The first Brunch Run was unpopular. Total attendance was: one. At least it’s an easy record to break. Or maybe not so easy. Based on the moderate success the Brunch Ride has brought to Sunday mornings over the past several months, I figured to duplicate it on Saturday mornings with a Brunch Run. I didn’t promote it with that name. Even reading it now just makes me want to heave but the brunch aspect of it would certainly be lighter and after any of the running. I did invite several people though. And not just random people – obviously that would be a mistake. But people I’ve run with in the past already, some of them on a semi-regular basis, and the response was, well, lackluster. I heard back from about half of them. I’ll take the non-responses as, “I don’t even want to dignify that with a response.” Those that did respond were upbeat but cautious, not wanting to get in over their heads. I understand this. Running, I know, is a very personal thing and maybe doesn’t lend itself very well to regular social engagements. And maybe I chose the wrong venue for the run – up a steep mountain trail, The Mount Wilson Trail Race route. And, as it turned out, the day was cold and gloomy and threatening rain – none of which helped to bolster the number of runners. In fact, I think the weather was the real factor in scaring away the one other runner from the start – he called in “sick” ten minutes before.
The morning started out rather cool (in the 50’s) and stayed pretty much that way all the way through. I spent probably half an hour just figuring out what to wear, trying on various combinations of layering and figuring out how to carry it all up and down on the trail. Luckily, I’d gone through this whole process before I got the last minute cancellation because otherwise I might have dumped the whole thing, too, but as it was, I was all ready for liftoff so I figured I might as well stick with the plan.
Arriving in Sierra Madre (the town at the foot of the mountain trail) with Mindful Mule was a little different than what I’m accustomed to on Race day. On Mt. Wilson race day (still six months off) there is an excitement in the air, sponsor tents set up and a guy talking on a loudspeaker and runners, runners, runners. I remember the first time I ran that race. The first runner I chanced to see as I arrived was a guy probably about 50 years old with the most incredible jackrabbit legs I’ve ever seen. At that moment, I thought, Oh, these guys are real mountain runners. But on this day the crowd was much different, including mostly the sidewalk coffee drinkers and of course the local million-dollar-cycling peloton that makes a stop there every weekend morning. For a moment some of the cyclists looked my way thinking they were seeing one of their own, maybe even a new rider whom they could better, finally, and foster in their development and choices of gear. I’m a confusing thing. I guy pulls up to their ride area wearing a cycling cap and musette bag, semi-tights, fingerless gloves, yellow-tinted sport lenses and, from a distance, for a moment, it looks like I might just fit in, might be one of their crowd. But then, always, confusion sets in and their hope is shattered as they see the mid-nineties rigid mtb complete with full basket and… what’s that? a wool flannel shirt and old trail running shoes and… (gasp!) those fingerless gloves aren’t Pearl Izumi, they’re not even fingerless gloves, they’re gloves whose fingers have been worn through! Retreat!
And with that welcome, I ran off up the street to the trailhead. The trail, as usual, was perfect. It’s one of the nicest trails in the area – very well maintained. Actually the first two people I encountered were coming off the mountain with a McLeod and a few other trail-work-specific tools. Thanks for your efforts, guys. There had been some rain earlier or over night as the trail was damp. The good kind of damp. Not wet. Just perfect for super traction with no mud or dust. There were a lot of hikers up there. I was a bit surprised. I know it’s a very popular trail and it was Saturday, but I figured the weather would turn away some walkers as it had turned away some runners. Many of the hikers were well geared out with backpacks and walking sticks and boots and such as if on expedition. Fine by me, you know, Be Prepared really is a good motto. I’m glad to have them up there sharing the trail with me. Another runner I know seems a bit peeved by this style of hiker, calling them the “Everest Assault Team.” He complains that they’re always taking up too much of the trail and getting in his way as he’s time-trialing the mountain. Luckily, he’d been sick that morning.
It never did rain up there that morning. The last minute layering system seemed to work fairly well. The mussete bag wasn’t ideal for carrying the extra goodies but it worked, it did its job – I think I’ll try some other style of bag next time. As a trail run it was a huge success. I know that because I’m still having flashbacks from the mountain surroundings – visions, some might say. As a training run it was also a success. I know that because my legs are finally really sore. As an experimental run it was a success because I got to try out new outfits, reconfirm that bike commuting to a trail run on a Saturday morning is awesome fun and should be repeated endlessly. The solo aspect of it was fine – mountain runners will be by themselves a lot, even when starting with a group – and besides, I had some very deep thinking to do that day. As a Brunch Run it was… it was a start… inconclusive, let’s say.
Forecast for next Saturday, November 26: Sunny, 78 degrees…