Aren't Rats Supposed To Love Running At Night?
It has been a while since this rat has written. Personal recollections written in the third person are quite fun to write, but can be difficult. The Trail Rat is back. It must be a Missouri thing?!
Before moving to Kansas City last month this rat joined some pesky biking and nerdy running groups on the web. It pays to be a smart little rat. And, you want to hang with rats of similar interests. So, it was on the mailings from the trail running group website that the dream event was unveiled. A NIGHT RUN... OMG!!! Rats are born to play in the dark. So it was without question that this rat would be there.
Such is this rat's love of trails. Not having run 10K recently, never been to Wyandotte Lake Park in KCity KS... this rat was not fully prepared. But at least the skills and knowledge of all things dark and wet and rocky and rooty are already present.
So here is the experience, back to first person, from a rat who is an area newbie........
I arrived fresh off a stop at Lowes for some AAA batteries for the headlamp. Rats can see OK in the dark, but rules are rules [sigh]. I was plenty early, and saw a couple of familiar faces from the previous Sunday AM run at Clinton Lake SP in Lawrence. I learned that Trail Nerds and Mud Babes RULE! You must understand that in all my travels and trails, their has never been such a large contingent of fellow rats. And, these Nerd and Babe rats are proficient trail stompers. Back in St Louis I remember trail rat wannabees getting medical treatments after events in the daylight, for rats sake! I remember Virginia being a trail rat's utopia - no better place in the east to run trails than Virginia in this rats opinion - but there weren't that many trail running rats. They were genetically altered into hiking rats. Can you believe it?!
I have to suit up for a run. Nipple tape. Body Glide on the toes. Wright socks. Runner's loops in the laces. Amphipod for the keys. Reinforcement tape to keep my number from ripping off the pins. I am kind of a high maintenance rat I guess. If it was hot I'd carry a hand towel, too. Some rats sweat more than others, so I've been told.
I am not sure which Trail Nerd gave the pre-race talk, but he was hilarious. The comment of the horseflies being relentless and following for up to 5 miles... classic. This is an amateur event and we are their for the love of it. You gotta have a laugh or two.
So we were off an across two ditches, straight up the hill and left into the woods on the bridle trail. I turned my rat lamp on right away and could see the difference. It would also let my beady little eyes adjust gradually. The trail was not too bad. About 5 humps to endure up and down, two clearings/road crossings on the way. And a good mix of singletrack, rocks, roots, and sucker-mud holes.
I talk on a trail. Not much at first, but later on watch out! Some of you may have heard me encourage or warn of obstacles. I am no hater. I hope you do your best and will help you do so if I can. At one point, just after the second clearing, I could have sworn I smelled french fries. How cruel is that??? What rat doesn't like fries? Was I hallucinating?
Anyway, the much ballyhooed Triangle section arrived. Warnings were given, but this type of trail is made for rats like me. Gnarled and twisted, just like my sense of humor. Root strewn and rolling like a good little rat trail should be. I think the winning rat did the .95 mile Triangle in a freakish 7:35??? See what a rat can do when properly motivated?! Amazing performance. Of course, little rat lights where all over the woods. Time disappeared. Did any fool rat check their silly little watch during this section? Shame on you!!! Directional awareness vanished in the twinkling lights dancing about; the darkness around us; and the trees among us stood still and strong and smiled at our efforts as they relaxed. Oh, the Triangle was rat paradise!
On the backtrack section my little clawed feet were getting hot on the arches. Certain shoes aren't so good for flat rat feet until after a few longer runs to toughen up. But it was no bother. I walked a couple of uphills, but otherwise ran respectably for a rat - with turtle tendencies - of course. I was alone by then, as the slate of fellow rats were spread out across the night scape.
It is amazing to clear the woods and run downhill to a finish. That is a nice touch. Someone volunteering remembered my name, and I am a sad fool rat not to remember his... my apologies and thanks to that man. I have no idea what my time was... I forgot to stop my silly watch. I hate watches, can you tell? I hate iPods, too... at least when working out. Glad I didn't see any on the trail... all of these rats seemed to be in tune with the right things... their bodies and spirits! There is a song there if you are willing to listen... I guarantee you. I am actually a quiet little rat most of the time, and didn't really know anyone. So, I had treats [Popsicle and water] before heading back to my den. A Boulevard Wheat beer and some Indian food was waiting for me.
Thanks to the Nerds for a unique event. Well done... even by rat standards!