I have new-found respect for trail runners who inherently are taking the road less traveled. I have friends who run marathons and even 50Ks through mountains full of hilly trails.
I’d run portions of my run on a trail; just last weekend, we ran about a mile through beautiful trails … with all of the hazards clearly marked with white paint. Easy, peasy.
I loved every minute of it. I loved the soft ground that felt springy, probably saving my knees from at least some pounding. I loved the shade — especially knowing that my 10 a.m. start would mean full-on sun and 70-plus degrees. And I loved the quiet. I only ran into a few people, although that also meant one off-leash German Shepherd, which raised my already-fast heart rate a few notches. She eventually came closer, sniffed me and let me pat her head, content.
The run also forced me to slow down a bit, something I struggle with on my long runs because I’ve been working on keeping my pace at a constant 13-minute mile. (Side note: Should I rename the blog Turtle Runner?)
And, frankly, it also forced me to just be. To enjoy the run itself because watching for roots, twigs and rocks also meant being in the moment. And there were lots of all three of those. The area is supposed to be just for people on foot, but I did come across several mountain bikers who were obviously enjoying the trails just as much as I was.
Just over two miles into my trek, just when I was hitting my stride, I had to stop to climb over several fallen branches. I took my time, making sure I didn’t twist an ankle, stopped to take a swig of water and kept going.
|Death trap on the trail (a.k.a. branches)|
Unfortunately, the trail narrowed significantly beyond the natural barricade so that all I could see were ferns and — yikes! — poison ivy. I turned around and eventually picked up another well-marked trail that took me back to the campground. The whole loop took me to about the 5-mile mark, so I circled the campground, spending some time on grass, a little bit of road and even some gravel.
Bonus: Even though there was almost no shade, I did get to run lake-side for the last couple of miles. Here’s my view:
All-in-all a brilliantly executed plan. Next time, I do want to make sure to bring bug spray and more water, and to wear higher socks.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some scratching to do.