So Saturday was the first of two trainers for Highlands Sky. The second one is in May and I was going to run it too, until I figured out that is the date of Hillary's graduation from law school, and I'm sure not going to miss that. Speaking of Hill, she's coming home this weekend and I am super psyched. First time I will have seen her since Christmas break. I cannot believe she is graduating in another month. "Seems like only yesterday...." Time really does fly.
The trainer really was a good experience. For one, it gave me the opportunity to see the first half of the course. I have hiked some of that, but the first 10 or 12 miles or so were new to me and there are places where it would be easy to take a wrong turn. I still may, but at least I remember the major intersections, I think. The elevation gain/loss/gain was impressive. 2,000 feet at a 2% grade on the first climb. Everyone told me to plan on speed walking it, but nah, I'm the tough guy. I'll run it. NOT!!! I am now a confirmed believer in walking when it's called for. It was called for!
Met some good folks. I finally got to meet Dan Lehman, the director of Highlands Sky. Dan couldn't run on Saturday because he busted a couple of ribs in a motorcycle encounter. I emailed him the other night and shared my experience with the deer and my Harley. I told Dan I really did feel his pain. I ran 14 through 18 with a guy from Annapolis. I don't think he'd done much hill work. Said he had run the C&O Canal Trail some. He did pretty well, but I think we were both hurting. I waited for him at the South Prong Trailhead so he wouldn't go the wrong way, and then didn't see him again after he hit the road.
I'm beginning to stress over cutoff times. I have no doubt I can finish 40, but the cuts for the aid stations have me fretting. I guess we'll see what we'll see. I can't stand the thought of DNF. Which begs the philosophical question, "Is it better to not try and avoid a DNF than it is to give it all you've got and see what happens"? I guess we all know the answer to that one.
Back at the Lanesville cabin, a small group was sitting around de-compressing; eating noodles, drinking beer, talking about the next challenge. Casseday was still there and he offered me some sage advice, which I of course ignored. He told me not to be anal about my scheduled Sunday run and if I needed that as a recovery day to take it off. He said as we get older, it takes longer to recover, which of course I already knew. Even though I'm 65, I just don't think of myself as older, even though I clearly am. Anyway, I was pretty beat Saturday night, but felt almost human on Sunday morning, so I hustled through my pre-run routine of Kashi Harvest Wheat cereal with Buckwheat Honey and strawberries; a banana and lots of water. I threw some cookies in my pack and out the door I went. After the first half mile, I questioned the wisdom of my decision to run that day. I was scheduled for 10 (thank you Santa Clarita Runners), but I quickly decided to bail on the final 2. I ran at a pretty slow (slower than normal) pace, hit the 4 mile turn around and started back for the trail head. I thumbed my nose at the trail junction where I normally break off and add 2 or 2 1/2 extra miles and kept heading for my car. As fatigued as I was, I managed all 8 miles with no falls. That is cause to celebrate. This turns out to be a down week on my training schedule and it really comes at a good time. Recovery coupled with shorter weekend runs will allow me more time with Hillary. I'm really greatful for that.
Yellowstone NP with upper Lamar Valley in the distance