Tomorrow I’m attempting a trail half marathon. I’ve never done this distance on a trail, and I’m not sure I’ll be able to finish. My half marathon legs are not quite solid yet, and I’ve been training mostly on a flat straight surface. I opted last weekend for an unpaved trail run, but the trail was designed for biking so it was flat with relatively few obstacles. I hope that my backpacking trip a few weeks ago helped with some of the strength and flexibility I’ll need in my ankles this weekend. At any rate, the race is upon me.
I’ve been doing some trail running in preparation for the Mt. Baldhead Challenge in September. And this weekend’s race is a training run. Although, for me, most races are just runs. I don’t shoot for time. I just try to enjoy myself and to use the event to motivate me all season. It works, and I’m really happy to be up to the half marathon distance for the first time in 5 years. I really thought my half marathon days were over.
I’m enjoying the trail running. I love hiking, and I love running, so it shouldn’t be a surprise. It’s more physically challenging, but the mental challenge is the more difficult adjustment. My mind can wander on a street run and look at the scenery. There are no holes, sticks, rocks or snakes that might cause a fall or a twisted ankle. I once tripped on trail run in Memphis and impaled my leg on a stick – literally. And I still had to run a mile back to my car! The pain was awful, and my thigh turned purple from the bruising and trauma. I am much more careful on trail runs now.
My favorite trail race is the Sylamore 25K. I ran it when I was in Memphis and was in great marathon shape. It is in the mountains in Arkansas, and when I say I “ran” it, I’m exaggerating a bit. I hiked most of it and ran when I could. Within the first half mile, you cross Sylamore Creek – in February. This creek can be knee-high or chest-high. And everybody talks about it. It was waist-high when I ran it. You could hear people screaming way in advance of approaching it.
Halfway to the turnaround was an aid station. Locals cooked the most amazing chocolate cake and boiled potatoes with salt. The tables looked like a church pot-luck dinner, and I literally pulled up a chair and ate. I talked with the locals, fueled up and got back on the trail. I couldn’t wait for the return trip to fuel up again! I decided right then and there that trail running was far superior to road running.
I’m not sure what the race will be like tomorrow. I ran about six miles on the trail a few weeks ago. It’s pretty, and it’s certainly not mountainous like Sylamore. It’s a lovely little wooded loop. I’m staying with my new friend Michelle whom I met on one of the recent Wanderlust trips. She’s running the 10-miler. I’m considering switching to the 10-miler, but a part of me wants to go the distance just to see if I can. I can always walk. It’s not like a bear will be chasing me. I hope!!
Y’all have a great weekend! And #getoffyourass! There’s so much to be seen.