I'm wrapping up some final training runs before we head to Europe for Beat's third year of PTL, which starts next Monday. Today I headed up Black Mountain to hike the steeper pitches with my trekking poles. I haven't done much trekking pole training recently, but I don't think that matters. I use them frequently and juggle them well when I'm running; I've had a lot of practice yet. I've been trying out the Hoka Stinson trail shoe; put about a hundred miles on them so far. This is my first venture into a different model of Hokas since I found the Mafate 1 in 2010 (I like to joke that I'm not a Hoka convert — more like a native born, since I ventured into running while using Hokas.) I like the Stinsons but I'm worried the durability may be lacking; I've already torn the tongue twice and fear for the mesh outers on rocky Alps trails. I have one more new pair of Mafate 2s and may break those in for Tor des Geants. My older pair of Mafate 2s has nearly 950 miles. I was going to try to push them to 1,000, but the now-bald soles are beginning to separate so I may have to accept their early demise.
I planned a longer run today and assumed it would be tedious so I downloaded some new music and settled in for a grind. But what I found was this cool, almost autumn-like breeze wafting along the ridge, a cape of sea fog draped over the mountains, and rich evening sunlight that reflected off the golden hillsides with a mesmerizing shimmer. I shuffled along with my trekking poles and cackled at Weird Al's new album, which I downloaded because until recently I didn't even realize Weird Al was still making new music, but he was one of my favorites when I was 12 and listening to Weird Al makes me feel young. As it turns out, his parody of Imagine Dragon's "Radioactive" makes a great running song, even if it's about being "Really Inactive."
"I'm giving up. My energy is shot. I'm never moving from this spot."
Singing and clicking my poles and just like that, 17.5 miles with 4,100 feet of climbing was done. Maybe it's true that once you hit 35, even the miles start slipping away before you notice.