I'm tentatively thinking of running the Resurrection Ultra 50-miler this year and have been doing back-to-back trail runs, not really long distance at this point so much as agonized distance, you know, a lot of gnarly hills and bad trails conditions: mud, rocks, roots higher than my ankle. And did I mention hills?
Tuesday I tackled Turnagain Arm Trail, in all of its muddy glory, and felt strong most of the way, even on the steep and frequent hills. So I went back on Wednesday and did it all over again, and I just wasn't feeling it, you know? My legs were heavy and my back sore from lifting weights the evening before and I mistakenly wore a new pair of shoes without the proper lacing, and they flopped against my ankles with each leap over each rock, and I was soon irritated and hungry and discouraged and muttering to myself... you get the picture.
|My floppy-laced new shoes! Don't they look embarrassingly clean and tidy?|
Mostly, though, I was disappointed to realize that I wasn't in as good as shape as I had assumed. Running for two weeks on mostly paved trails and streets in Philly and then last week on paved Coastal Trail, I had deceived myself into thinking I was stronger and faster than I actually am.
Then I hit the trails and the frequent and never-ending hills and bad footing put me in my place.
|Yes, this is part of the trail.|
On the way back, after straggling up the Rainbow hill (over a 1.25 miles of relentless incline and switchbacks), I seriously thought of stopping and calling MM to pick me up. But I knew I'd hate myself for quitting so I struggled on and then, I don't know, I somehow ran right past that shitty mood and started feeling happy and glorious and oh-I'm-running-on-beautiful-trails-and-everything-is-perfect. And it got so bad that I stopped to kiss a few trees, just because I could (and because no one else was around).
I felt so thankful to be back running, you see. Last year I barely hit the trails, due to a combination of a fall that messed up my knee and a brutal work schedule, and the year before I injured my foot mid-summer and was out through winter. So yes, even a tortured and agonizing run is better than sitting on my ass, watching movies and feeling terribly sorry for myself, which I'm ashamed to say I happened more than I'd like to admit.
But being injured makes a person really, really thankful to be running again, and times be damned, just putting one foot in front of the other and gliding over a trail can be enough to bring tears (the good, happy kind of tears) to the eyes. And maybe, just maybe, stop along the way and kiss a few sturdy (and sexy!) spruce and birch trees.