One thing about running in the valley late night or very, very early is that the hundreds of deer linger literally everywhere. They're roadside, in parking lots, in peoples' front yards, standing right in the middle of the trail...everywhere. Thanks to my new high-power headlamp, I saw more little green eyes of deer than ever before. I'd put the number at no less than 100 deer today. The greatest concentration was at the Boston Store (mile 4 and 26) where at least 25 of them were either standing or laying down in the adjacent lawn. They rarely run...they just stare right back at my light.
Heading out at 4am after getting up shortly after 2am, the body isn't quite down with what it's doing. About 2 miles in this morning, I was seeing spots...the kind of spots you see after you look at a bright light...but I hadn't looked at a light so this was really messing with me. It was the perfect recipe to catch my foot on a root or rock and plant my face in the mud before me. Luckily, it only lasted about a mile. Also in the dark, a bright headlamp also tends to attract bats and they'll fly all around you darting through the light. They never get too close but I'd hate to have any bugs on me which might attract them to my skull for a snack. I also encountered another animal around mile 17.5 which was on the way back after making my turn-around in Brecksville. I was coming down this one hill when all of a sudden, a big fat turkey, which was tucked close to a fallen log, took to immediate flight clearly being spooked by me. Spooked by me?! Heck, it spooked ME! Every hair on me standed on end! I'd never seen a turkey fly before but it's chubby body hit branches on the way up to safety and sloppily landed on a branch not too far away. Then, about 1 mile before getting back to Snowville Rd. (about mile 19), a black and yellow turtle was on his own little trail scoot...right down the middle of the trail. He was just a bit larger than a softball and quickly tucked his head in his shell when I came by.
I also took one pretty hard fall. With so much rain, there was lots of mud. As I was coming down a slope to a water crossing around mile 12, I stepped on a very slippery spot and both legs went airborne to the left and I landed, right hip first, in the creek, in the water, on a bed of jagged rocks. Thanks once again to my handheld bottle for saving my hand from getting cut up. The natural reflex is to put your hand out so my bottles have saved me numerous time by provided a soft and cushioned landing. My right knee, however, got a nice cut and is a little swollen. That was the only damage done physically today..not too bad given the muddy trail conditions.
Thanks to Jim Chaney who was waiting at Boston Store to join me for miles 26-29 before turning back to pick up his car at the store. Jim is nursing an injury and getting ready to start his Burning River 100 Mile training so was just looking for some therapeutic time in the mud. It's always good to share the trails and break the silence with some good conversation. I got back to Pine Lane in 5hrs, 48min but first washed up ankle deep in the last water crossing about 1/2 mile from the finish.
After some lunch at Panera in Hudson, I zipped on over to Vertical Runner's new store in Hudson. They were closed yesterday for the move and re-opened today. Vince had considered joining me this morning but it turns out he didn't leave the store until 5am! I gotta tell you...I LOVE the new store. They're still getting things organized but it's a much bigger space and it's decor is perfect. Hardwood ceilings, old brick walls, and a combination of wood and carpet floors. The ceilings are really high and the front windows let in tons of light. I really missing helping out and working at the store. Here's a pic I snapped on my way out. Pretty nice, huh?!
So tomorrow I'll hit the trails again at 4:30am. Believe it or not, I'm expecting about 4 others as well and then more at 6:30am. The plan is for another 30 but I'm leaving it open-ended as far as that distance. I want at least 20 and would be thrilled with the full 30. I'm just going to see how it goes. 20 is more than enough for a back-to-back but I'm a sucker for being out there so the more, the better! After that, I'll back off in mileage next week as my family travels to Florida for a mini-vacation and a Navy conference then the following weekend (3 weeks to Kettle Moraine), I'll do one long 30-35 mile run, but no back-to-back. After that, it's taper time to the Kettle! I love what Karen S. e-mailed me yesterday...she was talking about my training and the Kettle and said: "You're going to steam the Kettle!" I sure do hope so, Karen!
Happy Trails, everyone!