Friday, February 5, 2010
No Mans Land
I am training for my 5th 31 mile run, not race. It is a Ultra Marathon and I really don't think it is a good idea to call it a race. I'm not racing it. In the world of Ultra running, 31 miles is low.
There is a spot in Forest Park on the Wildwood trail that I call No Mans Land. It is right after Firelane 1 intersects and near Nature Trail. I call it that, because not as many runners go that direction. My No Mans Land is an area of about 4 miles, even though Wildwood goes on for about 30.
On May 31st, 1 week after I ran the Forest Park Ultra Marathon, I ran into No Mans Land, 10 miles. It was that day that I heard a voice loud and clear or so I thought cry out "help" I didn't stop because it scared me and I heard it again a few miles later. I figured I was just delusional because of the distance between the voices.
Today, I ran my highest training run, 24 miles. I ran it at my beloved spot Forest Park and I was headed towards No Mans Land for the first time since 5-31. I know big baby. Up until now, I've just avoided that 4 mile area, ran around it, never through.
My run started with a warm up around the Lower Macleay trail on the streets for 2 miles. I then headed up the trail via Macleay. It is a very beautiful area for the first mile, with a stream on either side. For runners, Lower Macleay trail is a fairly hilly trail with rocks for about 1 mile and the hills don't exactly end for about 2.75 miles. The first few times I ran it, I would have to stop and I of course sounded like I had asthma. I was by myself, no dog, but had the mace in my pocket just in case I needed it going into No Mans Land.
When I got there, I grabbed 1/2 of my PBJ sandwich and headed down into it. I instantly saw hikers and their dogs and that made me feel better instantly. Long story short, I never felt fear, I felt annoyance. That area had some thick and heavy mud. It was swampy almost.
I decided once I hit Saltzman road that I was going to get off and run Leif for awhile, more populated with runners that in my opinion like the easier runs. I put on my headphones and ran on Leif for 3 miles. I first caught up with this woman that looked like she had a bad accident with her hair color. I passed her, eventually got bored and went back up towards Wildwood via Firelane, sorry I walked it. If you don't know, that is a horribly .40 huge hill and I was already at mile 17, wasn't going to run it.
Once I got up to the top, I was at the Firelane 1 intersection (remember) near Nature Lane. I decided that I was pretty tired, so I sat down on a bench and got instantly greeted by 3 big dogs, very happy to see me. I pet them and got up for my final 6.5 miles.
Every step the rest of the way hurt. My ankle hurt,the one that has been bothering me, my feet hurt, my legs hurt, my shoulder hurt from almost falling when I tripped earlier, I was exhausted, kept sniffling because of my cold that I was getting over, my hands were swollen, my mood was a little bad and my eyelid was twitching. I had my headphones in one ear and so I started to just concentrate on the music and at times, I was able to forget what I was doing and the pain went away.
When I had about 4 miles to go, I started to think about where I would be at if I was running my normal 4 mile route at home. This got to be a little annoying for me, so I started to notice spots that I knew and the distances between them, helped some and the hikers that I passed helped, I smiled at them and wondered what I looked like, not that it mattered, just gave me something else to think about, other than my pain. At one point, I thought it was going to throw up and then cry. I then had the same thought that I think about when it is 2 weeks before every ultra, how in God's name am I going to get through 31 miles if I can hardly make it 24?
The answer is always the same. Because I can do all things through Christ that Strengthens me and if I ever had any doubt in my abilities, I would never make it through a single ultra.
I finished that 24 miles just fine and in two weeks, I will finish that Ultra.