A key component of mountain running, regardless of how fast you are, is the belief that Type II fun is actually fun. Fortuitously, the mountains themselves encourage this belief.
The mountainous Type II fun
Last Tuesday I hiked/ran (but mostly hiked) Mount Baldy. I’m in a local running group on FB where some people – people who put in more miles and vert than me – summit Baldy weekly. So I decided to try it; how bad could it be? I didn’t actually end up running with anyone since everyone had different schedules, but it’s nice to at least see a few people you recognize on the trail.
The Baldy trail starts at the M trailhead, a trail I (along with basically all of Bozeman) frequent. But before Tuesday, I’d never been past the M. I chose the “hard” way up to the M, which is only a half mile but gains 850 feet of elevation. The climb doesn’t abate once you get to the M; the entire first mile has an average grade of 30%.
That first mile took me 44 minutes. But! I’ve climbed the steep way to the M once before, and this time I was 6 whole minutes faster. An even more rewarding “but” is that at the end of the first mile you come out onto the ridge and get your first views.
After the first mile the trail calms down from “what was I thinking” hard to “this kinda sucks but I’ve done it before” hard. There are even a few relatively flat, runnable sections interspersed with the climbs, though to be honest I walked most of them to recover from climbing. The trail goes in and out of wooded areas for a while, then around 2 miles Baldy comes into view.
At this point, I started to question whether I would make it to the summit and back before dark. While the 2nd mile went significantly faster than the first, I had still been hiking for almost 1:20. From others’ trail reports, I knew the first 2 miles were the hardest, but didn’t know how much faster I would be able to cover the remaining miles. I guesstimated that the round trip might take 4 hours. That would have put me at the trailhead around sunset. I have abysmal night vision, so running down rocky trails at sunset, much less in the dark, is not ideal. (Also, my legs hurt. Not gonna pretend that didn’t factor into the decision.) At 2.5 miles I turned around.
The downhill back to the M seemed to take an excruciatingly long time – though it was certainly faster than the way up! A lot of the trail has scree, and I don’t know about you, but I can’t fly downhill on loose rock. Once I got back to the M, I opted for the “easy” way down so I could actually run fast downhill. I let gravity do all the work the rest of the way back to my car.
The whole hike/run ended up being 5.75 miles, with 2,900 feet of elevation. I was sore the next few days, of course, but not as much as I expected to be. I actually went the gym Wednesday, but took Thursday and Friday completely off. (As much to catch up on sleep as anything.)
Even more Type II fun
It rained all weekend and I ran both days. Saturday was a pretty uneventful 4+ mile run – it only rained on me for the last mile or so. Sunday was windy in addition to the rain. It was so windy I decided at the last minute to wear a rain jacket, and kept it on for the whole 7 miles. (I almost never wear a rain jacket for just rain.)
I enjoyed the run despite the conditions; rainy runs are nostalgic for me. When I started running, I lived in south Texas. Back then I took every chance I got to run in the rain – rain is the best running weather you’ll get during a Texas summer! The rain in Montana is colder and less intense, but it still brings back memories.
Kara got her sutures out today, so she gets to go on walks again. She is SO EXCITED. She also gets tucked into bed at night. (I actually put the blanket there to dissuade her from licking a sore foot. Thankfully, the foot just has a small cut and should be better in no time.)
What’s your preferred “type II fun”? Or….do you call that “not fun”?