Scatter my ashes here...

Scatter my ashes here...
scatter my ashes in the desert...

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Redneckistan Romp

Sunday June 21 was Father's Day and Summer Solstice. I decided a while back that I needed to somehow get a decent length of time on my feet in the heat if I was going to feel ready to pace Bob at Badwater this summer, given my lack of "training" all year. It took forever for the temperatures to warm up this spring, but finally we got a few 90+ degree days last week.

Daylight was supposed to last 15 hours and 5 minutes, so I chose to stay out on the roads for that amount of time. Sunrise was 5:30 am, sunset at 8:35 pm.

I decided against a donut or brewery-themed run, since I needed the time on my feet, and I already reached a lifetime high weight this spring. I didn't need any more reasons to stuff my face. So I chose to stick to running and moving forward instead of breaking it up with extended stops that served no purpose for preparation. There are no Dunkin Donuts or breweries in Death Valley. Though it wouldn't be a bad idea...

Regardless, I'm already well-trained on the eating and drinking parts, it's the moving forward on my feet that needs attention.

I chose a road route with some difficult hills, followed by a long flat stretch, similar to Badwater conditions, only about 30 degrees cooler. I decided to go out the Spring Creek Trail bike path, get on the road going up by the stadium and over Maniac Hill first and down to Harmony Road, then back up over Maniac and northward over the big hills on Centennial down to Bellvue, then turning onto the Bingham Hill Road for another short set of rollers.

Then the route went back up over Bingham Hill and south along Centennial to repeat the big hills, down past the stadium and back home via the Spring Creek Trail, with a quick resupply stop at home, followed by more long loops or out & backs as needed to fill out the last several hours.

The temperature was supposed to hit the mid-90s, and it's a good 36 mile route from the start until the first stop back at the house, so I knew I'd need to carry a lot of fluid. I arranged with Dennis to meet along Bingham Hill road somewhere in the last morning for resupply of food, fluids, and ice.

After that I figured I could make it back to the house and do the rest of it on my own. The other advantage was that I'd have to carry a lot of weight in my big Ultimate running pack, which will prepare me for what it will be like at the Grand Canyon this fall when I have to have enough to get through the long stretches north of Phantom Ranch, in case the water is already turned off at the north Rim.

I left the house at exactly 5:30 am, running west along Spring Creek. My friend Jen planned to meet me a couple of miles in, and she was running toward me when I got to College Avenue. We ran west and she stayed with me until the beginning of the climb up to the reservoir. We had a great discussion about the science of nutrition and the recommended guidelines for nutrition which are about to be rolled out this year. Jen attended a Galloway running workshop the day before in Estes Park and was excited about that, too.

She turned around to go home for a 14 mile run and I continued up the hill. On the way down Maniac I saw HUGE snake wafer and I couldn't help chuckling about our conversation earlier. Was it gluten-free? Paleo? Raw?

It was early on a Sunday morning but by 3 hours into my run I could already see the throngs of people headed up to the reservoir for the day. Crazy people, lots of motorcycles whizzing by, rubbernecking at everything on the side of the road, guys in big trucks revving their engines loudly, sporting tattoos, reeking of cigarettes and cologne, puffing their chests behind the wheel as they stepped on the gas passing bikini-clad recreators, women yakking away on their cell phones as they drove the tight curves on the road. It looked like someone unlocked the doors to the sensory deprivation chamber and let them all out. Did these people have any concept of peace and quiet?

I realized that I usually am not up here on the weekends, and this was a reminder of why.

I stopped to use one of the pit toilets at Rotary Park and then sat on the concrete outside to pull some drinks out of my pack. That was when I discovered that PBJ tortillas wrapped in plastic bags don't hold up very well with sweating, icy waterbottles. They were soggy and indistinguishable from a pile of fresh roadkill. I had to toss them, there was no way. I had enough gel and peanut butter packets to make it until Dennis met me.

I continued north over the hills and down into the valley, turning just before Bellvue to go over Bingham Hill road. I got a text from Dennis that he was on his way, he caught me almost at the turnaround, before the last little rise. He brought me a breakfast sandwich from Starbucks, more drinks, ice, and PBJ tortillas. I stuffed a big blob of ice in my bandana and tied it around my neck, stuffed the pack as full as I could, carrying more than a gallon of fluids.

Once I turned around at the bottom at the intersection of Overland Hill road and started heading back, I began to see even more traffic. Lots of bicycles, riding mostly in groups. They'd stop at the top of the hill and wait for each other. Some impatient motorists would get behind them, following slowly, as if it were such an imposition to have to slow down. Does it really hurt to put the brakes on? All they had to do was wait for another 50 meters for the bikes to have enough room to move over, but the drivers acted like it was the end of the world.

