So I’ve been concealing something relevant to this blog for a while now. You’d think that a guy posting the intimate details of his blood glucose levels would have no secrets, but I’ve been holding off on this one until now…..
I’ve been somewhat disingenuous in saying that April 2nd Night Flight at Camp Mount Luther would be my first official 5K. For about the last month, since I saw the sign for this one in, get this: a Papajohns, (irony is so delicious) I’ve been planning to do one earlier. And today, I did it.
I ran the 3.66 mile trail run at R.B. Winter State Park, aka Snowfest, sponsored by the Mid Penn Trailblazers.OK, I walked a lot of it, but when you see the details, you’ll be surprised I’m not still there trying to finish.
I had no concept of how tough a trail run is, in the snow. I’ve been doing my training runs out on snowy icy roads. But there is no comparison to the snow pack that was on the ground on these untreated trails. The snow pack was deep. I don’t know how many inches of snow it started out as, but it was a good 6-8inches when I broke through. Probably more. And man, did I ever break through. A spot that was run over by 100 people already may give, it may not. Just getting to the starting line was difficult. Each step was a gamble. It might stay on the surface, it might plunge so deep that I was up above my calf tattoos in snow. In conditions like this, I was happy just to finish.Think running in sand, except you don’t know which step will land and which will sink. And it’s cold. And it’s up a pretty good hill. And it’s slippery.
The ascent was brutal. 1043 feet total. Most of it in the first mile. It was a “you have to be kidding me” experience at many turns. The flat stretches are where I did all my falling. (Four times if I counted right.) The downhill was steep, dangerous, and borderline ridiculous. After the race, I heard a girl telling her friends she just sat down and slid down the hill at a few points. She was tiny and very fit looking. If the people who “look like runners” were troubled, imagine this super-Clydesdale class guy!
But somehow I did it. I was last to cross the line, I had questioned my ability to finish the run within the first mile, and did I mentioned I fell 4 times? But somewhere around the point where I was making the last uphill climb, seeing the photographer at the top, I realized I was going to make this thing. I would finish.
I didn’t even put in my music until the halfway point. I will eventually achieve the zen of a trail runner completely in tune with the natural surroundings, free of artificial stimulus, but right now the extra kick was helpful. I did however pull out the buds in the last 1/3 mile, because I knew my kids would be cheering for me at the finish line and there is no way I was going to miss that.
Though it wasn’t terribly cold, I still ran in my usual ensemble, including ski goggles. I was glad to have them, especially at the end so no one would have to see me tearing up as I approached the finish line and heard that chant of “go Daddy! go Daddy!”
I collected my glass, found my bag with the t-shirt and other swag I left before the race. We made our way to the cars, had lunch out as a family. I let the tears come on the last leg of the drive home, all by myself. I’ve never felt so alive. A year ago, I couldn’t have done the first half mile of this. Heck, 3 months ago I wouldn’t have considered this.
And I will confess a little pride in this tidbit: even though runs from 5ks to marathons have people of all sizes and shapes, at this particular event, I didn’t see anyone approaching my weight. Maybe one other non-lean type, but I was definitely the heaviest runner. And I got it done.
This video says it all. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elqCjtp9FLs
Oh yeah – on the way to the run, the classic rock station I had on played Iron Man. I knew it was going to be my day.