The varieties of trailrunning experiences.

But first…
I went to the doctor because of some lingering soreness in my hip. Nothing serious, also not something I wanted to become serious. So now I’m on some medication for reducing inflammation, and I’m not supposed to run for at least three days, possibly six. It’s not really a big deal, but it’s a bummer. I have some great momentum going with my training, and I’m beginning to come in to some serious mileage, which I’ve been looking forward to. Tuesday was supposed to be a 7-mile run – on a beautiful day, nonetheless – and I had to skip it.

Coach says it’s a bummer, but it’s not the end of the world. I have some solid training behind me, and it’s early enough that we’ll be able to bounce back pretty easily after a break.

I’ll be able to run again soon, maybe in as few as three days. Quit complaining, right? Right. Lemme just take my bedtime dose of Prednisone and tell you about last Saturday.

The mud and the muck.
This past weekend was beautiful. The first we’ve had in a few weeks. The sun was shining, and the temperatures reached an unseasonable low 50s. It was great, and I had a 12-mile long run in the schedule, so we went out to Harmonie State Park, which seems to have become my go-to for long runs for now. Great trails, great mileage, and free entry for the season.

But the prior weeks of freezing temperatures mixed with the sudden warmth and sunshine caused the trails to become unsavory. I didn’t think about it before I got out there, but I quickly found out that the trails were nearly impassible due to the mud. It was almost impossible to get any traction. I slid around corners, surfed down hills, and face-planted a few times. Luckily I was wearing the GoPro, so you could join me!

At times, I ran directly into trees because I’d lost control of my speed and couldn’t make any sharp turns (aim directly for the tree, and put your hands up!). A few times, I had to grab hold of roots and other anchors to get myself up slick hills. It was frustrating and tiresome, not as much physically as mentally. I knew I needed to get 12 miles, but the stop and go of running in this mud was grating. It would take me all weekend to finish!

It ended up not being that bad. I did need to run a big loop on the road through the park, but it had a few nice hills, and I was still in the woods for the most part, so it was vastly superior than being in town.

Hill conditioning in a hill-less world.
I’d love to be able to run hills all week long. Not only would it be more beneficial for my training, but it’s way more fun. I like hills a lot. So the challenge is creating hills in an area that resembles an ironed shirt.

It's flat here. I don't know how well this metaphor works.
It’s flat here. I don’t know how well this metaphor works.

Last week, I arranged my short runs to go into the soccer stadium at UE so I could run up and down the stairs. It’s not much, but it feels good. I even did a three-mile track run (suuuper boring), doing the stadium stairs whenever I passed them. Garmin didn’t register any elevation change, but my calves did. They were pretty sore the next day. That means it worked! More of that, says I.

Gnaw Bone is going to be a pretty serious event for a number of reasons.
1. I’ll be running 31 miles. This alone would make it a big deal.
2. The race is run on trails. Trails introduce variables – some that can be anticipated (hills), others that cannot (trail conditions).
3. The hills, the hills…the hills. Last week, I printed out the map and some detailed descriptions of the course. I’ll be studying those pretty closely leading up to this event. 90% of the race is mental. If I know what’s coming up at any point on this course, it will help me prepare for it and not be surprised on that day.


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