Sunday, November 27, 2011

Til Bonk Do Us Part

I hadn't done a good, hard, long aerobic run since before my October trail marathon. I felt like I needed one, just to maintain my marathon conditioning. Or at least that's how I rationalized my masochistic reasoning. When I mentioned that I was thinking of running 16 miles (or so) in Umstead, my wife, Sherri, said she was interested in tagging along. Her longest run to date was a half marathon, her first, a month prior. I warned her that the route was pretty tough, but she always seems to be up for a challenge (she's had two kids after all). So, after finagling some childcare for the afternoon, we set off to Umstead for a bit of running.

75 degrees on November 28. I hadn't expected that. But there was water on the loop I planned to run, so I had brought along several Nuun electrolyte tablets for the water bottle, plus a couple of Honey Stinger gels, just in case. I thought I had enough to cover the run. I was running fasted (nothing to eat since the previous evening), hoping to rely on fat burning to fuel my long run. Stupidly optimistic - that's how I roll.

Sherri, who had eaten a sensible breakfast...

Umstead is just a beautiful place to run.
Loop One - Good Fun!
We left the car and had an easy run down to Reedy Creek Lake, where we would pick up the main Reedy Creek to Turkey Creek to Graylyn Trail loop I had planned.

Turning onto Reedy Creek Trail, we started the mile long steady climb up to the Turkey Creek Trail intersection. Sherri commented on how this hill seemed to go on forever! I told her it was at least twice as long on the second pass.
Two miles in and starting Turkey Creek Trail
for the first time. This should be easy...

Turkey Creek Trail is a tough run, especially the northern section. But with fresh legs and good conversation, we had no difficulty with most of it.
I noticed that the railing was rotten after
this photo was taken. Confluence of Crabtree,
Sycamore, and Turkey Creeks in the background.
Don't say you never learned anything from this blog...

The last couple of miles are hard, no matter how fresh my legs seem, so when we emerged from Turkey Creek Trail back onto Graylyn Trail, I was pretty happy.
I thought this post was my wife for a brief moment.
Dehydration can cause hallucinations, right?

Sherri looked fresh as ever and suffered only from all of my photography antics.

I also learned something on this run. Horses wear trail shoes, just like people. And they even lose them occasionally.

Easyboot Trail Shoe.
Zero drop with big meaty rubber cleats for grip.
I can always use more grip, but as usual
with trail shoes, this one didn't fit my
exceptionally wide foot.

Look at the grip on that thing!

Loop Two - Bad News
By the time we completed the first loop, the suffering had begun - mostly for me. Lack of any food during the previous 18 hours left me with very dead legs after only 9 miles. I thought about quitting, but Sherri seemed up for another loop, so off we went down Turkey Creek Trail once again.

Not nearly as much lively conversation from me on this pass though. I was suffering, silently. Sherri, on the other hand, seemed to be in great shape. I kept asking her if she was OK, hoping she would tell me she wanted to quit and head back to the car. But she said she was doing fine, just a bit tired.

Only when we reached the northern section of Turkey Creek Trail, where Krampus hides in the steep, gut-busting hills, did she begin to show any signs of trouble. By then I was an inch away from a major bonk.

I picked up the pace in a stupid effort to simply get the loop done and get back to my car. It didn't work.
Someone please send a horse.
I will pay with this nifty horse trail shoe.
Sherri was suffering, but still on her feet - and smiling! Damn her!
Stop smiling! And carry me back to the car!

But the smile wouldn't last much longer. By mile 15, the bonk set in for Sherri as well. We both struggled to finish the loop in one piece, and somehow we managed to hobble back to Reedy Creek Lake for 16 miles in about 3 hours.
My grimace looks like a smile. Sherri's face tells the
tale for both of us.
As we crossed the Reedy Creek Lake dam heading back to the car, I said "We should go for THREE loops!"
Wait! Come back! I was only joking!!
You can't leave me, I have the car keys!

So, as of this moment, we are still married. In fact we had a good laugh about the whole thing over a dinner of Thanksgiving left-overs and a couple of glasses of wine. However, I've learned one troubling new fact today - my wife is a better runner than me after only 5 months of training. But I will never tell her that. I will blame it all on the bonk.