Saturday, June 2, 2007

Tonight, on "Lost"

It finally happened: the inevitable. I've been running 30+ miles per week for over 3 years, trails being a major portion of that. I've headed out for 4 to 5 hour runs, alone, in unknown, unmapped territory, with only a handheld bottle and pockets filled with Gu packets. I've encountered rattlesnakes, mountain lions, coyote, and the single most dreaded sight on the trails....Cub Scouts. And yet, up until today, I'd never completely lost my bearings to the point of utter confusion.

Best of all, this happened at Malibu Creek Park, a park filled with trails that I've traversed countless times, twice during 25k races. And yet, at the end of my planned 14 mile, 2 hour, 20 mn run, I found myself confounded as to the whereabouts of the final 3 mile singletrack I'd run so many times. I even asked a passing family if they knew where the main trailhead was, but received only a, "Well...we parked right there," as they pointed to their SUV, sitting at another, smaller lot. Not to mention that earlier, right around mile 7, I continued up a climbing trail that dead-ended and had to back track about 1.5 miles to the turnoff I'd missed, tossing on another 3 miles. This, on a run that hands you 2,000+ feet of climbing.

I finally shot myself out onto the canyon 2 lane road and trucked up to the next parking lot, which I recognized from prior races as the final sight before the finish 2 miles later. At this point, I'd hit the wall, big time, probably at mile 15 of incredibly hard running, knowing my water supply was shot as I baked beneath the noonday sun. I was forced to walk-run the last mile, but of course hauled ass the final 50 feet, so the local hikers could be amazed by me...or something.

Planned run: 14 miles, at around 2 hours, 20 mns

Actual run: About 17 miles, finishing in 3 hours, 8 mns.


ReneeMc said...

Duuuuuude, this reminds me of the article I read in Runner's World last night when the runner whose name I forgot fell down and like broke everything in her body and her dog saved her.
Except you didn't have a dog. Or fall down. You should get a dog, just in case? Maybe a toy poodle. I think they're loyal and would really impress hikers when you're out there running with him. Especially when you dye him funny holiday colors.
Glad you found your way home safe and sound and hydrated.

s. said...

I always worry about geting lost during a trail race. I did end up off the course once in a 25k race. I had my head down putting one foot in front of the other when I heard someone yelling "Hey!" I looked behind me just in time to see a couple of other runners actually see the 90 degree turn in the trail. I quickly got back on the course, but it ended up costing me a couple of minutes and a couple of places over all. It doesn't help that I have a terrible sense of direction. Running at night in an ultra would be a recipe for disaster.

Keep up the good work!