Trail running is a great way to experience something old in a whole new venue. I get to be up close and personal with rocks and roots and trees and streams and creeks and incredibly steep hills all with fairly unsure footing. I love it, it's much more fun then running on the road. Sometimes I fall, but usually not. I use my stopwatch just to get a rough idea of how much longer I need to endure the suffering that comes with a race. The actual race time doesn't matter much because all trail race distances are an educated guess at best. The first race was like 5.5 miles and the second was 5.6 miles. I got to strap on my new natural running trail shoes and mix it up with about 400 of my new best buddies.
I was hooked the first time I did one of these races. My good friend Sara (also a successful Personal Trainer) told me she likes to do them all and I should join her next time. Gentlemen, if a good looking and athletic red head says, "come join me it will be fun!" Do not question her!!! Back then I was in the middle of an impressive, if not daunting, stretch of 11 marathons, 6 half-iron triathlons and 2 full Ironman in a 7 year period. I was getting a little burned out by the road and was looking for a change. So I signed up for the full four race series of 10 mile trail runs. There is a 5 or 10 mile option but at that time going big was second nature for me. I was excited because everything was new. The gun went off and off I went, over the creeks and up the hills deep into my "dark place" and about an hour and change later I finished and headed towards the finish line buffet. Pizza, cookies and a coke later and I was human again. "Let's go check the results," she said. We wondered over to the results page paper clipped to the finish chute fence. I found my age group and started looking for my name. I started in the middle and started slowly moving my eyes up. I have never won a race before in my life. So I was pretty shocked when I found my name atop the list. "I won my age group." I said quietly to Sara and anybody else in earshot. I won my first pub glass. I was very proud. 2 weeks ago I began my comeback trail, well, on the trail. This time I entered the 5 mile race. I was more concerned about how my body would feel then how many fools I could beat to the line. I found a pace that was hard but sustainable, some people passed me I passed some other people, I was running and it felt great. When I got to the finish I was pleased with my effort and pleased to see that I had placed 4th, doing the approximately 5.5 miles in 43:43. Another race, another pub glass. After the race my Plantar Faciatis really flared up. I really wanted to put some arch support under my feet. Next time I will bring shoes to change into for sure. I was worried that the balls of my feet would hurt but they didn't, just the arches and the heel. The rest of my body actually felt really good. Because of the stress of the race and the stress of the work week I only had time to run one day in the week between the races, a pleasant and flat 4 miles on the Cap C Trail.
The second race was supposed to be the easiest on the circuit. 5.5 miles of almost completely flat and only two serious hills. The main difference this week was that a great portion of the trail was made up of smaller, sharper rocks. The balls of my feet really feel it this time. I crossed the line in 41:40 but only managed a 5th place. No worries, I was still able to take my 20th pub glass home, keeping my string of 20 straight podiums in 20 trail races. I changed into more supportive shoes for the awards ceremony and pizza brunch. This time my Plantar only was moderately annoyed but the balls of the feet felt bruised. Nothing a good massage couldn't help.
Bottom line here? I don't really have one, I suppose if I was creative enough I could have spun a tale about not losing sight of the forest for the trees. Anyway, next race is in 2 weeks and I can't wait.