SO! I’ve been a little overwhelmed and depressed over non-running issues. When I showed up yesterday morning (Saturday) in Modjeska Canyon to run a giant loop run with a group, that I had planned for weeks, I was asked an innocent question by one of my running friends. In response I started crying! CRYING! I felt a little humiliated. “Don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry,” I told myself. I don’t like making anyone feel badly or sad for me. In public, I try to ALWAYS put on a happy face.
I quickly got my mind on running and my running friends were all sweet in helping me forget, especially Judi as we set off for a long, long running adventure into the mountains.
I had run all but one of the trails on this loop, some of them several times. But I had never run up (or even down) Joplin Trail. I also hadn’t been to a place called “Old Camp” in a few years, so I wasn’t confident on how to get there.
Our ran began on flat asphalt for just a short while, and then the climb began to the trailhead as we made our way out of Modjeska Canyon. The weather was cool and beautiful. Yes, beautiful. On this particular morning, we could see the weather in the form of misty clouds.
Lisa, Matt & Judi on Santiago Truck Trail:
I’m unsure how far we ran before we came upon the vulture crags, which of course I didn’t take a picture. However, I did get some photos of us in front of the U.S. flag that flies there. It’s been there every time I’ve run Santiago Truck Trail. This time there was a memorial posted for an American soldier (a very young man) who died in service. Next to the flag was a box with an extra flag to replace the one standing when it became tattered and torn. It’s a lovely, serene place, this memorial across from the vulture crags. A good place also to fuel up. I didn’t take in many calories at this point, as I had already picked “Old Camp” to fuel.
At some point on our run, I began to worry about whether I remembered how to get to “Old Camp.” Tom Fangrow showed me “Old Camp,” probably the last time I ever ran Santiago Truck Trail. I didn’t need to worry about paying attention to direction then, because I had Tom (who is familiar with just about every, if not every single, trail in the area). I recalled a straight shot on Santiago Truck Trail to the place called “Old Camp.” But then after several miles, the fire road continued straight onward, and off to the left ran a lonely single-track. That single-track went in the direction I knew we needed to head, but I had NO recollection of a single-track to “Old Camp.” I decided we should take it, because after all, we couldn’t get lost with the two peaks towering above us (Modjeska and Santiago).
We kept climbing and climbing this single-track, and the more we ran upward, the more I doubted that we would make my original plans. I knew we’d make the Main Divide however, so I wasn’t worried. Thing was, I really wanted to see “Old Camp.” And then suddenly while running this unfamiliar trail, I got a quick flashback of my run way-back-when with Tom, and for a second, it all looked familiar. BUT WE CONTINUED CLIMBING. Then I saw Lisa stop up ahead, and I wondered if she had come to a fork. That’s what we trail runners do. If we’re running someone else’s run (meaning, we don’t know the particular trails, we stop at forks and wait for everyone). I hollered out, “Is there another trail?” Lisa nodded and I felt exhilarated. Upon full view, I KNEW. I hundred percent recognized our location, one fork went up, the other went down. We were on our way to “Old Camp!” Downhill we ran into a different world, a world of lush green and shade.
And then finally, after about eleven miles of running we came upon “Old Camp,” where we met several hikers relaxing beneath an old giant tree near a firepit. The reprieve and conversation with these hikers was a delight. We refueled. And we talked trails. I asked one of the hikers the name of the trail we just ran in on. He replied, “I don’t know, I just call it the trail to “Old Camp.” That comment made the moment even more joyous for me.
Some point during this run, and I don’t recall when, my stomach began acting up. At first it ached just a little. But as time went on, it worsened. It felt like my insides were twisting into double knots. I thought a pit stop might help. It did not. I’m unsure whether I should even put it in at this point in this post, because what occurred next on the run, tops the stomach problems. And that was JOPLIN TRAIL. I’ve never run Joplin Trail. It’s single-track, green with gigantic trees. There’s a lovely creek flowing heavily along the side (at first). And IT. IS. STEEP. Most of this trail, I was able to keep my mind off my stomach pain. You know why? Because this trail was so dang difficult, that I had to focus hard on simply continuing upward. Travelling Joplin included very little running. I grabbed at branches to help me along. I STOPPED to rest. And there came a point when I just didn’t care whether it took me an hour to travel one inch. I just wanted to move forward and get this trail that put West Horsethief to shame FINISHED.
Every time the trail headed downward I groaned. Going down meant only that some of the elevation that we had gained was lost.
