Saturday’s run with the RunWILD group is what I fantasize, envision, “glamorize” trail running to be. Even though it’s sometimes necessary to bang out some solo trail miles both for sanity’s and training’s sake, trail running is all about the community, all about your fellow trail runners who become your friends, all about exploring what’s outside “the box”. This Saturday we definitely found what lies outside that box.
We traveled to Bearwaller Gap located near Carthage. The group met at Defeated Creek recreation area. Our car laughed about the name as we pulled in. We’d soon find out the name Defeated Creek was decidedly apropos. Hunter joined us to let peeps run in the Newton Boco Sol. I’m a big fan of this shoe, and the rep is pretty awesome too.
After my brief “speech” on injuries, it was time to hit the trail. From the first 10 steps, we could tell this was no ordinary training run. As Phil said, “I’m already a fan.” We were met with some pretty technical trails and good climbs right off the bat. I settled in with Phil, Scott, Sinith, Sean, and Chaney. It was a cool 26 degrees when we started, but after making our way up a half mile climb and crushing a 16 minute mile or so, it was time for us to shed some clothes. There was a gorgeous overlook where we left our gear.
We quickly carried onward. The pace got a little faster, but the terrain was still pretty difficult. We climbed over some downed trees and then hit a steep, slick descent. I’m pretty sure this is where Chaney showed off his pole-dancing skills on a fortunate tree. After passing through a little campground area, we made our way up a jeep road. We hit some runnable portions until around mile 4.5 or so. We had yet another big climb to make it up and out to the turnaround spot. We went all the way up to the top of the trail and were rewarded with just a spectacular view.
We met Steven and Hunter, then passed by Bree, Rula, Alicia, and Donica. The start of the second half of the run was much easier than the first as we got to go down what we had just climbed up. We found Mary Thom, Bert, and Michelle along the way and were sure to tell them to go see the views at the top. Ryne hopped back in our group along the way—he was able to capture some really awesome footage from the run. Even though the back half of the run was less difficult, it definitely wasn’t easy. The steep descent we had traveled down had to be climbed, and the trails had gotten no less technical. Around the 2:10 mark, Phil decided he wanted to go sub-2:30 for the entire run. We had 1.6 miles to go in 20 minutes. Only with 3 minutes left did we actually try and make it. We failed by about a minute, but it made the last half mile a lot of fun, especially with Phil providing a countdown.
This run gave us a little bit of everything—gnarly descents, sustained climbs, water crossings, amazing views, and a lot of painful fun. Harder than Western, Hardrock, and Barkley combined, am I right Phil and Ryne? The fact that I got to experience this trail for the first time with the RunWILD group made it even better. How do you know a run is epic? It’s all you talk about on the hour car ride home. We replayed every climb, every rock we tripped over, we quickly uploaded our data to Strava just so we could see the elevation profile, and we were impressed with our 13:47/mile pace. These runs emphasize why we do this, why we run trails. It’s not always about going for PRs or winning races or even running races. We’re here for shared experiences with friends that we’ll still be talking about months later over a brew or after a trail running movie.
And how do you know a run was hard? You wake up feeling like this . . .
Monday: Rest day
Tuesday: 31 x 45 sec @ 5k pace w/ 45 sec recovery on Blue Trail Loops
Wednesday: Pre-East Nasty Blue loop, Pre-East Nasty 2 miler, East Nasty
Thursday: RunWEST am; Run with Pepper; RunWEST pm run
Friday: 7 miles on EWP greenway
Saturday: THE run – 10.8 miles
Sunday: RWB (I’ve been running this with Jobie the past few Sundays, but he would’ve been appalled at how slowly I cranked this out post-Bearwaller.)