Jesus H. Christ.
Is that Jesus' middle initial? Because I'm kind of thinking it should be F. As in Lord F*ing Hill.
Today was the Lord Hill Trail Run, in the 4th Dimension Pacific Northwest Trail Running series. All week, I've been down for the count with a cold, and with the demands this week at work, staying home to sleep and get well was not an option. Result? Barely well enough to consider a trail run, let alone what this thing turned out to be.
Stairs? No big deal.
This was steeper. And, no stairs. Just slick, slimy mud under slippery dead grass.
Hey, it's only 5 miles, right? I can run that any day, right? Right.
Sigh. Oh my god. I'll just get through this no-stair hill ascent and then things will be ok...
Toward the top, there was a bit of flat, and the 5 mile run split off to the left and I tried to bounce along the single track. It was dark and quiet, finally, in the forest.
And then the down hill. Can't run up, can't run down--the down was just as technical as the up. Baby steps up the hill; baby steps down the hill.
I find myself jogging the double track, some of the flat single track. I come to some orange streamers and know to turn left. Some more double and single track. More streamers and I turn left again. I stop. I'm standing in a creek bed. I'm looking up the side of a mountain, and I'm to run up the creek bed? It's a TRAIL run...not a &%&##!$% creek run!
I want to sit down and cry. I can't go back. My back aches, my knees are feeling achy, and I can't go back. The only way out is through. Up and over this creek bed - quit being a whiny slow poke and just climb over it.
I'm walking this thing, this trail RUN and I'm walking it. I cough bits of my lung out. I knew I shouldn't be out here. How many times did good sense knock on my skull? Even just this morning I think it knocked about 14 times. I'm over it though, now, out here, alone. I haven't seen anyone in over 10 minutes; I've been out on this course for 44 minutes now, and with how much I'm walking, I know I'm no where near done. I joked about an hour and a half, but I don't think it was really a joke...
I'm ok walking it now though. I'll just walk. I'll just keep putting one foot in front...GOD DAMN IT. In FRONT - no, my shoe slips in the mud, down the edge of the creek bed tossing me off my balance, hands in the muck, toes wet and covered in slimy mud.
Tough as nails, she says in her head. Tough as nails - no crying. You have to go through to get out.
Tough as nails would run it, says the new critic in my head. Who invited this asshole?
"Tough as nails says walk when you want to run - FUCK you and what do you know anyway?" I twisted my ankle on the edge of new singletrack trail along the edge of a cliff as the "FUCK" comes out of my mouth. I will not fall; I want more out of this year than to fall down a cliff on this godforsaken run. I wonder who heard my "FUCK" and what they thought; maybe they recognized a kindred spirit - maybe those behind felt a daunting foreshadowing while those already ahead relished being done with whatever the disembodied voice was facing.
The course was beautiful: trees, a forest, dripping with brilliant moss and lichen, crystal creeks and running streams of fresh water, the natural trickle and rush echoing in narrow areas. Trees and trail mirrored back up at me, slightly foggy as the pond emerges from around a trail bend.
I was not ready, and this would have been a hard run if I were in peak condition. Others ran harder, more of the course - others are better with technical trails. I'd love to come back, when it's dry, and run it again, when I am well. Or, I'd love to come back, with my camera and waterproof boots and capture the beauty I spent too much time swearing at instead of noting the scent as I breathed it in. I would love to do this again, when I CAN note the scent as I breathe it in.