I am officially a seasoned trail runner! No, not really. I was originally scheduled to run the Optime 5k race as a Power Buddy with Special Compass this weekend. Unfortunately, that was postponed due to the hurricane. I figured I would just throw a training run in, when Darin mentioned I could still sign up for the trail run he was doing. Sure! I thought and signed up for the Inaugural BadAss Trail Run. There were two options, a 5k and a 10k. I am more than capable of an average 10k, but was a little hesitant to do a trail 10k. I did some poking around on the website and saw that it was two loops. I went ahead and signed up for the 10k figuring I could call it a day at the 5k distance if the trail was too crazy. The moment I clicked submit, it was like one of those TV flashbacks…. There I was on the trail at Markham, my first and only trail type training run, dirty, rocky, full of tripping hazards. Hmmm, maybe this wasn’t the best idea.
We got to the race this morning and I was feeling really good. I knew it would be something different, but I was curious to see how I’d perform. Maybe I would even like it, who knows. At the start line, the path was asphalt and looked to be for as far as I could see on the course. Things were looking up! Maybe this was a trail run in that we were on an asphalt path in the middle of a bunch of nature. That’s my kind of trail, I thought. The start buzzer went off and we headed out. I was doing great. The view was pretty, lake to the left and forest type area to my right. I was just humming along. I didn’t look at my watch, I just wanted to enjoy it and run by feel. Hey, this is not so bad, I thought.
Not long after we turned onto a compacted stretch of trail. It wasn’t asphalt and it wasn’t what I would expect a trail to be. My footing was fine and I just kept plugging along. This is ok, I thought. Things started to go downhill from there, literally. We went up and over an area that was full of chunky rocks, clumps of earth and who knows what underfoot. As we headed to the downhill, it was full of gravel and I nearly ended up on my rear. I caught my balance thankfully and kept going. Things evened up a bit so I picked up a little speed knowing that I would have to go slower if met with that same terrain later in the course. A few seconds later I clipped the side of my leg on a branch sticking out. My “end this now” side of my brain was sure I was bleeding all over the place (it was just a scratch). I decided not to look and just keep going. Sure enough the terrain became more and more unsteady. I tweaked my ankle twice landing on chunky rocks. It wasn’t enough to damage anything, but enough to hurt. I started asking myself why the heck I signed up for a trail run. Minutes later, my right knee went and I knew I needed to call it a day at the 5k mark. I was torn but I knew it was the right thing to do. Trail running is fine, but it’s not my thing. The last thing I want to do is hurt myself to a point where it affects my training for the MiamiMan race.
I followed the turn to the 5k finish line and called my trail race a success. I went over to the timing people and asked that they please change me on the record from 10k to 5k. The guy managing the computer chuckled and said “are you sure? If you didn’t say anything you would have won the 10k with that time!” we both laughed and he made the change. I was relieved I made the change. After I finally sat down for a bit, my knee was really throbbing and I knew that I would have messed things up if I had tried to keep going. I waited for Darin to complete the full 10k and cheered for others as they crossed the finish line. I can totally see why some people get into trail running. It really keeps you on your toes (bad pun totally intended). You have to really keep an eye out on what’s ahead and be in tune with all those little fine muscles in your ankles that aren’t as used in road running. The scenery is far better than some road runs to be sure, but if you aren’t focused on what you are doing you can really hurt yourself (or at least, I can). One of the things I enjoy most about running is that I can just zone out. Of course I am aware of my surroundings from a safety standpoint and I look at where I am going, but it’s nowhere near the kind of focus I need on my feet with the trails. I’m really glad I tried something out of my comfort zone, and I am even more glad that I knew when to call it a day. So no, I am not a seasoned trail runner, but it’s safe to say that my trail running season has ended…but I am still a BadAss!