A few weeks before Boston I noticed a post on the Mohican list serve mentioning a Mohican training weekend that would kick off with a Friday night 20 miler. Having suffered the roads for nearly 12 weeks I was itching to get out on the trails and the idea of a night run was intriguing to me. I'd heard fun stories about these runs from my SERC guys and decided that as long as I was recovered for Boston I would go down and do the midnight run. I figured it would be a good experience if I ever got asked to pace someone on a 100 miler and had to run through the night.
Well Thursday came and I saw a post on the list serve that the 20 miler was actually not on trails, it was on roads. Hmm now this little adventure of mine wasn't sounding nearly as exciting. But I had already posted that I would be there and again figured the night running would be good training. Put away my packed trail shoes and grabbed my new wave inspires instead.
Left work at 5pm and headed down to Mohican. My stomach was acting iffy and I had no idea what to eat beforehand as I have never run 20 miles in the evening. I opted for Panera in Wooster before continuing my journey south. Took me about 2 hours drive time to get there. Had to slow down to pass a horse buggy! Also saw some Amish fishing. Funny how the scenery can change so much in just 90 miles. Also had to slow for all the freaking hills. Hmm I had forgotten about those.
Got to Mohican with about an hour to spare so I changed into my running clothes and chatted with some old and new faces. My plan was to do the 20 miler then drive home as long as I was able. If not I would sleep in my car and drive back in the morning. Weather was cool so I opted for yoga pants and a short sleeve and tied a long sleeve and light jacket around my waist in case the temp dropped or it rained.
Roy got the group together for introductions and shortly after 8 PM we headed on our way. My intention was to take it easy and catch up with some of my trail blogging buddies. But I was like a little bunny and soon headed towards the front of the pack chatting away with new faces. That didn't last too long as we reached the first monster hill quickly and commenced the walking. I ended up in the second pack of runners which dwindled down to three of us as it started to rain. My intentions of going slow all went out the door with the rain. From that point on it was just keep moving with the group who knows where they are going and get back to your car as quick as possible.
My stomach started in around 5 miles. Not sure if it was female troubles or something I ate but my stomach just felt crappy the whole run. Being that we were out on roads in the middle of the night bathrooms weren't really abundant so I knew barring an emergency I wasn't going to get any relief until the 20 miles were done.
I didn't even bother with my jacket or gloves for the first 8 or so miles of the run. But finally one one of the hills I started to get a chill and threw on the jacket. About 2 minutes later the rain finally stopped. Of course then I got warm but I left the jacket on in hopes that it would hold off the rain. Unfortunately the rain kicked back up again about 30 minutes later and never did let up.
We made it to the halfway point at Rock Point in about 2 hours. Fueled up with some salt and vinegar pringles and a few cookies then we headed back into the dark. Picked up Rob here and now our little group was up to 4. My legs felt surprisingly good and we actually picked up the pace a little on the way back which suited me fine since I was just waiting to get to the ladies room.
After about 3 hours I was getting tired. Not running tired but "it is 2 hours past my bedtime" tired. I ate a pure fuel bar as we trudged up yet another hill in the dark. The guys were getting a little goofy by now and were having quite a good time talking up the big scary dog that was waiting for us in the last few miles.
On the way out I had noticed a chalk drawing on the road which I thought was a huge dog bone. I even made some comment to Roy about hey did you draw that dog bone? Well apparently it was not a dog bone and I made this realization as we ran back through this route. Let's just say I was a mite embarrassed when I realized what it actually was out loud to the guys who were obviously amused at my dog bone comment earlier knowing what it actually was.
My lower back and hips were starting to get tight from all the hill walking. When we were running we actually were moving at a good clip but there were a shit load of hills down there. I actually was tempted to start running them at the end just to get done but I knew the guys had to run again in the morning and I didn't know my way back so I trudged along.
My lamp didn't work really well so I was grateful Rob had a good headlight I could follow, especially when we got to "Big Hill." This was actually a downhill and it must have been a good half mile long and steep. I cannot fathom moving down that hill at the end of a 100 mile race. I believe I would sit down and cry. As it was my quads actually felt fine so I managed to follow Rob down the hill without tripping or beating myself up too badly.
We finally made it back to the campground right around midnight. I was looking forward to a warm shower to wake myself up before I headed home. The thought of sleeping in my car in that cold wet mess was appalling! Oddly enough once I got to the showers my stomach problems magically disappeared. Apparently my stomach just didn't want to be running that night. Stood and shivered waiting for the shower to warm up enough to step in. It never did so I dried off without the shower and headed home.
It was a long 2 hour drive and I again had to slow for a horse buggy. The back roads were rough in the dark and rain. But I survived. Grabbed a Reese's ice cream car and a frappuccino at a gas station in Wooster to boost my energy and finally made it home around 3AM and went straight into a warm Epsom salt bath before heading to bed.
It was definitely an adventure. Next time I am checking the weather first though. Running in the dark isn't so bad (with company), but running in the rain in the dark leaves something to be desired. I'm not sure I have quite warmed up from it yet, that rain really chills you!
Check out Mike's blog for a group photo before the 20 miler and the rain started.