My body is beat up.
Despite running just 44 miles this week, my legs feel like iron anchors. I’ve climbed several miles on trails, which I haven’t done much before this trip. Still, I wake up every morning and drag myself out. It’s helpful that I’ve brought nothing else to do.
Once I pull myself out of the tent, however, I find myself anxious to run – despite the fatigue – to see what the day has to offer. Without delving too deeply into this, I can feel a stirring inside me with every step I take on the trails. My state of mind has been altered. I’m not sure where this is going just yet, but I’m very excited to see what – if anything – grows from this experience.
Today I set about running a short 8 miles through Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield National Park. Yesterday, I ran the mountain. As I made my way through the park, I felt spry (after I shook off some of the soreness). When I reached the Illinois Monument, 5.2 miles from the Visitor Center, I came across the sign for Kolb Farm (3 miles), the southern-most part of the park.
“I’ve come this far”, I thought. “What’s 5k more?”
Let’s forget the math that suggests that it’s actually a 10k since I’d be running out-and-back, or the reality that making a decision to continue running when you feel at your best (re: after a surge of energy) is never a good idea.
As I pressed on to the southern end of the park, I realized that I’d only brought enough water for a 10-mile run. I realized this as I emerged from the shaded path and set about crossing one of the numerous open fields in the late morning heat.
Fortunately, there was a drinking fountain at the Kolb Farm, which allowed me to refill my water bottle. (I said aloud: “If I’m hallucinating or that doesn’t work, I’m screwed.”)
The run back was brutal. The exclamation: the last five miles were uphill, which explains why I felt so good when I reached the Illinois statute at mile 5.2. I was lost in a sea of emotions and thoughts, my body breaking down and my synapses firing at random intervals. What kept me grounded was this thought: at the end of the 16-mile run, I’d have completed my first 60-mile running week.
Unfortunately, my run ended at 15.75 miles, leaving me just shy of that marker. However, I have one more day to break that barrier before packing up my tent and heading to Pelham, Alabama.
If you’re wondering what today’s run looked like, here it is. (Also: note there is more elevation – 1,400 meters – on this run than there was on the Kennesaw Mountain run – 1,100 meters. It’s just more spread out.)