Thursday, June 16, 2016

Trail Running Across America Blog 2

The last few days have been very interesting. Some great runs, some tough runs and some executive decisions. 

Day 4: Duluth, MN. I had arranged to meet up with some of the local ultra runners. We were meeting at the Duluth Zoo and running 16 miles point to point on the Voyaguer 50k route. It is already hot outside when we started, in the 70's  and it was in the 80's the finish. So I get parked, meet up with Adam, Chris and Eric and we head off. The route is a mix of dirt roads, paved roads and single track. They are all experienced ultra runners, and I enjoy hearing their stories about races and trails they have run. They talk about the different parks they have ran and hiked in across the nation, and I take copious mental notes of places I want to hit as I go. They talk about the local races and trails, and I realize that I definitely need to come back up to Duluth to run some of these races. 

At mile 10 I look down and the hair on my arms is standing straight up. Oh Fuck! This is a sign that I know well. My core body temperature is rising and I am headed for trouble. I check my pack for my salt tabs, damn I only have one left. Note to self, check salt tabs before you go. I up my hydration and keep pushing through. By mile 12, I was dizzy. This is not good. I have stopped sweating and I know things are going down hill fast. We  are doing a section of the course aptly called the power lines. It is climbing to the top where a power line is, and then down. During different conditions I would absolutely love this section. Now, this is rough and I am struggling. I say something to the guys I am running with.  I have to slow down. They are wonderful, slow down with me and we keep going. By mile 13.5 I am a disaster. Eric falls back with me as I am having to walk as much as I am running. Any time we hit a creek, I am dunking my cooling towel and headband, nothing is lowering my body temp. Adam gives me pretzels for the salt content, I get down a few but my mouth is so dry it is hard. Mile 15 I am done. I am so hot, I am willing to bet my temp is well over a 100. I have ran out of water ( I started with 2 Liters). Eric gives me his remaining bottle and I drain it within a half a mile. Chris and Adam have gone ahead. I remove my pack to get rid of the hotness and run, walk the rest of the way. About mile 16, Chris and Adam are back with water. I down half a nalgene bottle.  I am beyond thankful I was with these guys. I don't know how I would have done this if I had gotten that sick on my own. This is my first time during his trip that I am thinking "What the hell am I doing? I should turn around and go home"

We get to the end and we sit in a very cold creek. It feels amazing, and helps me start feeling better. Then we go get breakfast at the Sunshine Cafe'. It is VERY important to note, I got the best omelette I have ever had in my life here! It is HUGE and filled with vegetables, hashbrowns, and loads of cheese. Delicious! 

The rest of the day I kept super easy. Went to lake, laid in the shade and sat by the fire. Unfortunately, the tree I chose to lay under had a gazillion ticks in, so I spent a decent amount of time pulling ticks off of Waylon. Lesson learned! By the time I get to bed, I know... I am continuing on. 

Day 5:  I decided when I woke up I wanted to get on the road. I have decided to go North Dakota to go to Theodore Roosevelt National Park and the Painted Canyons. Along the way I crossed over the Mississippi River. As soon as I crossed I noticed there was a trail that ran beside it. So I stopped, grabbed Waylon and headed out for a few miles. At one point I was on a dirt road. A motorist stopped me and told me that a bear had just crossed the road and to watch my dog. I thanked them, although I forgot to ask which side he had gone to, and kept going. Well sure as shit, about mile 3 I hear rustling in the bushes and I look over and see a large black figure. Well, I wasn't going to stick around for a photo, actually I started hitting those sub 8 miles, yelling at Waylon to keep up. 
On top of a bear, there were thunder storms and rain moving in. We got a little wet, but beat the torrential downpour. Go us!

We kept driving towards North Dakota, stopping to take a photo with the massive Paul Bunyan. Actually I had driven past it, did an illegal U-turn, and stopped to take a photo! hahaha
 Since North Dakota is absolutely boring as hell to drive through, and there are no radio stations to boot, I plugged in my phone and finally got around to listening to the first season of Serial. If you are into crime stuff, I recommend it. For the record, I don't think he did it.

Eventually I got to the Painted Canyons. I stopped to take some photo's, it was absolutely stunning! Then I drove through the Theodore Roosevelt Park. The campground was full, but it was a gorgeous view and we saw some wild horses and buffalo. Waylon could have cared less about them, luckily. 

Since the grounds were full I drove across to the Sully Creek State Park. They had a rustic campground that had really great sites. I set up camp, made some grilled cheese and went to bed.

Day 6:  We woke up early to go run. My campsite is .25 miles from the trail head, which was great.  Since I knew there wasn't going to be a water source, I brought Waylon's collapsible bowl and extra water. We took off on the Maah Daah Hey Trail for a nice out back for ten miles. This was different than any other trail I have ever run. The scenery and style of trail was new to me, and absolutely fantastic. Waylon drank out of his bowl and mile 3 and we kept going. For the first few miles there was cloud coverage and an occasional drizzle.

At our turn around point there was a creek that was the color of copper. Waylon of course headed straight for it, but I made him stop. It. Was. Nasty! After that Waylon got stubborn and refused to drink out of his bowl because he was mad at me. I could tell he was hot as he was falling behind. At this point the clouds were spotty and the rain was gone, so we were pretty much running in direct sun. So, being the good dog mommy I am, I forced water down his throat via his water bottle. He didn't love it, but he got water damnit! lol 

Once we finished I did my "running shower" using soap, a washcloth, and a water spout in the park. I am sure the people in the RV thought I was nuts! ha. I got in my car, stopped in Medora to grab some post cards and coffee and hit the road. South Dakota here I come! 

A couple hours into my drive THE STORM hit! Notice the all caps and bold letters. It was wicked! I couldn't see more than 50 feet in front of my car and there was constant thunder and lightning. This went on for hours. Finally I got to Rapid City, SD. I pulled off the side of the road in a truck stop area to think about what I wanted to do. Checking the weather app, these storms were supposed to go all night and into the next night. Right as I was weighing my options, my friend Stacey called me. I ran it by her, and she agreed, I couldn't stay there, it wasn't safe to camp in. So, I called my Mom. She agreed. I asked her to call my Aunt and Uncle in Sheridan, Wy. This is right by the Big Horn National Parks, which has a race over the weekend. I am betting the course is marked! Aunt and Uncle say "absolutely!"  I duck into into the restaurant I parked by to grab something to eat, I haven't eaten since my half bowl of cereal before my run, look at the 6 page menu which has ZERO vegetarian options ( not even the friggin salads were meatless) which cues me into the fact that I am for sure back in the West. So, I work with the waiter to create a meatless salad, grab my dressing from the cooler, and head out. I headed back on the road. 

As I drove into Wyoming, I am overcome by emotion. I grew up in Wyoming, but I haven't been back in 5 years for personal reasons. It is a 3 hour drive, so during this time I get to work through all my emotions about coming back. There were some tears, and some smiles as I drove. Eventually I get to Sheridan. My Uncle meets me and shows me the 5th wheel which is all set up next to the house, electricity is going and everything is ready for me and Waylon. We spend an hour catching up and then W and I head to bed. I am running the Big Horns in the morning. 
It is going to be great. 

So, until next time! Happy Running

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