The 2019 Marathon Challenge Week Ten is done. I am finding it hard to believe that the Struggle Buster Trio, comprising of Anita, Stephanie and I, have progressed this far. We are now into the very heart of the long runs. This week had us running 16 miles, the furthest so far. The rest of our training will show us what we are made of, I am sure.
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Crazy Is As Crazy Does
I am not quite sure what I was thinking. It seemed like a good idea at the time. My husband and I had Saturday afternoon to ourselves. We wanted to go out for a bit of a hike. However, I knew that the next day, early on Sunday morning, I would be running the furthest I have run yet. Our training plan was marked for a 16 mile run that day. I told my husband that I only wanted to do an easy, short hike. He was on board with the idea, as he just ran 10 miles. He let me decide on the trail.
I wanted to go to a place we hadn’t been before. We have hiked all over Thunder Bay District, so our choices of new hikes were limited. However, I did hear about a fabulous hike from my running buddy, Lori. She and Anita had hiked the Silver Falls Trail out at Silver Falls Provincial Park before. It had been a while, so I don’t remember what they said about it. I just remember that they enjoyed it. At the time, I had made of mental note to hike it sometime. So, I proceeded to look up the distance and rating of the hike.
Always Trust The Trail Rating
A six mile hike isn’t that far. That isn’t a very strenuous distance for me any more, since I started training for running half marathons. But the rating was considered “difficult”. Well, I thought, the Kabayan Trail out to Tee Harbour at Sleeping Giant Provincial Park is also considered “difficult” and I don’t find that one very strenuous. My husband also said that it was likely rated as difficult because it was 6 miles. I knew this was true of some trails. Distance is factored into the ratings. So, it was confirmed. We were going to hike the Silver Falls Trail. We filled our hydration packs, including adding a couple of Larabar energy bars, and away we went.
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The Silver Falls Trail at Silver Falls Provincial Park
The trail head was tucked away from the actual Silver Falls Provincial Park, but wasn’t too difficult to find. We saw a pinky-brown cloud coming in as we pulled into the parking spot. The sky color was gradually changing to give an eerie feel. I breifly wondered if a bad storm was coming in, but it didn’t look or feel exactly like storm weather. Then it dawned on me. Forest fires were burning in Northern Ontario. The winds must have shifted to blow smoke our way. It made me sad to know that these fires were burning and that northern indigenous communities were being evacuated, potentially losing their homes and their lands.
I Felt Like I Was In a Science Fiction Movie
The trail started out fairly easily. It was a narrow trail and we had to hike single file. My husband lead the way. When we reached the Ontario Power Tower, I again had a strange feeling. The sun was hiding behind the brown haze and cast a pink glow in the sky. The white industrialized tower was just peaking out of the trees and seemed very out of place. It reminded me of some SciFi movies I have seen.
The Trail Started to Climb Up
The trail then started to climb slightly up towards the falls. We had to climb over a few areas where the trail had us trekking over rocky areas, including boulders. The scenery was gorgeous. I admired all the beautiful wildflowers as we continued towards the falls.
We Reached The Scenic Silver Falls
We spent some time at the falls, taking pictures and admiring the fantastic views before continuing on.
The Trail Did Not Stop At The Falls
The trail seemed to go on forever and I wondered if this was truly 6 miles. We were hiking slowly, trying to preserve our legs for the next day’s long run. However, regardless of how slow we were going, my legs were getting tired of climbing up hills and over rocks. I started to wonder if I made a mistake on picking this trail. I knew I was going to pay for it the next day.
Reaching The Turn Around Point Was The Difficult Part
We had reached the end of the blue trail markers at the 3 mile turn around point. The description we read said to then follow the pink trail up to a beautiful overlook. However, the pink trail went straight up. And by straight up, I mean STRAIGHT UP. It was a 350 foot climb over less than a 1/5 mile. It was steep. I swore a little.
Knowing that this would do my legs in, I contemplated not going up that climb. But, my husband said we had gotten this far, he wanted to go to the end. I knew he was right. But not wanting him to know he was right, I expressed my annoyance. I used this anger to propel me up that incline. I wasn’t annoyed with him, I was angry at myself for picking this trail the day before a very long run.
We Powered Up That Very Steep Hill
So, up I went. I powered up that hill. I just wanted the climb to be over; My husband behind me told me to stop and rest. He was right, but I was stubborn. My calf muscles and hamstrings were on the verge of cramping when I reached the top. At very top of this strenuous climb was a small clearing. We were surrounded by trees. There was no fantastic view at an overlook. “Well, this was worth it”, I said sarcastically.
I admit now that I was grumpy. We had been trekking in the bush for 2 1/2 hours and I was hot, sweaty and grouchy. My blood sugar was getting low and I didn’t recognize that fact at the time. I later apologized to my husband for my grumpiness. He can be a tolerant man sometimes.
We Found The Lookout Trail
Off to the left of the clearing was a short trail that went to the overlook we were promised. And it was pretty spectacular. Here we munched on our Larabars, which replenished my sugars. I started to feel better, almost immediately. After resting for a bit, we made the hike back to the start following the route we took out.
