Winter Trail Quarter Marathon
Last night I ran my first race of the year, the Planet Adventure Trail Quarter Marathon. It was 4.55 dark miles of pure bliss and 2 miles of hell, but the whole 6.55 miles was an amazing experience I’d sign up for again and again. After the first two miles, one of which snaked along an icy narrow trail on the edge of the Eagle Creek Reservoir—and I mean right on the edge, one misstep and you’re in the drink, down an eight or ten foot drop—I got into my groove and thought to myself, This isn’t so bad. I will kick this race’s behind.
Little did I know that mile three would be one of the most spiritually beautiful, yet one of the most physically grueling miles I’d ever run. I had heard some other runners talking before the race about running across a land bridge between the two lakes and was pretty excited about that prospect. However, I had no idea that the land bridge would be covered in railroad rocks, the big jagged pieces of limestone that had nothing better in mind than to macerate the bottoms of my feet with their pointy little edges. My VFFs, though they performed amazingly well throughout the rest of the trail, were no match for those tiny torture devices. In short, I walked the almost mile across the reservoir to keep from making hamburger of the bottoms of my feet, and they still bruised a bit. While I was walking—and stubbornly sometimes jogging—along the land bridge, I turned off my headlamp and relished the pitch blackness. It doesn’t get pitch black by my house, and I can’t see the stars for all the streetlamps. So I was in awe when I discovered the heavens were arrayed in their full glory, and I could see Orion and the Big Dipper, along with all of their individual stars. I walked along worshiping, meditating, and feeling blessed.
I can’t capture in words how majestic it was to be moving along between two bodies of water, under the beautiful night sky, with my breath steaming out in rhythmic puffs, and my body reveling in the physicality of the experience. Just when I thought I couldn’t feel more joyful, I looked up around the shore, and I realized I could see the headlamps of everyone who was running the race bobbing along the trail circumnavigating the water. At that moment, I gained a better understanding of what humanity is, and I was overwhelmed by the feeling. I got a lump in my throat that could only be an Emersonian revelation that we are all one. Though we are many individual people, we are one humanity, and every one of our hearts vibrates to the same iron string. I tried hard not to let the water come into my eyes, because I was afraid it would freeze. But I couldn’t help it. Surely that must be what life is all about. Beauty, grace, joy, and camaraderie.
Once the land bridge ended, we were off and running on a wide road, which eventually headed into a double-track trail for most of the rest of the race. I much prefer double- or triple-track trails to single-track. The single-track trails make me very self-conscious about being a slow runner, and I feel like I have to move over for the faster runners to get by. I swear my times would be better if I could just get over moving over and let the speed demons figure out how to get around me. I don’t suppose that’d make anyone happy though. And since I am not competitive, running for fun than times, I will probably continue to move over so they can get by. Some even say thank you.
Everything was moving along fine until mile six, which was just pure hell. I would say a good half to three-quarters of mile six was just mud. A thick, goopey, cold, muddy hell. There was nothing majestic about mile six. Although I am sure there is some good theological metaphor buried there beneath the dark, wet dirt. In spots, the mud was up past my ankles, and we just had to make do. My VFFs were two to three times their normal size and weight, and I am not sure if my favorite (a.k.a LUCKY) socks will ever be the same color they once were. So much for white and rainbow. Running this mile reminded me of running the Mudathlon, only the weather was slightly, okay drastically, colder and more oppressive. I thought at one point when I stepped in a puddle up to mid-calf that my toes on my left foot were just going to freeze off, but I kept running and they eventually warmed up.
Luckily I didn’t fall at all. I blame my ability to stay upright on all the recent plank work I’ve been doing. I saw a guy slip on the ice on the narrow, treacherous path and nearly slide into the reservoir, save for grabbing onto the tree that happened to be next to him. My friend Teresa—who had planned to run the half marathon, but stopped after the first ridiculous lap—fell three times. She was covered in mud, wet, cold, and miserable enough to stop. We both agreed this race was one of the most difficult we’d ever done. Even though it was ridiculous, it was amazing, and I’ll likely do it again next year.
My Finisher's Medal: Made From a Fallen Tree at Eagle Creek
Sunday Morning Frittata
This morning, because I was starving from my workout last night, I decided to try a new recipe. I won’t try it again in the same pan I used today, because it stuck like glue, so if you try this one, make sure to use a very nonstick pan. Aside from sticking, it was pretty tasty. I’ll probably add some onions and some garlic next time, too.
a bunch of spinach
a bunch of mushrooms
6 slices of bacon
a splash of heavy cream
a bit of butter if necessary
salt and pepper to taste
Fry the bacon to your likeness. Remove from pan and crunch it up. If you need a little extra grease, add some butter and then saute the mushrooms. While they are doing their thing, whisk together the eggs, salt and pepper, and the splash of cream. When your mushrooms are the way you like them, add in the spinach and bacon, then pour the eggs in on top of them. Cook at medium-low, or low, heat until the eggs are done all the way through. I put the lid on for part of the time, because I think it makes the eggs fluffier.
Swimming and Grading
Later today, I am going to swimming at Ball Pool where I finally have a locker, so I don’t have to lug all of my stuff back and forth with me every day. I need to work out my sore muscles, so I can sleep better tonight. (And I probably won’t drink three or four cups of caffeinated coffee right before trying to go to bed, like I did last night. Dumb.) I find that swimming, especially in the warm waters of Ball Pool, really helps my mood, my blood pressure, and my fatigued, old body. I am hoping that today it will loosen up my back, which is a little tense from running up and down those slick and muddy/icy hills. I know it will relax my mind and prepare me to grade.
After swimming, I am going to Starbucks for the great grade-a-thon. My high schoolers have turned in two reflections and a couple of other assignments, so I need to get them graded and returned to them. Likewise, I am sure my 8th graders would love to have their book reviews back. They were supposed to be their last grade for first semester, which ended two weeks ago, but they are going to be their first grade for this semester instead. They are gracious. They don’t mind my getting a little behind. Besides, they’re too busy reading Anthem to care about their old papers.