Ran with Laura and Martin! We got an early morning start (we left Hillsborough around 5am), and on the drive we were reviewing the route, and someone said, "Hey look! We could set the FKT for the mixed team!" So of course we had to go for it 👀😂💀
We started up the Appalachian Trail to the Three Ridges. It was a moderate climb up to the first summit, and a good challenge up to the second peak, with several good views along the way. We got a little turned around at one point -- we went to an AT shelter rather than turning right to stay on the trail, but we made a little mini loop (fortunately Martin recognized the spot we popped out in) so we ended up with just a little extra.
We connected onto the Mau-Har Trail which is pretty gnarly with several scrambles along the creek and some steep climbs, but then we were back to some lovely downhill running which lasted until the parking lot. Except just before we got to the cars my left ring toe seized up with excruciating pain. I didn't stub it or anything, but apparently all the steep downhill running had beat up my toes pretty badly and I got either a blood blister under the nail or I was somehow scraping the nail in such a way against the front of the shoe that it was making the nail separate from the nail bed.
But we still needed to do the nine-ish miles up and down the Priest, so I wrapped the nail tight with a bandaid, put on some fresh socks, restocked, and followed Laura and Martin up the mountain.
Whew. What a climb! Steep, rocky, relentless. My toe was in agony but I was able to wiggle my toes in the toe box and tried to find ways to push off so they wouldn't get banged up. We made it to the top and enjoyed the views from the summit, and all too soon we were off again (hey, we had an FKT to break!)
Laura took off first while I was still putzing around at the summit -- she said Martin and I could catch her on the downhills. Martin was ready to go next, and finally I got my feet moving, but I was dreading it. And sure enough, the excruciating pain going downhill was back. I had to stop a few times, I genuinely wasn't sure I'd be able to run down, but I finally managed to tighten my laces so tight that my feet didn't budge, and I was able to slowly, slowly, slowly gain some momentum and catch up with them. Then we popped out into the parking lot, and on the count of three stopped our watches together with a victory high five in front of the trailhead! 🙌
Afterwards we went down to the stream under the big suspension bridge to have some snacks (including birthday muffins that they surprised me with! Thank you!! 🥰🥰🥰) And lots of protein shakes and apple slices/applesauce 😆