It has been about 6 weeks since I started my trail running journey, and although I am far from blazing it, I have found my runit niche. First of all, I love the trails. Each week we have gone to a different location and each week has been it’s own little adventure.
The vista points, the sounds of nature, the chatter of the runners and our rhythmic steps along the trail ground are all part of it. Our trail distances have been between 3.5 to 4.5 miles. In turn, it has pushed me to up my road running courses. One week we did a whopping 6 miles! To those of you who know me, know that this is a pretty big deal. That tail run was a struggle, but with the help of my trail buddies, I did it!
And that deserved a beer!
Even though I was having fun, I did notice something. I was in the back of the pack. We all start off together and then I would slowly, slink, to the rear. I’m doing good, but I am still the last in the pack of the running crew. To be honest, at first I was a little discouraged. I apologized, here and there, and wondered if I was being a burden to the team.
But here is the thing – I was conjuring up these thoughts all on my own, because the group never made me feel the way I was thinking. I would turn a bend and see the lights of the other runners’ headlamps, waiting for me. Sometimes, I would struggle up a hill or a rocky terrain and, as if my mind was being read, one of the pack leaders would come back to chat with me and get my mind out of the rut. They would always turn and sincerely ask if I was doing well. All these things have not gone unnoticed, and my team’s encouragement had paid off.
Two weeks ago, I ran a 5k trail race at the Woodcock Nature Center, in Wilton CT, called “Where The Wild Things Run.” You couldn’t have asked for a better day, weather-wise, and the foliage was at its peak. The kids, first, ran their fun run and then the 5k was on deck.
As I ran the race I remembered some pointers that I had learned while running with the trail group.
- Keep your head down and focused on the ground.
- Knees up as much as you can, to avoid tripping.
- Use your arms to balance yourself on the uneven terrain.
- Enjoy the nature around you and have fun!
I crossed the finish line at 35:29 minutes. I didn’t think this was a big deal, until I looked at my time for the Summer Solstice trail run that I clocked in at 44:07 minutes. I had shaved almost a whole 10 minutes off my time! I may be in the back of the pack in my group runs, but I totally trail blazed my time for the race!
And that deserved a beer!
Since the race, our weekly trail crew has been doing more nightly runs that are very appropriate for the bone-chilling time of year, and they also gives me a good reason to don on my spooky socks!
We have added flashlights and reflective gear to our active wear, and have naturally slowed down our pace so that we don’t get hurt on the unseen ground below our feet (which I am quite content with). Even though I am still in the back of the pack, I know that, overall, my time and fitness is improving and the only way I can perform at my best…is to run with the best!
To the Trail Blazing Group,
This post is dedicated to you all. Thank you for all the encouragement and support you give me each and every week. I take what I learn from the group and apply it to all my runs. I really look forward to getting out on the trails, not solely to run the course, but to get to know and hang with my new friends! Thanks again, from the top of my headlamp, to the bottom of my trail running shoes!