I talked with Mindy last weekend, and planned to meet up with she and Val for a run. She emailed me the other day saying they were going to do the Bigger Beautiful Loop, which would be 20 miles. I knew I wasn't up for that, so I wrote back to say I'd love to join them for a portion of the run and would just turn around at some point as my plan was for 14 to 15 miles, even if I had to head back alone. In the end, that wasn't an issue at all, as we headed out with a big group - 11 people and 5 dogs - and there was always someone to run with. I found running with the dogs at the very beginning a bit overwhelming, but once we spread out a bit along the trails, everybody settled down. Andy, Blaine, John, Nathan, Pankaj and Ian quickly pulled away, with Alan and his two pups in the middle, and then Tim, Val, Mindy, Piper and I grouped together. Lots of fun to catch up and chat with everyone as we ran along. Conditions were decent, with a few inches of sugary snow atop packed snow and ice. It was windy, but not all that cold, and once we were in the woods, it wasn't bad at all. Lots of deer and turkey tracks along the way, but no other people out and no snowmobiles either.
We ran into Andy and Blaine retracing their steps near the spot where we popped out onto the powerlines. I always forget how vast the stretch is out under the high-tension lines. Today the sky and the colors were subdued as we ran along, but it was beautiful in a sort of otherworldly way. A little ways out onto the powerlines, we saw Nathan and Pankaj. Ian and John must run off with the dogs, so the two of them joined our crew. Val and Mindy veered off a bit further down the trail for their additional loop, and the four of us kept running until we reached the river.
We had already planned to turn back before we reached the river, as none of us were confident enough that we could follow the whole Beautiful loop, but upon seeing the river, my mind was even more made up. Good lord. There was no way I was crossing that! Of course, come to find out, Ian and John and the dogs did indeed cross the river, but wow! I wouldn't have dared.
John, out in the middle of the river. Crazy!
(Photo blatantly taken from Ian's Facebook posting ;))
We got a bit strung out along the trail on the return trip. I spent some time talking with Nathan, and then with Tim and Pankaj, and then for final 3+ miles, I was running the trail with Nathan ahead, and Tim and Pankaj behind, lost in my own thoughts, enjoying the trail. I felt pretty strong the whole way, although a bit tired certainly up those final hills to the park border. Still, not bad for being the first time I've put on the Nathan pack and run (almost) 15 miles since Stonecat!
We all headed to Edna & Lucy's after the run to trade more stories and of course, eat :-) Amy met up with us too, and it was fun to see her! All told, it was a great morning. Happy with the miles, and happy to have spent some time out on the trails with friends.