Thursday, August 11, 2011

To trail or not to trail?

For me the answer to the age old dilemma of is easy: not. In my humble opinion, in the battle between road races and trail runs, the road reigns supreme. I want to like trail runs; I really do. I read about them in Runner's World and see these rave runs on a rocky trail. Every time I think wow, that looks incredible. Then I decide to hit the trail and regret it every step of the way.

When I was 11 years old I went running with my sister who was in high school at the time. We lived in the middle of nowhere, and we were running on a hilly, wooded path. At the time she told me that if I intended to run track in high school it was never too early to start running. My love of fitness began at an early age; however, my love of running took a little longer to materialize. I blame that first trail. 

My high school track team my senior year -I'm in the front right with my arms crossed. Fierce.
Clearly my love of cities is part of who I am. When I run I want to see people and neighborhoods and density and something - anything but dirt and trees. Last year, however, I decided to brave the wilderness and do my first trail run. I ran The Legend in Laingsburg, Michigan at Sleepy Hollow State Park. In the pre-race instructions we were told that we would be running through a river. I laughed and my friend said "I don't think he's kidding."

It turns out he was not kidding. That race was unequivocally the most difficult race I've ever run. At one point, when faced with a nearly vertical hill, I literally stopped, put my hands on my hips and said aloud to the birds and squirrels, "Are you f*&#ing kidding me?" The Legend has a warped sense of humor.

I made it through the race with squishy shoes the last mile or so after actually running through a river. There was mud covering my legs, and my shoes were virtually ruined. My trail running career began and ended that same day.

Finishing The wasn't pretty

I think my love of cities is what keeps me out of the woods and along sleepy neighborhood streets early in the morning; through Michigan State's beautiful campus; along the Grand River on the Lansing River Trail and through downtown Lansing. I do intend to run on the beach in Mexico during our vacation next week. I don't think that counts as a trail...we'll see how I feel about it.

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