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.