Saturday, October 19, 2013

Running Flattop, in the wild wind

Yesterday I found myself with that itchy feeling of being stuck inside too long so I headed out to run Flattop Peak.

It was nice in town, a warm autumn day in the low 50s, a running-in-shorts-for-the-last-few-weeks kind of afternoon. That changed as soon as I drove up the Hillside to the Glen Alps parking lot. It was windy, and the air was sharp with the feeling of winter. There was almost no one else around, either, which I took as a good sign.



What wasn't a good sign is that the few people I saw in the parking lot all had on winter coats. And hats! And mittens! They looked at me as if I were mad when I got out of my car in capris and windbreaker. For a moment, I doubted myself (Oh, don't you hate it when you do that, forgo your own good sense and start worrying that perhaps you should  do this or shouldn't do that?).

It was cold, too, and the wind was strong and the bottom half of my legs, which were bare, quickly became wind-chapped, but no matter. As soon as I ran up Blueberry Hill I was, if not quite warm, at least better able to tolerate the cold.

After that, I saw no one. No one except for one man coming off the mountain who warned me of dangerously high winds and slick root toward the top. I thanked him and kept going.

Then I had the mountain to myself. All. To. Myself. Can there be anything better? Often I wonder why I'm not scared when I'm alone on a mountain. I should be scared, should have been scared yesterday. The wind was so strong that I could barely walk in places, and if I tripped or fell off the trail, it would be a long, long time until anyone found me. But I felt completely calm, completely at home.

That's a lie, I didn't feel calm. I felt energized and wild with wind and how it threw itself against me and scattered my hair and blew my hat off my head. I loved that wind. I couldn't get enough of it, even though my eyes watered and my face ached.







I made it almost to the saddle before the wind knocked me flat, twice. The gusts were so strong that I had to climb a few areas on my hands and knees. That's when I decided to turn around. At first I balked; I wanted to run at least to the saddle. Then I realized how dumb that was. The saddle was an arbitrary point--what did it matter if I reached it or not?

Still, part of me longed to keep going. I wanted to pit myself against the wind, see how much I could stand. I wanted to fight that wind. Of course I would have lost. I am a puny woman and the wind is much bigger and fiercer.  But still ....

Running back down the wind was behind me, which meant that I barely had to move. I simply lifted my legs and the wind pushed and I was running, fast and smooth. It almost felt as if I were flying. Of course, I was exerting almost no energy but I think it still counts as running, no?




My foot held up and I iced it when I got back home, to be safe. I think if I'm really, really careful and don't push it too fast/too far too soon, I'll soon be able to start training for (gulp) the Little Su. In the meantime I've been doing killer long work outs at the gym, to compensate for the lack of mileage.

(I keep mentioning the Little Su so that you will all hold me accountable and I won't be able to back out, hee, hee.)

The best part of yesterday's run? After almost three months of being sidelined with an injury, I finally, finally got my trail shoes dirty. And not from hiking, mind you, but by running. I swear, I wanted to sink down in the mind, dunk my face, cover myself--I was so happy to get good and dirty again.

Is there a more beautiful sight than a pair of muddy trail shoes? Well, it would help it they were more worn and rugged-looking. I shall work on that.


Reading: I am behind on my reading (sorry, to all of you waiting for me to review your books). I have been reading running blogs instead. I've been devouring them. I found a great line about a race gone bad over at Jen Benna's A Girl's Guide to Running. I don't know if any of you read her blog but I'm hooked (I have so many, many bloggy loves). In her race report of the Run Rabbit Run 100 she wrote, "No, I didn’t have the race I am capable of, but  I had the race I was supposed to that day."

Isn't that wonderful and lovely and profound? I think I shall print it out and tack it over my running shoes.

I also got to interview local Anchorage running gal Michelle from The Runner's Plate last week for a Q & A in the Anchorage Press. She recently won the Kenai Marathon and is crazy fast; I think my race pace is slower than her easy pace. It was great meeting her, her hubby and their very affectionate dog.

Speaking of dogs--poor Beebs! She had a sore on her leg and licked it silly so we had to strap her in the blue-inflatable-cone-of-shame. Poor stumbling-with-a-pillow-thinger-strapped-to-her-head Beebs.

Please, someone get me out of this, okay?


Happy weekend and long runs, everyone.

11 comments:

  1. Your run on Flattop makes me think of the hike we had to bail on in Utah. Soooo much wind and steep slopes.

    The Little Su fills up quickly, so I'd register on Nov. 1 if you're gonna do it. Also, FB message me on the 30th, I might be feeling impulsive and want to join you, for real. ;)

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    1. OMG, that would be SO cool, Karen, if you (or both of you) also ran. I'm much slower and basically will concentrate on finishing (i.e., not freezing to death). Cheers and I will FB you in a couple weeks.

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  2. THat sounds like quite the run. Wow. I cannot imagine being in wind so strong it knocked me flat. Glad you are safe!

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    1. Thanks! Winds are wild up here. Love it. Cheers and happy biking/running this weekend.

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  3. OMG! I can't wait to run in Alaska (- the wind). Your pics are so beautiful. Great job on recovering from an injury - best of luck training for Little Su. Love Beebs stylish collar - give a hug from me!

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    1. The Mayor's Marathon is in June and the course is awesome. Plus the weather is usually warm (hint, hint). Cheers and happy running.

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  4. I have been following your blog for a bit and so happy to read about your adventures today! Awesome to have the mountain to yourself and GREAT photos! Sending healing wishes for your pup too!

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    1. Rebecca! Thanks so much for commenting. I just looked up your blog and think we are running bosom buddies. We run the same trails, and for some of the same reasons (my sister died in 2001 and I often run mountains in her honor). How cool that we are finally connecting! We must get together for a run sometime, no? My foot is still healing and right now I can run trails, but very slowly, and pavement up to about 10 miles. Cheers and happy running.

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  5. Poor Beebs!! Please keep posting Alaska photos, they are so beautiful. I would be scared on the mountain alone!

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    1. Hi, Christa! Hope you are well. Beebs is slowly recovering. But she is stubborn and has found a way to twist herself around her neck pillow to tear off her bandages: Ahhhh! She is smarter than we are. Cheers and take care.

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