Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Funny Thing About Trail Runs...

I'm going to go into my playlist vault for spin class tonight and instead share about my trail run yesterday. As the hubby and I both had yesterday off, I was able to make a kick-ass meal (recipe to come Thursday) and get out for an awesome (and steamy) trail run.

First, there was the obligatory Memorial Day pool party. We attempted to join our neighbors at the Y for some kiddy play time, but that was short-lived. Too many children, and not enough grown ups to yell at them to stop using their wake boards as paddles to whack each other with. Also, the Little Miss did not understand that to be in the pool to swim, she needed a little help, which she didn't want. So we went home for a nap...

The face of a broken heart :( Maybe next time, sweet girl.
I took advantage of nap time to prepare the feast for dinner. Here's a teaser:

Slow-roasted mango pork tenderloin. Knife optional.
Okay, now onto the running part.

I decided with the few extra hours afforded to me by having a hubby willing to stay behind (playing PS3) while I head out for a run, I'd leave the heat of the pavement for the woods. Off to Kennesaw Mountain, where the plan was to do most or all of a simple out-and-back trail.

The funny thing about out-and-back runs, is that the "out" typically needs to be the same as the "back." Whoops. It had been a while since I'd run in the park on my own and sure enough, I went the wrong way. Miles that were supposed to be logged on a wide, slightly rocky but mostly packed trail wound up taking place on tricky switch-backs with rocks, roots, and boulders.

Of course, being as hard-headed as the stones around me, I plugged on thinking, well, I've already gone the wrong way for this long, may as well keep going!

And I'm glad I did.

Sometimes, when I hit the roads the only thing I'm focused on is the end of the run. I put on my tunes, skip the quiet tracks, and push the same pace from start to finish. The great thing about trail runs - even the wrong turn ones - is that you're forced to change and adapt. It's practically impossible to maintain the same pace for the entire run, especially if you find yourself scrambling up a steep, rocky climb, such as I did yesterday. But what you lose in pace you gain in amazing views and calming seclusion. Yesterday was some good "zen" running for me and it's something I'd like to try to get back to at least once every other week.

Among the obvious reasons why trail running rocks, there were some great non-running highlights:

* I saw a fawn dart across the trail about 30 feet ahead of me, which was fascinating. Then I saw what I assumed to be its mother staring me down a little further back. That was a little frightening. I stopped still in my tracks and waited for both to retreat back into the woods to avoid getting trampled.

* The weather was still hot, but a good bit cooler than in the city. For a girl who fries to a crisp if she puts on anything less than SPF 50 sunscreen, retreating to the cover of the trees is a nice break from running in the [almost] summer heat.

* While the trails were pretty quiet, there were a few couples and families out there, which is always great to see. I think that families that start off active together, remain active together. The best was seeing two pregnant couples hiking together.

* I did get a chuckle though at one other young couple. It seemed like they were maybe dressed for something else (a movie date, maybe) but decided to go for a hike instead? I'm talking about jewelry and make up on her, nice button-up shirt on the guy, both wearing perfume and cologne, as far as I could tell. I wanted to say, "Hey guys, there's horse s**t on the trail. I don't think you need to worry about how you smell."

Do you have a great trail run you love to go on?

What's the funniest/scariest/weirdest thing you've witnessed in the woods? (keep it PG-13!)

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