In the days leading up to the second annual Emerald Necklace 100k, it became clear that we wouldn't have too many runners actually running 100k. In fact, it was beginning to look like there would be only one or two of us out there. After double checking with all the potential runners, I decided to make it only 50k.
In the mean time, I learned about a Burning River Training Run, which was to cover the first 18.6 miles of the course, and ALSO a 33 to 40 mile run with Lloyd, which would also cover the beginning part of BR100, but then keep going up to Station Road and then some. This latter run was to celebrate Lloyd's birthday, thus "40 on my 40th".
Since I'd only be doing 31 on Sunday, 33 to 40 on Saturday sounded pretty good. In fact, this would give me even more that the planned 62 for the weekend. I'm just so brilliant.
It was already getting warm when a bunch of us met at Station Road and carpooled up to Squire's Castle in North Chagrin Reservation. There we met up with a much bigger bunch (the ones doing 18.6), and headed south. There was such a big group that the start actually looked like the start of Burning River itself. Everything seemed fun and exciting at this point.
The first 10 or so miles of BR100 are on the road, so of course I very unwisely stayed with the lead group of Brad, Steve and Rachel. Along the way we did encounter a few others, including Tim. When we hit the trails after the polo grounds I mentioned that I needed to slow down a bit and I expected the group to just go on. But we all slowed just a bit and stayed together. This (still going at a pretty good clip on the trails) turned out to be mistake number two for me. I should say, however, that at this point I was still very much enjoying myself. The trails were not too rough, but they were more than a little muddy, and we ran through several ankle-deep streams. Our legs were pretty well caked with the mud.
When we reached the 18.6 mile point at Shadow Lake, Tim, Steve and Rachel were done, and Brad and I went on. The problem was that I was done too, and yet I was only about half-way home. I stayed with Brad for a few more miles and then told him to go on; I needed to slow down. Way down.
Now as it became warmer, I entered Bedford Reservation and things became tougher and tougher. I stayed on the trails at times, but opted for the all-purpose trail more and more as I went on. The two main reasons were that I thought it would be fewer miles, and that I wouldn't have to pick up my feet as much. I did take one tumble on the trails along the way. I was suddenly very much not enjoying myself.
After a little bit of confusion, I found my way to Alexander Road, where I got some water and encouragement, knowing that I was almost there. I had thought that this was about mile 30, and therefore must have had only about 3 to get back to the car. The options for 36 and 40 miles were to include extra running in Brecksville Reservation; 33 would be fine for me today, thank you.
It turned out that the Buckeye Trail was early on in the section after Alexander Road - not long after the Bike & Hike Trail started. I didn't see it. I went on, and on and on. And let me tell you, that Bike & Hike Trail should be renamed the Bake & Hike Trail. That's certainly what I did (bake, not hike) for those four or so miles. The worst part about being lost is the thought that you're going all those extra miles for nothing. And suffering mightily for it.
Of course I did eventually get back, covering the last part of the run on route 82. I figure that I probably ran an extra 3 or so miles, so I'm calling it 36. I've had some really bad runs, but this has to rank up near the top (or should I say bottom) of that list. All I could think about is how much I hate this running stuff. This was the first fun run that wasn't for the weekend.
So what was I going to do about Sunday? I was so beat up that I could hardly move, much less run. At the same time, I began hearing from folks saying they also wouldn't make it to the Emerald Necklace. The two people that I thought would show up, John B. and Joe J., showed up. I was there to send them off, but told them that I couldn't run a step if my life depended on it. Joe did manage to finish. For me however, this was fun run that wasn't number two.
I suppose most of the problem is that I hadn't fully recovered from Cleveland. None of my runs in the past week were very good. But this was as bad as it gets. I now need to reconsider which, if any, 100-miler to do. And I need a long rest.
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