Long days, warm nights, and clear trails. Summer is a time for adventure and racing.
Sunday Runday and with less than two weeks until my first in-person race in over a year and a half I found myself facing a morning run dilemma.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining about new shoes.
Quite the opposite.
While on vacation in the mountains a few weeks ago I finally found a pair of trail shoes in my size and splurged. The next morning I broke them in with an (a previously blogged about) eight kilometer trail run up some steep incline and early morning terrain in the wilderness beauty of our National Park system, and then …
… well … that dilemma I mentioned a couple paragraphs back compounded itself: I haven’t run any trail since, and the shoes had been sitting by my front door looking more forlorn than the dog when she needs her morning walk, and that other thing I mentioned in my opening sentence about an upcoming trail race kept nagging in the back of my mind.
In two weeks I’m headed back out to the trails we visited last month for our little adventure with the wasps. Apparently the wasp situation has cooled alongside the weather, but neither of those things cooling off negates the fact that I’m signed up to run a roller-coaster single track trail half marathon quasi-ultra later this month.
And as of this morning I’d run a mere eight kilometers in that brand new pair and brand new style (to me) of shoes.
I tossed them into my backseat this morning on my way to meet my running crew and humbly suggested that we maybe, possibly, if anyone was interested run some trails as our Sunday route.
There were some hefty dark clouds lurking to the west and the forecast (though cloudy and dry as we left) was for some light drizzle after a good soaking overnight.
We decended into the river valley and into the rain-soaked single track weaving through the forests. The leaves are starting to yellow as the days shorten and fall creeps ever closer.
By the time we exited that first stretch, my new shoes were clumped with mud and each weighed about a kilogram heavier than when I had entered.
I was also dragging a small branch clinging to my heel, and I pulled off to the side of the path to clear the worst of it into the wet grass.
A bit further down along we turned upwards towards a short ascent and into a utility corridor between the highway and the neighbourhood where the ankle-deep grass was still sopping with last night’s rain.
Onward looped us into more single track and by the time we found our exit back into the asphalt of the nearby suburban streets not only were all our feet soaking wet and muddy, but the rains had truly arrived and would not let up again until we were well done the other half of our morning run.
Soaked. Dirty. Tired. Epic.
All for a pair of trail shoes…
…and, oh, of course, the mental confidence that goes along with logging another medium-length trial run using those shoes, breaking them in, trialing them out, and generally assuring myself of their fit and function leading into that upcoming race.
For the last two summers I have been leading a small cohort group of my running friends on a pandemic-busting weekly series of what I called "Adventure Runs."
The ultimate goals were (a) to keep the group active and alive through uncertain running days and (b) to have a little summer fun by pathfinding on some new routes, trails, and locations.
We've gone exploring in remote neighbourhoods.
We've followed local paths we haven't dared follow on our regular training runs.
We've run asphalt, gravel, streets, single track, and bushwhacked through the wilderness.
Last night was the sixth of the Summer 2021 series, and in the wake of a hotter-than-hell day, we pushed our meetup time to an hour later than usual, and stuck to somewhere more familiar. Also, at least four of the crew had just -- JUST -- returned a couple days ago from a mountain-based ultramarathon and were feeling a bit recovery-oriented.
We started at a nearby dog park, ran across the bridge over the river, and took up some trail locals call the "intestine" which was a twisting, winding, root-covered three kilometers of single track spanning a little more than one kilometer of actual distance.
It burns you out, running in the heat and stumbling around corners and minding the never-ending tangle of tree roots, so it was really no surprise that a hundred meters from the trail exit I caught a toe on a small protrusion and rolled head over feets, landing on my side against the trunk of a tree.
I limped out of the woods, covered in sweaty muddy debris, helped by a group of too-concerned friends who were ready to call an ambulance.
Today I am a little more sore than I should have expected when I planned yesterday's run a mere twenty-four hours ago. But then what does one expect when one goes looking for an adventure.