless of speed, and see everything this spring-infected trail had to offer. (Spring is one of the few kinds of good infections. Laughter's a good one too!)
The springy bliss eventually faded. I was becoming fatigued and the sun started peeking out of the clouds, making me regret wearing a long sleeved shirt. On our way back to Land's End, Nick asked if I wanted to go back on the white trail and call it a day. This would be a compromise, giving us about 26 miles instead of 30. I agreed to his proposal. It would just be a marathon but still my longest training run.
Now when I say my bliss was gone, I don't mean I was unhappy. In fact, I was in a state of contented exhaustion. I was still happy to be on the trail on this beautiful day, but my legs required some convincing to keep up this running stuff. We were taking more walk breaks and it was getting harder to end them. I began to wonder how I've ever completed an ultra. The simple answer is, aid stations and volunteers. You need stuff (you can only carry so much), and you need encouragement (someone who isn't as tired as you).
Once we finally reached the last section of trail, I decided to pick up the pace. I thought Nick would try to pass me, so I kept running faster and faster until I was full out sprinting. He didn't pass me. And I said, "In your face!" Actually, I don't think I said that, but I'm thinking it right now.
After the run, the day continued to be awesome. We spent most of the afternoon basking in the sun on lovely Mass St (if you've seen me lately, you know I can use quite a lot of basking). So the Laurie votes are in, and they all agree, this Saturday was so far, the best of the year!