Running and Training in Pagosa – Part 2
It is a little over an hour to the trailhead where we were to begin the morning run. I didn’t sleep well – it felt like the night before a race and not the night before a training run. Tossing and turning the alarm finally chirped in the darkness and one foot at a time I stepped onto the floor.
Dressing in the dark with the clothes I’d laid out the night before I plodded down the stairs, brushed my teeth, grabbed a banana and headed out the door. The sun had not risen and it was already 28-degrees.
My anticipation told me the temperatures would gain a few additional slots on the gage by the trail start and I would need to be more concerned about the sun’s increased temperature near the finish. Alas, rubbing my goose pimpled legs, it was a mere 14-degrees at the start and I wondered if the lack of hesitation with pulling on a running skirt and lightweight tee in the morning darkness was a good plan. Thankfully, I had sufficient forethought to pull on my fleece running jacket and gloves before leaving the house.
We waited for all our compardres to arrive for the 7:30 am challenge. Brandy, Michelle and I hit the road where we would run together for seven miles. After that, I would be on my own to complete the little box on the training calendar that dictated the Saturday long run mileage. Regardless that I didn’t sleep well overnight, I wasn’t too terribly worried about reaching the end … after all, stop and walk if necessary!
Begrudgingly uncoiling myself from the car my arms swung a few unambitious windmills. Tapping the button on my watch it moved to chrono and with no hype or cheers of well wishes the start button was pressed and we were off in the rising sun.
UPHILL … no really … UPHILL! Two miles drifting on a windy obscure dirt road that steered impressively to the staggering peaks of the Weminuche Range. Fence posts lined the boundaries of properties meticulously groomed and a rocking swing sat near a small pond where the spring peepers bellowed a chorus for all to hear. The solitude of the grandeur kept my eyes darting from left to right despite the slow slog shuffle that was moving my body imperceptibly step by step up the bump with an old school house sitting quietly in the distance.
Frozen toes greeted mile three with labored breath. Nasty crud accumulated on the initial uphill leaving a metallic taste suffocating any attempt to breath with any pattern. Pressure on my chest would soon subside as I practiced step and count breathing that would gradually implement controlled movement. Right quad is frozen tight forcing the leggings of my skirt to slide upright. At mile four I hit a pace, stretch out my legs to loosen the cold and tucked away the gloves that have done their best to warm on this chilly morn.
The next five miles stretched out on controlled curves careening above greening meadows and frozen tipped sedges that simply called for the rays of the sunshine. The backwall of the Piedra River stood out stoically with its orange and black comparisons. Each step came easily, patiently, aware that together the two feet and I were less than a third of the way there.
Still steady mile six looked north and made a quick jaunt to the river where the morning flow had slowed with the lower temperatures of nightfall. As theday progresses the water CFS increases making for a joyous raft trip but this morning the edges are still white with frost and the accompanying rocks slick with unseen ice.
Turn into the parking area, grab the banana now semi-frozen from its outside wait, thank the gals for the morning run – we are a third of the way there!
I know myself well enough to recognize that if I don’t build in the mileage before the end, if I’m short, I’ll simply concede to a good run despite the shortage of training miles. Today, that would be unforgiveable. Today, I needed to test the boundaries. Extend the confidence and make a decision related to a race that is only weeks away.
STILL UPHILL … there hasn’t been much of a break. Male mountain bluebirds are sitting on the posts singing their nasal “tews” and flit away as my steps draw nearer. The forest trees are an amazing transition from the high meadows and hide snowpack that reminds of winter still being so very near. Trails with their dusty tread reveal that cattle often travel this way and the scent of pine is a rewarding reminder of why today is such a beautiful day.
The fork in the road is quiet. A horse “neighs” in the distance. My calves are screaming with muscles succeeding in minute tears from Achilles tendon to hamstring. This has been A LOT of uphill and my legs are I aren’t quite halfway there.
Make the turn and dig hard. Stretching out the stride is met with a rebuff that is unwilling to be conquered. Listen for traffic on the tight turn and hearing none stay on the inside track coaxing. An owl hoots in the distance as the trees break away and again the starting trailhead it reached. Half way there and the departure is bittersweet. She has handed me a daunting challenge in these first ten miles on my feet.
I hit the split button … why I don’t know. What it reads doesn’t matter … there is still two hours to go.
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