Today was my longest trail run. Thirteen point one miles in a local state park. Out of all the training runs and miles I have put on these legs, it was by far the hardest and most enjoyable run to date.
Signing up for the Ultra marathon in Iceland I know running in places that offer varied terrain is going to be key for success. Jackie and I have done a few shorter training runs on trails but, there hasn’t been any over 4 done on a trail. I corrected that today. I met up with an awesome bunch of runners at a local state park and hit the trails. Here is my recap:
I started out this morning at 8:00 A.M., terrified of what was going to transpire. I had 14 miles on my schedule but, one of the guys I ran with had to do 12 so the leader of our little hoorah split the difference and led us on a half marathon trail course that’s ran every year at the state park. Right off the bat I was nervous; I had on new shoes, new hydration system and running in a new environment.
The first half of the run went quick, the three of us stayed together and talked off and on about gear and trails. I got some great advice for my future trail runs from some super experienced trail runners. My legs were holding up, but my feet were screaming. Running on different terrain uses different muscles than what I’m used to. The only thing screaming more than my feet was my bladder. So, new experience forced me to make my first trail running bathroom break. Not pleasant. Now, I have used nature’s facilities before, but never in the midst of a trail run and without toilet paper. Ouch. There is chafing in all kinds of areas post run. Enough said.
The second half of the run was rough, the elevation gains and hills were starting to wear on my legs. I tripped a few times and even fell at one point when I hit a slippery mud patch. I was told all of this is part of the fun. If not for the fellas though, I would have been miserable. They definitely pulled me through today! As the run went on I kept getting lost in my thoughts, talking between the guys had slowed down and we were each going steady at our own pace so there was space between us. The lack of music or some sort of entertainment in my ear was something I had not thought about until the talking stopped. Being able to just think in the quiet was a welcome difference. The last few miles were rough but we made it. Slower pace than I had expected but I think trail running is less about pace and more about the adventure. The run ended where we started and we all parted ways.
Post run my legs are sorer than after a road marathon and I think that’s in part to my body adjusting to the new terrain. I know as I hit the trails more often my ankles and legs will strengthen and it will be second nature.
The gear I had today worked out perfectly. My Nathan camelbak fit close to my body and I barely noticed I had it on at times. I actually think I prefer it to the waist belt I have used up until now. The Brooks Adrenaline trail shoes I wore held up, they are unrecognizable at this point but they were sturdy in all the right places and I was surprised how much water they kept out. My tights saved my legs a time or two when I ran through briar bushes, which was nice. A good tip I was given was separate my running clothing into trail and road; that way there is less worry about snagging or destroying al my running clothing because it will happen.
Even though it was my hardest training run to date I am putting it in my favorite run category. Trail running reminds me of being like a kid. Hitting muddy puddles, running aimless through the woods and just being out in nature. Overall an amazing experience I can’t wait to do again!