Monday, March 17, 2014

The longest long run...

I went out for a long run on Sunday and it almost turned into a morning of survival. Certainly good training for an arctic marathon – or rather, I now am sure I don’t want to compete in any races in the Arctic or near it (or even something like the Spine race, I think).

Anyway, on this very Spring-like morning away I head planning on roughly ten to fifteen-mile sortie with 6,000 feet of climbing. About four hours, I figured. 

First problem: just when I suppose to hit the beginning of the major ascent, 30 minutes into the run, I can’t find the path. I’ve done it in Summer and I’ve done it in deep Winter, when the snow was either sparse or packed. But now it is nowhere to be seen.

Ok, I backtrack and decide on another route, which requires traversing a ski slope twenty minutes later. And that proves to be an impossible feat. It’s 8am, no skiers around, but the groomed slope is ice slick. I try three times, rather terrified since on this very slope I slipped on an ice patch skiing at 5mph and dislocated my shoulder. I’m gripping my poles, digging in my heels (useless pair of spiked soles!), but to no avail.
So I decide to call it a day.

On the way back I take what I hope to be a short cut along a trail I have run numerous times – but again, either in Summer or when the snow was nice and packed. Now it doesn’t seem to have been used since I was last up in these mountains, about a month ago, and so I find myself calf-deep in spring sludge.

Unfortunately I’m wearing Salomon trekking boots, not trail shoes. Sure, I would have been soaked in trail shoes, but these now turn out to be worse. First, not only to have to stop every three steps to redo my shoe laces, but snow keeps slipping in over my ankles and gets trapped in this boots designed to keep the snow out (therefore, it’s doing a fine job of keeping it in). Within fifteen minutes, my feet are bathing in ice-cold water. Ten minutes later and I can’t feel my toes.

Fortunately home is only another twenty minutes away. By the time I hit the last 100 yards of asphalt, each step feels like I’m pressing down barefoot on a bed of nails (that reminds of some obscure Eighties hard rock hit single…). An hour more and I seriously think I might have gotten frostbite.
Or perhaps it’s just my overactive imagination.

Anyway, for the first time in years, it was not about the distance or the effort. It reminded me of my first Marathon des Sables. It was fun.

At least there’s always the view…

Mont Fort hidden behind the tree

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