Lisa tells us that it’s getting a little steep (LOL):
At times we could see Santiago Peak. Its towers seemed a stone’s throw away. Even with the peak so blazingly above us, Joplin trail would JUST NOT END. My garmin didn’t even read a pace. When it seldom did, it would give me a 26 minute pace, or something absurd like that. With my stomach worsening, my mind simply went blank as I just put one foot in front of the other, knowing EVENTUALLY my feet would get me there. And then, I heard a truck. A truck!!! A few minutes later I heard Judi holler out in joy. And just like that, I was there – on The Main Divide at last!!!
Though overwhelmed with joy, my stomach pain was becoming unbearable. I tried not to grimace. But I did run, though slowly it was. I was afraid to eat, fearful I would make the pain worse. I did drink up which did nothing to comfort my stomach, though at least I was sure to get my electrolytes and fluids (I put Nuun tablets in my water). When we came up to The Main Divide, we were closer to Santiago Peak than Modjeska Peak. So we still had to run to Modjeska. Our spirits were up from finally having finished Joplin. Our next “landmark” was “Four Corners.” It couldn’t come fast enough. But it didn’t come fast for me. It took F O R E V E R. Each step I ran made the pain worse.
Matt and Lisa were waiting at “Four Corners.” Actually, Lisa had run off a little bit to look for some water stash. She found some, but such a small amount that she didn’t feel right taking it. Fortunately, the next 9+ miles was down hill – Harding Truck Trail.
My pain was immense. I told the group how to get down, that there was no way to get lost, just stay on the road. I didn’t want them to wait for me, because I was going to be slow. At one point I caught them because they had stopped in the road to talk to a wonderful woman they met running up. She was over 70 years old, and she was still doing ultra runs. She had run all the “bucket list” runs out our way. And not just once, some of them 12, 13, 14 times. While she was such a delight, her smile a piece of sunshine, I could hardly stand there. I was literally doubling over in pain. I tried not to let on as we took in her stories. But finally, I could no longer stand, and though I just wanted to plop my butt down in the dirt, I leaned over, holding myself by my knees. Occasionally, I’d squat down with my guts twisting and burning and stabbing at my stomach. I really wanted to hear the conversation – I didn’t want to be “the wet rag.” Though I smiled and laughed with the group, I wanted more than anything to take off running for a head start. I knew there was no possible way that I was going to be able to keep up with the group.
As we headed off, we all kind of widened out, as is customary on group runs. I chatted with Lisa a bit, and told her again, don’t wait for me – it’s going to take a long time for me to run down. You see, running really knocked my insides around causing a great deal of pain. Eventually, I phoned my husband to tell him. And he wasn’t too happy that I told everyone to run ahead. Thing was, I felt like I might vomit. And even if I didn’t upchuck, my pain had reached a peak so terrible, I was no kind of company. Besides, I knew that trail well, and it was practically crowded with hikers. So, if anything did happen to me, someone would be around to witness and possibly call for help.
I lost connection with my husband. So I ran a bit for another cell connection and phoned him again to ensure him nothing had happened. He thought I had hung up to vomit. Here was my dilemma. The only way to ease my pain was to walk. Running made the pain worse. But I WANTED THIS RUN OVER. So, I ran. I didn’t run fast. But I ran. And I forced myself not to look at the garmin because if I did, time would crawl by EVEN SLOWER down this giant switch-back trail.
Eventually my three running friends were nowhere in sight. And I plugged away at this run, telling myself, “You’re tough. You can do it.” I never cried. I never stopped (except for the phone calls) and I didn’t even fall (though I tripped once.) I even took a few pictures.
I really don’t have a moral to this story yet. Maybe you can think of one. I will add one little tid-bit. With about two miles remaining, I FINALLY spotted Judi and Matt. They were about a half mile off. Judi screamed out, waving her arms above her head. When I saw those two, I almost started crying. It felt so good to finally see some friendly faces. They were so, so kind in their words to me. We had fun conversation on the way back to our cars. Back at the truck I found a sweet note from Lisa on my door window. I was very glad for that note. It meant she made it safely. Despite everything, it was a great day in many ways.
Today, a day later, my stomach is still having problems, but it’s barely noticeable. Also, come to find out, my oldest and middle sons had stomach problems on Saturday as well. Fortunately, they did not fare as badly, as their pain lasted only a couple hours. Also, I could not get enough sleep after this run. And I ached all over, as if I was in a car accident (you know, not a terrible car accident, but I’ve been in a few accidents and my body feels similar – aching in the oddest places). And lastly, I’m already wondering when I can do this run again. Muhahahaha.
Oh! And one more thing. I just found the entry for my original run to “Old Camp” with Tom back in July 2009. http://laurenontherun.blogspot.com/2009/07/slam-dancin-with-trail.html After just reading this and looking at the pictures, my memory did not serve me right at all! How silly of me not to read this post before Saturday’s run.