But back to this practice run. Our margarita-drinking friend is a trail running fiend and has been running the trail on a regular basis since November, and he threw out the proposal last night - meet up at 10:00 and run 4.3 miles up, up, up, with a gain of 2100 feet. When we arrived at Sierra Madre this morning, I confess that for a brief moment I hoped that our friend would have forgotten about the idea he proposed. No such luck! Before we started the climb, I felt just like I did on race day last year - pretty damn nervous, almost scared, which seems silly because I knew that I could turn around or stop or walk at any time. However, the trail is a beast and intimidates me psychologically as well as physically! We started in town, climbing up a steep hill that leads to the trail, and then we were on the trail. It was a pretty perfect day, overcast but not cold, and everything was still green, flowers blooming even, unlike the trees and brush in May which have already turned golden. Rob took off at a strong pace, leaving Michael and me trailing along behind. I hoped to make it at least 2-3 miles up the trail and then turn around when Rob was on the downhill. However, when we met up (he going down, I still trudging up), he told me that I was almost at the turn-around point and encouraged me to continue. So, I did, in his company! And then we headed down, soon meeting up with Michael who was also close to the "top" (not the officially summit but our turnaround point), so we all three headed back up to the turnaround. Finally, we committed ourselves to the long run down the hill - or mountain. I always forget how the downhill presents its own set of challenges, different from the uphill trudge. It is faster but not necessarily 'easier' as I have to pay close attention to my footing and at times can't look beyond the next step for fear of falling off the side of the mountain. On this occasion, I probably would have walked a bit more on the downhill, but it was chilly at the top, and I had to keep running to stay warm!
We made it back to the car around 12:00, put on more clothes, grabbed some food and bragged about our run. Okay, no bragging rights. We (I) mainly moaned and groaned as we talked about the challenge of Mt. Wilson and how humbling it is! However, there was a general sense of contentment that we actually survived the entire 4.3 miles up the mountain through a combination of running, walking, shuffling and gasping. I admit that it wasn't pretty, but we all made it!
Before we departed, we made plans to do the run all over again in March. Craziness must be contagious.