I find it odd and yet telling that my first and second half-marathon-distance runs have been in the woods to absolutely no fanfare, and existed completely as a training exercise.
I started running at 5:03AM. It was still fairly dark, but that’s part of the fun. I twisted my ankle fairly roughly early on, like after the first mile. Though I had to walk a few hundred yards, I otherwise didn’t notice an issue, so I kept going.
It starts off in darkness, with crickets and dew-necklaced grass. The moon is getting fatter; I think she’ll go into labor soon. I run down a track no bigger than my shoes, into a small stand of pines. The track’s wider here. They throw sawdust chips all over to absorb the mud and keep it viable.
Today, I’m running with my Camelbak Lobo (9 bucks on clearance at EMS), loaded with diluted gatorade. It’s not that I need that much hydration today, but this is training for the 15 miles in a few weeks. I also have my handheld water bottle. In my head, I’m singing a weird mix of Eminem and Jolie Holland, one line of each over and over. Stop it!
I ran 8 miles this morning in Maudslay. It was EXCELLENT! I started in the dark, just before 5AM. I had my new headlamp (Petzl somethingorother) and needed it. The sun didn’t come out until around the third or fourth mile, but that just made the trial running a little more complex. The roots showed up fine, and so did the rocks. The muddy patches weren’t *as* visible as I thought they might be, but hey, this is trail running. That’s what I say every time I squish ankle deep (or more) into mud.
By around the time I should’ve been done a decent wide loop of the forest, the sun was up, and I smiled, turned around, and went back the way I came. This was beautiful, as I got to see the same course from the opposite direction, and in the sunlight. It felt like running two completely different terrains.
(First off, Blogger ate this post yesterday)
I started yesterday at 5:05 at the pine swamp. Too swampy. My new headlamp didn’t work. All I saw was fog in all directions. And the swamp was overwhelming the path for the first 1/2 mile, so I quit and turned around.
I just signed up for a 23K mountain trail race coming up in a few weeks (september 19th, I think). The guy running the race was really friendly, and gave me lots of information, but seemed the “understating” type. I’ve got no clue how difficult the terrain will be, and as it’s 2+ hours away from my home, I’m not exactly going to head over for a pre-race checkout of the course.
So, this ought to be fun. 15+/- miles run over varied elevations, with roots, loose rocks, streams, and what have you. I’m so jazzed for this.
Okay, I was kind of lazy about wanting to hoof out to the woods and run yet again in darkness. So, I went to the gym instead, and ran in front of a bank of televisions. There’s something odd about running while watching COPS *and* Olympic coverage at the same time. On one screen, there’s this big fat black guy covered in flour and raspberry jelly because he and his girlfriend were involved in a food fight. On the other, there’s Misty May and her beach volleyball partner rolling around in the sand together after their victory (think pure thoughts!).
I’m SUCH a sweat sprinkler when I’m on the treadmill. It’s because I can’t hide from my pace. It’s there in front of me the whole time. Slowing down requires a complex technical equation, involving hitting lots of buttons in the correct sequence. Either that, or I have to hit the down arrow a LOT and it sounds like, “HEY! Look over here! The fat sweaty guy can’t hack it!”
I headed off into Maudslay at 5:30AM, and there was this guy walking up the trail ahead of me. But damned if I didn’t have a tough time catching up. Turns out, he was one of Marshall’s type of racewalkers. The dude was FAST. I passed him and then went off into the woods to continue running. I do about another half mile and POW! This guy is in front of me again (he took a different path). I have to WORK to run past this guy because he’s taking hills with these super long legs like there’s nothing to lose. And I was running FAST! Anyhow, he made the run more fun, because it became like a spooky, dark woods version of Where’s Waldo.
Thanks to EVERYONE who wrote me regarding my blues on Sunday. I’m still mulling over the feelings that experience uncovered, but I have a few things to share. For one, I think all those guys were very supportive, even when they left me in the dust. They were really friendly to me. For another, I was training for distance, and I have to conquer my distance before I build the speed. Finally, I’m on my path. It’s not finished. I’m new here. In the span of all humanity, I’m a blip. So, no problem that.
In the first mile, I saw a little baby deer hauling butt too get away from me. I saw an owl roughly the size of a bathroom trash can fly away from me. Oh, and there was this swamp stuff. Shin-deep water the color of coffee and the smell of sh…..
Did I mention running into the running club?
Okay, what the Hell is up with those elliptical machines? I tried one at the gym this morning and it kicked my sphincter! I mean it. I did 10 minutes and even that felt like it was killer. But what the F? I mean, I am going to run 12 miles tomorrow in the woods, at a fairly okay clip. So why does this machine kill me?
And why does it seem like ladies use them like it’s no big thang?
Wednesday saw me running a 5K on the treadmill at the gym, to test out the new trail shoes before I got them muddy. Nothing much to speak of, but still some more mileage into the training book for the week.
This morning, I ran six miles in Maudslay. It was dark when I started, but still hazy and muggy. By the second mile, I looked like I’d fallen into the river. By the last mile, I smelled like it. It was a great run, especially when I wanted to quit around mile four. Somewhere, I just started saying, “Stick with the Plan,” and then, “Plan with the Stick.”