I had already run the Black Diamond course with an out-and-back from Cass Park, but I thought if I ran it downhill I could knock a few minutes off my time. Thanks to a little help from @KimJ who lives on West Hill, I was able to leave my car at the Turtle parking lot but start from the top. I invited Kim to run with me, but she had run Ludlowville yesterday, so she declined.
One thing you should know about the Black Diamond Trail course is if you run it from the top is that the first 200 feet or so feature… an uphill! Who put that there? After motoring past that, with Van Halen in one ear to keep me lively, I set out to see what I could do. My goal was for each mile split time to be less than 10 minutes. Probably it wouldn’t work out well for me if my times were less than 9 minutes. My body settled in at about a 9:30 pace.
On the plus side, the top of the trail is lovely this time of year. No cars, no brambles, no rocks or roots, no mud. Just lovely August woods and fields, smooth surface, happy times. On the minus side, I kind of needed to pee. On the plus side, the FLRC-sponsored porta-potty wasn’t too far down the trail. On the minus side, if you are running for time, you don’t want to stop. I picked up my pace once the porta-potty was in site. Luckily nobody else was in it. The mile with that stop in it had a time of 10:01.
As they say, it was all downhill from there. Although, to be honest, I was working hard and it seemed mostly flat or maybe even uphill.
I concentrated on the flowing feeling of a faster pace than usual, opening up my stride while maintaining good posture. I merged with the green around me. My Garmin kept ticking down the miles. I started to wonder why I was doing this. I was working too hard for it to be full-on fun. It was offset from fun. It was very… what? A passage came to mind from an article about riding an Icelandic horse in the latest Outside magazine: (The horse’s name is Salka)
We fly. I lose track of the ground—that icy surface I have spent all week worrying about suddenly feels like it is no longer below us. … Here I am again, against all odds. … In two kilometers there will be a hard-right turn, and I will have to collect Salka in advance of it. In two kilometers, or two years, or 20, I will die as we all will do one day. But not right now. Right now we have temporarily entered the sky, and the blues and silvers and golds of it. There is the sun over the the North Atlantic, smoldering, shimmering. Dare us to see how close we can get.
My hard-right turn was actually a left at the end of the trail, and then I was standing in front of the Challenge sign, with a line of sweat running down my cheek. My time was more than 4 minutes faster than before, with an average mile split of about 9:25.
I didn’t stop to take photos during the run, and I was too hot after the run to think about photos. I did hydrate with three of my favorite beverages: water, smoothie, and coffee, and I took a photo of all those bottles on my picnic table at home.