I postponed the scheduled tempo run because my knee was pretty twinge-y yesterday. Still, somehow I decided that it would be a good day to go do some trail running. My friend Patrick had posted a link to a map of some trails in the area, and I planned to head there. Of course, as soon as I posted on facebook that I was going, my motivation plummeted, but having publicly stated I was going held me to my plans.
After my motivation failed to derail things, next my knee started complaining. This was a little more convincing than my lazy streak, so I decided to ride my bike to the trail, see if I could find it, and run if my knee was behaving.
It was a fantastic afternoon for a ride! We are so lucky to have these awesome trails around here, and today they were particularly beautiful. The late afternoon sky was rich and golden. Some bright leaves are still clinging to the trees, but the branches are mostly bare and stark and not much use against the setting sun.
The ride was a nice one, only about 4 miles each way, which is a good thing since it's been close to a month since I've been on my bike. I definitely need to get out there more regularly. With all the running, my legs do fine on longer rides, but it's pretty hard on my rear, with or without bike shorts.
Once I got to where I thought the trail started, I had to do a little looking. I had a general idea of where the trailhead was, but it wasn't obvious until you got right up to it. I chained my bike to a nearby tree and headed into the woods.
This was no groomed parkway. It was a narrow, leafy trail. After a brief flattish section, I hit some hills and was quickly reminded that I do nearly all of my training on flat roads. Going uphill was hard, and going downhill was downright scary because I had no idea what was under all those leaves.
I was glad to be out there alone so I wasn't holding anyone back. I did my fair share of walking and ran where I felt like I could. After the first few minutes, though, I magically stopped thinking about having a hard time or being slow or worrying about my knee (which did just fine, thanks) and just enjoyed being out there.
The scenery is nothing dramatic--though my close-up view of three deer was pretty cool--but it was different from my usual roads. I couldn't think much about being tired because I was too busy watching where I put my feet, wondering if I'd get out of the woods by dark, and trying to figure out if forks in the path were deer trails or the real thing.
|Where is the trail?|
I spent a lot of time wondering where the heck I was. I wasn't super excited about being out there with no light past dark, but I was never lost lost since the trails are in the middle of several campus roads. All I'd have to do was keep heading in the same direction and I'd find my way out. Eventually.
I managed to complete the loop (and yeah, I know I sound stupid worrying about getting lost on a loop trail, but there were several forks. And I probably could get lost on a simple loop trail.) before dark, though it was pretty dusky. Luckily, I had a headlight in my bike bag (bought for 2009's Ride the Rivers century and never used), so I put that on and switched on my flashing rear light.
|Finally home...in the dark|
I had an uneventful ride back home, and I didn't actually have to switch in my headlight til I was almost home.
This was a great run, not because it was fast or because I pushed myself and succeeded or anything like that. I timed it, but the time meant nothing to me bc I have no idea how far I went. The terrain was more difficult than what I'm used to, but I spent plenty of time walking. It was great purely because it was.
I read tons of runners' blogs. They're addictive. And while I'm always impressed and inspired by the amazing things people accomplish (speeds or distances that I'm nowhere near), the thing that seems furthest off for me most times is finding joy in running.
I don't run because it feels good. I run because I hear about an event and think, I wonder if I could do that. I run because I like coming up against a challenge. I run because I like to be able to fit into my jeans. I run because my dad died of a heart attack at 58 and I don't want to. All these things are something you can measure and work towards.
You can't measure joy. There's no training plan to work up to it. You simply experience it when it shows up. And yesterday, it did.