Sunday, I had the rare opportunity to get a good run in. The kids had a sleepover at the in-laws so my wife and I could go see a show (Reverend Horton Heat) at Mohegan Sun on Saturday night. Fun night with some old friends, good music, and midnight Krispy Kreme. I went to bed at 1AM wondering if I would wake up early enough, and more importantly,motivated enough to do the run I had planned.
My plan was hatched out over a late afternoon coffee buzz. I wasn't sure if I would run Saturday afternoon in Arcadia - this idea quickly fizzled out as I had no ambition to run after a busy day with the kids. My new plan was to run early Sunday morning from my house - "warm up" by running up and down the hills to get to the Vin Gormley Trail, run the 8 mile loop as hard as possible (Lil Runaround course) and then "cool down" on the hills back to my house for a total of about 11.5 miles. I was hoping to get Justin to run it with me, but it was a little too last minute for it to work out.
I woke up a little after 6AM, had some breakfast, threw on my trail shoes, and headed out before I could second guess myself. It was a summer-like morning - overcast, humid, and in the low 60's. As I veered off onto the first trail, I felt a twinge of anxiety, worried about an early morning encounter with some wild creatures (didn't happen as usual). I tried to keep my pace slow, but it's still quite a workout with the two decent hills to climb. As I approached the VG Trail, I saw someone walking a dog on the road - I was convinced it was my dad and stopped running to chat. Oops, not him! I really missed my glasses on this one. I walked to the start of the loop and took off at a fast pace. Where I start the loop just happens to be a long, technical, challenging section. The "reward" is the 2 mile section on paved and unpaved roads that follows. I hate this part. Maybe it's because I'm in trail shoes, or maybe it's because after doing some serious trail work, running on a road seems lame. Eventually, it returns to single track (briefly) before entering a large campground. I couldn't wait to hit the single track again. Then I ran into it - the biggest mud bog of a trail I'd ever seen. My guess is that the was due to the flooding two months ago. Two wooden walkways over muddy sections must have floated off the trail (they were not in the same location anymore). I couldn't find where people were getting around this section - I guess they were just turning around. This wasn't an option for me, but I also wasn't planning on testing the depth of the muddy water. I stopped my watch, and worked my way around this quagmire. Back on the trail, I felt invigorated, and really felt fast, especially through the tricky brook crossings and down hills. I was afraid to check my watch, not wanting to be disappointed. The last mile is another technical stretch that is all uphill, including the longest hill of the loop at the very end. I've never felt so fast going up it. I stopped again and walked and check my time - 59:53 - not really happy about it. I know my times are slower in the humidity, but I thought I was going to be faster. I know I'm faster now on roads and smoother trails than I ever have been. There's something about this particular trail that I'm never satisfied with the result (time-wise - I'm always happy to run it!). I jogged the trails back to my house, which includes a really steep one, but I was encouraged by how good my body felt after this workout - lengthwise and intensity-wise. I returned home ready to see my kids and to drink some coffee!