Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Birthday Run

Well we've made it...another trip around the Sun. 2009 is in the books and we're a month into 2010. I hope all who are reading this are doing well. I'm two days away from reporting for my new role at the DC. I'm excited for the new challenges, change of scenery, and three day weekends! That's right, I said three day weekends. I'll have off EVERY Sat., Sun., and Monday. Good for running, soccer, and family in general. I'm definately looking forward to the weekends off.

On Jan. 27th I turned 37 and so talked Bob into running a 37 mile birthday run with me. He finally conceded because the alternative would've been running his own birthday miles...45! We started out in the dark on the 29th. I stashed some water up on Apache Saddle for later in the day and got to Bob's house about 6:10am. The plan was to run around town while it was still dark then head up on the trail at first light. The more miles we got in early in the morning, the less we'd have to do later in the day. We we're going to run our "Smokey Bear Loop" and then head up the hwy to Quatal Cyn. From town to the bottom of Quatal Cyn and back is about 24 miles then we'd stop at that point for a brief lunch break at Bob's then head out to complete how ever many miles we needed to get us 37.

The snow was deep up in the shaded areas of the trail and so we ended up doing way too much post-holing on the smokey bear loop. We broke through the hard top crust and then sank 18 inches in the slushy snow beneath, cutting up and bruising our lower legs and shins. The going was slow, but it was early and we are resilient, so we pushed on. We briefly lost the trail in the snow but wasted no time getting back on track. It felt great to get out of the deep snow and onto the road.

The top of the saddle was cold and windy and the first mile of Quatal cyn was slippy, but as we descended the snow gave way to the familiar dirt and rocks. It was nice to open it up a little on our way down the canyon. We passed a couple of hunters on the trail, but other than that the mountains belonged to us. We peeled off a couple of layers at the bottom of the canyon, the sun now higher in the sky and beginning to warm us. We dreamed of lunch as we ascended the canyon back towards the saddle. Thanks to the early a.m. mileage, we had it figured that we'd be at about 32 miles or just over 50K when we reached town and our awaiting lunch at Bob's. Lisa and Holly graciously took our order the night before and would be awaiting our arrival. The downhill to Bob's felt good and we cruised in, right on pace to soup and baked potatoes...typical ultra fair and just what we'd need to finish the last few miles.

Paul and Tara were kind enough to join us for the last miles. They had taken the time to go out earlier in the morning and in true tour de france style leave us well wishes on the campground road where we'd pass on our way up to the trail. After a brief stop to read all the chalk graffitti we headed out to finish the Birthday run. The last few miles were great and we both felt great.

It is a real treat to spend the day with a good friend in beautiful scenery. We pushed ourselves mentally and pysically and were very happy and satisfied to be done.

After a shower and change of clothes we all met back over at Bob and Holly's for a Birthday party and post run dinner. Mexican food always goes down easy but after 37 miles it is even better. A slice of orange, frosty glass, and a Blue Moon...the ending to the perfect day.

Birthday runs are a great way to celebrate not only your age, but life. If nothing else it is a great excuse to get out into the outdoors and move like we were meant to. You might not be ready this year to do your birthday miles on foot, but a bike works too. Or how about a lap around the track for every year? Just do something. As George Sheehan says, be a good animal.

Happy Trails. Mike.