|Near perfect conditions for the first 5 miles|
Fezzik, Crux, J-Rock, 6-Pack, Tenacious-Z, Scout and Squirrel (I just made up a few of those) were all at the park this morning and everyone seemed up for at least the BL, with most planning to tack on the hill repeats at the end. Things started innocently enough, and the combination of good firm snow conditions and 6-Pack up at the front lead to a pretty quick pace for the first five miles. But when we got to the power lines things went downhill pretty quick. The reason we only run the BL in the winter is because along the power lines the trail is dependent upon swamps and rivers freezing solid and being buried under many inches of snow. The recent warm weather we've had has caused both of those typical winter attributes to be non-existent.
|The first watery challenge|
|The usual route was severely flooded|
|The past two weeks we were able to run across this river, but obviously not today|
|Water crossings became frequent and it was impossible to maintain warm feet|
|Thermometer read 30 but it felt warmer, by the time we finished the run it was definitely in the high 30's|
As if the first 14 miles of our run weren't enough of a challenge we paused at the bottom of the hill before undertaking what we all knew was going to be a brutal finish to this long run. Four times up and down this 3/4 mile hill, that climbs over 300 feet, would give us the mileage we needed to get over 20 for the day. We agreed to take the hills each at our own pace and regroup at the end, and not surprisingly Crux took off in the lead while J-Rock, Tenacious-Z and I stayed pretty close together.
The first time up we were breaking trail but most of the climb was runnable with only a few fairly short sections requiring walking due to the combination of a steep grade and crappy footing. Much to our dismay the trail had many wet spots and keeping warm feet continued to be an issue. At least working hard up hill generated enough heat to stay warm, the trouble for me was keeping my feet warm on the way back down. I ran as quick as I could on tired legs on the way back down, which actually became harder as the temperature rose and the snow became more slushy and slick. I think it was on our second time down that we bumped into Scout and Squirrel on their way up for the first time. I was impressed that they had toughed it out for the complete BL and had begun to tackle the hill repeats with smiles.
|SportTracks calls the total elevation gain 1,900', RunningAHEAD calls it 3,100'|
I wasn't hitting the lap button on my watch so this is an estimate based on the GPS data. That sounds about right based on the way it felt, a bit tougher for each consecutive climb from 1-3 and then we pushed it hard, or Tenacious-Z pushed us hard, on the last one. By the time we made it down to the parking lot I was totally done in. Absolutely nothing left. But it actually felt good in a way to push myself to the limit without ever crashing during the run. Crashing afterwards is OK. That's what Edna & Lucy's is for. The hot capicola sandwich, french fires, giant homemade doughnut and coffee, helped bring me back to life, although I was walking pretty funny for a while afterwards.
|A few modifications to the regular route were required due to flooded areas and unfrozen rivers|
distance: 20.85 miles
conditions: atrocious! some decent snomo trails, lots of postholing, water crossings, swampiness and slush
weather: lower-upper 30's, sunny
gear: Inov-8 Oroc 280 with screws, sock liners, wool socks, tights, t-shirt, long sleeve shirt, 2x gloves, hat, Nathan HPL #020