Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sandia Solstice Marathon

I have started a meet up group, called Sandia Trail Runners, and have about 20 people now. So far, I have run with three men and one woman...but only one at a time. I really hope to get some group runs going.

I had hoped to run a marathon distance before the end of the year.  I checked out the Sandia Crest trail, Trail 130. It looked perfect. Two distances are given for the entire length: 26.0 miles and 26.5 miles. I figured that was exactly 26.2 miles!

I posted it on the meet up site, set for December 22, one day into winter, one day AFTER the shortest day of the year. A solstice marathon. Run from south to north to help the sun find its way back to the northern hemisphere.

Two men were quite excited about doing it. One, Tyrone, had to back out because he wanted to spend time with his daughter. I get that!! That left me and Alberto. I figured Alberto would back out. I was wrong! He was totally into it.

Fast  forward to December 22 at 5:30 AM. Time to down some eggs and a tortilla and plenty of coffee. Throw a drop bag in the car (complete with a gallon of water and several trail bars) along with my Camelbak, phone, glasses (can't see my phone without my glasses), a couple of trail bars, Sadie's pack containing water and a bowl, and Sadie. Oh, and two beers and a bag of chips. You have to have a beer at the end of an epic run.

Logistics: This is a point to point run. There is one place with road access at the 16 mile mark. The plan was for Mary Ann and me to drive me to the northern terminus (40 minute drive), leave my truck (with the beer and chips...and dry clothes). Then Mary Ann would drive me to the southern terminus where I would meet up with Alberto. So far, so good. He showed up right on time and we were ready to go.Mary Ann then planned to go to the one place where the trail contacts a road. There, she would leave my drop bag. She would call me and let me know how to find it.

First problem: There was more snow than I thought there would be. No problem, we'll power through it. Phone call from Mary Ann at "the Crest." Did you leave the drop bag? Not yet, I got stuck in the snow. Waiting on AAA to come get me out. She had to wait 2.5 hours to get pulled out!!! It is now almost noon. She has been driving or waiting for the tow truck since 6:30 AM.

And where are Alberto and I? We've been on the trail for four hours and we have covered about 10 miles. No kidding!! At this rate there is no way we will finish in daylight. Two hours later, we are about 2 miles from the drop bag. It is time to decide: bail or tough it out? Run in the dark with only one headlight for the two of us or call Mary Ann and ask her to come pick us up? We've covered the hardest part of the route. We've climbed about 4000 feet and, once we hit the top, we'll have 10 miles to go, losing 4000 feet! Oh, what to do, what to do.

Three factors were weighing on my mind. 1) I thought my socks were wool...they were not. My feet had been numb for hours. 2) I thought I'd be going faster/harder so I dressed for exertion. I was under-dressed and the temperature was sure to drop as the sun went down. 3) we had seen mountain lion tracks. Not so sure I wanted to be in the dark with mountain lions around.

I called Mary Ann. She immediately said she could come get us. After all of her time on the road (and stuck in the snow), she was ready to come after us. She didn't make me ask. She is pretty wonderful. I informed Alberto that I had called the Calvary. He was disappointed, He really wanted to make the full crossing, as did I. But, sometimes you have to make the safe decision.

So, Mary Ann met us at the Crest. She schlepped us to Alberto's car at the southern terminus (with the heater blasting and sweat forming on her brow as my feet slowly began to thaw), schlepped me back to the northern terminus to get my truck.

Once home, she could watch the KU basketball game while eating a Papa Murphy's pizza. Sadie asked to go to her crate. I took a hot bath and drank my beer.

January 1: a 50K fat ass run in the foothills!!!

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