I have had WordPress open on my desktop for 2 hours. I keep finding excuse not to start typing. Sigh.
Springletrack was an inaugural trail marathon thought up by the guys who created the Wagathon. It was a marathon-ish distance jaunt through the Shawangunk mountains, starting at the Spring Farm Trailhead of the Mohonk Preserve and ending in Ellenville, NY where we’d all meet up at Aroma Thyme Bistro. It wasn’t some big to-do. It was just a group of people all agreeing to follow an agreed upon trail map. No start or finish line. No medals. No medic or water stations. Just a bunch of crazy people in moisture-wicking pants.
I agreed to do it months ago- before I got sick. I had never done more than 14.5 miles for any event, but Springletrack was free so why not give it a go.
We started somewhere between 7 and 7:30 in the morning on Saturday. It was cold up in the mountains but bright and sunshiny and not raining so I’ll call it a beautiful day for a run.
I was a little apprehensive because I have been sick and out of shape for so long. I didn’t feel like I was really ready but I stepped off anyway. The last time that I was sick and developed temporary asthma, I was fine while I was running and actually felt better on the obstacle courses than I did sitting in my living room. I hoped this would happen again.
I was doing fine for the first 5k. Things were going great. I made myself walk on the uphill portion and jog on flat ground and downhills. By around 5 miles, I started feeling not-so-great during ascents. I wasn’t having an asthma attack -I wasn’t coughing or wheezing- but I definitely wasn’t breathing efficiently and felt like I wasn’t getting enough oxygen to my brain and muscles. I slowed down a bit and took occasional short breathing breaks. I embraced the suck and continued because that’s what Spartans do.
We got to the first crossing of Peter’s Kill and it was probably the most fun thing I’ve done in along time. The bridge was non-existant. There were a couple of trees that had fallen over the water, but they looked kind of sketchy to me. If it wasn’t that the water was bone-chillingly cold, I probably would have used the logs a la Phyllis Nefler
but I did not want to risk one of us falling in and having to continue in the chilly weather soaking wet and cold. Instead, we went off trail a little ways to a spot that was a little narrower and shallower so we could jump from rock to rock to get across.
This little mini-adventure rejuvenated me, but the energy didn’t last long. By mile 7, I felt like my brain had no clue where my feet were. I slipped on ice that I really should have seen. I kept stumbling over the tiniest tree roots. I tripped over nothing at a very bad spot. If I had tripped to the right instead of the left I would have fallen off a cliff. I pressed on though, not because of some inner strength or anything at this point, but because I was on the side of mountain ridge and what else was I going to do? By mile 8 or 9, Jay had to carry my ruck for me. For the last 2 miles I just kept thinking I could stop next time we get close to a road. My dad can pick me up and the guys can keep going. I have my phone and my knife and food and water. I’ll be ok. I kept trying to push the thought out of my head. I can’t quit. I can’t DNF. I DNSed on my first event of the season. I can’t DNF on this one.
I got to the parking area just north of Lake Minnewaska at mile 9.4 (according to my gps which I forgot to start until 15 minutes into the run) practically in tears over my internal dialogue. I cried sitting on a rock waiting for one of the guys to hit the latrine. I told the guys I didn’t think I could make it and that they should go ahead without me. But Jay wouldn’t leave me. Derek and Matt agreed we are a team and it wouldn’t feel right to continue. Crap. Now I’m screwing them over. I could try to push on anyway, but after this point, there would be no turning back. The terrain was going to get harder before it got easier. If I continued to feel like I did, I couldn’t be sure I could handle the second water crossing or any more rock scrambles. I’d be safety hazard to myself and my teammates. Jay called my father because I was too busy feeling sorry for myself.
My dad picked us up and drove us back to our car. Jay pointed out the ridges that we traversed to my father. My dad thinks we are nuts. His friend that was with him thought we were crazy. They are both Vietnam War vets. If they think it was insane, then it must be some kind of accomplishment to even get as far as we did, right? I did nearly 10 miles of rough terrain after months of being of commission. I can still be proud of that.
By the way, we kept the map and the trail directions. As soon as I get this bullshit asthma under control, I’ll be back out there with my guys and I will finish what I started.