The weather has been snowy, but a couple of friends and I are signed up for a February 50k and so the training has to happen. It has been quite helpful for starting off the year strong, because there are definitely some miles I would have otherwise skipped. Like most of them.
Last weekend’s run was the longest one before the Run Forest Run 50k. We planned on about 25 miles, which would be a great time to do the Horse to Horse to Horse. The name is because it starts at Horse Butte and goes to Horse Ridge and back. It is remote, but accessible by forest road, so we drove a car out to about halfway between points so we could have a couple of fill up stops if needed.
It was snowing pretty hard as we were driving and we considered the need to change locations, but the route was planned so we stuck with it. Quickly after beginning the run, the clouds parted and we were treated to blue sky. It was gorgeous. While it was pretty, there was about 4 inches of fresh snow and we slowly climbed our way towards Horse Ridge. After a while it was getting tiring trudging through the unbeaten path and we detoured to forest roads for some easier running. After we stopped at the car for some treats we made our way back to the trail and back to the grind. It was just difficult. Eventually we found ourselves back on forest road and it was glorious.
There isn’t much elevation gain in this run, but to get the best views of the run we had an 1,100 foot climb in less than half a mile. With untouched snow except for the truck that apparently thought they might be able drive up, it was intense. It was beautiful at the top and then many falls and slips on the way back down. Looking at my watch we were now just over 14 miles into the run after detours and mapping distance errors. This puts our already slow run into the too long category. Luckily we had the car so we plotted and planned to stick to the forest roads, skip the trails and do some out and backs if necessary. We also downgraded the run from a goal of 25 miles to 22, because the time wasn’t feeling worth the distance.
We had a good stint of running and then one road was more of an ATV gully, where the snow was deep and slushy as the day warmed up under the winter sun. We were so done, but here we were tromping through the sage brush to avoid the gully until we finally reached the main road that would take us back to the car. Then started the death march. That time in the run where you are really training. Not much talking is happening anymore and it takes everything to keep running. As we were almost done, my daughter texted me. I stopped to reply and suddenly realized I had to go to the bathroom. I barely made it off the road and wondered when I even started to need to go. I had shut out everything with the focus of finishing this training run as strong as I could.
The car ended up being at 22.2 miles and we were done. 5.5 hours in the cold. My face hurt and was bright red. My feet had been wet all day. We went for burgers.
My feet were sore in a strange way for a couple of days after from being wet, but otherwise I felt pretty good. My desire to run was gone though. And then I caught a cold. So, I am grateful the run is done and looking forward to that 50k.