It’s October here in the Pacific Northwest. A curtain of clouds has fallen on us. Within a couple of weeks, seventy degree days disappeared, and the weather report reads the same each day : high of 49, showers. We’ve been up here for eighteen years now, and each autumn still hits me hard.
For the past few weeks I’ve been fighting off the remnants of a cold. That and the rainy, cloudy weather left in sort of a funk. I’ve had to push to get even a minimal amount of running in – between some lingering fatigue, and a general lack of motivation, it’s been tough to pull my shoes on and get out there.
When my date with the trails at Fort Steilacoom approached I was a bit nervous. I’d registered for the 50k – this would be six of them for the year. But I thought that even doing a marathon would be pushing it. I decided to scale back to the 26.2, and hope for the best.
When I got out of my car shortly before the start in on that chilly, foggy morning in Lakewood, I was pleasantly surprised to spot a group of friends from the Eastside Runners – Sue, Lynn, Randy, and Theresa. This was great – this could mean I’d have some company out there!
I donned my arm warmers, hitched up my water belt, and started to run. Theresa and I fell into a similar, steady pace, and talked. She and I have shared miles before – notably in Houston, where she’d pushed me in under 3:45, much to my surprise.
We wound around the labyrinth that formed the two alternating loops on the marathon course. The short loop was about 5k, the long one about 11k. We played a game saying the loop cadence – Short, Long, Short – Short, Long, Short. Or was it Short, Long – Short, Short, Long – Short. It probably doesn’t come across well in writing, but it was pretty funny when we’d been on the course for a couple of hours.
There were some hills on the course, which took the time pressure away. Trail marathons give you time to talk. We talked about our families, and about life in general. We talked our kids, and places we’d like to go. A couple of times, one of us would nearly miss one of the many turns on the course, but the other would catch it. Given the way the course looks when plotted, I’m surprised we didn’t do any bonus miles.
It was a bit tough doing the final 5k loop. By then, I’d remembered I was running 26.2 miles, and my legs remembered to be tired. But the fog had lifted, and it had gotten warmer. I came in just under 4:50.Theresa came in soon after. We sat with Sue and Lynn, resting and eating.
It was not a fast day. The hills were not that bad, and the trail not very technical. I’ve run more difficult trail courses this year, and pushed myself harder. Still – a satisfying run.