Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Afternoon Trail Run

Do I have to? Senses are dulled by several hours in front of a monitor. Today is a hard progressive workout. Can I put it off until tomorrow? Can I just run a shorter route? The temperature hovers near 90, but feels much hotter in the direct sunlight. The humidity hangs like a blanket. I drag myself to the car and bake on the short drive to the mountain. Thankfully the five mile loop is mostly shaded, but it’s difficult terrain, and climbs and descends over 1000 feet (2000 feet total elevation change). I lack spring in my step as I jog up the first incline. The following muddy descent feels slippery, and with a maze of rocks and large roots covering the ground every step is an opportunity for bodily harm. The trail tilts upwards for a couple of miles, and every step I lose time on my personal record around this loop. I even stop to eat some delicious Strawberry Guava near the trail (WELL worth it!). The descent back to the bottom is enjoyable and smooth, but my 46:20 is well over six minutes slower than my best. Time to ditch the excuses; time for loop two! I force myself to pump my arms hard up that first little climb, gaining almost a minute on my first attempt. I'm not flowing yet, but I ignore the slippery descent, landing lightly and stepping off before a slip can become a fall. I know that magic can happen if I push the pace long enough. I lean into the long climb with force, gauging my effort on my racing heart. Every time I think I can’t hold the pace any longer the trail levels slightly, just long enough to recover slightly and power up the next steeper section. I’m jumping the downed trees that I climbed over last loop, and as the trail turns down for the final two mile stretch I feel like a race car driver. Every bend in the trail is attacked at an angle that allows maximum exit speed without falling off the trail down the almost vertical hillside. The Guavas that I couldn’t resist on the last loop aren’t even noticed as I’m concentrating on foot placement. I’m leaping right over difficult sections of trail that I normally stumble through. I’m in this zen where I’m feeling the flow of the trail, and the signals from my body. I could do this all day! But it’s over. 38:20 for a 1 minute 34 second personal best. I cool down with short hill repeats, and then head back to work. A little over ten total miles, and just a tiny part of the several thousand I'm logging as I prepare for Cascade Crest 100, but it's an important little part, and that feeling of wellness is a large part of the reason I do this crazy sport!