Sunday, July 3, 2011

Snakes on the Plains!!

This was an interesting week for running. After the three hour jaunt in the rain and lightning last weekend, I did do a short run (3 mi)on Sunday before taking a workout pass on Monday. I had set a pretty quick tempo on the long run, and my quads felt it for the next couple of days.

I did a 5 miler on Tuesday, a couple of miles on Wednesday before my 6 a.m. cross training group, and then got a Garmin Forerunner 210 from my friend Kurt. The Garmin is pretty awesome for ease-of-use. It tracks pace, time, distance, and has a heart rate monitor and chest strap that come with it. I tested it out on a run that I had always figured at 6.2 miles on the following Thursday morning. I found that I am pretty good at measuring some distances. I was within 20 yards by my estimates. I found out later on a shorter run, that what I had always thought of as a 2 miler was, in fact, a 2.4 miler. I love the device, and knew I was going to give it a real workout for a trail run on Saturday.

Here's a link to a pic of the 210 -

So Saturday rolled around, and I met up with Gary and Mark, a couple of runners from the Lawrence Trail Hawks - I had never run with the guys before, and had only recently joined them (in addition to the Trail Nerds and Run Lawrence). The three of us set off around 6 a.m. Within the first 100 yards, Gary had an encounter with a monster copperhead (see pic above if you want to know what one looks like). I was following him, and almost did something that rhymes with 'hiss' in my shorts.

The encounter over, we ran on. The goal for the day for Mark and me was 22-23 miles. Gary, who is training for 100k and 100 mi races was looking to put in 35+ miles. When Mark and I arrived, Gary had already put in 6. The day was gorgeous, if a bit hot, and the trails were in good shape. After a few miles we encountered the same woman I had met on the trails the week before. She mentioned that the were copperheads in the trail in front of us. Gary lead, keeping a close eye on the ground. I was next in line seriously doing the same thing. After a quarter mile, Mark (running third) screamed like a frightened child, and demonstrated what a four foot vertical leap looks like. Apparently both Gary and I had missed the copperheads. I had missed them so badly that I managed to step on both of them. The tow snakes ended up slithering off of the trail right in front of Mark as my shoes did little damage to them. To end the discussion of snakes, we did encounter one more little copperhead in the last couple of miles of our run. It was just hanging out on the trail. While we were looking at it, Mark walked up beside me, and I didn't know he was there. I heard a rustling of leaves and nearly jumped out of my skin thinking that there was another serpent next to my foot.

It is amazing just how often I have run those trails and never ever seen a snake. If I hadn't been with other people who are mindful of them, I could have easily taken the run still without seeing a snake. Here's some quick info: Copperheads are rarely deadly. If you get bitten it is going to suck, but you'll probably survive. And, like deer, where there is one, there is usually another. The little buggers like to hang out in pairs. They aren't too aggressive, so don't worry about being attacked by one. Just be mindful. Leave them alone, and they will do likewise.

So on we went with our run. We took the white route all the way to its conclusion, ran up Bunker Hill in order to add a mile, and then took the white trail back. The heat became a bit of our enemy as we returned. Each of us felt it at different times during the run. For me, at about 20.5 miles, I wanted the run to end. I was out of calories to ingest. I was also seriously low on water. My hydration backpack had some serious issues all day. It leaked irregularly, soaked my shoes as water poured out the bottom, disabled my Blackberry for the rest of the day (it dried out late), and basically sucked as a required safety device for the run. I'm getting a new one this week.

Recovery from the run was surprisingly swift. I think the extra mileage coupled with a slightly slower pace (these guys go a little slower because they are training for monster distances, and seem to go at the pace they will run these races) made for a quick turnaround. When I went for my recovery run this a.m., I felt no after-effects or discomfort.

All in all, it was a beautiful run with a couple of great new trail-running buddies.

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