Two of my most athletic friends were trying to talk me into taking a trail run after a snow storm last weekend. Normally my response would have been an emphatic NO, but I took a week off from the gym to attend to some personal commitments and to nurse some nagging muscle and joint pain. Unfortunately, the break had me feeling a little guilty for the week of inactivity, so I begrudgingly agreed to participate.
I have to admit, I was excited for the excursion as I gathered my “warm” running gear. I admired the white blanket that covered the landscape as far as the eye could see. I had a sense of pride for being more rugged than the casual runner as I pulled up to the desolate state park, because the weather was not welcoming to the weekend warrior. I also enjoyed sharing pleasantries with old and new friends in the parking lot as we waited for all of the folks who braved the weather to join us. The expectation was that this would be a short, slow meander through the woods. It was all positive up to this point.
…THEN IT GOT REAL!!!
I knew I was in trouble the second we stepped out of the partially plowed parking lot and my foot crunched into 6-9 inches of pristine loose powder covered by a half inch of ice.
My quads were throbbing from yesterday’s crossfit workout appropriately titled…the 12 days of “cossfitmas”, because you had to execute multiple rounds of 12 grueling exercises as the song goes…1 OHS…2 power snatch, 1 OHS…3 SDHP, 2 power snatch, 1 OHS…etc. for 12 exercises. But I digress.
We didn’t even get to the tree line before my heart rate was raging past the anaerobic threshold and into a VO2 Max zone. I was gassed by a quarter mile in and it felt like the below freezing air was tearing at my lungs! As we got further and further away from the parking lot, I knew this was a lesson in perseverance. It was brutal!
While I was dressing in the morning, I briefly considered wearing knee high ski socks, but chose the sleeker no show socks. It was a terrible err in judgement, because by 1.5 miles in, my ankles were purple, my feet were soaked, and my calves and achilles were strained.
At 2 miles, my two athletic friends decided to turn back and give up. I can’t tell you how bad I wanted to turn back with them, but my ego would not allow me to turn tail and endure the ridicule of the guys who continued on. The two runners who turned back were the only women with us on the trail. As we continued on the run, I kept kicking myself for not making the argument that I should go back with the women to protect them from potential bear or strangers.
I struggled to keep up with the other runners. However, my slow pace enabled me to take advantage of the trail blazing of the fitter, faster runners. Unfortunately, I couldn’t match the steps of the other runners gazelle like running gate, so any advantage of my slow pace was lost.
It was a challenging 5.5 mile run for everyone and it was difficult to maintain a decent pace for a good distance. There were a good number of breaks and walking stints, but not nearly enough for my liking.
At a couple of points in the run, the leaders stated that the “road” is about a mile and a half away. That was great news to me, because I assumed the “roads” were going to be plowed. To my disappointment, Every “road” we reached was not plowed and we had to blaze our own trail.
By the last mile, the ice, and friction from my shoes tore holes in my heel, which have not yet healed, because my wearing shoes and working out continues to exacerbate the wounds!
Finally, as we neared the end of the torturous run, we caught up to the two women from our party who had turned back and we ran into the parking lot together! To say I was happy to reach the parking lot is an understatement. I would compare it to finding a lost child in an amusement park! Hours of terror and a moment of elation!
Having made it through this character building run made the post run refreshments and conversation all the more enjoyable!
I’d like to say that I don’t plan on putting myself through that again, but I probably will. It’s all part of making yourself a little better (well maybe stronger) every day.