It has become somewhat of a tradition with our group to do a Red, White, and Blue trail run on or around the 4th of July each year. These represent the colors of all the major trails in Percy and Edwin Warner Parks, so the run involves completing all three trails plus the Candy-Cane connector trail which links the two parks together. This is quite a challenging run with almost 12-miles of trails and over 3,000 ft. of cumulative elevation gain…
Since my schedule called for 14 to 16 miles today I got to the park a little early to complete just over a mile on the blue trail before the group arrived. For the group run we started out from the Edwin Warner Nature Center on the Candy-Cane connector trail. Since I was already warmed up, I ran out ahead of the rest of the group on the Candy-Cane and then onto the Red Trail in Percy Warner. My legs were feeling fantastic.
However, as has become the recent norm, about two miles into the group run I caught a jagged rock with my right foot and went down hard to the ground. Thankfully my hand-held water bottle took the brunt of the fall, only leaving me we a few scrapes on the knuckles of my right hand, and a bit of soreness in my right hip. After taking a second to clean myself off, some of the group had caught back up with me, and I continued on with them.
With no lasting ill effects from the fall, I continued to run the trails pretty hard and ended up well in front of the rest of the group again. Just before we transitioned from the Red to the White trail I heard someone from our group yell behind me, and ran back to find that Sue Anne had also taken a tumble going into a hard left turn. She had a pretty good scrape on her left knee, but was otherwise OK. We continued on to the White trail, and again I went out in front.
However, after about a 1/2 mile on the White trail I realized there was someone coming up right behind me. I briefly turned around and was surprised to see Aine from our group. While Aine is a very strong runner, this was the first time she had ever run trails. Usually first-timers are very timid on the downhills, or underestimate how difficult the climbs will be, but Aine was tearing it up throughout the run.
We took a brief break at the point where the White trail connects with the Red trail to re-group and make sure we had not left anyone behind. From there we ran the second half of the Red trail. Again I surged out to the front, but this time Aine and Sue Anne stayed with me. We came to a section of the Red trail which is almost like a shale cliff. Most runners walk up this section, and I do frequently as well. However, today I was determined that I was not going to walk any part of the trails, so I began to weave back and forth like a billy goat up this climb.
I guess Sue Anne took this as a personal challenge, and powered up the shale face with me. Once we got to the top she powered past me and took off like a bullet. I had to pick up my pace just to stay within 20 meters of her, and she stayed out in front for the remainder of the Red trail. We again re-grouped with everyone before jumping back on the Candy-Cane connector trail to Edwin Warner Park. The connector is pretty flat, and I took it fairly easy to try and fully recover before hitting the Blue trail in Edwin Warner.
After a brief fluid stop at the Nature Center, we headed back onto the Blue trail and into a pretty difficult climb. Marc said something to the effect of “Tim you’ve been looking pretty strong today, you can lead us up this hill.” I went to the front, but by this point the combination of the heat, humidity, and hills had left my legs feeling pretty fatigued. I still had enough energy for the climb, but I was not picking up my legs like I should have been. Because of this I tripped and took a second fall on my way up the hill, this time scraping up my knee a bit…
After Kelly helped me back to my feet, I decided to just hang back with the pack and let Sue Anne, Aine, and Marc lead the group. By the time we finished the Blue trail I had completed 13 total miles, and was completely toast. Even though my schedule called for 14 to 16 miles, I just didn’t have another mile in me. I honestly think this is the most fluid I have lost on a run this year, and it was obviously a very challenging route.
Even though I did not get in my scheduled distance, I think I easily got in as much work (or more) as I would have on a 14 to 16 mile run on the road. I was on my feet for almost 2 hours and 15 minutes, and as I mentioned earlier, had over 3,000 ft. of cumulative elevation gain through the run.
The bad thing about only getting in 13-miles today, and missing my Wednesday run due to illness, and only getting in 6-miles at track Thursday due to the extreme heat, is that this broke my 9-week string of completing 40 or more miles in a week. I came in just short this week with 39.3-miles completed. However, I’m pleased with how well I felt today overall, and that I don’t seem to have any lingering effects from my mid-week illness.