From snow to 85 to severe thunderstorms
On Sunday we hoped to complete a long run, but lounged around for far too long and set out just as dark clouds were gathering overhead. It's getting to be that time of year where afternoons are not the best time to play, but it always takes a few hard lessons to adjust winter habits. As we climbed toward Bear Peak, an opaque gray wall obscured everything to the south. The cloud was approaching us at alarming speed.
"We're going to get pummeled," I said to Beat. Not really taking my own definition of pummeled seriously, we continued to climb. Within five minutes, sharp hail was raining down on us. We scrambled to cover up with our meager spring layers — I had a fleece beanie, but a woefully thin three-ounce wind jacket. Beat had a better jacket and gloves, but no hat. We still didn't think it was so bad, so we continued to climb into the deluge. When switchbacks turned into the wind, I couldn't even breathe through the gales. A chill rapidly deteriorated into vigorous shivering. My core was very cold, and my calves hurt from the hail stings. Then Beat saw lightning. We abandoned the "long run" plan and made a hasty retreat.
More severe thunderstorms were in the forecast today, so I rallied out the door before 9 a.m., hoping to complete one last medium-length run before Quadrock on Saturday. Quadrock is a trail race in Fort Collins that I signed up for months ago, back when I still thought I'd be riding the Idiatrod, so I put my name down for the "half" (25 miles.) After the thyroid diagnosis I figured there would be no racing this spring, but I've been feeling so good lately — so much better than I ever felt during the winter. My lab numbers are approaching normal, so the risks are diminished. And it's only 25 miles. Some of my weekend fun runs have been nearly that long. Why not?
The thing is, I am really nervous about the prospect of racing. My last race (January's Fat Pursuit) was a grueling failure. I haven't even started a foot race since January 2016. Quadrock has reasonably tight cutoffs, and they don't allow trekking poles (how will I stay upright without my running crutches? I don't even know anymore.) And now Beat has a knee injury that will likely prevent him from racing the 50-mile version of Quadrock. I'll be all alone out there! (Well, just me and the other 264 entrants in the 25-miler.) Anyway, I am weirdly wound up about Quadrock. I just want to finish the race, and not face-plant ... at least not in a way that will prevent me from finishing. And if I can't finish, ugh. I don't even want to think about it.
But I do want to start. The route I chose today had 4,200 feet of climbing and an equal amount of descending in a measly 11 miles. It was quite technical for "running," and I mainly wanted one more good practice on steep descents. The final descent proved that I actually have put in some good training over the past five weeks. My first runs back from Alaska were punctuated by plenty of soreness, but today my legs felt fresh as I picked up the pace for the final mile home. Just as I walked in the door, rain started to pelt against the windows. I'd escaped the storms entirely. One hundred percent success.