ML Day 4: Northern Loop complete!

I was up early but it was still so cold. I kept my puffy and tights on and started to run and did not take them off! My water was full of ice chunks but it melted quickly against my sweaty back.

The first 1.5 hours running in the dark are hard but it was spectacular with the moon and very clear. I’m feeling excited the northern loop is coming to a close. It’s been really hard but so much fun.

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The organs were slowly becoming illuminated and I couldn’t stop myself taking pictures. However just as I pulled up onto the ridge the sky really was on fire!! It was amazing. One of those moments where you just know that the pain and the training and the early alarm and the cold has all been worth it. Sunrises are sweeter when powered by foot. I ran and just felt wonderful. My heart was soaring. I pulled into the prehistoric wilderness area and that was beautiful. Route finding was super easy. There was one gnarly downhill where you could see someone’s tracks where they had cycled down. Rather them than me!

I then started to circle around Picacho Mountain. Man this was cool! I was down in this canyon for a long time. The crows were screeching, it felt incredibly stark and desolate. Running through this wash was one of my favourite moments. Seeing the Mtn from so many different angles and sort of having so much of the sky blocked by its proximity. Love. I continued to circle around and bumped into a woman walking her dogs which reminded me that I was actually close to town!

I got into a bit of difficulty trying to pull onto the road (there were multiple very steep canyons that I didn’t do a very good job avoiding) but eventually made it to the road. Ah….only a sweet 20 miles to town! I am ashamed to say I realize I hate road running. The sandy road was ok although it did take all of my willpower not to accept a ride from the woman with her cute dogs. Things really took a turn for a worse when I hit a cruiser paved downhill in a ritzy neighborhood. All I could think about was how I wished I had a bike! I could barely run at this point as the pavement was so sore on my knees. So it was a 3mph pace for me pulling into town. I definitely got into the town mentality as I hit civilization. A Mountain looked SO FAR away and I had to get there! Painful.

Eventually, I did it. It was finished. I collapsed on the floor and took a few minutes before I realized that I needed to hold myself together for just one more hour to run back to Pablo’s house. I managed this by the skin of my teeth, and then it was over. I conked out almost immediately and was only woken up by Pablo quietly ushering me upstairs.

I managed to have a shower. It was extremely painful pulling who knows what out of my skin. My skin was pretty raw and chafed up from a mixture of sunburn and extreme chafe, but I did it. I started to regret not packing proper clean clothes (this regret would only amplify later on…). Brad arrived and we talked about plans for the southern loop. The awesome team had fixed his bike. He seemed reinvigorated which was nice. We managed a few beers with Estus, some bread and hummus, and I conked out. I had achieved essentially none of my town chores but my body was screaming for some horizontal time. So that’s what I did.

Low: Essentially a full marathon of road running. I can’t run marathons!

High: Sunrise or the desolate weaving around Picacho Mtn before dipping back up into reality.

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