There’s something particularly brutal about distance running on a trail covered in ice and slush. The surface is hard as rock and full of ruts, holes and waves. On top of that lies a layer of slippery slush that makes every step a chore. Only the truly insane would run on it. Of course I had to do it.
My more dedicated running partners (Erin and Steve) had run the ordinarily gentle NCR rail-trail the week before. They reported that the trail was in better condition. Maybe I wasn’t as insane as I thought. I had taken some time off from running (except on the treadmill), so my goal was to run 16 miles.
The first mile or two wasn’t so bad, except for the fact that my friends like to run much faster than I do. It takes my body about three miles before it decides that I’m not giving up and so it had better get with the program. My buddies left me wallowing in the slush by the time my body decided to stop yelling at me. Apparently my body has more sense than my mind.
So, off I went trudging through the ice and snow. I kept thinking about Robert Plant singing Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song:
We come from the land of the ice and snow…
The trail was pounding my legs like the Hammer of the Gods.
My friends were doing I-don’t-know how many more miles than me. I saw them coming back toward me while I was stretching at my 8 mile turnaround. Yep, I was going to be left swishing along behind them yet again.
Somewhere about 3 or so miles from the finish, Erin passed me going the other way. He said he was putting in some extra miles. That means that he is extra insane. He caught up with me yet again a couple of miles later. We cruised along until I got about a mile out and then I told him I was walking the rest of the way back. We were close to another trailhead, so we decided that I would get picked up there.
The weather was too cold for my sweaty body to sit and wait, so I started walking on the parking lot. I was amazed at how much better I felt as soon as I started moving on a smooth surface. I cruised around and logged another mile while I was waiting.
The brutality of the trail slammed my body with the berserk fury of a Viking invasion. Still, I took a blow from the Hammer of the Gods and was left standing. Erin and Steve told me that sometimes the Hat Run trail is frozen over, so now I know what I might be in store for me If I draw the wrong lot: ice cold brutality.