Oh, oh, oh–how I love running in mud!
Our Wolverine Trail/Middle Fork/Powerline Pass run served up so much mud that by the time we finished, I was pure mud past my ankles. My shoes weren’t even recognizable. It was cold mud, too. Cold and mucky and smelly.
We initially set out for a four mile run up toward Wolverine Peak. But my foot was feeling solid, with no pain, so we tacked on a few more miles and ended up running about 12. I love when that happens.
What can I say about this run except that it was perfect. Per.Fect. We passed one person the whole way, a guy with two dogs. After that, we had the whole valley to ourselves.
We didn’t talk much. We simply ran through all of that silence. The air was cool in places, cold in others, and the lower lying areas were muddy. After a few miles we simply gave up and ran through the mud. P.S. I found out that while I love my Brooks Cascadias, they don’t drain well. They became heavier and heavier we each large, muddy pond (lake?) we ran through until it felt as if I were running with leg weights.
I didn’t take any photos of the mud, though. It didn’t really matter. It was like an itch, something we noticed for a few minutes and then, as soon as we found ourselves on semi-dry land again, forgot. Until we reached the next muddy, swampy area.
We came across the first moose after about an hour. It was a large bull, off grazing to the side of the trail, and we managed to run past with no problems (I ran fast, too, as I blubbered to MM, “It isn’t following me, is it? It isn’t charging me, is it?” As if that moose had been standing there for hours waiting for me to run past so it could charge me.)
Half a mile later we hit two females standing in the middle of the trail. They refused to budge and we had to hike around them through heavy alder scrub and mucky water. They watched us the whole time. I think I heard them snickering.
I didn’t take any photos of any of the moose, since it’s the end of rutting season and I just wanted to get past them, fast. I did get this, though. A panoramic view of the valley. Isn’t it to die-for lovely? It’s one of my favorite places.
The beginning of the run was all uphill so that ending was all down, and the last four miles are my favorite part because it slopes down away from the mountains and toward the inlet, and you can pick up speed and really run, and it’s the greatest feeling. We ran as the sunset streaked the sky the most haunting shades of pink and lavender.
We got caught in the dark the last few miles and my headlamp was cheap, the battery low so that we had only a dull shadow of light. The footing was rocky and we slipped and stumbled, and then I saw two yellow lights reflected in my headlamp and threw out my arms so that MM would stop. Two moose stood at the edge of the trail, neither very happy to find two humans running through their dark.
Once again we had to bushwhack through alder brush, and this time the footing was rough and the ground was so swampy it almost pulled off my shoes, and we were like blind people, groping through the semi-darkness. After we got back on the trail we walked the last mile. It was too dark and wet, the lamplight too weak; the last thing I wanted was to trip and re-injure my foot.
On the drive back, I put my bare feet on the dash next to the heater vents and blasted hot air and marveled at the early Alaskan pioneers, who navigated this land without expensive sweat-wicking fabrics, dry-weave socks, headlamps or any of the luxuries we take for granted. Then I stopped thinking because we were home and I ate a whole box of Annie’s mac and cheese by myself (I made two, so that MM wouldn’t starve) and even though I call myself a vegan, I make exceptions for Annie.
Reading: OMG! I read “Marathon Man” by Mark Singer. It’s in “Best American Sports Writing 2013” and utterly fascinating. (I’m seeing if I can find a link to the original New Yorker story right now.) Here’s the link:
Has anyone read this? Basically, a 40-something guy named Kip Lipton, a Michigan dentist who racked up sub-3 hour marathons, was suspected of cheating and disqualified from numerous marathons. The fascinating thing is that no one can figure out just how, exactly, he pulled this off. His splits through race timing mats reflected his finishing times yet he’s not in any race photos except for the beginning and ending; there’s usually no sign of him on the course.
And, get this: In some race photos he’s wearing different clothes in the starting line photo and the finish line photo: Different shoes and shirt and sometimes even shorts. Two different people racing? Except no one else has ever stepped forward.
I’ll shut up now and let you read it for yourself. Cheers and happy running and reading, everyone.