This past weekend we went away with a group of about 20 friends to the Cacapon State Park in Berkley Springs, WV. It was a fantastical weekend, with beautiful weather and far too much good food….and perhaps a little adult beveraging that included my first ever Not My Father’s Root Beer. Can I just say holy cow that stuff is amazing.
One of the group members, Garry (with two R’s) is participating in a half marathon next weekend, while he did his longest training run the day before he as anxious to get some hill work in on Sunday morning. For those unfamiliar with West (by God) Virginia, there isn’t a level or flat spot in the entire state, so finding hills to run wasn’t that difficult.
Sunday morning dawned sunny but chilly, temps were hovering somewhere around 39-41ish. Lacking decent service unless standing on a chair holding tin foil and singing the first three stanza’s of Let it Go, I wasn’t able to check the Weather Channel app. I went out with an extra layer, while Garry wore socks on his hands. My wife asked later if they were clean, I said I couldn’t be sure but that I saw he washed his hands before breakfast.
Frustratingly chilly temperatures affect my asthmatic lungs more than anything else, shortly into our run I was struggling to fully catch my breath. While Garry ran, I walked up the steepest section of the hills and ran the rest. Garry was practicing Chi Running, which is something I’m not incredibly familiar with and found attempting made running even more difficult. (Note to self: learn more about Chi)
I eventually got into a pretty good rhythm using my usually running method of one foot in front of the other and had an amazing run. This was my first time running in nature like this, where literally all that could be heard were my footfalls and the leaves rustling. The air, albeit super chilly, felt amazing on my face. I could literally FEEL the clean of the air.
Because I had spent a good bit walking the 1800′ elevation, I turned back a little before Garry did so that I wouldn’t be late for the 9am church service that was being held in the living room of the cabin. Garry and I crossed paths and we shared our plans, he said to keep an eye out since he would be back around 8:35. Off I went, when I got to the bottom of the road we were running on, I turned right. About a quarter of a mile down, nothing looked familiar. (Can I just say that trees all look alike) But none of the cabins or other park like things looked at all like anything I had seen when we started out.
I turned around and ran a quarter of a mile back to the intersection I had come from. For a brief moment I thought I would plant myself on a tree stump and wait for Garry, but it was chilly and I didn’t want to cool down more in the 10 minutes that Garry would be gone. I pressed on moving forward…..after about a half mile I realized that perhaps I had gone the wrong direction again.
Lacking tin foil and a magic service calling chair, I found an open spot in the middle of the road that allowed me a few bars (or dots in the case of Verizon) allowed me to pull up my Google Maps….following the route that the map laid out I pressed onward….in the wrong direction! Another quarter of a mile and I realized that I wasn’t getting any closer.
I texted my wife and let her know that I had somehow managed a wrong turn, and that I was still in the park but that I wasn’t quite sure WHERE in the park I was. There ahead I saw a Park Personnel van and flagged them down…or attempted to, they initially thought my two handed over the head wave was a rather energetic hello. (Note to readers: If you see a red nosed running waving her arms frantically, STOP)
I said where I was staying, only to be told that I was going the wrong way and I needed to turn around. With a good luck, they drove off, leaving me somewhat stranded in the middle of nowhere. At thought point I started to get nervous, I wasn’t scared, but I could feel my heart rate kick up a little.
During this time I had been texting with my wife, sending her the screen shot of where I was on the map. As I turned around and texted that the park personnel had informed me I was going the wrong way and then left me to make my way back; I let her know not to worry that I was heading back to the cabin, in the direction from which I came. At that point, I was more worried that I wouldn’t get back with enough time to spare so I could shower before church, after running six plus miles I can barely stand being around me I didn’t want to subject my friends to that as well.
As my brain was working through the process of what pace I needed to run and how I was going to get back, I spotted the headlights of my adorable GTi racing towards me. My wife, without being asked had gotten in the car, and using screen shot map had found me. (Tent included on image to show estimated location of cabin. Please note objects appear closer than they actually are) Her Boston temper was flared at the staff that had left me alone knowing that I was turned around, and the hilly curvy route that would have taken me about 15 minutes to traverse running she did in a couple minutes…while I gripped tightly onto the door.
In the end, I made it safely back, though with no time for a shower, I sprayed myself with Febreeze and put on a dry shirt, and enjoyed the service followed by an excellent omelet brunch. And the knowledge that my slightly misplaced self resulted in a friend learning how to take a screen shot.
Total distance was a little over 6 miles (planned was about 3.5) and 1800′ of elevation gain. Also realized that while I struggled up the hills, that I needed to add some more consistent hill work into my training. As I begin to write my training plan over the next few weeks I will be sure that hills (and orienteering) are included.
Have you ever had a training run not go quite as expected? In the comments below, share how you handled the unexpected and what you learned from it.