Long Run in the Cold and Other Lessons

Lichen in Focus
Lichen in Focus

It still amazes me how much of running is a mental game with yourself.  This morning I was due for a long run, I’m trying to bump weekly milage up to around 50 and given my work schedule this either means I log runs at night or on days like today when there is no work to worry about and I can break away and stretch my legs for a longer period of time I start early before the sun comes up and am back by lunch.

Chilly Phone Killing Morning
Chilly Phone Killing Morning

I walked out the door at about 06:30 and drove with the girls to Hartman Rocks.  We parked and started up Jack’s Trail to get behind the rocks and then worked our way up the successive mesas which parallel South Beaver Creek.  The snow along these dirt roads has, where it exists, been more or less packed down by 4×4 traffic until we got about 8 or 9 miles in.  Then it was shuffling through calf deep sugar powder interspersed with rocks.  The roads peatier out up this far and so we went over land and headed for the top of a series of mesas to complete a loop.

Looking down into South Beaver Creek I saw a broken down cabin I want to run to another time.  Very pretty place that creek, I may have to figure out a way to run up it some time soon.

We did a very wide traverse off the mesa where I turned around.  At this point we were on the north side of the hill and the powder was well above my knee in places, although I wouldn’t want to ski it as it was sugary and I could feel lots of rocks and logs under my feet.  Once at the bottom of the traverse we followed an old “road” which hadn’t seen any traffic back up to the main line.

Single Track
Sunny Single Track

Back down the main road a ways there is a turn off on a single track which heads off north west.  I’d never been this way and figured why the hell not.  The single track wasn’t named, but wow was it an improvement over the road.  No packed snow and my socks were starting to collect ice at the ankle, when I intercepted the power line road I paused a moment to clear the debris.

From here we went over land and continued to follow the contour of the single track where it ended as we progressed down toward South Beaver Creek well away from the road we had climbed earlier.  Lots of white hair running through the sage here and the dogs were loving it.  We ended up crossing a couple of fences and eventually headed back north east to where we got back on the road at a check damn near two cattle guards.

Here we met a woman runner with two dogs, she was much faster than I am and moved neatly past.  I decided to try to keep up with what appeared to me to be an easy lope for her.  This made me push my pace significantly so I was happy when she turned for another loop around South Beaver Creek at the first turn off.  That said, it was good to stretch my legs at her pace for a while and the challenge acted like a few miles of fartlek making me run at the edge of my envelope.

I’m bummed that my phone gave out on me because of the cold near the turn around point.  I’m pretty sure that this run was close to 20 or 25 miles all told since when I turned around the GPS read 11 miles and I took the long way on the return trip.  My chief challenge this trip was kicking myself for relying on my phone as a GPS.  When I started the run the thermometer on my Subaru’s dash read -2 F and it got colder as I ran into the breaking dawn.  Once the sun came out it warmed up significantly, but I fear that the battery had already had it and worse there may be some sort of thermal resister in the phone which shuts it down if it gets too cold.  Back in the car I plugged it in and it showed more than half full.  Go figure!

Crack of Dawn
Crack of Dawn

The phone failure got internalized into a thought loop where I was angry and blaming myself at the same time.  I had to break this loop because it was distracting and self defeating.  Honestly if that woman hadn’t run up behind me I might have not been able to get out of it, her exceptionally fast pace made me focus on what I was up to.

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