Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Stumbling into Trail Running

This year has been my first year trail running.  I fell in love immediately.  There were so many articles I had read that said how much better trail running was for your body and it honestly, just seemed more appealing.  I had been planning on giving it a try for some time and just never did, until this spring.  I finally decided now was the time. 
Last winter, I had just completed my first half marathon and I felt like I could accomplish anything.  I had been thinking about trying another half or upgrading to a full marathon in February or March, so after a 2 week rest, I made sure to get back into running.  My times were great.  I was moving well.  Then, one Saturday I was out on the levee by myself for a long-ish run (10 miles) and it happened.  Damn IT band!  I was out at mile 6 and it started to get a little achy.  I stopped and stretched a bit and then started running again.  I hit mile 7 and it was really getting very painful.  It was like someone was stabbing my in the outside of the leg next to my knee and the pain was shooting up my leg.  So, it probably wasn't the smartest idea to keep going, but you know how it goes.  You think, "Oh, if I can just get through this run, I'll be able to do more stretching and exercises at home and I'll be fine."  Well, I apparently wasn't going to make it through this run.  Just past mile 8, my whole IT band and leg cramped up completely and I toppled over sideways.  Here I was expecting my foot to hit the ground, and just like that I'm scrambling up off the ground and looking around to see if there was anyone that might have seen me fall over like a big goober.  Nope.  Got lucky.  No one saw that.  And so I hobbled and limped the remainder of the 2 miles back to my car.  Did I mention that it was winter?  And windy?  And I was already sweaty.  Yeah, that was a sucky 2 mile walk.
I waited a couple weeks before I tried running again and it still killed me within the first quarter mile.  I gave up and went to a physical therapist who has me do lots of stretches, foam rolling (grrrrr....love it....grrr), and a couple strength exercises.  Around the end of March I was able to start running again.  I started just doing a half mile at a time and increasing it a half mile each week.  Slow.  Slow.
In May I finished doing the P90X program (whew!) and decided to try trail running.  I looked online and found a group in Kansas City that had a beginner run night.  I was planning on going, but a big storm came in and it got cancelled.  Luckily, the group leader for that run (one Danny Miller) clued me in to the Lawrence Trail Hawks and mentioned their all girl group run (Gal Gallop) on Thursday nights.  Thanks Danny!  I was nervous to join a group run because I thought I'd be too slow and not keep up.  I joined the Gal Gallop for my first ever trail run and had an absolute BLAST!  The girls were all so fun and friendly.  They went at a pace to make sure everyone could keep up.  It seemed to all be about sharing your love of running with others.  No pressure.  You couldn't help but have fun.  Thanks Colleen and other Hawk Ladies!! 
So now I'm hooked.  I'd rather run on the trails than anywhere else.  I try to plan my work hours around when I can get to the trail.  I have a lot to learn but there is so much support from the Trail Hawks, you can't help but succeed. 
I ran my first trail race (Summer Psycho 5K) a couple weeks after my first trail run.  It was a super hilly course with lots of rocks and MUD!  Tons of MUD.  I went with a few girls from the Trails Hawks (Karen, Kristie, and Whitney).  It was my longest 5K time ever, but probably the most fun.  We slipped and slided everywhere.  Mud spattered up on our faces, in our eyes, and other places I won't mention. 
Anyway, this is how I fell in love with trail running and I would also like to thank all the trail runners in the area who have provided support, encouragement, education, and above all, a great time on the trails.  Happy trails to you all!!

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