Sometimes, an everyday trail run can turn out to be a bit spooky.
Friday night, we left to go on a college visit for my boy and make a stop by Nacogdoches to see our girl. Both were really fun and quite enjoyable and worth all the time driving in the car. We got into town Sunday mid-day, just in time for the hubby and boy to hop back in the car and drive to San Antonio for a soccer game.
I planned my long run for Sunday afternoon. I’m much more of an afternoon/evening enthusiast than an early morning riser, so this was something I very much looked forward to doing. I put it out for anyone in Tri Zones to join me, hoping to get some company, especially in the later portions. My route: the full, main greenbelt trail, from Barton Springs pool access to Hill of Life trailhead and back. Start time: 2 p.m.
My primary objective was to see what my foot did with the longer distance. I’ve had no foot problems with my short 8-mile trail runs, and I’ve had no issues increasing my time on my feet to 2:00. This would be doubling that…and mile 19 on the road was where my foot “gave out” at Nike. So I figured this run would be a good test of how it would (or wouldn’t) hold up.
Round Trip Greenbelt Run
Going Out to HOL
I fully loaded the new Nathan vest, more to practice carrying the stuff than actually thinking I’d need it all. My flashlight and clip-on headlamp went in, along with all my emergency allergy stuff and any food and water I’d need. I had five takers on my offer to provide a greenbelt tour, and we took off more or less on time.
It was a great afternoon for a run. The temperature was perfect, there was that magic fall light in the air, everything felt great.
Four of my runners opted to call it a day at the 360 access; my friend, Pam, opted to continue on to the top of the Hill of Life, the halfway point. It was soooo nice having her company! We made a couple of small stops (when you gotta go, you gotta go) and I hit the top of the HOL in 2:02, right when I expected. That meant it was about 4:18 p.m. by the time I was bombing down the HOL. My foot was feeling good, my nutrition felt dialed in, and I thought the run back would be fun and easy.
Coming Back to Barton Springs
By the time I reached the 360 access, my foot was a bit achey. I’d been running for 3:06 and it seemed to me that the bounding I’d done coming down the HOL might have been a problem.
As I wended my way down the stretch between 360 and Gus Fruh, I realized that I was firmly in twilight time. It wasn’t dark enough for a light but it was dark enough that, well, it felt a little creepy. That spot is creepy to me even in the daylight, for whatever reason, and so I picked up my pace a bit.
By the time I made the final creek crossing (there’s no water, so it’s a creek bed crossing, I guess) my game had become to see how far I could get without having to turn on my light. It was fun; the air was nice and cool, and there were owls softly hooting.
At the Spyglass entrance, it was time to turn on the light. I chose to just go with my clip-on light on the brim of my hat. With less than a mile to go, I was pleased to realize that my foot wasn’t hurting and I felt quite good, so I tried to run as fast in the dark as I had in the light.
I could see within the arc of my light but everything outside the light was just black shapes, so it took me a minute to realize three people were walking toward me in the dark. It spooked me…people heading out into the greenbelt, without a light, at night? It spelled “homeless” folks, and I decided to keep running briskly and just scoot on by.
As I passed, a man said “Hello,” and without thinking, I replied…my light shown on them as I went by, and then they started yelling at me, stuff about “gimme that light, hey stop,” whatever. I think it was that, until I’d spoken, they hadn’t realized I was a woman. Suddenly, I seemed to be fair game.
I ran hard, just wanting to get back to my car as quickly as possible. Honestly, it ruined the end of the run because I spent the last half mile wondering who else might pop out of the bushes. Coming into the parking lot, where the canopy of trees thinned, showed a lovely peek at the nighttime Austin sky line but I’d had enough.
I had to stop at the grocery store on the way home; by the end of that store trip, my foot hurt enough that I limped. Iced when I got home. Did walking afterward put me over the edge? Or did I just have enough adrenaline going during the run that I didn’t feel pain as much?
So I learned that, yes, my foot will hold up just fine for 4:00 of running on the trail. And if I’m going to be on the greenbelt after dark, I need to have company. So I’ll continue to take care of it this week and we’ll see what happens with the 50K on Saturday.