Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Trail Running Iz Hard

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I'm still here, by the way. The last week has been crazy and my workouts have reflected that. I'm starting to worry about the 70.3 but have decided that I'll give it a couple more weeks to see if I can't settle into a better routine before I think about reconsidering.

As for the Easter Marathon, it turned into the Easter Half Marathon. It was still a great race, though. The vibe was fantastic. Since it's a free trail race in the Bronx, it was very laid back and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. One thing I underestimated in a major way was what kind of impact the whole trail thing would have on my running. I've been told that trail running is hard. On an intellectual level, this makes a lot of sense. There's less pavement and therefore less surface regularity, for starters. But no matter how much sense anything makes, I tend to learn things the hard way.

At the very least, I decided not to bring my Vibrams to the race. While packing up to go in the morning, it occurred to me to bring them along and do maybe a lap in them. Thank goodness I decided against that. There were rocks, trees, mud and water all along the trail. I probably would have struggled to make it through a lap in them. I barely completed two laps in regular shoes!

I arrived at the race already intending not to do the marathon. I was tired, unexpectedly partner-less, and very late to the start of the race. But I thought a half would still be a good run for the day. As I was putting my things down and getting ready to start, I saw a person signing the 10k book (the race is technically three distance options, 10K, Half Marathon, Marathon). As I picked up a number from the table, she asked if I was doing the 10K. I replied no and informed her of my intention of running the half marathon. She said that's what she had planned to do also but that she was probably just going to stick with the 10K.

I didn't think much of it and began the loop. First of all, the race course was marked with orange tape. It was well-marked but did require some attention in order to avoid going the wrong way. Anyone who knows me will tell you that, when it comes to paying attention, saying I'm bad at it would be putting it mildly. Needless to say, I got lost approximately three times along the trail. Fortunately for me, there was someone in the relatively near vicinity each time who yelled at me to turn around or take the other left or go up and not down the hill and so on and so forth. That beginning part was challenging, but fun, as it took us through the foresty parts of Van Cortlandt Park. After that the route came back for a short segment back on the same pavement area where we started, but rather than taking a turn for the start line, we turned right back into the woods for what was certainly the most challenging set of hills I've run all year. It was one after the other, with some so steep that even people who looked like elite runners had to walk up one or two of them.

The loop ended mercifully after that part and it was back to the beginning. After that lap, I was right there with the girl I'd met when I arrived in being ready to call it a day. I signed the 10K book and everything. But the fact that I was about to give up on the second loop kept eating at me! I stayed longer than I would have otherwise. Just as I was about to leave, someone walked up to me and asked how it went. It was the girl from the beginning! She said that she immediately regretted only doing one lap after telling me and so did a second. I thought if she could do it then I definitely had one more lap in me. So I set out for round 2! Classic runner experience.

The second lap was lonely but I was definitely glad I did it. Even though I didn't complete the full marathon, I accomplished what I'd set out to do that morning. And a half marathon on Easter ain't half bad, if I may say so.

Well, this post is getting a bit long. Before I go, though, here's a streak summary:

4/17 - Phoebe Loop, 4/18 - 6-7 miles with NYRR and running to a comedy show, 4/19 - Phoebe Loop, 4/20 - Run home, 4/21 - Phoebe Loop, 4/22 - Run home, 4/23 - Quidditch, 4/24 - Half Marathon, 4/25 - 5 miles with NYRR, 4/26 - Phoebe Loop. Too many Loops! Ah, well. I'll get my act together in the coming weeks.

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