There is no shoulder on most of the stretch of road between Bingham Hill and Lory State Park turnoff. There were lots of big trucks with attitudes. I couldn't see their truck nuts, but I'm sure they were there. That's when I remembered "Redneckistan". I always called it my Rambo Run when we used to live in this part of town when I was in graduate school. People drive big loud trucks fast, and they either try to run you off the road or assert their ownership of it. That where snake wafers come from.

Once on the hill up to the north dam again, there was a wide shoulder and a bit more safety. Still, the traffic kept coming. It felt like rush hour, nonstop flow of traffic all the way along the reservoir. When I finally made it back to Spring Creek Trail it was quiet again, no more cars. I was finished with the tough hilly section and headed home for quick stop.

On my way down the bike path it was quiet enough so I decided to call my dad to wish him a happy Father's Day. The oncologist finally decided that the chemo he was on isn't working, so he's getting a quick break and then will go on a different chemo. They are headed to California soon to escape the Arizona heat. I hope he will feel well enough to enjoy it.

Soon after I got off the phone with dad, I needed to get more cold fluids out of the main compartment of my pack. I started looking for a place to stop in the shade where I could stop. I saw a bench ahead of me under a huge cottonwood, nice and shady. I made a beeline for it, and just as I arrived, a family on bicycles, quite overweight, was headed up the trail, coming up a small rise. As I unbuckled the straps, whipped off my pack and set it down on the bench, the woman and girl got off their bikes, looking at me with a strange, slightly disgusted look on their faces.

I thought, maybe they wanted the bench, so I said, "You can sit down here, I'll only be here for a minute". The woman got an even more disgusted look on her face, and said, "No, thank you." Total contempt. And they moved their bikes over to a picnic table a few yards away, under some trees. She looked at me like I was an alien. I guess my hat, or the way I looked at that point, 35 miles into my run, or the fact that I took their shady spot and apparently outran them to it, pissed her off. I gave her my best Miranda Sings smile impression, minus the lipstick, rearranged the bottles in my pack, and took off.

I ran into another runner I haven't seen in a while, we stopped and talked for a few minutes, then Jen came by on her bike to see how I was doing. Soon I was home and drinking iced tea, refilling my pack with another heavy load of frozen bottles and an icy bandana, stuffing my face with food out of the fridge. I had slowed down and it didn't look like I would get a huge mileage accumulation, but it didn't matter. The time on my feet was more important.

I spent a total of 15 minutes in the house. Lucky we don't have central AC or it would have been hard to get back out there. It was only 91 degrees according to my phone but the road felt much hotter. I went out toward Warren Lake and did a big loop out by the Power Trail before coming back home, about a 10 mile loop. My phone battery was dying so I came back to the house, plugged in the phone and ran out for another mile or so while it had time to charge, then I came back and grabbed it again.

It stayed warm up until an hour before sunset. At one point I passed a portapotty that had been sitting out in the blazing sun all day and realized it didn't smell too bad, probably better than I did. I was comfortable all day, I'd been taking an S cap every hour and drinking plenty to lighten my pack. The only places on my body with a hint of discomfort were my feet, with hot spots I didn't bother to mess with, since I'd be home soon enough, and my neck and shoulders from carrying a 10 pound pack all day.

I headed out for the last time to Warren Lake, catch the sunset for a final out and back to coincide perfectly with my planned finish time. There weren't a lot of clouds so the sunset wasn't nearly as spectacular as it usually is. Still, the view of Longs Peak and Indian Peaks on the horizon was worth stopping for the photographs.

I got back to the house at precisely 8:35 pm. I could not wait to take off my shoes and socks. Dennis fed me mango slices, and I drank cold drinks, stuck a beer in the freezer, ate some food, took a shower, drank the beer, figured out my distance and vertical, and went to bed.

Turned out I got 50.6 miles and 3116 feet of climb, and the same of descent. Slow pace, but that was up and down those gnarly hills with a 10 pound pack in the heat, and mostly walking all day. Not bad. I feel better about being ready to support Bob now.

My feet were swollen and still have heat rash, along with my thighs, and other than that my neck and shoulders were sore all day. I feel good otherwise. I'm wondering if I might need to bump up my shoe size to 8 1/2 soon, because my toes feel bashed. I was running some pretty steep downhills with a heavy pack, but I wonder if my feet continue to expand. When I started running in 1984, I wore a size 6. Now I'm at an 8.

I'm just glad I survived Redneckistan. The days are getting shorter now. I did my long training run. All is well.

1 comment:

Achat bien said...

As always - your articles are astute and insightful