For someone who’s training lately has been largely confined to the occasional five miler on flat roads, signing up and completing a 20+K trail event (and I use the word “trail” loosely), I am pretty proud of my accomplishment. Also notable, at least to me, in the process of this run, I surpassed 10,000 running miles on Strava. Not bad for a touch over 8 years. Doing a bit of math, I averaged almost 8.25 miles per run. Viejo corriendo!
It started early: we left Coronado at 5:00 am to get to El Valle by the 6:00 am start. We made it, barely. Mi amiga was having bladder issues. No not that bladder. The one that goes on one’s back inside the Camelback. It was leaking. A lot. We decided to see what we could do once we got there, since we were outta time.
Fast forward through the drive, the scramble at the meeting location, the drive to the trailhead. Boy that was fast! We got to the trailhead, and the bladder was pouring out what little was left in it. Dang. That’s going to be rough. Being the magnanimous guy I am, I pulled out my bladder (yet again, not that one. I did not perform trailhead surgery) and slipped it inside the camelback. It’s only 10K to the hydration station, and it’s only 20K total. I can handle that, right?
So “handle it” was spot on. I handled it. It was not easy, I’ll say. The first climb was forever in the humidity. Get to the top, and I was able to open my phone and take some photos. I check the distance on the Strava app (since my watch died, it’s my tracking method) and…less than 5K. Holy crapola, I may be in trouble without water. The group reconvened, and I got a sip from mi amiga, and was told “go with the fast group! Get outta here!” So I got, and caught up to that bunch. Good thing I was with the group, because a significant part of the next 10K to the water station (yeah it was close to 15K total to the water) was in dense forest. So green, so slippery, so humid, so no real trail. SO. MUCH. FUN. I tried to get my phone open and the combination of humidity on the screen and my hands being so wet, taps weren’t recognized. I couldn’t even take a photo. I’ve since bought some sandwich baggies and am putting several in my pack so I don’t go without them again! A video would have been epic.
Finally get to the hydration station and I pound down a Coke Classic (best non-beer drink when running!), then a water, then, you guessed it, a beer! My group took off and runners kept coming in. I see mi amiga, and she’s not looking good. As much as I’ve not been training properly, she’s not been either. She’s decided to bail at this point because she’s smarter than I am, and knows what the remaining terrain is like.
Since I’m an idiot and want to finish this bitch off, I take back the bladder (yes, that one that goes in my pack) and take off up the road. I catch and pass a father-son combo and reach a T in the road. No markings. Which way? I don’t see anyone. I hear a whistle behind me and it’s the dad. He’s pointing not left, not right, but straight ahead. Of course. There is the “trail” again. I wave and off I set.
The next I-don’t-know-how-many kilometers were completely solo. I didn’t see anyone ahead or behind. I wasn’t too concerned about getting lost at this point, since I was on a trail that circled the caldera where El Valle sits. I could always find a trail down. I apparently followed the markers when I saw them, because after a really rough descent (slickery mud and rocks, and roots) I neared the bottom and saw a couple of other runners. YAY!, I followed them until we hit pavement. They headed back to the meeting place, and I turned to go to the start point, to where I was to meet mi amiga. I felt pretty strong (A beer, a coke, and a couple of Oreos, and I’m Superman!) and knocked out the last 2 Ks at a nice 6 min pace. Along the way, I caught the father and son combo again. Not sure what trail they descended, but it wasn’t the same one I did!
The trail was beautiful. Difficult. And completely Type 1 fun. The beer at the hydration station and at th end was sublime. The people I met were amazing, friendly, and so supportive. In other words trail runners: a breed of humanity the rest of the world could learn from. Language difficulties notwithstanding, they were to a person, warm, happy, and welcoming. I can’t wait to meet up with these people again.