Saturday, June 1, 2013

Happy National Trail Day

"Let's be careful out there" - Hill Street Blues

I must say, I am so glad we have finally dumped the cold weather I can hardly contain myself. Up until about 2-3 weeks ago, I thought we might just go straight from mid-spring to mid-fall and forget summer altogether. My morning runs were still met with temps in the 40's in mid-May. That's ridiculous. As the morning temps increased my running seemed to improve with it and all seemed right with the world. But, this is Alabama and the sun likes to aim it's rays through the magnifying glass that hovers over our state and pretty soon, the high 90's and low 100's will be routine and most (not me) will pine for the cool fall days ahead.

However, going from coolness to heatness (?) does take some gettin' used to. This morning, I met Moha at Red Mt. for a 10-12 mile trail run. Now, during the winter, one handheld bottle was adequate for our 2 1/2 hour run. However, by 6 o'clock, the sun is already risen and the temp was pushing 80, as was the humidity. I usually like to start earlier, but I may as well ask the sun to rise later than to get him to get up earlier. He was on time this morning, but in the past, I've had some pretty good naps at the trailhead waiting for him to show up!

So off we headed. Now, Oak Mt I know like the back of my hand (ok, I don't know the back of my hand that well, but it's a saying that gets the point across), but Red Mt is a mental challenge to me. I just can't seem to memorize the connectors between the major trails and thus get myself turned all around. I get lost EVERY time I run these trails. Fortunately, RM is a relatively small park, so it just becomes an effort of putting in a few extra miles and not having to call Search & Rescue. So, this morning, we hadn't even run 45 minutes before we wound up (unintentionally) where we had begun. Except now, there were some young women setting up a table with aid station looking stuff. I asked what was going on and she said today was National Trail Day...who knew?...and there was going to be Boy Scouts and other folks coming to join in the frivolity of NTD. It was like a warm weather Festivus (Seinfeld reference). 

So, after a quick glance at the map, off we went again to conquer these trails. As I said, the heat and humidity was different today and after a couple more miles, we realized we were soaked with sweat and our water bottles were nearly dry, so we made a decision to make it back to "National Trail Day" headquarters. We got there and asked if we could have some water. A young coed asked "Are you taking part in our Trail Day?". I said "It looks like we already have"...."well then, you can sign in here with your email and address". So figuring a little more spam in my inbox was worth filling my bottle, I signed. Once again (remember "Groundhog Day") we left for the THIRD time from the same spot and disappeared into the woods. We decided...ok, I take the trail that traverses across the whole south side of the mountain. It's clearly marked with "Most difficult trail" markers. I had to convince Moha that "Most difficult" was American slang for
 "Short cut". I doubt he fell for that line. Several miles later, going up a long, steep grade, with my calves revolting, I drained my water bottle for the 2nd time and said "You know Mo, if that aid station with water hadn't been there, we'd be sunk". His response: "No, we'd be f**ked". His description, though cruder, was probably a lot more accurate.

Slowly, we made our way back to the finish and coming up to the table, one of the volunteers said "Have you two been out there all this time? How far did you go?". When I told her about 11 miles, we were stars. Gatorade for everybody!! Yes, they say God provides. If today hadn't been National Trail Day, we definitely would have been...well, lets say sunk. Hopefully we learned our lesson about running in the mugginess of summer (for the 30+ year in a row!) and next time we will strap on more water or stash some someplace. At Red Mountain, there is no place to refill our bottles. At least, that is, until next National Trail Day. To paraphrase that guy for Dos Equis beer "we will stay thirsty, my friends". 

I'll see you all on the hot roads or the muggy trails - AL

"One child lost is too child saved can change the world" 

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