Monday, April 9, 2012

First Trail Run

Confession: for the past two weeks I have been listening non-stop to and to the Trail Runner Nation podcast. I'm obsessed (so is DJ Research). I listen and laugh and nod my head like I know what the hell they are talking about (I don't) and dream of running the trails they talk about. But full disclosure: I've only ever done a trail run once. And I hated it.

When we first started running in 2009, DJ Research wanted to try a trail run.  I wanted to sit on my butt and watch TV.  He convinced me to join him, and we headed to a nearby park known for some of its trails.  I had no idea what I was getting into.  The trail wasn't difficult, but it wasn't what I expected, which is to say it was much hillier and rockier than I thought it would be.  As a running newbie that was still getting accustomed to running on flat surfaces (i.e. road), I thought this trail running thing was not for me.  DJ Research actually felt the same way, so we went back to running roads.

As I became a stronger runner, I started having dreams of running through gorgeous scenery (after I gave birth to my son, I had a crazy strong urge to go running in Patagonia).  I really love the idea of planning vacations based on beautiful places to run.  And it only recently dawned on me that when I imagine running through these gorgeous places, I'm picturing myself running on trails.

Hence, this weekend we decided to attempt another trail run.  And it was incredible.  Running under trees, next to a lake, over rocks and dirt--rather than along a dang road--made it feel less like running and more like...AMAZING!  It was so much fun!

The first half of the trail was relatively flat and wide, so it was easy to work on speed.  The second half was more technical and not as well marked.  I ran off the trail a bunch of times (but not to the point of concern; it would be really difficult to get lost on this trail), and explored a number of random paths before realizing I was either on-track or running in the opposite direction (again).  Also, I totally ate it.  While looking for the path and not paying attention to the trail as I was running, I tripped over something...rock? root? air?...and skid my way to an abrupt stop.  Note to self: the ground is REALLY hard.  Luckily I didn't hurt myself at all (should learning how to fall be part of my trail running training?), and just kept on running.

I ran the trail 3x and covered 10.5 miles in 1:48.  I was happy with that effort.  DJ Research and Nugget hung out by the lake as I ran, playing with bears and their sunglasses.

Hello Mr. Bear.  I believe these are mine.
We went back to each get another run the next day, though these were much shorter runs since one of us had to stay with Nugget.  DJ Research ran first and did two loops in 40 minutes.  I ran after him, and decided to add another trail that I noticed on the map the day before.  Turns out, this trail is quite hilly!  Very excited to incorporate hill work on my next run along this trail.  I was hoping to keep running for 40 minutes, but got back to li'l Nugget in just over 35 minutes, and I find it very difficult to resist those cheeks, so I just called my run right there.

I have to admit, I was a bit nervous that I would discover I am not a trail runner.  Considering how much I've been thinking about it, it would be such a disappointment to find out I didn't actually like it.  I am happy to report, I LOVE it.  Our local running club has a few trail races over the summer, and DJ Research and I want to jump in on most of those.  Stay tuned!

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