|At the start|
But the run was a great chance to test the theory (my theory anyway) that high intensity training and mental constitution can get you through just about anything - so around noon we headed off through the first cattle gate across the open prairie.
|Grant, on the trail....|
The first 16 miles was mostly flat. We managed it in almost exactly two hours, even including stopping to open the dozens of cattle gates and to take our two minute 'walk, eat, and drink' sessions every 45 minutes. About 90 minutes in i felt the blister that had been forming on my right pinky toe (that always forms) pop and drain blood and fluid into the toe box of my new socks. It hurt for a while as i limped on but i tried to distract myself with the new and worrying tightness in my left achilles.
Miraculously, over the course of the next few miles the blister pain normalized - it was still there but remained manageable - and the achilles stopped nagging me altogether.
|Me during what were the toughest four miles mentally speaking.|
None-the-less, by 18 mile mark the fatigue hit us both like a brick wall. We'd left the flat open prairie and were into the sand-hills area - gentle rolling hills for miles and miles. It was at this point that Grant informed me that the trail was actually longer than the 28 miles it mentions on the website on the area. In fact, he assured me that we'd see the 26 mile mark about half a mile or so before hitting the one creek we crossed, which was exactly 4 miles from the end.
As silly as it sounds, the thought of going an extra couple of miles just killed my motivation. So i changed gears. I told Grant we were going to go 4 miles at a time - small chunks of mileage - rather than 45 minutes, which now seemed daunting. Miles 18-22 were the worst - maybe because they marked some sort of a hump in which we passed our half way time and also were forced to slow down into a more manageable pace than the one which we'd held up till then.
Mile 22 to 26 were much easier. 26 became the finish line of the 'marathon' and we reached it roughly 3:36 minutes after finishing. Between the walking up the "hills" - now defined as anything with a greater than maybe 2-3% grade - and the more frequent stops to take a few sips of water out of the bladder on Grant's pack, we were barely holding a 10 min per mile pace. So be it.
|the final time|
The trail crossed the road and roughly paralleled it for a final 1/2 mile. We could have jumped on the road and limped to the car, but predictably just knowing the end was in sight gave us a second wind and we ran the last short section with a speed and lightness that had completely escaped us for the last two hours.
It was great to be done. It was even greater to stop in Fargo on my way back to Grand Forks and be treated to an awesome meal by Grant's in-laws. It was a great start to the best part about doing stuff like this - the half a dozen days following where the appetite is bottomless. Yummm....
|happy to be done...|