Tuesday, June 28, 2011

1st Trail "Run"

Last week I read Lynn's account of her bike trail story, and it made me want to hit a trail.  I don't own a bike.  The last time I road a bike was in the late 1990s, in Boulder, Colorado, with my husband.  It was all down hill on pavement mostly, but I was still not confident or comfortable on it.  Plus, it hurt my booty.

Anyway, I don't own a bike, but I have two feet and thought I could go trail running.  There's a nature preserve 15 minutes away from us, and I knew they had hiking trails.  I looked on the preserve's website this weekend, asked the kids if they wanted to go on a trail walk with me Saturday morning--they declined. (I will get them out there eventually.)

So this morning, when I woke up late and grouchy, and after I yelled at the kids one too many times--yeah, so not mother of the year today--after I dropped them both off at their respective day camps/care, I called Mark (my husband and boss) and told him I needed a few mental health hours.  I knew as soon as I hung up that I was going to do my first ever trail run.

I go home, get ready, and drive to the preserve.  I had left my map at home, so I stopped at the visitors' center and got a map and asked for some advice.  The lady showed me the trails that should take me about an hour.  They weren't more than 2 miles combined.  I thought an hour sounded like too much time since I was going to mostly run the trails.

Did I mention this was my first trail running experience?

The first .6 miles is paved, then it splits into the wilderness--I had a choice to take the lake trail (.9 miles) or the back country trail (1.6 miles).  The lake trail connects to the back country trail about .4 miles in, so I figured I'd start there and if I was feeling good I'd take a right and get on the back country trail instead of coming back around to where I started a mere half mile later.

I had run most of the .6 miles (which has a huge hill in it, and I had to walk some of that) and a fair bit of the first part of the lake trail.  At one mile in, I felt awesome.  It was beautiful--lots of green, not a human in sight.  I decided, of course, to take the back country trail.  I am runner--hear me roar.  I thought it would be fun to go the less traveled path, not to mention more challenging. 

I wanted to be worn out.  I wanted the frustration and anger and hormones in my body and my mind to be wrung out like a wet towel. 

Man, did I ever get what I wanted. 

The lake trail had been rather tame.  The guide said there were gentle slopes.  I had told her this was my first time at their trail; she obviously listened to that and ignored my 2008 half-marathon hat (which I wear b/c it has a zipper where I can store my car key fob) and my running skirt and my running watch, and she suggested the tamer route.

As I headed onto the back country trail, I knew why she'd suggested the other.

Holy crap. I have never climbed so many hills in my life. They were steep, and they were muddy.  Around two miles, I didn't know if I could finish.  I was worn out, just liked I'd hoped for.  But I was still more than a mile away from the trail head and the blessed relief of pavement.  No other choice but to keep moving, so I kept at it. 

After the first mile, the hills were relentless.  There were only a few times that it was flat enough to run, for like, 30 seconds at a time.  The rest of the hike was a HIKE.  No running involved.  Only climbing up and tippy-toeing down. 

I got past the wall of being worn out, and just plugged along, checking the map, checking Garmin, to see how much further I had to go. When I finally saw the steps down to the pavement, I almost shouted for joy.  I found it in me to run about .25 miles of the last .6.  And I realized that I had, in a small way, accomplished what Vickie talked about on her zip-line post-- I was "beyond normal."

It felt amazing. 

Here are my times, which are interesting to note:
Whereas the first mile was pretty decent on time for trail running--13:48, which is awesome considering my flat pavement time last week was 13:20--my second mile took 20 minutes.  My third mile took almost 22 minutes; the third mile I spent about .25 of it running, so the bits in the woods were s-l-o-w.  Garmin had a hard time keeping up with me a few times.  The trees were pretty thick, and I moved slooowly through some steeeep inclines often, and Garmin went into "pause" mode enough (it stopped recording movement, even though I was still moving) that it threw off my total distance by about a tenth of a mile (as compared to what the map said I covered). 

I am going to go back and do the "easy" trails to see if they are something my kids could do.  Frankly, I think the hills on the pavement would have them complaining like mad.  So I may keep this one to myself for a while and do another nature trail with them that's closer to home, and not hilly.  I can save the big trails for when they are older.

I'd like to make trail running a regular part of my schedule, maybe every two weeks.  I am anti "drive to go running" when I can help it.  I don't like spending 30 minutes in the car when I could have spent 30 minutes on my feet.  Plus, my shoes are muddy as heck.  It's going to be fun cleaning them up for my next pavement run.  Which, I guess, is going to feel like a piece of cake compared to today.  Sweet.


Laura N said...

my dear husband called me at noon and asked if I wanted the whole day off. We had talked briefly last night about how I was about to lose it. I laughed (a bit hysterically, which was scary for him, I'm sure) as I told him how hard it was on ME with HIM studying for his CFP exam so many hours a day. This is "funny" (not haha funny; crazy funny) because he is the one who is working 15 hour days almost non stop. He is the one who should be losing it, not me. But, the 20% of help he does around the house makes enough of a difference that when it's absent, I can only take it for so long.

He has basically been in school for three solid years, first completing his BS degree and then studying for the CFP exam. He takes the exam in Indianapolis on 7/22 & 23. Only three more weeks to survive this. And then he's DONE.

Vickie said...

I knew he had been taking classes for a long time, but didn't realize it had been constant and that long. I would imagine all the emotion of those three full years might revisit you in these last 3 weeks.

I am so glad you had time to yourself and got to work it all out and get a lot of fresh air. Sounds like you knew what you needed and did it.

how much injury danger do you (realistically) think you are in on trails? I totally understand pavement has more impact. But as I reflect back on the trail bloggers I have known over the years, (honestly, what I see is) they are in constant injury mode. Maybe there are different levels/pavement/risk factors with trails. And if you are by yourself, I do think it is a good idea to check in at the station so they know you, where you are going, when you will be done as a safety factor (besides cell phone).

Jill said...

Isn't amazing how our guys can go and go and go and NOT have a mental breakdown? I have no idea how they do it. That's great that Mark is almost finished! Do you think he'll have a hard time adjusting to not having so much to do? Do you think YOU'LL have a hard time adjusting? I'm just throwing things out here, maybe you could bring up with Julie next time you go.

I think I would like to find a trail and just leisurely walk through it. I would relish some quiet nature time!!

Kara said...

Yay trail running! I find that to be so peaceful compared to road running, especially since I don't care about my pace as much. :)

jen said...

I am thinking that the woman who guided you to the easier paved trail was aware that you wouldn't be able to actually run on most of them. It sounds like a great adventure, though.