While certainly not as severe as the flooding going on along the Mississippi right now, we do have some areas under water around here that shouldn't be. I had to take an overly circuitous route to drop my son off at school this morning because Hay Creek (which normally doesn't even flow) was up and across the main road leading to the school. This same situation gained me some bonus miles this morning as I had planned on running that route but had to take a detour around. It rained pretty much every day last week, including an almost solid stretch of precipitation from Thursday through Sunday. In fact, lucky for me, the only window of non-rain during that four day stretch was when I ran my long run on Friday. How's that for planning? In any case, other than some wet basements (not mine, thankfully) and some inconvenient detours, we haven't had any major flooding issues that I know of and the rain finally stopped last night, so hopefully the creeks will be receding soon.
In spite of all the rain, last week went really well for me running-wise. The biggest challenge was scheduling. Right now both my son and my daughter are playing both soccer and baseball (teeball for my daughter) and they're in different age groups, which results in two different practice and game times for them each week. On top of that, we had my daughter's birthday party yesterday, a couple of weeks before her actual birthday, so that she could invite all of her school friends before the school year ends this week. So, with that and two soccer games planned for Saturday morning, my window of opportunity for squeezing in a 30 mile long run was pretty narrow. It takes a long damn time to run 30 miles, after all. Lucky for me, while filling out my timesheet, I discovered that I only needed to work 2 hours on Friday to get in my 80 for the pay period. So, I cranked out those two hours early and then set off for the Centennial Trail, praying for a break in the rain (which, as I mentioned, I got).
I met Ryan at the Pilot Knob trailhead, which is approximately mile 42 (outbound, 58 inbound) of the Black Hills 100 course. The plan was to run from there to the Rapid Creek trailhead, which is the 50 mile point, and then back to Pilot Knob where we would continue in the opposite direction toward the Boxelder Creek trailhead (but not all the way to the trailhead....just far enough to get in 30 miles total). I actually drove through an area just past Deadwood where it had snowed overnight, which was NOT all that heartening, but by the time I got to Pilot Knob, the snow was gone and the sun was actually trying to burn through the clouds. Ryan and I took off on what was a new stretch of trail for me. And let me tell you, it was an awesome stretch of trail. I'm not just saying that because I'm one of the RDs for the Black Hills 100 either. The stretch of the Centennial from Pilot Knob to Rapid Creek, about 8.6 miles long, is the kind of rolling, twisting, smooth singletrack that reminds you why you are a trail runner. We hit Rapid Creek in no time and headed back. I started to labor a bit on the return trip as there is a bit of a rise in that direction....not a real grunt of a climb, just a steady gain that makes you work a little harder. We noted a few intersections where we'd need to clearly mark the course before the race and actually got confused and started down the wrong trail at one intersection (funny how an intersection you didn't even notice running one direction confuses the hell out of you when you come across it from the other direction). By the time we got back to Pilot Knob, about 17.5 miles into the run, I was feeling pretty good again and ready to keep going. Ryan wasn't feeling so great and, considering he's running a marathon in a couple of weeks, decided to call it a day.
After a quick change of clothes (we had gotten rained on a bit near Rapid Creek) and guzzling an Ensure (not just for old people), I set off to the north of Pilot Knob to finish up the 30 miles. The difference between this section of trail and the first one we ran was like night and day. The first section was non-motorized, pure singletrack. Pilot Knob is the southern-most terminus of the motorized section of the Centennial Trail. Despite all of the rain that had fallen the past couple of days, the non-motorized stretch we ran was in perfect shape. Not true of the motorized section. It was a sloppy mess, with huge puddles (I expected to see fish jumping in some of them) occupying the entire width of the trail in some places and water running straight down it in others. Add in some rocky technical sections and a pretty good climb coming out of Pilot Knob, and it was pretty damn slow going. I pushed forward for a bit, hoping conditions would improve, but after awhile I started thinking "why am I putting myself through this when there's a perfect section of trail back the other way?". So, after a little over 3 miles of skipping between puddles and sliding on mud, I turned back.
I ran right through Pilot Knob and needed another 6 miles or so to finish out the run so headed south again on the non-motorized trail Ryan and I had run earlier. I was in a groove by this time and, although I wasn't running fast by any means, I was able to run consistently without having to force it and my stomach was being very cooperative. I did get off track once and made about a mile long detour (I'll personally mark that intersection before the BH100), but all in all I felt great and honestly was wishing that I could stay out a little longer. By that time, though, it was getting close to time for me to head home so I could take the kids to soccer and baseball practice (which ended up being canceled due to all the moisture, but I had no way of knowing that without cell phone coverage). Overall, a very satisfying day on the trails (even with the 6 miles of slogging through the mud) and a good confidence boost being able to run that long that well so soon after Collegiate Peaks in what will probably be my final really long run before Bighorn. Really, you can never go wrong with a day that includes two hours of work and five and a half hours of running.