Monday, August 24, 2015

A tale of two ladies. And 26.7 miles.

On Saturday I had the honor of tagging along on Sheila's trail marathon training run at Letchworth State Park. She has basically been running a marathon a week for the past few weeks as part of her training for the Virgil Crest 50 mile race. (Yes, you read that correctly. Fifty miles. The appropriate response is "Damn, girl! You're the epitome of badass!")

I hadn't really intended on running a marathon distance. I was just planning to run by feel, and I thought I'd only make it to 20 miles at most. But it was such a beautiful day with the best of company and the miles just seemed to fly by. Here is the recap, as I recall it:

Gus (The van. He was in full-on Fun Gus mode on Saturday, which means he was actually recognizing and connecting to the iPod. Sometimes he refuses to do so. He is a rather temperamental DJ.) and I left Pete's house at 5:40am and made our way down to Letchworth. We met Sheila, Eric, Valone and Jeff at the Mt. Morris Entrance and parked at the Mt. Morris Dam Overlook Area. Sheila, Jeff and I headed out on Trail 20 around 6:45am. (Note: all further descriptions of this run are approximate because I have the worst sense of direction and I never have any idea where I am at any given time. But all of the following events happened at Letchworth Park, New York State, Earth 2015. In the Berenstain Bears Dimension, apparently. I grew up in the Berenstein Bears Dimension, so how we got here is anyone's guess).

Sheila, Jeff and I took Trail 20 to Trail 19a to Trail 19 to the road. Along the way we passed a stone chimney, which is all that remains of the Civilian Conservation Corps officers' barracks at Gibsonville. The highlight of this part of the run was crossing the stream by the waterfall. And Jeff's selfie skills.
Photo by Jeff. Long arms for the win!

At this point, we said goodbye to Jeff, who ran back to his car and headed off to see Erica's 5K race (To Erica: Congratulations! And this is how it starts. The 5K is the gateway drug to longer and crazier races. Join us!). Sheila and I were running on the road for a bit and saw Eric, Valone and Picasso a few times. They were the best aid station/crew, meeting up with us to offer encouragement and water and fruit roll-ups (I had totally forgotten about the existence of fruit roll-ups and was happy to discover they still make this staple of childhood lunch. What exactly are they made of? Why are there cartoon characters on them? We may never know).

We were on Trail 17 for a bit I think. I mostly blocked it out because it was overgrown and kind of uncool. Then we tried to follow Trail 15, but there must have been a turnoff that we missed because we ended up in a jungle of weeds that was taller than us. We decided to backtrack and run back up to the road. We ran a few miles on the road until we came to Rocky Raccoon, a creative mile marker the guys had made for us out of road kill. Now that is friendship!

Just chilling with his intestines hanging out. (Rocky photos by Sheila.)

We then took Trail 11 on the other side of the road. This trail was not my favorite as it was overgrown with prickers and scratchy weeds. I joked that next time we should bring Edward Scissorhands to run in front of us and clear the way. I think it was on this trail that Eric and Valone were hiding in the bushes and jumped out and scared us. Good times. We crossed back over to the other side of the road and took Trail 13, then Trail 1. We passed the St Helena Picnic Area and Tea Table, which had these really cool stone tables for picnicking. We followed Trail 1 all the way, past Lower Falls, Inspiration Point, Middle Falls and Upper Falls. Along the way, Sheila and I stopped to take pictures with the giant bear statue near the Adventure Calls rafting parking area. If you've never taken a bear selfie or gone on an Adventure Calls rafting trip, I'd make plans to get on that post haste.

Sheila's bear selfie masterpiece

I'm just gonna sit on that bear's hand. You know, as you do.

Trail 1 was also my favorite trail of the whole run. There are a lot of steps, which is kind of a bitch 20 miles in, but the waterfalls are spectacular and more than make up for it. It's the most scenic kind of hill work.

Waterfall selfie by Sheila.

Thanks to Eric and Valone for the running photos and excellent crewing!

Somewhere during our time on Trail 1, Pete texted me that he'd made it to Gus. He had mountain biked from his house to the Genesee Greenway trail and taken that all the way to Letchworth, a total journey of about 43 miles. My friends, this is the man that I'm marrying. He is a tall drink of awesome sauce. I think it was at Inspiration Point that the guys met back up with us and then we had three of the tallest, funniest and best trail runners supporting us the rest of the way. We were 23 miles in by the time we got to the end of the Gorge Trail (Trail 1). We had talked about calling it a day there, but I don't think it was ever really a serious option. We only had about a 5K left to make it a marathon day, so why not?

To marathon or not to marathon? As if that is even a question!

We crossed over the road to Trail 2 and then it was a lot of uphill. But we got to see Council Grounds and Mary Jemison's house and then run downhill to the guys and the cars. By this point, Lisa had arrived as well (yay!). We changed out of our sweaty clothes and drove back down to the Footbridge Nature Shoppe parking lot and walked to the Stone Foot Bridge. More steps and waterfalls and selfies, oh my!

Valone shrugs off bystanders offering to take the picture for us. The selfie is the point.

Then the 6 of us went to Brian's USA Diner for a delicious lunch. Pete and I were tired and went home to relax and eat PB&J and Chex Mix for dinner. Sheila, Eric and Picasso hiked to a lean-to for the night, then hiked out again and ran more miles, making it a 70 mile week for Sheila! You can read more about her awesomeness here.

On Sunday, Chabot texted me to suggest that I blog my race calendar because it seems like I'm doing a cool trail event every weekend. I never really thought about it, but I guess I am doing a cool trail event every weekend. Sometimes I can't even believe that this is my life and these are my people. How did I get to know so many amazingly talented and hilarious and kind hearted people who want to run all the miles and have all the adventures, people who I can talk to about anything and everything and who accept me for who I am, no matter how sweaty and dirty that may be? I am the luckiest ever.

Truth be told, I sort of had a meltdown on Friday night. Because, life man. Shit is getting real around here. I can run an impromptu marathon training run no problem, but when the hairdresser asked me if I had any pets, it was all I could do to keep from crying. In less than two weeks I'm getting married. And then I will have a husband (who is in a deployable unit in the Reserves) and a new last name and a step-daughter and a step-granddaughter. And I don't know if I have what it takes to do those things well. I feel woefully unprepared. But running, that I can do. I can run for hours and hours and not feel tired. Or feel tired but not enough to stop. But it's just as important to know when not to run, when to stay and feel the uncomfortable things and ugly cry in front of the person you love the most and have the hard conversations about the hard things. And that my friends, is the most epic of adventures.

Lyric of the moment: "So hear this please. And watch as your heart speeds up endlessly. And look for the stars as the sun goes down. Each breath that you take has a thunderous sound. Everything, everything's magic. Just sit back and hold on, but hold on tight. Prepare for the best and the fastest ride. And reach out your hand, and I'll make you mine. Everything, everything's magic..." ~Angels & Airwaves "Everything's Magic"

1 comment:

  1. You have done amazingly well at all the new things you've tried so far--my guess is marriage will be another one that you do well! :) don't let the wedding stress make you crazy--you are an amazing person and you have friends who adventure because we are drawn to people who are like us. <3 Thanks again for being there for me all day Saturday!