I'm about 2500 feet above Wasatch Blvd on Grandeur Peak, a go-to training run for me. But I'm having second thoughts about banging out the last 500 feet. I stop and look around. Then, I cautiously and slowly proceed. A grasshopper jumps and, making a clicking sound, flies away. I nearly go into cardiac arrest. I can't take it anymore. Mentally, I've lost it. Without looking at the summit, I turn around and begin to walk, not run, down. I walk as softly as I can, so I can hear. As I pad down the mountain, I hear something rustling in the skunk cabbage to my left. I stop. I bend down and peer through the scrub oak and out emerges a rattlesnake--THE SECOND ONE OF THE DAY. I scream like my 7 yr old girl, and run away.
I open the door to the warming shack on Hidden Peak, and exit into a thick mist. It was 104 degrees in the valley yesterday. But by the time I arrived at the top of Hidden Peak my arms were numb from my shoulders down. It is probably about 40 degrees right now. I descend into Mineral Basin and soon the mist is only above me. Without a plan, I keep descending on a jeep trail, I've never been on this trail. At times, the road becomes the stream and the stream becomes the road. To my right, the mountain is rusting red. I pass an abandoned mine, and soon I'm in American Fork Canyon in a familiar place: the Speedgoat Pacific Mine aid station. Now, I pretend that I'm racing the Speedgoat, wondering if this year I will be able to stave off the bonk that left me near-motionless the last two times I climbed this "hill."
It's pouring rain. Yet a warm feeling of satisfaction engulfs me as I trot down the mountain. I've met my training goals for the week. My watch, set to buzz each mile, buzzed for the 21st time today. The rain falls harder. Where the roads converge I meet, nearly collide with another runner. Our eyes meet as we now share the same trail. The strides lengthen. And lengthen. I feel the soreness and the fatigue in my legs and feet melt away. At times, loose rocks cobble a runnable path. Other times my feet disappear into rivulets. I hope I don't turn an ankle. Mud flies over my head. Water courses down my face. I taste salt and grit. My feet are squishy. Running is raw. I am running flat out.