Catching Up

I got knocked down by a pretty nasty cold in the middle of last week, one that started in my sinuses, moved into my chest and still has me coughing gross stuff out of my lungs, getting short of breath quickly, and just generally feeling tired. But even worse than feeling poorly and basically sleeping around the clock is the fact that I’ve been missing all of my favorite rides, runs and workouts! The only positive thing is the fact that Season 2 of Orange Is the New Black was released on Netflix, so I was able to spend some of my waking/drooling hours streaming episodes. Therefore, instead of writing about what I’m up to right now (which would read something like, “to my eyeballs in used tissues”), I’m going to write about the weekend BEFORE the crud attacked. After all, that weekend was pretty fantastic.

I got to do two things I love (run with friends, ride my bike), both of which led to a third thing I like: adventure! I even made the news—which, at the time, kind of horrified me, but I got over that. In fact, after writing the first draft of this post, I had to split it into two: one for the last Saturday of May, and one for the first Sunday of June. There was just too much good stuff to be contained in one trim little post (as if my posts are ever “trim”—ha!).

First up: Saturday, May 31. I joined the Misery Loves Company crew for a run at Valley Forge National Historic Park. I am incredibly fortunate to live nearby, and I never get tired of running there—whether it’s the tried-and-true “loop” (a five-mile paved multi-use path) or whether I get to explore and discover new-to-me trails, I simply love it there. We try to make it over at least once a week.

Saturday’s run was the official “farewell” run for our group’s leader, Pete. Some of us call him “Coach Pete”, some call him “Sensei”, some of us call him “Damnit, Pete!” when he rabbits up a hill that mysteriously appeared on a supposedly-flat run and cheerfully calls out, “That’s not a hill! It’s just an inclined flat!” But you can never hold it against him—he’s also the guy who effortlessly circles back and hangs with the slowest runner (often me), checking in and chatting with pretty much everyone who joins the group for any given run. He’s the one who dispenses good running tips, trail directions, praise and bad jokes with the same easy-going, self-deprecating humor. Pete and his family are moving out of state, and our crew is definitely going to miss his encouragement, inspiration, superior trail-finding abilities, easy-going manner and coaching advice. (I might not miss his nettle-finding abilities, though!)

To send him off, we met at the parking lot at Knox’s Headquarters on route 252 and set out to run, roughly, the perimeter of the park. We ran along Valley Creek, then turned to follow the edge of a rolling meadow where model plane enthusiasts were flying their crafts, crossed route 252, circled around to climb the hillside past the ranger station (where we took a break to brush ticks off our legs — ACK!), bombed down the hill to the lower parking lot to refill bottles and bump into friends who were out running with the local Galloway Group, then crossed route 23 and dodged massive construction vehicles to hop onto “Fisherman’s trail”, a lovely, flowy bit of single-track along the Schuylkill River. We re-emerged behind Washington’s Headquarters, crossed back over route 23 and headed up toward our namesake, Mt. Misery, where the Horseshoe Trail comes through the park. Here, the pack split: some ran up over Misery, and some headed downhill, to the wide, pretty trail that follows Valley Creek back to Yellow Springs Road near its juncture with 252. I was in the latter group, for a couple reasons: this was the longest run I’ve done in over a year (depending on whose measurements you went by, we ran somewhere between 8 and 9 miles; most of my long runs have been in the 5-6 mile range, which barely counts as leg-stretching for many in this group), and I’d rolled my ankle (again) when the trail along the Schuylkill got rockier and more challenging. After that, the easier, flatter trail along Valley Creek sounded lovely.

Happily, my ankle didn’t bother me for long at all. I ended the run feeling energized and excited, instead of tired and over-done, and I had a great time with friends—I don’t think you can ask for better! MLC is definitely going to feel the loss of Coach Pete—but it’s a really great group of people with a great deal of varied trail and ultra experience, and we have more fun and challenging runs ahead of us.

Post-run group picture

Post-run group picture

Next post: Adventure Sunday!

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