Last Saturday I attended a going away party for one of my running buddies. He is moving out to Colorado (AKA the source of all my daydreams) and wanted to get everybody together before he left. A few of us got together after the party to go for a run. We started at the Kal-Haven Trailhead in Kalamazoo, MI. The trail is about 34 miles long- a rail-to-trail- that just makes a direct shot to Lake Michigan. We wanted to do 50K. When we started at 10pm it was rainy and 31 degrees, so freezing rain. I was wearing my Brooks Nightlife jacket, which normally keeps me toasty warm on winter runs. I also had on my Fastwitches, which I converted into ice/trail shoes by drilling screws into the bottom, and duct taping the insides to make them waterproof haha. It worked quite well since the trail was packed snow/ice the whole time. We got to mile 13 after 2.5 hours, running at 100 miler pace since one of the guys is training for Kettle Moraine or something like that. A bit slow for what I am used to running, but the company and conversation was well worth it. We decided to turn around there and cut the run down to a marathon since food was running short and blisters were starting to show on one of the other guys. (I’ll take the blame for the food shortage- I had to mooch since I forgot mine. Dummy, I know.)
When we turned around to start our way back, it was just after midnight. We were able to run quite comfortably without headlamps, as the snow created enough contrast to see our way. The forest was coated in ice, and the trees reflected our headlamps back at us. It was really cool, and something I can’t say I’ve ever ran in before. The rain ceased for our middle 20ish miles and we stayed plenty comfortable temperaturewise. About 6 miles into our way back, we came to a mile long stretch of the trail that cuts through the middle of a field. The trees and bushes along this section were incredible to see, with lots of ice and drifted snow on them. Likewise, the ground beneath us was quickly becoming crunchy and icy, versus the slushy mix that we started out on.
With about 3 miles left, we heard a giant *CRACK* just off the trail. An iced over tree was falling. We could hear it, but not see it, and I’m sure that we all could have outran Usain Bolt at that moment in time. We boosted pace quite a bit, not knowing for sure what was about to happen. Luckily, wherever the tree fell, it missed us. The trail did contain a fair share of downed icy branches on the way back as well, but we escaped unharmed.
We finished the 26.6 miles just before 3am. The drive back was terrible. Everything was black ice. I think I topped out at 30mph on the highway.
I slept like a baby until 8am, when I hopped on the treadmill. I originally wanted to get in a recovery 3-5 miles, but, upon realizing that I felt exceptionally good, decided to just max out the timer on the treadmill and got in 14 more to make 40 training miles in less than 15 hours. I felt fine physically, but mentally I needed a recovery, which came in the form of a big ol’ cheeseburger.
See you on the trails-