Close Encounter of a Woodland Creature Kind
I can’t say the rest of the hike back was uneventful. My husband almost stepped on a snake on the way back. I wondered why he was doing that bit of a dance in front of me. Thanks to my husband’s quick reflexes and awesome dance moves, he didn’t make contact with the snake. It slithered off a little way into the bush, stopping just long enough for me to snap a picture.
He also had a moth fly into his mouth. He spit it out immediately. I did not get a picture of the moth.
Silver Falls Trail Hike Is Worth The Effort
Ultimately, I admit, the hike was worth it though. It was beautiful. Any other day, and it would have been a perfect day. But, as it was, I was destined to run the longest run yet in less than 24 hours time. My legs were tired and I was a little worried about how I would manage.
I highly recommend this hike, although it is a difficult one. The rating for this one is accurate.
Misery Loves Company
After our hike, I took to social media to tell my world of our adventure. I scanned around to see what my other friends were up to that day. I was happy to see that Lori had posted about her 45 mile bike ride that day. A 45 mile bike ride sounds awesome and the photos of her adventure looked fabulous.
I was also happy because I knew that Lori would be tired too. She was going to run the 16 miles with us, and I knew I wouldn’t be the only one dragging my butt with sore legs on Sunday morning. Misery truly does love company.
Stephanie would not be running with us that day
I was sad too, because we would be missing the third member of our Struggle Buster Trio. Stephanie was off to Kingston, Ontario to watch her son play football. She will be gone for two weeks of our training. Anita and I miss her. Sunday’s run just wasn’t quite the same without her. Stephanie is doing her training runs there.
I do not think there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything.– John D. Rockefeller –
The 16 Mile Run Begins
Up early again, as runners do, I dragged my sore and tired legs out of bed. I did what you are NOT suppose to do before a run, I took an anti-inflammatory tablet. Advil would be my best friend today, I thought. I put another tablet in my pack, just in case.
I met my friends at our starting point. We were going to run from the College on a route we were familiar with. Anita picked the route today and I cringed when I heard it. We were going to do a double loop that ran the gradual hill up to the University and beyond. That meant that these sad tired legs had to run up hill for over half of our run. Yes, approximately 8 miles of our 16 mile long run would be uphill. My only consolation was that Anita wasn’t running on fresh legs either. She worked on her feet all day on Saturday. I am being totally sarcastic when I say we were all in great shape for this run.
Let’s do this!– said Tricia to herself just before starting the 16 mile run –
The First 8 Miles Done
The first 8 mile loop seemed okay. We weren’t overly chatty on the run, but we were able to hold some conversations. We chatted about a few things, like the hike and Lori’s bike ride and how sore we were. Our legs were holding out so far. We stopped briefly at the College to go to the washroom and refill Lori’s water bottles before heading out again.
The Second 8 Mile Loop
The next phase of the run was quiet. None of us felt like talking. We started to separate and run individually. Anita kept the lead and pace. I tagged along behind. Lori ran in the middle.
They say that one sign of true friendship is feeling comfortable in each others’ presence without having to speak. I pondered this as we ran. We did not feel the need to chat. We instinctively understood each others’ struggle and pain. It was a silent understanding that did not need to be verbalized.
True friendship comes when silence between people is comfortable.– David Tyson Gentry-
We were even too tired to congratulate each other at the finish. It was sort of anti-climactic. We were too tired to celebrate our farthest run yet. It was just time to go home, take a warm shower and rest our weary muscles.
However, we were all very proud of each other. It was definitely an accomplishment.
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What follows next in this article is based on some of our conversation during the first 8 mile loop. You may find it informative if you own or are thinking about buying a hydration back pack. If not, feel free to skip the next part and continue to explore our other posts at Pink Ribbon Runner.
Hydration Packs are My New Necessity for Long Runs and Hikes
During part of our run, we had a chat about hydration packs. Anita had a new Camelbak and I had a new Nathan Trail Pack. Lori was looking to purchase one, as Anita and I raved about our packs so much on this run.
Can I just say that I absolutely love using a hydration pack?! It is so much easier to carry and drink the water on long runs. I have also used my pack hiking and it was fabulous.
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Lori bought this one after our run that day, only in a different color
One of the issues I faced when starting to use my hydration pack, was the horrible plastic taste. I washed the pack with dish soap and water several times, but I still tasted that toxic plastic. A friend had mentioned that there were specific cleaning tablets for the hydration pack, so I looked into that.
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We also talked about the need for a special cleaning tool to wash the inside of the tubing. Soon water will create a film of mold and mildew on the inside of the tubing that is hard to reach. Yuck. So I looked for a cleaning kit specifically for our hydration packs. The product below is what I found. I will let you know how this thorough hydration pack cleaning goes. Stay tuned!
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Well, that’s all until next time. Thanks again for reading my blog. I hope you continue to enjoy my writings.