Well, while this run was MUCH better than my last adventure into the LSHT, it was still pretty rough!
In an effort to get my last good long run in leading up to the Whispering Pines 50K, I decided to take to the trails super early with a goal of going between 28 and 32 miles. I accounted for the run to last about 6 hours, so I hit the ground running at around 4:20 Saturday morning.
What I didn't account for was that several sections of the course had been destroyed by tornados earlier in the week.
So running barefoot, in the dark, with a head lamp and flashlight while stopping every 30 feet to climb over fallen pine trees and then scampering thru all the accompanying pinecones littering the trail was quite... interesting.
Luckily I had thought ahead and was carrying a pull string draw bag on my back that contained .7 liters of Poweraid, .7 liters of water, some trail mix and peanut M&M's, my pair of Vibrams and luckily a ziplock baggie of toilet paper. So after spending over an hour climbing thru fallen tree tops and barely covering the first 4 miles (mile 1 was ran in 13:15, mile 2 was a real bitch) I decided that I was about tired of pine cones, so I sat down on a fallen oak tree and slipped on my Vibrams and took off again.
I haven't ran in shoes in a long time. And even then it was only for 3 or 4 miles on the roads. So running in trails in shoes was an entirely different experience altogether.
But it wasn't a bad experience!
Shoes as tools, right?
After donning the Vibrams I was actually able to continue on at a relatively decent pace for awhile. I even came upon a cleared out area that was COVERED in little pop up tents at some point. I can't remember if it was before or after the shoes, but I know it was still pitch black outside. I figured that it was the local Boy Scout's. I debated on giving then a good scare by either screaming like crazy or holding a conversation with myself.
This is what I was playing out in my head as I passed thru their camp...
This is good, just drop the body here.
No, that won't with you idiot. These people will find her.
Well if anyone sees you your ass is grass anyways, your covered in blood and chicken feathers.
Oh will you just shut up!
No, you shut up. You're the one who got us into this mess.
I should never have listened to you in the first place. I knew that house wasn't abandoned, and this isn't my sister after all.
Sort of play it out like a Jekel and Hyde, or even better, a Smeagol and Gollum type thing!!!!
But I didn't from fear of being shot by a paranoid city dad.
Other than the trees crossing over the trail, the area from Trail Head 1 to Trail Head 6 was a very beautiful trail that was very runnable, save for the creek crossings where you went damn near straight down 15 feet into a creek bed, then right back up a 15 foot vertical climb / crawl to get back out.
I actually took a short cut trail because of the slow progress from the tornado faulted obstacles, this was the "North Wilderness Trail" and it cut out roughly 2.02 miles from the 1 way trip. This section of trail was very running friendly. Way nicer than it's southern counterpart, the Little Lake Creek Loop.
Overall, all the sections of the LSHT that I have ran have been very well marked with reflective blazes every so often, but I did manage to get off the trail at one point, but realized it after about a 3rd of a mile and was able to quickly correct my mistake. This particular turn was very poorly marked, and on the way back I showed Jesse what had happened and he said he would have done the same thing.
At one point I actually made my first human contact since kissing my wife good bye several hours earlier that morning. I met a french ultra marathoner whose last name was something like "Weisbeck". He was out on what I think came out to be around a 25 mile run. We chatted for a few minutes before resuming off in opposite directions. I always get giddy and talkative while I'm out running, especially when I meet another ultra runner, so, Mr Weisbeck, I'm sorry if I came across a little... umm... strange? Its just how I am. It was still very nice to have met you.
The plan was to meet Jesse at TH6, then return back to TH 1 either via the entire 16 miles of LSHT, or take the same North Wilderness Trail shortcut and make it back in 14 miles. I was intending on taking the longer 16 miles, but was unsure due to the setbacks earlier in the run. When I found out that Jesse mistook my drop bag full of calories and hydration I had left on the trunk of his car as one of his son's buddies bags and left it in his yard, the decision to try to make the 14 miles back with only .7 liters of water on me was an easy one to make.
To return run went great. We actually made pretty decent timing. I had to stop to remove built up dirt and sand from the toes of my Vibrams. That was annoying.
I saw, and caught, a little ribbon snake.
We see a guy who appeared to be another ultra runner bust his ass trying to cross over a fallen pine tree. I think he was a bit embarrassed because he didn't really reply when I asked if he was alright and tried to make conversation with him. He might have just been "in the zone", so whatever.
We crossed paths with the Boy Scout's group who did confirm that the sound of me running thru their camp scared the mess out of most of "the kids", but I imagine the adults werent feeling too great about hearing someone running thru camp in the dead of night either.
At mile 25 it hit me like a ton of bricks. I had to stop dead in my tracks.
I needed to poop.
There was no waiting.
Thank God I packed some toilet paper!
The romp back thru the warzone of fallen trees was MUCH easier in the day light. We were actually running at around a 9 minute mile pace between trees.
I made it back to the truck, covered in mud and blood (from all the thorns and briars) in 27.84 miles in 7:02.
I expected to be sore as hell the next day, but here it is, Monday afternoon, and only the faintest signs of any soreness. I take this as a good sign!
I didn't take a lot of pictures this time. I enjoyed running in the Vibrams on the tougher sections of trail, but it still doesn't beat running bare!