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Posts Tagged ‘trail’

No snow today in our area.  In fact it was warmer than usual, but still just perfect temp-wise for this cold-weather running junkie.

No slush or mess (darn), but cool enough to make the run fun and slightly crazy.

If felt like this:

Image

Photo Credit

And no, this isn’t me.  (Not hardly.)

My route was through my neighborhood with enough crumbly curbs that I just decided to run in the asphalt bike path to avoid injury.  I’m not in quite as great shape as this chickie.  (Ha!)  But I can tell you, my shoes sure did look better than hers!

In any case, I decided early on in my running adventures that I wasn’t going to let how I looked determine how I felt when I ran, or whether I had the nerve to get out there and run at all.  Several years ago, a local chiropractor had encouraged me to get active and gave me some tips on running, since I’d tried that a few times in my life.

The biggest obstacle for me at the time was getting out there at all.  I had let myself get so out of shape that I was completely humiliated.  I wondered how hard it would be to run under cover of darkness or in the very early morning so that I wouldn’t horrify innocent bystanders.  I couldn’t look in the mirror and deal with myself, let alone imagine the awful spectacle I was sure to become if I began running where people could see me.

The other option, of course, was trail running.  But since at the time I was terrified of encountering the axe murderer if I was alone on some trail, I opted out of the alone-in-the-wilderness opportunity.  (FYI:  Still terrified of the axe murderer.  I do trails now, but not by myself.  Call me paranoid, but I’m still here!)

Eventually, I made the hard decision to care more about my health and well-being than about how I looked and whether I would become the daily entertainment for potential rude pea-brains who probably never ran a half-block, much less a half-marathon.  I decided that what mattered to me was my plan for my life and health, and what that meant to me as a mother, daughter, wife and friend.  I decided that rather than focus on how things might appear to be at the moment (bad and blubbery), that I would focus on my vision for my health and my future (bright and vital).

And what happened was amazing.  I was able to go from walking to short runs and then long runs.  I never became a fast runner, but I was cool with that as an adult-onset athlete.  I became determined to get those runs done.  The more challenging the weather and terrain, the better runner I became.  I grew stronger physically, mentally and emotionally.  And years later, even after breaks from running, I know that lacing up my shoes and heading out onto the road holds the promise of that strength.

And I came to realize that even though my route may not be as beautiful as Chickie’s route in the photo above, and even though my bod may not be as fit as her 20-ish little self, I have something better for myself day by day.  Because I keep on going and keep focusing on my vision, every run becomes a championship run for me.  Every run really holds the possibility of feeling like this photo on the inside, regardless of my circumstances.  And on days like today, where the weather and the circumstances and the emotions of the day and the endorphin cocktail combine just right, the Strong is even Stronger.  And the experience is something absolutely Beautiful.

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So this is the shirt I SHOULDA bought during my last VA Beach Rock N Roll Half Marathon.  And it’s also the shirt I SHOULDA worn at my race this last Sunday. 

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The company is One More Mile Running and I get absolutely NOTHING if you buy something from them.  (Come to think of it, I should talk to those guys about some kind of finders’ fee–but I digress.)

I love the hilarious shirts this company makes.  Going to an expo for me is like going to Vegas is for some people.  I give myself a certain (small) amount of money that I know I will throw away on super-fun running gear on the (likely) chance that I will have a great time while wearing said gear in the future.  Actually, in this light, the odds are far better than Vegas, but again…I digress.

So I did NOT buy the shirt but I did INDEED have the experience the shirt indicates at a race this past Sunday at one of my local running club’s signature events. 

Explanation:

Each year our awesome local running club, the Kennekuk Road and Trail Runners, hosts an event called the Wild Wild Wilderness Run.  Runners from all over the midwest descend upon our lovely little hamlet to challenge themselves on the Wilderness Trail. 

See, the thing is, the Wild Wild Wilderness Trail Run includes at least one portion of trail that is not really a trail for human beings.  True, some deer and squirrel may have ventured up the side of that beast, but humans…not so much.

And the OTHER thing is, THIS year I knew that beast was coming.  I ran the stinking trail last year.  And I heard from my friend–let’s just call her Ami (because that’s her name)–that the run was SO much easier when you knew what to expect.  Just so you know: she totally lied.  (A different experience, but NOT easier!  Still love you though, Ami.)

So now in the interest of Truth, Justice and the American Trail-Running Way,  if you’re EVER considering the Wild Wild Wilderness Trail Run, you should know THIS is TRULY what to expect: 

7.55 miles (or 7.45 miles, depending on the race year) of some of the most beautiful trail in the region.  Including: 

3.5 initial miles of relatively bumpy, grassy trail, in and out of the woods.  Wear your deet during tick season.  Basically an enjoyable but moderately challenging run.  Followed by…

4 miles of hell on earth.  A mountain fit for certain animals, but definitely not people.  Creeks to leap over.  A slippery bridge to run across.  Hills, hills and more hills.  A “stairway” built into the side of a nearly-vertical hillside just before mile seven–that conveniently had its STEPS removed this year–where you are basically sliding up a rooted-mud-hill.

Essential Aside Advice:  Try to strategically select the people who are running in front of you and behind you as you face these natural obstacles.  Sliding down a mud-hill onto the head of the helpful, but completely unsuspecting, gentleman behind beneath you as you lose your footing on one of these obstacles is not the most polite way to make new friends.  Even if he does promise that he won’t let you fall down the hill.  As you are practically sitting on his head.  *sigh*  Well, after hitting solid ground, at least there’s plenty of motivation to pick up the pace and get outta there as fast as you can after that little getting-to-know-you adventure. 

And back to the shirt.  See, while the front-half of the shirt would have been me on Sunday, the back-half of the shirt would be me TODAY.  After my rugged adventure.  While trying to walk or move quickly.  Thank goodness for my friend, Ibuprofen. 

And regarding the WWW Run.  Would I do it again next year, even after all of the muddy drama?  OF COURSE!  Maybe even several times next year.  Because, come to think of it, it wasn’t really that tough after all.  Yeah, in fact, it was more like awesome.  Kinda like childbirth is awesome the farther you get away from it. 

I’ll be there.  Probably with a cool new shirt.  And definitely with a strategy that calls for me making new friends in more lady-like ways than sitting on some poor stranger’s head.

 P.S.  As proof that I should have known better and for the entertainment of the historians among you:  Here’s the post about a couple of last year’s trail runs:  Trail Runs Before I Knew Better 

 

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