Trail Runner

I’ve always dabbled in trail running.  I’ve always liked the idea of it but always dreaded hills, and trail running is nothing but hills most of the time.  In fact, hills used to make me cry (I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I’m an honest gal).  Instead of running the singletrack trails, because of those pesky hills, I got a mountain bike and enjoyed the trails that way.  I was never really good at trail biking, but I got out whenever my husband and our friend wanted to go.  There were a few accidents, nothing major (although one should have been), and I really liked being in the woods.

We did run a winter trail race many years ago and have done what is touted as the largest cross-country race in the nation (I am not sure if that is actually an accurate statement, but whatever!) a couple/few times in addition to a 15K trail race many springs ago.  That spring 15K in 2009 really did me in and I think I decided then not to pursue trail running as a hobby.  It just wasn’t my thing.  I mean, there were lots of hills.  But then my friend and I decided to run that winter trail race again in 2014 (because it was flat) and I thought maybe, just maybe, I could enjoy trail running for real.

I got really hurt on that run.  Nothing major (yet again), but I skinned off my nose when I took a head-dive into the dirt on a downhill slope.  We were deep in the woods with no easy access to help, and most of the runners were ahead of us, so I powered on after a passing racer decided that if I had a concussion, that it wasn’t serious and I could go on.  I was in pain, and it took a couple of weeks for my face to fully recover, but I did enjoy it.  But I didn’t hit the trails again…

Until there we were, a couple of weeks ago, at a cabin in Nebraska and they had some singletrack trails.  I had my trail runners with me and I hit the trails and I loved it!  And then my husband and I went for a run together once we were home and I decided that yes, YES, this is my thing.  I love it!  When my husband and I were running up a hill, I truly said, “remember when I used to cry when we’d hit the hills?”

He remembered.  😉

Today, I headed back to our center trails and went for a run by myself.  My husband felt confident that it would be safe, which made me feel confident.  When I got there, there were a few cars in the lot with empty bike racks – a good sign – and I saw a pair of runners immediately.  I started my fitness band and was off.  My planned course didn’t work out because I ended up doing the same loop twice right out the gates, but that was alright and I headed north for the cross-over to the other trail I was doing.  I passed an elderly guy (who was in ridiculously great shape) on my way north and then ran into him again as I was in mile #3.  We chatted and he asked where I was headed and if I minded if he ran with me.  Honestly, I felt safe but a running partner is never a bad idea so I said of course I didn’t mind.  He wanted to be pushed and assessed that I was faster than him so he trailed me by a few strides, shouting out directions for me as we came to forks in the road.  It was awesome!  He was great and he was very concerned with my safety (“watch that stump, jump high over that downed tree, watch out for that flag”).  He runs there almost every day so I’ll see him again, I’m sure.  He was not thrilled with my parking choice so ran with me back to my car and advised of where to park next time.

I totally dug that dude!

I did 5.11 miles!  I was shooting for 4.5-5.0 so I was pretty happy with the final mileage.  Running the trails is crazy-intense because you cannot take your mind off of what you’re doing.  You have to constantly be looking where you put your feet and feeling where you put them.  There isn’t even a moment to check your mileage on your band, which is a good thing.  You burn WAY more calories even though your pace will suffer (12:09 versus a pretty consistent 9:00-9:30 on the road) because of the hills and exertion.  I just love it!

I love it so much that I’m trying to sort out my plan for tomorrow!  Barre class or hit the trails?  We shall see!

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