...with trail running!
Well, 2006 continues to be a year of firsts for me. As Steeeve says, "I got my first trail run ticket punched" yesterday at Huntsville with the Striders. We could not have asked for more beautiful weather to run at what must be one of the area's most pristine state parks. Huntsville State Park is the site of the Sunmart 50K/50mile ultra trail race coming up this weekend and the trails were in great shape.
My first inkling was to arrive early, ahead of the group and get a head start so that I would finish with the other faster runners. That idea was quickly squelched and for good reason. Even though our planned run looked simple on the map, there were several opportunities where a wrong turn could turn a 12 mile run into a 24 mile run. Fortunately, I was with some experienced runners, several of whom know Huntsville and the Sunmart route like the back of their hand. Special thanks to master trail runner, Barb, who hung back and guided me to a successful, enjoyable completion to my first trail run.
It was a welcomed escape from a tough month of training in November and I enjoyed not worrying about time and splits and pace and miles and distance. I just enjoyed running and romping through the woods, taking in the sounds and scenery and enjoying His creation.
When we met up for instructions, Steeeve started describing our route. He said stuff about this part being "technical" and that part being "just jeep trail" and some parts being "less technical." What in the world is "technical?" I'm not sure I know yet but I think it means a section of the trail where you need to navigate and plan each step carefully, thoughtfully executing your path down the trail. It really requires some concentration as I was constantly looking down, planning my next move. It's not at all like the thoughtless groove you get into when running in town at the Memorial Park loop. It really takes a lot more out of you than running on the road. Coach predicted that of the 20 or so of us, 4 would take a fall yesterday. Guess how many fell. Exactly 4. No harm done as the ground is for the most part pretty soft.
I may not know what "technical" means but I do know what hills are and I must say that the route took us over some pretty hilly terrain. Not the short, steep kind but the long, gradual kind. Of course, what goes up, must come down and each downhill section was a welcomed sight. I did end up walking a lot of the hills but maintained a good effort.
So, the 10.5 miles left me feeling pretty good. It's nice to cut back and not feel like I've totally destroyed myself. Still, it was a good workout. This morning, I feel it in places I don't normally feel soreness, like in the glutes and lower legs. I think the cutback this week on the long run is setting me up nicely for a good 30K next Sunday. I can't wait.